Last Thursday I headed off to Los Angeles because Patrick Joyce, the Senior Manager Global Sports Marketing at Reebok, got me an opportunity to join in on a photo shoot for Reebok. This was a great opportunity to do something different, but is still related to running. Also, I was excited to see a city that I had not really seen before. I had been to the LA area before, but mostly just the area around Mt. SAC.
My journey started on Thursday morning and got back Saturday evening, so it was a whirlwind of a trip. There was so much going on that I did not even have time to go to the beach, even though it was a 100 yards away from my hotel. My travels started with a short flight from Greenville to Charlotte, then a long flight from CLT to LAX. It was a about a five hour flight and luckily we did not run into any trouble. I had an isle and exit seat, so I was able to get up without disturbing anyone else and had a lot of legroom. I landed in LA and was picked up by my own personal chauffer, Henry. It was pretty cool that there was someone standing there at the exit to the terminal holding a sign with my name on it. We got into a fancy black car and headed off to pick up Patrick at a different terminal. We arrived at the hotel around 1:30 and I decided to go get my run on.
My run on Thursday was pretty cool, as the hotel I was staying at was along Santa Monica Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world. Since it was mid afternoon there were throngs of people about, which made people watching the main activity of my run. I ended up heading south towards another famous beach, Venice Beach, aka Muscle Beach. While this beach has a reputation for harboring an eclectic crowd, I did not see anyone too outrageous. There were your typical beach goers, tourists, muscle heads, and plenty of homeless people. It is hard to notice individual people while running when there are so many people you want to focus on. Also, since running can be such an individual and introverted activity that it often takes mental energy to focus on than just your run. I would find myself day dreaming and drifting off, at which point I would remind myself that I was in a different and unique place and bring my focus to people watching. I ended up running 13 miles and had a good time looking around. While I finished along the beach, I was not able to get in as I had to head to downtown LA for a “fitting”
I took a quick shower and headed down to the lobby to met Patrick at 3:30 to take a taxi downtown. We got in our taxi and began our journey to the Ace Hotel. While the hotel was only 14 miles away, it ended up taking us around an hour and a half. It was very frustrating sitting in the traffic not really moving at all, but LA is infamous for having terrible traffic. So eventually we made it to the fitting, which only took around 5 minutes, but I did get to meet much of the Reebok
design team.Since it took so long to get there, Patrick and I headed to the roof top bar with a few of the design crew and had a drink. It was really cool spot as it overlooked the city and the sun was setting. Eventually we made our way back to our hotel and headed out to dinner. By the time I got back to my room was utterly exhausted, so even though it was only 9 o’clock, I went to bed.
Friday was the day of the photo shoot and we needed to leave the hotel at 7 in the morning, so I was up bright and early for a workout along the beach. Pete had a Fartlek scheduled, so I did not have to worry about hitting a certain pace, I just had to get a good effort in. I finished my workout and had to hurry up just sit in traffic again. Rather than heading into downtown, our photo shoot was at Griffith Park; yes that is the park with the Hollywood sign. I got to the photo shoot to find a smorgasbord of breakfast items. It was just what I was looking for as I only had some snacks after my workout. With no regard to how I would be perceived by the other people there, I loaded my plate with pretty much everything there. Eventually I was called into the dressing trailer to get decked out in my photo shoot clothes. While they did not do my hair and makeup, they did spray the first round of “fake sweat” on me. (Yeah, that’s right, the people in those Running World photos are not really sweating.) I would constantly be getting a new coat of it through out the day.
I headed outside to begin the shoot, and meet whom I was working with for the day. The models that were hired we from all over the place. First there was Jo from England, who was a former steeple chase runner. Ryan was from Australia, and had a background as a sprinter. Stephanie was from the LA area, and while she did not have a background in competitive running, she was very athletic. Alejandro was from Panama, and like Stephanie he did not have a background in running. Last was Day, from South Carolina. She had been a hurdler in college. It was fun to get to know each of them through out the day. They seemed to be very pleasant and genuine, and they all said good luck in my future races at the end of the day. I found it interesting learning about how the modeling world works, including castings and what they have to go through to get other photo shoots. I think that they were just as interested in my life as like as a professional athlete, because they were asking questions about running and what I do during my day. I also met the photographers who would be taking all of the photos, Dave and Jake. They were very entertaining and outgoing and had very good chemistry together. Later I learned that they lived together, so it made sense that they got along so well. They would be cracking jokes all day, and definitely set an energetic and positive mood for the shoot.
The day was filled with us models running back and forth while Dave and Jake took action shots of us. While it was not really physically the taxing, the hardest part of the day was keeping “the look.” The look they wanted was one of focus and determination, like how you would feel on a long run. I actually found it hard to do keep the look they wanted, as I like to run and find joy in pushing the limits. I have always noticed that many times when I look back at pictures of myself running, I am smiling. So I was always focused on keeping a look of determination, which I think ended up being more of a blank look instead.
After the morning session finished they had set out a lunch buffet for us, and it was delicious. There was chicken, braised beef, butternut squash ravioli, salad, and trifle for dessert. Even though I knew that I had to run around for the rest of the day, I gorged. Luckily for me and another few models, they only needed two for the next part so I did have some time to digest and sit around and talk. I did not mind too much as I was outside (it was in the low 70’s) in California, being treated like a celebrity. Eventually we were called back to set and we ran around getting our picture taken until the end of the day. Then we headed back into the real world, and frustratingly, LA traffic.
Back at the hotel, I immediately jumped in the shower because I felt very dirty and oily, mostly from the fake sweat. After my shower I decided that I should get in the hot tub. There I met and talked with some people including a lady from Crested Butte. After a while I knew that I had dinner with Patrick and some of the people at Reebok, so I headed back to my room and got dressed. Dinner was fun, as we hung out and just talked about all sorts of things. We paid our bill and headed back to the hotel. By that time it was past 10. After waking up early, running a workout, and running more for the rest of the day, I was thoroughly beat and went to bed.
Once again I had to wake up early to get my run in before my flight back to Greenville. I did my run along the beach again, which I do not think would ever get old. The chauffer picked me up right outside of the hotel and it was only a short drive to the airport. The trip back went off without a hitch and I arrived in Greenville a tad before 6 pm.
Looking back, it was a fun trip and it would be something I would do again, but only if training allowed for right time. As much fun as it is to travel and see different places, I am very excited to get back to a familiar place where I can just train for a few weeks. The most important weeks before the World Half Marathon Champs are the ones coming up and I know that I will need to be recovering the best I can. And after this weekend, I have to ask my self, “Is there more to life than being really, really, really, ridiculously good looking?”