Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Running around L.A.

Running around L.A.

As anyone who has travelled with me can tell you, I have no sense of direction.  I rely on everything and everyone around me: Peg my GPS, my sister, my boyfriend, my parents.  But in LA all I have is my brand new and obnoxiously shotty GPS who I do not respect enough yet to name, and thankfully the ultimate crutch, Katie Nopar.  Girl is a beast.  She knows all of the important information like "this street runs north-south" and "you can take 101 to 110 to the 405" and "No...you're not in Hollywood, you're in Silverlake."

This lack of awareness is the main reason I shy away from running outside; I am terrified I am going to get lost.  My routes are completely unimaginative.  Even in the neighborhood I lived in for 18 years, my usual run was one mile up the left side of the street and one mile down the right side.

Ridiculously (or usefully?) the other reason I don't like running outside, is because I always believe I'm about to be attacked.  It's a feeling born of protective family members and an overactive imagination.  I can pick out all the places on a road someone might be lurking, overgrown shrubbery, underneath cars.  Unfortunately for my exercise, it doesn't make me run any faster, I just shift my eyes a lot more, and sometimes if I'm feeling particularly paranoid, turn in a circle as I ran.  I also run with my keys to use as a weapon in one hand and my phone in the other, and I don't run with music, so I can hear a possible attacker.  

If I had to pick anywhere to simultaneously run and be ready to fight though, it'd be Westwood.  It looks like every house is trying to compete for a home/garden prize, and that any judge would have a hard time choosing.  Unlike the suburbs I grew up in, every house has it's own personality, even if most of them are of the same influence.  They are mostly different colors of dirt or clay, some with small turrets, others with courtyards jutting out in front or tucked behind walls.  Potted flowers waterfall toward the ground and everyone has tiny sprinklers purposefully placed and running on timers.

Then of course there's the hills.  According to others, Westwood isn't a particularly hilly area, but I'm used to land so flat you could lay a level on it.  The first day I tried running in Westwood -1.5 miles on the left side of the street, 1.5 miles back on the right, I pulled my inner thigh trying to figure out how best to run up a hill - and apparently not figuring it out.  Slightly embarrassing, but not as much as the time I pulled my thigh jazz running at band camp.  So there's that.  The houses don't fight the hills like I do; they seem to enjoy a symbiotic relationship, at least ascetically.  Steps with tunnel vision cut straight through the hill no-nonsense toward the house, or the daydreaming steps laze their way up, turning a bit here and there before they reach the landing.  Garages are set at all sorts of odd places.  Sometimes the houses are behind and above the garages, reminding me of boat houses on Lake Michigan.  

The second time I tried running in Westwood...I did get lost.  I thought I'd be a bit adventurous (I'm in LA what the hell!) and try a different way back, when I wound up on a street that I thought was going to be parallell that went perpendicular, and had to use a lot of street smart skills that I don't necessarily have.  Things like : "Okay...wait....which side of me was the sun on when I started?"  "Hmm...are the numbers going up or down?"  "Ashton, Ashton, why do I recognize this street name? Oh!  It's the one right before mine!"  Eventually, I figured it out, and I was home. But I walked a lot on that outing, there's something that makes me panicky about running in what might be the wrong direction.  Walking in the wrong direction seems fixable....I recognize that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  

Lately though, to be more efficient with my time, I go for a run around Silverlake Reservoir after work.  Instead of trying to battle the traffic home at 6 p.m with everyone else, it just makes more sense to work out for an hour, then take only 25 minutes to get home.  It's been quite nice.  The few times I've been there, Silverlake has about 200 people running around it.  Seventy percent of them have dogs, and there are even two dog parks for dogs of different sizes.  

There are always fascinating people running.  A lot of moms walking with babies strapped to their fronts, today a man in an "Army" t-shirt lapped me twice around the 2.5 mile track (that's how long it is according to Mapmyrun.com) at least.  At the exact same times I'm there, so is this 40-year-old Latino man who I always recognize, and he is killing it, let me tell you.  He's shorter than I am, but he is always hustling.  I've started smiling at him as we pass.  There are people who run in jeans and t-shirts, and people in work-out outfits that cost well-over $200.   There was a small Asian girl walking in booty shorts and a tank top and heeled boots walking her dog around and around.  Today as I started my run, I thought I heard a dog bark.  I looked up and saw a man hanging out of a truck staring at me....which is just unexplainable.  In my navy blue shirt, black IHSA shorts, hair pulled into a bun on the top of my head, and shoelaces that won't stay tied, I am neither trying to be attractive, nor achieving it.  

I know you're all eager to hear more things about cars and car crashes...so here they are:

1.) there are actually less deaths on the road during the winter, because people are actually driving cautiously.  More deaths occur in the summer.

2.) For every foot wider they make lanes, people drive 3 miles faster.

3.) When the lanes are more clearly painted, people drive more recklessly.

4.) Looking at the data side by side, people in light cars are twice as likely to die as those in heavy cars.

5.) Comparing the two in the crash, if a heavy car hits a light car, the person in the light car is 13 times more likely to die.

6.) Crash dummies are usually only designed in two sizes: average male height and small female.  University of Michigan is using a lot of cool laser imaging stuff to create more accurate computer crash tests to see why elderly people get hurt more in car crashes.

Thanks to research I'm doing for work, I spent part of the day trying to find some New York based Native American talent.  Because of this quest, I have a gmail conversation between myself and "Kinfewing".  Cool.

Tonight, one of my roommates, Katie and I watched 4 hours of Game of Thrones....gotta love having cable for the first time in your life.  Did we have it in the dorms?  Who has time to find out!  We all particularly love when Khal Drogo calls what's her name "My little moon." Darling.

Well, I'm off to read Katie's screenplay, she's finished by the way (big deal big deal big deal).

Until later,

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