I’ve Been Keeping A Secret. I’ve Begun An ENORMOUS Fitness Challenge, and It Will Take All Year to Complete It!

Time to let the cat out of the bag. I’ve embarked on a major exercise endeavor, and I can’t keep it a secret anymore!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve done two races so far this year: the Dallas Vert Mile last month, and Scale the Strat, just a few days ago. But… that’s a lie. I haven’t done two races. I’ve done seven! And there’s many more in my future… more than I’ve ever done before!

I’m turning 40 years old next week. Last summer, I started thinking about how I challenge myself and celebrate this big milestone all at the same time. In the past, I’ve done burpee challenges for my birthday, and one year I went on five runs, in five different counties, all in one day. But this is a bigger birthday, and needed a bigger challenge.

Then, at a race, my friend Mike told me about his fascinating idea: He’s turning 60 soon, and he’s going to celebrate by doing 60 races that year. (Mike is a beast. I know him from stair races, but he also does marathons and triathlons and all sorts of crazy stuff.)

So… I stole his idea. In honor of my 40th birthday, I’m going to compete in 40 races in 2019. I’m going to do as many stair races as I can, since that’s my sport of choice. But there aren’t enough stair races to get me to my goal, so I will be filling in the gaps with running races.

I’ve run 5K and 10K races in the past, and, right now, I can’t fathom running longer than a 10K. I get bored and pissy and frankly, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) is enough for me! So I’m going to look for a local 10K race to do every weekend that I don’t have a stair race. If there isn’t a 10K, than a 5K is my second choice. (Maybe, over the course of this challenge, my attitudes towards running will change, and I’ll work towards doing a half-marathon, but, honestly, I’m not counting on it.)

If I compete in a race three weekends every month, I will complete 36 races by the end of the year. Then I’ll only have to only pick up four more races over the course of the twelve months. And that leaves only 12 race-free weekends. (Unless, of course, I do two races in one weekend, like I did in Seattle and Portland in 2016 and Minneapolis and Chicago in 2017. Hell, one time I did two races during the same day!)

No matter how I break it down, that’s a lot of races! Last year I competed in 16 races, and the most races I’ve ever done in one year is 18, in 2017. So this is a big jump. But I’m ready for it, and now that I have seven races under my belt, completed during the last seven consecutive weekends, I’m feeling more confident.

So let’s review the other five races I’ve done already in 2019. I suspect that, moving forward, I’ll clump a bunch of them together into one post, like this one, because while competing in 40 races sounds exhausting, so does the thought of writing 40 race recaps!

1/20/19: Winter Fun 10K, Long Beach, CA

Time: 1:06:39

You could run a variety of distances at this event, and between me and my friends Mark and Brian, we got most of them covered. I ran the 10K, while Mark (on the left) ran the half-marathon, and Brian (on the right) ran the 5K.

The course was along the beach, with views of the Queen Mary and other cruise ships. I was particularly fond of one sign along the route:

I hadn’t run a 10K race in 13 months, and I felt sluggish and slow, but I got it done!

1/27/19: Beverly Hills 10K & Fitness Blast, Beverly Hills, CA

Time: 1:04:02

If you like window shopping in super fancy stores, than this is the race for you! All the streets in the center of Beverly Hills are closed down for this race, including Canon, Beverly Drive, and the world-famous Rodeo Drive. You can check out the window displays at Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton as you run past!

If was really fun to run up and down deserted streets in the center of a major shopping area, and the medal’s pretty snazzy too.

And I knocked over two minutes off my 10K time from the week prior, so three cheers for that!

2/3/19: Surf City 5K, Huntington Beach, CA

Time: 30:24

My first 5K of the year, and one of the largest events I’ve ever done, with over 15,000 people participating in either the marathon, half marathon, or the 5K. There were thousands doing the 5K with me.

It had been raining all week, but thankfully the skies were clear on this brisk Sunday morning. The course was up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, as the waves crashed onto the beach just a few hundred yards to the west.

Another race, another snazzy medal!

2/9/19: Valentine’s Day 10K, Encino, CA

Time: 1:03:52* (see below)

I signed up for this race at the last minute, after my stair race for this weekend was cancelled. It was cold and drizzly out, but I was thankful to have a race to do, and only about 20 minutes away from home.

Thanks to a poorly marked course, I ended up running a little extra. Instead of running 6.2 miles, I ran 6.4. But I realized what was going on while it was happening, and since I have GPS on my watch, I noted that I finished 10K in 1:03:52, while I crossed the finish line at 1:06:02. I was annoyed at first…

…but then I realized that this marked the longest distance I had ever run at one time. A mistake led to me setting a personal best for distance!

A lot of the course was near Lake Balboa, and there was a bunch of brave ducks that didn’t even seem to care that there was a thundering herd of runners in their neighborhood.

2/17/19: Miles of Music 5K, Los Angeles, CA

Time: 28:22* (see below)

The first race I ran with JJ!

I’ve gone running with JJ around my neighborhood a few times, and he’s a good runner – he stays by my side, and at my pace, and doesn’t cut me off. Usually, he shoots me a look or two throughout the run, as if to say, “Is that all you got?” That’s because my run pace is only a light trot for him.

But he loved being at the race. JJ loves to chase things, and he stayed focused on the runners ahead of us. The whole race was one big chase!

And we had a celebrity sighting! At one point I can hear someone approaching from behind, and I glanced over my right shoulder, and it was Sterling K. Brown from “This Is Us”! JJ and I stayed ahead of him for another 1/2 a kilometer or so, and then he passed us. That’s him ahead of us on the trail:

His presence wasn’t a surprise. This event was a fundraiser for a charity that he’s involved with, and his participation in the race was heavily promoted. But it honestly was a surprise to see him over my shoulder, only two or three feet away. I thought about going up and saying hi afterwards, but soon after we finished he went to a closed off VIP area for big donors.

Running with JJ provided a nice boost, and my time reflected that: 28:22 – a 5K personal record by 53 seconds!

However, I’m pretty sure this race wasn’t quite 3.1 miles. It’s the same course that I ran a few years ago, for the LA Pride Run, and this race’s start and finish line were in a different location that shortened the course.

This is unconfirmed, though. I messed up starting my watch during this race, so I don’t have GPS evidence to back my claim up. So I’m going to maintain that my old PR is still my actual PR.

In fact, setting PRs is my first goal for all these running races that I’m doing in 2019.

I’m a solid four minutes away from that 10K PR, but with 40 total races to do in 2019, I’m going to have quite a few more opportunities to shatter that record!

Regardless of our time at the Miles of Music 5K, JJ was the first-place doggie, crossing the finish line way before the other two or three dogs that were also participating. Keep it up, JJ!

I’m going to start using the hashtag #40years40races on social media when I post about this challenge. And if you know of fun races that should be on my radar, speak up! I’m particularly interested for races in Michigan or neighboring midwestern states, since I’m moving there shortly.

Keep it up, David!

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