September 17, 2000
Following Hood to Coast and Sunset in the Park, I had a couple of crazy weeks. First, I started working some weekends to help my cousin get her new company started, but I was also working full time at Tosco Refinery in their IT department.
In other week, my friend Michelle from college came out to visit and we went to Disneyland and the Long Beach Aquarium. A few days after she left, Todd Byers convinced me to come do “Storm the Bridge” 5M with him in San Pedro.
The run began in Ports o’ Call by the shore, and worked its way to the Vincent Thomas Bridge (which, along with the Gerald Desmond, sneakily connects Long Beach to San Pedro – these bridges were actually the way I had been driving to work), up the on-ramp, over the bridge, down the other side, U-turn, and headed back to the Start/Finish.
Sometimes, on the drive, the bridge seems awfully steep in the car… but on foot, it was REALLY steep. The OTHER aspect, which doesn’t usually have an effect when you drive, are the grated connectors. In a suspension bridge, each part of the bridge is connected with grate-d pieces that connect together, much like the fingers on two hands lining up. Depending upon the weather, the metal will expand or contract in the connection. This allows the metal in the bridge to adjust without cracking. The gap between “teeth” is generally about 6″ on average. In your car, you won’t notice any of the variations (except maybe a long metal contact sound). On foot, at the average variance, in stepping just wrong, you might turn your ankle. At the widest variant, your foot might get caught in the grates.
To combat this problem, the race put down sheets of plywood over the grates. This somewhat bottlenecked the runners, who needed to cross at that specific spot. Also, the wood was not affixed to the grate, so it moved quite a bit when you stepped on each section.
This ended up being one of the toughest 5 milers I have run, both because of the severe grade up and down, but also with the strange surface.
Todd had an outstanding race and was 3rd overall and 1st in his age group (and nearly five minutes ahead of my 38:20 time).