My Weird Nostalgic 12 Mile Running Tour of Palm Springs

I had a very “not much to write about” week of running, so I’m not going to bore you with the details of each run. Suffice it to say that with the exception of a fairly decent tempo run, the week in running was, well, weak. Good thing it was a cut back week because that is exactly what I did.

After such a poor week I felt that I needed to have a strong long run on Sunday. Because it was a cut back week I was planning to do one of my favorite distance workouts, a negative split run. It involves dividing your run into thirds and running each third faster that the previous one. In my case, I planned to start out slower that my marathon goal pace for the first three miles, then pick it up to pace for the next three, then run even faster, another 15 seconds or so per mile for the next three. Since the goal was 12 miles, that left three more, which I planned to use as a cool down/rest/recovery ending to my run.

PS Run Alan

The only issue is that Sunday was also the Women Running Wild 5k in Palm Springs. I usually run it, occasionally train for it, and Alan always announces it. I love to go along just to see running friends that I haven’t seen in a while. I decided that I could have it all. I’d go to the race with Alan, hang out until it got light (yes he gets there that early), then take off for my 12 mile run.

PS Run Debbie

My only concern was my route. The only times that I run in Palm Springs is for this race and for the Palm Springs Half Marathon. I thought I could try running the course for the half, which would put me on fairly quiet streets. Alan suggested I could run the 5k course four times, but, um, no. I did live in Palm Springs a long time ago when I was first starting to run, but that was over 20 years ago. That did get me thinking though.

I have a long history with Palm Springs. When I was a kid (and living in Orange County) my parents used to stay there, either in a hotel or renting a house, in the summer. They loved the dry heat. They must have, because I have clear memories of being in Palm Springs when we landed on the moon the first time, in July of 1969. July!

Anyway, I thought a personal tour of Palm Springs would be feasible within 12 miles. The park where the race takes place is fairly central, and within just a few miles of the first few stops on my nostalgia run. By the way, I decided all this during the first mile of my run, without any real planning, so thinking it would fit into 12 miles was just wishful thinking an estimate.

So, are you ready? Let’s get going, shall we?

Mile 1.7: Apartment on Sahara Road

PS Run 1This is where I was living when my youngest son was born. It was tiny, just one bedroom, and didn’t have central air conditioning, just the window models. Not ideal and it wasn’t long before we moved. I do remember some good parties from that time though (before David was born, of course!).

Mile 2.4: The Monkey Tree

PS Run 2I was kind of amazed that this little hotel on Racquet Club Rd. is still here and looks pretty much the same (as far as my memory goes). We stayed here a few times when I was young (maybe when the house we used to rent was in use? Not sure, my parents didn’t consult me). It was called the Monkey Tree back in the 1960s. It is now the Terra Cotta Inn and is a clothing optional resort. I found this out, not from experience, but from Google. I also found out that the Monkey Tree was a “celebrity retreat” and was designed by Albert Frey, a modernist architect quite well known in the desert, back in 1960. It was a favorite for stars like Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Spencer Tracy. Who knew?

Mile 4.7: The House on Ventura

PS Run 3

This house is actually less than a mile from the Monkey Tree, but I had to run up and down a few streets to find it. I knew that it was on a street called Ventura, and the approximate location, but hey, it is about 45 years since we stayed there. It had a huge backyard, a big pool, and was almost the only house in the area. It was surrounded by open desert back then (not anymore!), and I remember spending time chasing a lot of lizards. We always brought girlfriends with us, and my parents had some great parties out by the swimming pool. And yes, I watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon when we were there.

Mile 6.9: We move to a bigger apartment

PS Run 4This was the two bedroom apartment I moved to when my youngest was a few months old. Much bigger and nicer than the place on Sahara, it was also walking distance to work (Bob’s Big Boy at the time) and shopping, not to mention the airport, City Hall, and the police department. That was good because we were a one car family at the time.

Mile 8.1: I was attacked

I’ve written about this before, but in a nutshell, I was running very early in the morning, over 20 years ago, when I was attacked, thrown to the ground, while the man tried to tear off my clothes. I managed to get free and ran away. While it still affects the way I look at things like running in the dark and traveling alone, it doesn’t freak me out to run by the location.  I do take mental note when I go (run, ride or drive) by though.

Mile 8.3: The Culprit’s House

PS Run 6I’m pretty sure that the man who attacked me lived right down this street. As I ran past a house there, I smelled cigarette smoke and the garage door was open. I’m not sure if that is evidence, but it was enough for me.

Mile 9.3: I lived here a month

PS Run 7I had just moved to this apartment complex when my mother passed away. They wouldn’t let me out of the lease, so I paid rent for over 10 months on an apartment I wasn’t living in.

Mile 9.6: The pink apartments

PS Run 8

I really liked this place. The apartments were big, they had their own washer and dryer, and huge balconies. The only reason I moved (to the place above) was because they were hiking the rent when my lease expired. Jerks. I do like that they are still pink. This is where I was living when I was attacked on the run.

Mile 9.8: My Safe Running Route

PS Run 9Seriously. I ran circuits around this parking lot for a couple months after my attack because I was too scared to run on the streets.

Mile 10.9: Palm Springs High School Track

PS Run 10This was the track on which I did my first speed training, before I really had a clue what I was doing. I would just run laps, speed up for one, then slow down for the next. Everyone has to start somewhere. It was also the place that I graduated to when I moved past the parking lot running. I’d drive to the school and park, do all my running on the track, then drive home. To keep track of my distance (long before Garmins), I’d move from one lane to the next for each lap.

Well, that was all the nostalgia I could fit in 12 miles. Or 13 as it turned out. As I was doing my run I started to realize that my distance wasn’t going to be right. In fact, I hit mile 12 about a mile from the park. Because I’d been running pretty hard (between photo ops), really wanted to slow down, but didn’t want to mess up my average pace from my 12 miler, I stopped my watch, reset it, and mostly walked/jogged that last mile to the park. Yes, I am that person who worries about those things.

PS Run Alan_DebbieEvery year, the race has a balloon release to honor cancer victims. I was so happy that I arrived just in time to get a balloon and send it off in honor of my sister Susan.

PS Run BalloonsAs I mentioned, I was really happy with my pace. I finished my run in 1:56, an average pace of 9:40. I felt so good through the whole run (okay, I was pooped for the 13th mile of my 12 mile run). I used the X2Performance before my run, and it really helped me stay strong through the run. I also recovered quickly, with a little stretching and a quick nap when we got home. The nap was needed more because I woke up at 3:15 than because of the run anyway.

Here are my splits:
Mile 1: 10:04
Mile 2: 9:58
Mile 3: 9:36
Mile 4: 9:22
Mile 5: 9:16
Mile 6: 9:29
Mile 7: 9:15
Mile 8: 9:27
Mile 9: 9:29
Mile 10: 10:05
Mile 11: 10:06
Mile 12: 10:00
Total: 1:56:09

This was exactly what I wanted. My goal marathon time is 4:15, which is a 9:44 pace. I am really happy with this run! Here’s the map with my nostalgia spots marked:

PS Run Map

This was the goody bag that they handed out to the dogs at the race (or their owners, actually). We were given seven, one for each of our dogs. What a great treat!

PS Run Dogs

Do you ever run (or ride or drive) past places that meant something in your past? Did you do a race this weekend? Or a long run? Or something else that was fun and exciting? Do tell!

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