Operation Jack Marathon, WB Studio Tour, and Socal Beaches
Introduction (LA, Los Olivos, Marathon, San Diego)
Pre-Trip Road Trip to DC: John Kerry at Senate Visit
Hollywood, Daikokuya Ramen, Universal Studios
LA, Sideways Wine Trail, Santa Barbara
Operation Jack Marathon, WB Studio Tour, and Socal Beaches
San Diego Zoo and Seaworld
Hollywood Sign, Rose Parade Floats, and More Ramen
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach
This was a large resort that sits across the street from Huntington Beach. There are a few exits in the middle of the complex so you can just cut across the street straight to the beach. The entrance is not on the main road, which makes it much easier to get into. They have valet parking but it is a bit expensive. There was also a resort fee that we had to pay as well. Below is the view of the beach from our balcony.
I requested an ocean front room, which was very nice. However, it was quite far from the main entrance. It was very close to the gym, the hot tubs and the smaller side pool with beach chairs. We weren’t here that long to make full use of it, however.
This was a great resort but it was huge and there was a lot of walking involved. Our bags were delivered, which really helped. But it was still a big resort. We got it late the night before so i was anxious to just get some sleep before the marathon.
After the marathon, I did use the gym and hot tubs to try to loosen up. This would be a great resort to stay in as there is much to do on the beach and then you can come back to the resort to relax at the various pools and hot tubs.
Operation Jack Marathon
It was definitely a bad idea to stay at Huntington Beach before this marathon as it was a solid 40 minute drive to the start. There was race day packet pickup and decent amounts of parking. My wife dropped me off so she could go back to sleep, so we didn’t need to park. There weren’t any close spaces left but there were other free lots you can park at.
I met another marathon maniac at the start and he was telling me how he was doing the walk-run strategy. He was aiming for about a 4:20, much faster than my anticipated 5hr finish. I knew some people used it to go 3:30 so I know it works.
We started right on the beach. There is a concrete path along the beach. Some parts of it were under construction during the non-peak season so we had to detour around to the straight bike path or road. I didn’t realize until part of the way through the race that there was almost no shade along the course. The sun did feel pretty strong despite it being days away from the winter solstice.
I started way in the back to make sure I didn’t get into anyone’s way. I believe there was a generous 6 hour finishing time with walkers able to start an hour earlier.
The first part of the race was good. We started a hour after sunrise and the clouds covered up the sun for the first 1/3 of the race. The sun peaked out after that and was full blast for the 2nd half of my race. I brought my hydration pack and plenty of Clif Shot Bloks to power me through.
At mile 7, I felt a sharp pull in my IT band. I stopped and tried to walk it off but it was still very tight and a bit painful. I continued to run as walking actually hurt more. I slowed my pace a bit but kept running to make sure it didn’t flare up.
The course was a bit interesting. It was an out and back course, with the start being right in the middle. The half marathoners would stop on their first time back at the start while the marathoners ran further south and then doubled back. The first half of the race was right by the storm drain area just north of LAX. The second half was the beach area right by the power generation and industrial area just south of LAX. The course ran right by LAX so I got to see many planes take off every few minutes.
There were a few aid stations but not as close as I would like. The hydration pack definitely helped.
My calves started to cramp up about mile 18 or so and by mile 20 I couldn’t run anymore. My IT band had gotten much worst and now it was very painful to walk. I managed to walk as fast as I could and to make sure I was moving forward. I would run a few steps here and there but wouldn’t get very far.
I had called my wife to let her know I was running late. She was running late to pick me up as well. She got to the parking lot and meet up with me about the 25 mile mark and we walked together to the finish. She definitely made it a lot easier to finish.
It was my slowest marathon finish. I think I did pretty well considering an injury in the middle of the race. I wasn’t so concerned about my time, but that I had another marathon in about 60 days or so in South Africa. They have a required finishing time of 5hrs 30 minutes to have your time count.
WB Studio Tour
We drove up to WB Studios for the tour. The previous day, we went to Universal Studios and took that studio tour, which was nice. This was supposed to be better as everyone had to pay $50 for the tour (now $52). In short, it was definitely worth it.
We drove through their sound stage, which wasn’t being used. There were many famous shows and movies shot here along the drive.
We stopped in this square and got to walk around some of the houses pictured below. We went into the white house below. Much of the house has false ceilings and some movie lights left over from a previous shoot. The tour guide explained some of the tricks of movie making and also some famous shots.
Next up was their car museum with many cars from famous movies. Not pictured was the space capsule from Big Bang Theory, which is also shot on the WB lot.
We then went into the Friends sound stage. The Central Perk coffee shop was still intact and we got to go inside. The coffee shop itself was very small. We could not sit on the couch as it was preserved.
The next and last stop was the WB museum with many current movie memorabilia. We could not take pictures in here. There were many costumes from Harry Potter and many other movies. There were also life sized props used in movies. It was very cool to see.
By the time we were done, it was about 6:30pm and it was very dark outside. It was an awesome tour and I would definitely pay to see it again. Our tour guide actually paid for the much more expensive tour a few times and then kept applying for a job here. She eventually got a job working for the Ellen show. Her show wasn’t being filmed that day so she rotates into other jobs, like being a WB Studio Tour Guide. She explained to us how the shows are full months in advance and there is almost no way to get day-of tickets. They always have an overflow room just in case to fill in the main studio.
For dinner, we asked our friend for recommendations for a good Vietnamese restaurant in Westminster. Westminister has a huge Vietnamese population so that would be a great place to check out. She gave us the name of the restaurant and recommended some dishes for us to try. Both were amazing.
Also, the thing to do out in California is to get bubble tea or Boba. This was also a thing on the East Coast but much less so after frozen yogurt shops like Pinkberry opened up. However, I just had a craving for it so we stopped in a place just a few stores away to get one.
The next morning, i finally got to use some of the amenities of the resort. I used the hot tub to sooth my IT band and used the gym. Their gym was quite small as much of it was still under renovation. They had a foam roller so I used that to try to loosen up my IT Band. The hot tub and roller definitely helped.
We were heading down to San Diego now so we took the time to visit all the popular beaches near us, including Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.
By far, Laguna Beach was the nicest with the nice flowers and the cliff view.
Korean BBQ Buffet
We had lunch in LA. I wanted to have some Korean BBQ Buffet after my marathon so we tried a place. It was pretty good. The buffet in California is a bit different from the East Coast. Here, you order what you want and it comes to you. The meat is often not marinaded. On the East Coast, you usually pick what you want from serving trays and the meat is often marinaded.
Either way, it was delicious. We got a bit of every bit of meat and we ate it with the side dishes. I also ordered some noodles to balance the protein in the meal. I was very full after this.
We then drove down to Four Points by Sheraton San Diego so we can start our trip in San Diego.