One January evening, my friend Carolina Miranda and I ran 6 miles around Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and East LA. Such long jogs were not part of the daily workout regimen. But we had signed up for the Hollywood Half Marathon and had to get our bodies used to pounding the pavement by April. Carolina, an arts writer for the LA Times, mapped the route and pointed out sites along the way: Los Angeles General Hospital where Marilyn Monroe was born in the charity ward in 1926, the tangle of train tracks crisscrossing their way to the LA River and to Piggyback Yard, a great dimly-lit local watering hole called Footsie’s. As a reward for our efforts, we ended the run at El Atacor #11 for tacos de papas and the infamous porno burrito.
Workout completed, we Lyfted it back to Carolina’s house and ate our tacos and burrito with gusto, sipping whiskey with freshly-squeezed orange and lemon juice. The run was perfect, we declared with endorphins raging. We should end every weekly training run at a restaurant “of the neighborhood” like El Atacor, all while traversing parts of LA on foot. We invited another friend to join in on this brilliant, slightly mad endeavor. Maria Fellows, a Pasadena family therapist specializing in transnational adoptions, didn’t need much persuading.
Though it’s no weight loss plan, our Hollywood Half Marathon training program has exceeded all expectations. We have logged 120 miles so far. Our routes have taken us past the edgy aluminum-glass walled home that Frank Gehry built in 1978 in Santa Monica and the witch’s house in Beverly Hills used on the “Hansel and Gretel” film set. A parade of bumping lowriders cheered us on at Mile 8 in Compton and flocks of parrots charted the way through fog on our early morning run in Pasadena. We ate smoky hand-pulled noodles in a bowling alley at China Tasty in the San Gabriel Valley, a tiger tail hot out of the fryer at Donut Man in Glendora and a sour cream-and-caviar omelette in the basement of the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Learn more about where we ran and dined in Carolina Miranda’s L.A. Times piece and follow us on Twitter @dearabbie and @cmonstah to see where we are headed next. In the meantime, read on for six terrific routes.
6 miles in Boyle Heights and Downtown LA
Our 6-mile run in Boyle Heights and Downtown LA ended with a torta de huevos divorciadas at La Mascota Bakery. Route highlights included the Art Deco Sears building at 2650 E. Olympic Blvd., running over the L.A. River and the Estrada Courts murals.
8 miles in Glendora
Our scenic Glendora run began and ended at Donut Man. The Donut Man is Jim Nakano, who has one seriously inspirational story. Route highlights: the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, running along stretches of Route 66, past the Glendora Country Club and through Angeles National Forest. After the run, we ate a tasty tiger tail hot out of the fryer and Carolina called the strawberry donut the “Sydney Opera House of donuts” — those are words she doesn’t use lightly.
9.42 miles in Compton
Our Compton run began and ended at Bludso’s BBQ for rib tips, potato salad, collards and German chocolate cake. Route highlights: Abbey Memorial Park, the nearly 300-year old Eagle Tree, the old Skateland on South Central Avenue, a parade of lowriders bumping and cheering us on along Compton Boulevard, the modernist Dr. Martin Luther King “Mountaintop” memorial at the Civic Center.
10.7 miles in Santa Monica and Venice
Our beach run took us through Santa Monica and Venice at dusk. The destination: The Galley for whiskey and steamed clams. Route highlights: the edgy 1978 aluminum-glass walled home that Frank Gehry built, the historic Santa Monica Pier, Jonathan Borofsky’s ballerina clown sculpture and the Binoculars Building in Venice.
11.25 miles in Beverly Hills
Our Beverly Hills loop started and ended a stone’s throw from The Beverly Hills Hotel. Route highlights: the Sunset Strip, running past Cedar-Sinai hospital where Madonna got her hernia operation, Rodeo Drive, the Church of the Good Shepherd where Frank Sinatra went and Carmen Miranda had her funeral, the witch’s house that was used on the “Hansel and Gretel” film set.
13 miles in Pasadena and San Marino
Our longest run was a foggy 13-mile loop that started at 5 a.m. at Lucky Boy and ended there with the famous breakfast burrito. Route highlights: the flocks of parrots flying overhead, skirting the grounds of The Huntington Library Art Collection and Botanical Gardens, climbing Shenandoah Road past the palatial homes of San Marino.