The road trip took us to the Best Western Hotel 20 blocks north of Santa Monica beach so Big Joe and I hopped on the Big Blue No 1 bus at 7.30am for the ten minute ride towards the Pacific. This was an easy six-mile run day and Joe's first 10k so the plan was to take it easy on a warm, overcast morning.
We started with some dynamic stretches at the junction of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean then headed south to the pier and onto the concrete beach path shared by runners and cyclists.
We took it very easy so it was four minutes until I hit the cardio zone but it felt great to be jogging along one of the finest beaches in California. We headed past the empty car parks and volley ball parks, past the beachfront cafes opening for business, past the hobos with their shopping trolleys full of nothing. One of them was proudly flying a tea towel print of the Ronald Reagan movie Bedtime For Bozo. Most had some version of the American flag on display, even the one shouting optimistically about how much everyone wanted to see his penis. Always amazes me how patriotic the U.S. down-and-outs seem to be.
The graffiti art on the shop shutters heralded the start of Venice Beach, closed and smelly with dustbin carts doing the early rounds. The famous Venice Beach outdoor muscle gym, framed by a concrete dumbbell, was deserted. We made the halfway turn soon afterwards and saw it all again in reverse. It seems like a community. Dog walkers stopped to chat with each other, young skate boarders chatted to the older, hirsute pot heads. The sun broke through the clouds.
We finished with a stretch on Ocean. We'd averaged just over 9 mins per mile, around my target Berlin race pace and it felt good. A good moment for Joe, too. We dashed across the road for the bus back and rehydrated on protein shakes before spending the day traipsing around smelly Hollywood.
The next morning it was a solo 60-minute steady run. This time I went north to the Pacific Palisades. Not nearly as interesting. Just beach on the left and the Pacific Highway on the right under another warm and cloudy morning sky.
We packed up and headed to Vegas.