Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"I need you in Vegas this weekend!"

One of the best things, I find, about being a runner, is the sense of community, sharing your passion for running with others.  It's with that thought in mind that I introduce my good friend, Bill: high school friend, best-man at my wedding, converted trail runner, and tonight, guest blogger at "On the bus...Running."

"I need you in Vegas this weekend!"

That's how my Thanksgiving holiday started -- not with a festive wish, but a text from a live events producer/close friend tempting me with the city of sin. I called, "We're doing a flash mob, I need Murisa to dance and I need you, too. Free room at Planet Ho(llywood) for the weekend."

We were off. In car #1, Greg (my roomie/friend of 25 years) and Seth (our mutual friend). In car #2, myself and Murisa ('the girlfriend'). As my compadres salivated over the prospect of drinking, dancing and general tomfoolery, I had something else on my mind: a Red Rock trail run.

I don't particularly like "running." I was a sprinter growing up, and running on a treadmill or the road doesn't wet my willy. But trail running? To quote iconic rapstar Flo Rida, "Oh, hot damn, This is my jam."

I have the luxury of a trailhead 400 yards from my house, and while living beneath the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign in L.A. has its disadvantages: tourists, tourists, and yes, tourguides, Griffith Park makes it all worthwhile. It was at Griffith that I discovered my love of trail running (and concurrently developed my sixth sense of avoiding horse poop).

Fast forward past a delightful Friday of vodka-induced escapades to Saturday afternoon at Red Rock. I immediately set out to find a trail at the still-under-construction Visitor Center (not surprisingly, they finished the gift shop first). And that trail was? PINE CREEK CANYON.

The scenic drive around Red Rock is consistently breathtaking, it never gets old. By the time it was finished, I was on to the day's challenge...run a 5K and make it back to Planet Ho for 4PM rehearsals. It was 2:33. Crap! (I'd offer another Flo Rida quote, but none were demonstrable enough of the situation.) I was time-pressed, and no matter how much I love the energy boost from PowerBars (full disclosure: I work with PowerBar), it would be a challenge navigating a new trail and getting back to the car in time to drive home to the Strip. I was already stressed.

So I mixed it up. At a ripping pace in the chilly air, I did what any time-pressed trail runner would do...I started climbing mountains. I'm still not sure why, but it was more fun than sticking to the trail and running into Canadian tourists. By the time I ascended a small, steady mesa, I ran into a father and his young son, bonding. "Howdy, gents," I spat out, my smoky breath leading each word. Soon I was back on my own, quickly realizing why I have a non-sexual love affair with Red Rock: there's simply nowhere like it to clear your head.

I recalled the experiences I've had at Red Rock: with my college roommate, helping him ruminate the end of his 6-year relationship -- with the owner of this blog, learning that Vegas isn't only about booze and gambling as we happened upon a frozen waterfall in the desert -- by myself, putting things back home in their proper perspective.

-- and this trip, vertically climbing a mountain because I thought there was a way back to the main trail. I was wrong, and I slightly injured my shoulder, but I was happy to have the time to myself since I had no idea what was coming next...

P.S. I'm heading back to Vegas this Friday. God help us, everyone....

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