I've been doing obstacle course races for a few years now, and they're always more fun to do with friends and family.
So when Eric Hill (hence the 2-I's, see above) invited me to participate in Concrete Hero, "the ultimate urban obstacle challenge", and it happened to be in the time that I would be in LA, I jumped right in.
Look Before You Leap
After signing up and joining the team, I saw that my fundraising goal was $400, which was fine, I'm all for setting challenging goals. Several of the races I've done in the past have had similar minimum requirements, but usually closer to around $100.
And more often than not, I just pay the entire "fundraising goal" rather than actually trying to hit up my friends, co-workers and family and actually fund-raise.
But $400 was a bit steep, especially for a 5k. Certainly we wouldn't have to ....
Oh yes, we would have to raise $400 if we wanted to race.
I'm sure that this was all in the initial sign-up and I missed it. That wouldn't be the first time that happened, but it certainly was the most costly to date.
Rolling Up My Sleeves
Of course, not doing it wasn't an option. It's not in my nature to give up and AIDS Project Los Angeles is an organization that has a special place in my life.
Many years ago when I was working as a clown, I donated my "skills" to One Hand, One Heart, an event APLA put on in 1988.
That was way back when I was still Jon Pages, before I decided to add an "s" to my middle name and drop the Pages, to become Jon Danniells, the name I've gone by for more than half of my life.
The way that AIDS has affected me, from losing friends to seeing the anti-gay backlash, to coming of age while it was just beginning, and on; that would be a blog post or two in and of itself.
All that said, I decided to give this fund-raising thing a try, sort of. I did post links of my Participant page up on facebook and I mentioned it with a link in this blog, but I didn't send out direct e-mails or make any phone calls. I guess I'm just not that aggressive when it comes for asking for money.
But I did manage to get some donations, big thanks to all of you who contributed. I learned that the key to fund-raising besides having wealthy friends and family is persistence. After signing up I must have received 4 or 5 phone calls from APLA volunteers as well as an e-mail every other day reminding me of my "goal".
One thing our team was in complete agreement about was we were doing this race for fun not for time.
I feel this way, to a certain extent with most races I do. There are some, like marathons where the time means a bit more, but even then, if I'm worried more about how fast my time is rather than how "good" my time is then it really doesn't make much sense. Especially in this kind of thing where you run into bottle necks at the obstacles as soon as you get your heart rate up.
I saw this race as one full of good photo opportunities, a perfect chance to get some good Go-Pro footage.
So even though I bought a new head-piece because my old one had broken, the slight adjustment with the new one resulted in me shooting just over the heads of everyone and the course seeing a lot of second-story and up of buildings in downtown LA, and I had several fully charged batteries, I grabbed the wrong media stick, as in the a 4GB as opposed to the 16GB, so I wasn't able to record the entire event much less grab stills at the end, even though I had packed a different mount with the LCD back attachment.
And because I thought that I had this so thoroughly planned out and nailed with the Go-Pro, I didn't bother taking many pictures with the Iphone and didn't even bring my back-up camera which is the whole point of it being a back-up camera.
My editing skills deficient as they are is an entirely different matter.
So I didn't end up being the great on-the-scene photojournalist I had imagined.
A poorly shot, horribly edited clip that gives you an idea of what an off-photo day it was indeed.
The event was held at LA Live.
The latest and probably one of the most successful attempts to give make Downtown Los Angeles a destination.
There are video screens projecting all sorts of advertisements all around you. Enormous images taking up sides of buildings. It so reminded me of Ridley Scott's vision of the future in Blade Runner.
The race itself ended up being a lot less of a challenge than promoted, which I pretty much expected. None of the obstacles posed any sort of difficulty, even the monkey bars which have given me problems in other events had bars that had a good grip texture and were well spaced and the distance was relatively short.
One would have expected some pretty outlandish costumes, and there were a couple but for the most part it was pretty tame. I think it being set early Sunday morning might have had a lot to do with that.
While it might seem that I have a lot of gripes and complaints, they were mostly self-imposed. It ended being a great learning experience and more.
It was wonderful to catch up with Eric and talk about old times and new.
And great to be up and out early Sunday morning, to see a side of LA that you don't get to see that often.
Eric was already signing up for Concrete Hero 2013 and I would have been as well, except more likely than not we won't be in LA then.
I actually have no idea where we'll be in a year, so who knows.