Near Yellow Mountain

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Birthday week.......not just for kids anymore

It has been a busy eight days. I celebrated my birthday in Los Angeles the day before my younger daughter ran her first marathon. She was excited and a little nervous as we drove to Dodger stadium to pick up her race number and then preview the race course in the car. We stopped part way through the course  to have lunch with a college friend of mine and his family. I noticed gas near the Italian restaurant where we ate in Beverly Hills was selling for $4.58 per gallon - much higher than other parts of the city. It seems the spector of $5.00 gas I hear about so often on CNN, is almost a reality in Beverly Hills. Meanwhile, people in Europe and Asia are already paying substantially more - but I digress.....

We were up early on marathon morning - wanting to make sure our well trained runner didn't miss her 4 am departure for the starting line. Seemed a little early to me but none of the marathons I ran ever had 25,000 runners.

Big city marathons generally provide an interesting view of the city - LA is no different. We saw gritty areas of the city near downtown - where the race was a disruption to the normal ebb and flow of the lives of the homeless. Watching a steady stream of runners passing the 3 mile mark it was easy to get a sense of the diversity of the city. I heard spanish,  japanese, korean, chinese while America rock music blared from nearby speakers.

 In Beverly Hills, we noticed  well dressed spectators sipping lattes and cheering politely. We expected the finish in Santa Monica to be laid back and low key; however the arrival of wind and sideways rain seemed to have driven the civility  out of the locals. The finish area was total chaos more reminiscent of a disaster scene than a well financed event designed to enhance the image of the city.

For several days before the marathon my wife plotted our driving course on race day. It might seem simple to just "follow" the race route however in a race with 25,000 runners and countless closed roads to keep the runners out of harms way; logistics aren't straight forward. The planning paid off as we were able to see our daughter 7 times as she crossed the city. She finished faster than her goal time despite very difficult running weather. She was happy to have finished and raised money for her charity. We were proud of her effort and enjoyed getting a unique perspective of the city of angels.

I went from unusally windy and wet LA to an unseasonably warm Charlotte where I spent 3 days enjoying the temperatures in the mid 80s, spending time in the office and playing golf before heading to the single digit temperatures and snow in western NY. My elder daughter closed out her career as a college thespian playing Antigone in an adapatation of a play of the same name. It was great to see her perform twice and I also got a chance to ski with her before heading back to NC.

I used to tease my kids that their birthdays often became birthday weeks. It was nice to have a birthday week of my own.