Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pre-LA Marathon

I headed down to LA with two other Googlers.  I had just posted on a Google message board that I was running the LA Marathon and was looking for someone to carpool and share a hotel room.  So on Saturday morning at 7 AM, we met for the first time and drove down together.  Nick was from Georgia and Adam was from Poland.  So I got to hear some wonderful accents all weekend.

We drove down 101 instead of I-5 for the scenery, even though it would take an extra 45 minutes or so.  All was great until we got into LA.  Just about as soon as we did, bumper-to-bumper traffic.  ALL THE TIME.  It wasn’t even rush hour.  It was 1:00 on a Saturday.  What the hell?

We decided we’d go straight to the expo rather than going to the hotel first, just so we’d avoid driving around LA as much as possible.  Good choice.  It took about an hour to move about a dozen miles to get to the expo.  I could ride a bike faster.  One of the strangest things was that there was never an accident or a lane closure, and every now and then the traffic would get moving back up to highway speed, and then slow down to a crawl just as quickly.  What on Earth causes that?  This might sound bad, but whenever I’m in traffic, one of my primary thoughts is “Someone better be hurt.”  It’s not necessarily that I want people to be hurt, but I want to know there’s a good reason for the traffic.

After dealing with frustrating traffic for an hour, we drove about a lap and a half around the convention center before it was clear where we were supposed to park, due to a lack of signs, and confusing directions on the occasion you saw one.  And it cost $12.  If the marathon’s gonna justify charging $180 for registration, they really oughta provide free parking, and that means at the expo, start, and finish.

The expo went smoothly enough.  Short lines for packets and T-shirts.  Not sure why the T-shirts weren’t in the packet, but it was still easy enough.  Took care of everything we really needed to within about five minutes, then just hung around for a while and tried out a lot of free samples.  With little else to do, we headed to the hotel.  Which, of course, took over an hour, despite being only a dozen miles away.  Somehow, San Francisco’s highway system is a fraction of LA’s, and yet the traffic wouldn’t even register on LA’s scale.  And it’s not like the bay area doesn’t have a substantial population.

Our hotel was within walking distance of the morning shuttle pick-up and right on Venice Beach, and by that, I mean right out the front door was sand.  Pretty sweet, honestly.  It wanted to charge us $15 for parking.  If you’re going to justify $200 for a one-night stay, you need to provide free parking.  One of us knew that the LA Google office was two blocks away, so we parked there.  That was a surprise to me, for sure.  Had I known that, I wouldn’t’ve bothered looking for carpoolers and hotel mates, I would’ve driven down myself with a sleeping bag and stayed at the Google office.

I didn’t actually eat a lunch, but snacked all day.  We went out for a pasta dinner in a downtown area of Venice beach.  At 6:00, there were tons of people wearing green, some of them visibly drunk, and long lines out the door of every bar, especially Irish-themed ones.  It wasn’t even St. Patrick’s Day until tomorrow, nor was the sun down yet.  I guess this town likes to party.  I wasn’t that hungry and split a dish with Nick.  Still made me feel really full.  We walked back the long way along Venice Beach, then went to bed around 10:00, giving us only five hours before we’d have to wake up at 3:00 AM.

To be continued...