Thursday, April 29, 2004

A lot of the 20,000 people who participated in last Sunday's Run Hit Wonder in LA did it simply to get out, do a little run and hear the bands.

And sure, I did, too.

Yes, I enjoyed racing past Flock of Seagulls and Tommy Tutone (867-530 niiiine!). I found myself speeding up to the pulsating beat of General Public's "Mirror in the Bathroom".

And it was fun to guess who the mystery band would be. Around mile 5, I heard "Man in the Mirror" (is there a mirror theme going on?), and wondered if Michael Jackson was our surprise guest. Maybe the Gloved One needed to get away from his legal problems and perform somewhere--anywhere. But it was just an impersonator lip syncing while Tone Loc took a break from doing "Funky Cold Medina" and "Wild Thing". (The mystery band, by the way, turned out to be Dramarama, doing that "Anything, Anything" song. I missed them during my run, too, somehow.)

And did I mention that Devo was the headliner? They performed inside the LA Coliseum after the race.

During their first song, "Freedom of Choice", one of the speakers must have short-circuited, and burst into flames. The band didn't notice, and thought that when the audience was pointing up at the corner of the stage, they were simply cheering them on. "That's right!" Mark Mothersbaugh said. "Now more than ever, don't lose your Freedom of Choice in this country!"

OK, Devo-dude, we appreciate the sentiment, but…

Your stage is on fire!

Eventually, a roadie climbed up and put it out with a fire extinguisher. That guy got almost as big an applause as when the band did their robotic version of "Satisfaction".

It made me think back to junior high when my friend Rob couldn't remember the name of the "Whip it" band on MTV, the nerdy guys with the funny red stacked hats. "You know--the Firemanses," he called them.

Rob wasn't a runner, but I bet if he were in LA, he woulda done this race. As I said, a lot of my friends came to have fun and see the bands, many of whom don't normally do this kind of thing.

But I run a lot. I've done over a dozen organized races in the last year. Different distances, including several 10Ks, and my time has gone down from around 50 minutes to 46 and change. A few months ago, I did the Redondo Beach 10K in 46:01. Ooh. So close. You can guess that I'm trying to break 46 minutes. I ran one in Torrance last March, and the rolling hills kept my time to 46:23.

I really think that with a flat course, when I'm feeling good, I could start with 7:30 miles for the first 4, then speed up to 7:15s and finish under 46. And sub-45 doesn't seem out of reach in the near future either.

But there's an old saying: No one ever loses a game of chess in good heath. (or something like that) In other words, here's my excuses: It was way too crowded, it was way too hot, and my stomach was way too queasy that morning.

I finished in 46:40.

I'm still happy with it. And one of the minor thrills I get from these things is seeing my time posted on the Internet. I was especially looking forward to this one, because they have chip-timing. There's a computer chip attached to your shoe which records when each runner crosses the start and finish. So my time online wouldn't include the extra minute or two it took from the gun going off to me working my way through the crowd to the starting line. It would actually coincide with what my watch said.

Or so I thought.

I just got my notification, clicked on the link and typed in my name and all. It returned all the right info about me, with a chip time of… 1:20:51!

What?! That's not me! I swear, I wasn't doing nearly 13-minute miles!

I don't remember what my bib number was, but when I typed in the one connected to my chip time in order to view my photos… that's not me! It's some old, heavy-set dude!

Unless I'm having some rude awakening about what I look like (have I checked the mirror lately? – there's that theme again), the race people made a mistake. This is why electronic voting may be very dangerous this election year. (How's that for a political statement, Mr. Devo?!)

Oh well, I guess I'll have to glean the thrills of running this race from other places.

Hey, remember the Firemanses?! They were awesome.


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