Tuesday, July 8, 2014

California Part 1: In Search of the Hollywood Sign...

We've spent the past 4 days in California and it has been quite a fun & full trip: abundant sunshine, quality time with family, workouts, beach time, stellar sunsets and general exploring of all we could fit into our short stay. 

We had a LONG travel day on July 4th (2:30AM EST wake up to get to the airport to 10:30pm PCT after fireworks... oh and that was after only 2.5 hrs of sleep... yikes!). Nonetheless, we set off to Hollywood bright n' early Saturday morning as my bro/sis-in-law had an 8am tour with Warner Brothers Studios. I had a 2 hr long run on schedule for the day and we decided to get it done while they were touring (guided tours and movies aren't really our thing). The hubby and I located Griffith Park in LA as our running destination. The park is HUGE and features a variety of trails (paved or off-road, flat or mountainous), and I particularly eyed a flat paved trail along the river. The park also happened to be where the Hollywood sign is located, so we decided to try to "see" the sign during our run.

Our starting point...
My ideal "flat and easy" long run did not last long. We got turned around trying to get across the river and next thing I knew we were running through a very hilly neighborhood to the base of Mt. Lee. We were heading in the general direction of the the Hollywood sign, so I said okay, let's keep going. Though, apparently my idea of running to "see" the Hollywood sign was interpreted as running "to the actual" Hollywood sign by my hubby (am I surprised? Not really). We came to a cross roads where we could choose to continue off road up the mountain or downhill towards the Hollywood Reservoir... Can you guess which way we ended up going? 

Next thing I knew, I was following the hubby onto a trail run straight up the mountain. While he seemingly bounced along effortlessly, I struggled the entire way up, because really, who knew it was so hot and dry in LA?! My sleep deprived brain was not fully functioning, my legs were dead tired from workouts earlier in the week and that extra long day of travel and the water in my tiny hand bottle disappeared a good 20 minutes into the run. Oh how this brought back ultra-running memories: relentless forward progress...one step at a time...up, up, up...
Priceless view of LA... note the smog...

Eventually we made it to the top of the mountain where we found the "Tree of Wisdom." Thankfully someone had left a gallon of water at said tree, which the hubby promptly poured over me and I drank up... I was already out of water, dehydrated and overheating, not so good when you're on top of some random mountain... After refueling, we checked in with our phone GPS (a lifesaver during this run) and identified that the Hollywood sign was "just across" the ridge line... So across we went! It was much more technical than I had hoped and without clouds we were fully exposed to the sun. Yet, about 20 minutes later, we had the sign in our sights and where we found a crowd of people (who were smart and walked up the road...doh!) 

The trip back home was "easier" terrain-wise but still tough. We took the road down the mountain, which is closed to cars, quick paced and fun (though made for some really sore shins afterwards). At the end of the road we found where people typically go to view the sign from below and of course, stopped to snap a few pictures!

Next was back through neighborhoods and more hills. Though mostly downhill, my legs were dead and my water bottle again very much empty :( I also realized I had not eaten anything the entire run?!! Not sure what I was thinking during this run... I took down a half gel, which was all I could stomach with no water. MUCH to my surprise, a minute or two later I looked left and saw an aid station tent set up by a local running store (was I delusional? Nope!) They gave us water and electrolytes and we chatted about shoes for a few minutes... so random, but seriously they were lifesavers!

Three quick, downhill miles later we finally made it back to Warner Brothers Studios! 

In total our run was 11.25 miles with 2,500 ft elevation gain... approximately 2 hrs of moving time.

Our run was quite the adventure and very much "us," but next time I will be sure to come much more prepared fuel-wise (I know better). While all very fun, it was quite the sufferfest when combining the challenging terrain + sleep deprivation + dehydration + very tired legs. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?! I am SO very thankful for the hubby's sense of adventure, yet patience and encouragement which without a doubt got me through this run. When I was struggling towards the end he knew just what to say: "Chin up and smile, people think your a star and I'm your hot bodyguard." Lol, okay then...Gotta love him :)

Afterward we enjoyed some good food and a quick tour of Hollywood Blvd. I had to smile each time a guide tried to sell us a tour to go see the sign... How cool that we used our own two feet to get there ourselves while making some pretty priceless memories along the way!

The entire fam visiting the sign later in the day... this time we drove!

Next time: Beautiful sunsets, beach time and cycling the Pacific Coast Hwy!


  1. What an incredible adventure! How fun. I have been on a west coast jones for years.

  2. I would much prefer your way of touring the Hollywood sign than any other way; but with plenty of water, of course! I love that you included the elevation chart. That puts it all in perspective!


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