I’ve been in California for 10 days. Here are my first California impressions, in no order of importance.
No. 1: The weather is amazing. Who would think that San Diego, a place with average yearly temperature of less than 70 degrees, would have nice weather all 10 days so far? Of course the weather is sensational. The weather is why so many people want to live here. And it’s the reason I can now run at any point in the day.
No. 2: Running in 60 degrees is far more preferable to the 80+ Shreveport presented me with daily. I shivered on a morning run two days ago. Shivered. I never shiver. I love the cold, and I would pick temperatures below 50 over temperatures above 75 every single day. But why settle for an extreme when you can live in the median?
No. 3: While the cooler temperatures have made running easier, they aren’t magic. My last few months in Shreveport were rough running, and I struggled to bounce back from being sick. When I started planning my move to California, running in San Diego was my desert mirage. For all of the sweltering runs through South Highlands, I imagined running along the beach with a cool breeze guiding me back into shape. I didn’t build California up as a magic elixir on purpose, but it happened.
Now that I’m here and running, I’m definitely feeling the benefits of cooler weather. But it hasn’t been a cure-all. I’m still struggling to get back in shape; I just have a little boost from the weather. I’m still off race pace each run, but I can feel life flowing back into my legs. California isn’t an easy button for running, but I’m grateful for the temperature and humidity relief.
No. 4: Holy hills. I thought thrill hill was a big deal. I’m laughing at myself now. I did a run Friday with 1,100 feet of elevation gain in four miles. It tore my legs up. I enjoyed the trip back down to my starting point, however. And that route wasn’t even my most steep option. I have actual mountains I can attempt to scale. And I love them. My Louisiana legs aren’t quite up to speed yet, but I’m getting stronger already. Training and racing here is going to make me better. My apartment complex’s entrance hill rivals thrill hill. On an unrelated topic, I have been starting most of my runs away from my apartment.
No. 5: I need a better car seat cover. Because I’m not running from where I live (it was much easier in Shreveport with my house in the running hotbed), I end up driving home after runs. My towels are nice, but I can’t do laundry every two days. This will be an easy fix.
No. 6: I miss my Shreveport running friends. The community here in North County is extremely friendly, and I’ve met a lot of nice people. We will have some great training groups. But there will never be another running community like Shreveport. So, as a compromise, I propose the Red River Road Runners relocate a bit farther west…
No. 7: I’m not ready for my next race (Portland Marathon on Oct. 9). I’m nowhere near ready. I’m still fighting through 10-milers like I’m a newbie. At least I have a month of cool weather to attempt to get back in race shape. Worst case scenario, I take my time and cross off another state. But I want to run well, so I’m having a hard time setting goals for this race. I don’t want to be too ambitious after all I’ve been through this year. But I also want to challenge myself.
No. 8: Traffic is all about timing. Yes the traffic out here can be horrendous. It makes a difference between a 15-minute commute and a 35-minute one. But if I time it correctly, I spend very little time looking at brake lights.
No. 9: The beach is underrated (to me). I’ve always hated the beach. I love mountains and trails (and I have plenty of those around to quench my desire for exploration. But the beach has always seemed dirty to me, no matter where I’ve been. Sand gets everywhere, and seaweed is gross. Here in San Diego, however, I’m embracing the Pacific coastline. I love it. There is something amazing and powerful about finishing a run, taking off my shoes, and wading out into the ocean with nothing ahead but blue where sea meets sky. It’s also a relaxing place to be. The waves lull you into a transcendent, joyful state. And the water temperature is perfect. Cold enough to stimulate leg recovery post run and warm enough that your teeth won’t start chattering (I do know it will get colder soon, but I’m enjoying for now).
No. 10: I have to pay way more attention to my hydration. In Louisiana, there was no question that I was dehydrated. It happened every day, as I dripped out between six and 10 pounds of sweat in just 10 miles (yes, I weighed myself). I could never get fully hydrated. Here, I could easily stay hydrated. But I struggle to take in enough water and electrolytes, because I don’t feel thirsty or dehydrated. The air is dry, especially later in the day. So I feel like I didn’t sweat. It’s dangerous, but I’m working reminding myself to keep drinking all day long.
I know there will be many more California impressions and observations to come. But for now, this is what I’ve noticed.
One last one as a bonus, and this one would apply to anywhere: not having internet is for the birds. How did humans survive without it? I end up sitting staring at the wall, with nothing to work on or plan out. I can’t connect, and I feel like I’m lost on a deserted island. Fortunately, I have an appointment to get the internet set up tomorrow. Until then, I’m staying in the dark ages (except for my escape to either work early or Starbucks to syphon wifi).