November 14, 2005
A few years prior, I had come up with an idea to do a relay run from Long Beach to San Diego, each person (4) running almost a full marathon each (at one go, not separated). After running the Snail’s Pace Mountains to Sea Relay (where the teams were assigned to make teams even), I came up with a different plan to run teams of 5, matched to be even, and each person running 3 times (15 total legs, with varying distances).
My “new” running partner, Inger, and I came up with appropriate transition places and tried to recruit several of our friends from AREC, TRH, and the Hash to join us. We did build 2 teams of 5, split them as evenly as possible and decided to do our run on November 12th, starting at midnight. (Note: We decided we would start at midnight, so that we could finish at a reasonable hour and then have a good time and not have to rush home to bed.)
The start was at Joe’s Crab Shack in Long Beach, and our finishing spot was Joe’s Crab Shack in Pacific Beach – thus, it was named “Shack to Shack.”
We got a slightly late start – about 12:20, but immediately everyone was excited about what we were going to do. The hope was that both teams would arrive approximately at the same time to most of the transition areas, which we did on each of the first two legs.
On the third leg, my friend “Bug” (Bob) was running, so I was “picked” to drive his car (the transportation vehicle for our team). “Picked” in the sense that Bob trusted me to drive his car safely. The third leg started just past the Huntington Beach Pier and finished in the middle of Newport Beach. One distinct rule about anytime that I drive is that I don’t even start the car until seatbelts are on…. even though we were going to stop a bunch of times and give Bob water, snacks, etc. I didn’t care, that’s just my rule!
About 2 miles from the transition, we came to the turnoff for Balboa Island, cross street with PCH is Balboa/Superior. It hits PCH at an odd angle, such that cars coming up Balboa MAY be able to see the PCH signal lights. A Jeep coming up Balboa did just that and decided to make a (ill-advised) left-hand turn into oncoming traffic – aka US.
Fortunately, we were all seatbelted, not speeding, and I DID see the car coming, but was unable to stop in time (it happened really fast). The airbags all deployed, but no one flew through the windshield! I hit really hard on my sternum, but I was also wearing a camera bag and that deflected some of the blow.
Todd Rose, in the passenger seat, broke his clavicle (and spent 4 days wearing a blinking light on his arm, being immobilized and all). Chuck, behind me, broke a few ribs. The accident enabled him to end an 11-year running-every-day streak (in his heart, he WANTED to end the streak). Laura, next to Chuck, was bruised, and more surprised than anything, because she didn’t see the accident coming.
Bob came running into the intersection 15 minutes later and said, “Hey, that’s my car,” to the surprise of onlookers at Jack in the Box (How could a runner have a smashed car in the intersection he is running to?). My major injury, though I didn’t really notice until we were taken to Hoag Hospital (only about 3/4 mile away) was the ignition key had snapped off in my knee (it wasn’t IN my knee, but I had a deep cut down the side of my knee and leg – and had a dozen stitches).
The car was completed totaled (as were my awards) and my confidence in driving through that intersection for nearly a year – I kept thinking that someone else was going to do the same thing and it made me very paranoid.
Some of Bob’s friends drove down from Torrance (about 35 miles at 3am) and drove us back. We vowed we would try again several months down the road (future entry).
I was pretty messed up afterwards (psychologically, of course, but also had some knee pain and a little difficulty breathing from the impact). On the other hand, I had my own streak to consider – the Boeing run streak, going on about 3 years.
I had no compunctions about walking the course (I had done so after a number of marathons and ultras) and had a less-than-impressive time of 43:05