The 5 Fs of Independence Day: Family, Friends, 5k, Food, Fireworks

After a really rough beginning of the week I was ready for some fun and frivolity for the 4th of July. I felt like I’d earned it!

Celebrating Independence Day in Huntington Beach has become a tradition for us. Alan announced the Surf City 5k for about five years, until 2009. Then, in 2010, when he discovered that he had a son (and grandsons) that lived there, we would go for fun, sometimes run the race, watch the parade, and hang out with our new-found family. In 2011, we experienced the miracle of the lost phone after the fireworks on the beach. No matter what year though, we had a great time, and we definitely appreciated the cooler weather.

Family and Friends

This year it originally looked like our family wasn’t going to be in town. We still planned to go (it being a tradition and all), and this year we had some friends that would be joining us. They are also Alan’s clients: Mom Liz, and her three kids, Nick, Nicole, and Garrett (who runs cross country for us). They were planning to run the Surf City 5k as a family, and most exciting, this would be Liz’s first 5k! A huge deal for someone who has lost over 100 pounds!

IMG952286Since the family wasn’t planning to be in town we made reservations at the Hotel Huntington Beach, a nice hotel which is nowhere near the beach (and therefore is reasonably priced). As it turned out, the family did stay in town, but we kept our plans anyway and stayed at the hotel. When they are in town my stepson, John, and daughter in law, Lisa, host a 4th of July party each year. This year they tried not to have it, but that didn’t work out. We’d laugh at Lisa when someone would say, “see you on the 4th!” because obviously they didn’t know that there wasn’t going to be a party. So of course, she threw a party. We thought it best not to get underfoot.

In retrospect though, we will never do that again. The reason: Parking. There is none. Or that’s what it feels like. Streets closed, a 5k, a parade, and thousands of people make for a traffic nightmare, and parking spaces are few and far between. When we stay with the family, we basically park the car and don’t have to move it for the weekend.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and headed over to the family’s house. Alan was planning on taking the boys to their Junior Lifeguard practice, then we’d check in, pick up our race stuff, etc. They rode their bikes to practice, so Alan jumped on a cruiser bike and rode along with them. I stayed at the house, not yet trusting my stomach to try anything active. Then we headed off to sign up for the race, took a random drive through Fountain Valley and Westminster (cities that surround Huntington Beach) because I tried to avoid the traffic caused by a broken stoplight. It probably took us twice as long, but we eventually arrived at our hotel and checked in.

We stopped for lunch when we arrived back at the beach, at a little Mediterranean restaurant that we love and makes great falafel pitas. Then it was time for Alan to pick up the boys. The Independence Day party starts early in Huntington Beach. By the time we got home, Lisa was busily cooking up a storm, knowing that people would be dropping by all evening. We know quite a few of their friends, so it was a social evening and we didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 10, a little late for us, especially the night before a race.

Surf City Run 5k


Of course, this was not just a race. In addition to Liz running her first, we also planned to run the race with our grandsons! They love to run, and it is something special that we do together when we visit. Cash in particular is a talented runner, coming in first at the two mile runs that they do at Junior Lifeguard practice. So we were really excited about the race, but not in the same way we would be if we were going to run hard. Still, it’s nice to get enough sleep the night before.


Fortunately, running an 8:00 5k is not the same as announcing one. We’d arranged to meet our friends at 7:15 and our family at 7:30, so the only thing we needed to worry about was parking. I followed a hunch and came in the back way (instead of trying to work my way along the parade route). After wandering the streets for a few blocks, we spotted a school that was just a few blocks from the race, so we quickly moved in and parked. Score!


This is the winning man and woman from the local’s race. I love the picture on the right..she’s flying!

Our friend Liz was not so lucky. After searching for a long time for parking, she dropped her kids off then went in search of the closest space. She ended up almost a mile away from the start line and had to walk, arriving with minutes to spare. At least she got a good warm up for her first race!


Meanwhile, Alan’s son John arrived with the kids around 7:45. We talked him into running halfway with us, which would bring him within a couple blocks of home. Being an athlete (though not really a runner), he agreed. That meant we really had the whole family on the start line.


We were happy to see that the race announcer was Rudy Novotny, who we know pretty well, and who took over for Alan after he stopped announcing the race. Alan had a little surprise for Liz. As we stood ready to start, Rudy announced her name and that it was her first 5k. Pretty cool.


Yeah, I look a little crazed and half covered the picture with my finger, but the other shot was even worse!

The boys, Garrett and Nick, moved to the front, planning to race hard. We started as a family, while Liz and Nicole started at their own pace. After about a quarter mile, Cash, one of the twins, asked if he could go ahead. Alan said sure, and he was off like a flash, weaving in and out of the runners ahead of us. Alan and I just stayed together, going back from time to time to check on Dane, the other twin, and John.


It is an out and back course, so we kept an eye out for Cash heading back, but didn’t see him. When we reached the halfway point, we said so long to John, and to Dane who decided to go with his dad. John did say that he’d seen Cash heading back in the other direction. We also saw Liz and Nicole as we headed back toward the finish.

We finally caught up to Cash at mile two. He was doing great, and we all stayed together at a moderate pace, with only one walking break for the rest of the race. It was so exciting to cross the finish line as a threesome! I can’t wait to see our finishing photo!


We met up with Garrett and Nick, who had already finished, then Nicole finished shortly afterward. We were on the lookout for Liz, who finished, looking strong in 46:53. What an awesome time for a first time 5k!


After we all finished, we met up at the little expo, picked up some food and water, and checked out the local businesses. And took more pictures of course!


I knew that Tiffany, my blogging friend and fellow IDEA Inspired Advisor who IΒ  met and experienced IDEA World with last year was running the race, but even though I kept my eye out, I didn’t see her. I was afraid that the same thing as last year would happen, we wouldn’t get a chance to meet up. But, finally, in spite of missed calls and texts that went to my iPad instead of my phone, we hooked up.


I can’t wait to see her again at Blogfest in August!

After all the socializing, we needed to figure out how to get back over to our family’s house, both to return Cash, and to see the parade. After some discussion we decided to leave the cars where they were and to walk the mile or so to the house. Of course, we weren’t entirely sure of how to get there, but between Cash’s directions and numbered streets we finally made our way to the house. The party was in full swing, even though it was just after 10 in the morning. We got a bite to eat, socialized a little, Alan and the kids saw a little bit of the parade, then we decided it was time to head back.

ID13The “non-party” at Lisa’s still involved breakfast, beer, and a lot of company. We left, so I’m not sure if it continued on into the evening, which is common for Huntington Beach 4th of July parties.

ID14The best mode of travel during the holiday is bike. As you can see.

Luckily, even though we didn’t have Cash to lead the way, we found our car without problems. We piled everyone in because Liz’s car was another mile away. We still had to deal with a few detours since the parade was still going on, but finally found a convenient and close place to drop them off.

Alan and I then went back to the hotel, showered, packed and checked out, then headed home. We always like to be home if possible on Independence Day. Even though the desert is pretty slow for the holiday, there are still some random fireworks, enough to scare our dogs, so we like to be there.


Our little illegal quiet celebration did not bother our dogs. There were a few louder booms, but the dogs were amazingly calm. Which is good.

All in all, one of my favorite 4th of July celebrations ever! Good friends, family, and running, what else can you ask for? Great food too, which you can check out here. A great turnaround to a week that started out badly.

How did you spend your holiday?


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  1. says

    Ahhh Debbie, I love all these photos! So many smiles, and so much appreciate for the opportunity to participate in running events like this! I love that you also took a photo of the winning man and woman. I wonder if people ever take photos of me at the end of races. I am not sure I look that strong though haha! Glad you had a wonderful weekend, I did my 5 mile race this weekend, and won that lovely pie….which is now gone, and spent the prize money on a lovely 4th July with my boyfriend! πŸ™‚
    Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday: Strawberries and Cream Protein BarsMy Profile

  2. says

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