A Long Run with Hills and Famous Houses


Well, it sounded like a good idea when I planned it. How many times have you found yourself uttering these very words or something like it? As I got my training calendar ready for the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon, I used the Jeff Galloway plan. After hearing Jeff talk about how there was a remarkable improvement from runners who went beyond 13 miles in their long runs before a half marathon vs. those who didn’t, I wanted to make sure I did that. By the time I got to 9.5 miles on the calendar, I really wanted to hit double digits that week. So, I altered the plan and came up with an idea of making it all the way to 16 miles on my final long run before the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon.

As I calendared all the runs I’d need to do, this trip to Walt Disney World required me to make a slight alteration. I could run 12 miles and 14 miles in the two weeks before going to Florida, run 6 at Walt Disney World, 6 the week after, and 16 on this past weekend. Or I could put 14 and 16 miles on back to back weekends, like I did. Another option would be to run 16 the Saturday before the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon. The problem with that idea is that I’ve been planning on heading off to Disneyland to check out the 60th Anniversary extras this Saturday. So, I went with the 14 and 16 on back to back weekends.

Once that was settled, I had to decide where to do this 16 mile run. The Rose Bowl was out of the question because they had an event this past Saturday and Sunday. I really wanted a route that had some hills because the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon has a few hills. So, where should I run? Sometime last year, I found out that the home they used when they filmed the Walsh family in Beverly Hills 90210 was on Altadena Drive in Altadena. It was a little more than 5 miles away. So, I got on Map My Run to try to map out 16 miles that took me to the Walsh home. I was really excited with the route I came up with because I could run by some other famous homes as well. As an added bonus, I thought I came up with a route that was sort of like the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon Route.

RnR SD Course Elevation

This is what the course elevation reads for the Rock n Roll San Diego Half and Full Marathons. The top graph is the one I need to pay attention to.

Famous Homes 14 Mile Run

Here’s what I ran on Saturday. The gray part of the graph is the elevation. If you notice, it starts going up, just like the RnR San Diego Half will do. I knew that this route was a little more difficult, but I had no idea how much more until I ran.


I started off just like my 4 mile, mid-week runs. The first half mile is uphill before leveling out for a bit. I’m not gonna lie, to start off going uphill is not ideal. The bonus is that I get to pass by Pasadena City Hall. They’ve used city hall in a lot of movies and television shows. So, that was point of interest number one. I could tell that I was going a little slower than usual over this part. However, the goal for me was to keep to a 30 second run/1 minute walk intervals through the first 2 miles. Then, I’d see if I was up to doing more. From planning the route, I knew that the course went largely uphill for the first 5 miles.

When I was over 11 minutes for the first mile, I knew that this wasn’t going to be as fast as I would have liked. I continued to push through the second mile with the same 30/60 run/walk intervals. The second mile was a little more level and I took 10 seconds off my time for the first mile!

I started the third mile along Orange Grove Blvd and could feel myself struggling a little more. The elevation was starting to change. I turned on Lake Avenue and headed up, up, up the hill. I got to Lake Avenue at approximately 2.2 miles. That number is firmly in my memory because I wouldn’t see the road flatten out until I got to 4.2 miles. Yep. Two miles going uphill with no break at all. Since I already felt myself tiring before the climb on Lake Avenue, I had decided to switch to run 30 seconds, and walk 90 seconds. At first the incline wasn’t too bad. I was able to continue with my run/walk intervals all through the mile. By the end of mile 3, I was so ready for a break in the elevation.

Mile 4 got worse as the climb got more steep. We’re talking pretty close to San Francisco kind of hills. At 3.77 miles, I finally gave up on my intervals and decided survival meant more to me. As I continued, I wondered to myself why I chose to do this. If I wasn’t heading to the Walsh house, I probably would have turned around. It was feeling like it was too much. Like every race I felt wiped out at, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until, at long last, I crested the hill at Altadena Drive and turned right.

There was a brief part of the route that was flat and it felt heavenly! I started getting back into the run/walk intervals of 30/90. As I got near the end of the 5th mile, I started feeling better. The rolling hills of the 5th mile were just what I needed to recover.


Then, a little past 5 miles, I finally got to my destination! I instantly recognized the house as the one that the Walsh family lived in for Beverly Hills 90210! If I’m being honest, seeing the house made all that hardness of the climb worth it!


A little less than a block away is the house used as the home of Dylan McKay from Beverly Hills 90210! I did see this house on the way to the Walsh home, but waited until the trip back before stopping for a quick picture.


From there, it was time to head back down Lake Avenue. This picture was taken towards the top of the hill I had just climbed and was about to descend upon.


This picture gives you another idea of how steep parts of the hill were. Once I started the 7th mile, I went back to run 30 seconds, walk 60 seconds all the way back down the hill. In the steeper parts, I really had to watch my speed because I didn’t want to lose control and fall. That’s the bad thing about steep hills, they can be a very bad thing. The change in run/walk intervals lead to speedier miles as I was back under a 12 minute mile for both miles 7 and 8. The 8th mile was actually the fastest of the entire run at 11 minutes 4 seconds!


The ninth mile was a mixture of up and downhill roads. So, my time fell off. Also, I decided that, since the roads were leveling out, I’d go back to the 30/90 run/walk intervals. In the 10th mile, I got to pass my next point of interest. The Pasadena Library is the library they used in Legally Blonde as the Harvard Law Library scenes.


Just past the library, I got a really fun downhill portion that I get to run in my mid-week 4 mile runs leading me down to Fair Oaks Avenue. Right about the end of the 10th mile I came to the next point of interest. This is the building they used as the facade for the Peach Pit in Beverly Hills 90210. This is on my 4 mile mid-week run. So, I get to run by it all the time. I decided not to switch my intervals again and see how the times fared. With the fun downhill and largely downhill elevation, the 10th mile was faster than the 9th!

The 11th mile was my usual 3rd mile from the mid-week runs. I got even a little faster in this mile. It was a mile where I felt good throughout. To be honest, the 9th mile left me feeling a little fatigued. So, miles 10 and 11 restored the good vibes and had me ready to take it all 16 miles!

The 12th mile was the usual 4th mile of my mid-week runs. This mile is kind of tricky with a few tiny hills in it. As it was mile 12, I was feeling the tiredness start to kick in. When I look back at the time in that mile from the Nike Plus App, I’m actually surprised that I ran this mile quicker than the 10th mile. My legs were starting to feel like rubber. I fought through the mile by telling myself that I was less than an hour from finishing!


Mile 13 had my last two famous sights. First up was the house of Don Draper’s house from Mad Men. I’ve never run up El Molino before. The homes on this street are really nice and I’m sure mult-million dollar homes.


A few steps from the Mad Men home is the house from Father of the Bride!


I’ve heard about this house ever since I started dating my wife and have never been. So, it was pretty cool to actually see the home in person. Funny thing about this is that the house was really close to the end of the 13th mile. After seeing my final land mark house, I think my mind and body were ready to finish the run. I crossed 13.1 miles in 2 hours, 51 minutes and change. So, I was 6-7 minutes slower than my previous weekend long run. I was pretty happy about that because that’s what the hills did…6-7 minutes.

When I turned the corner to run up Glenarm, I could feel this run slipping away from me. By 13.5 miles, I was done. I knew what awaited me in the final 2.5 miles. There would be two small hills and one bigger one before descending to the finish. Those hills were too much for me to contemplate. So, I gave in and walked most of the last 0.5 miles.


The finish time wasn’t too bad. I’ve been slower. However, I’ve also been faster. I rationalized to myself that I didn’t really need to do 16 miles and 14 miles on back to back weeks was probably overkill as it was. If I had kept with my intervals in the last half mile, I probably would have ended 14 miles in just under 3 hours. So, my finish time wouldn’t have been much slower than the week before without the hills.


So, at the end of the day, I was very happy with the results and still feel that way. While I did cut the run short by 2 miles, I was able to test some things that I hope will help me during the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon. I learned that energy comes in waves. You’ll have it for a while, lose it for a while and it will come back. You’ve just got to keep plugging away. I’m going to do my best at knowing approximately where the hard parts of the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon are located. Bracing myself for the hard parts helps. Knowing where will end also helps. On this run, I got to the point where I had to give up the run/walk ratios and settle for walking because I knew there would be a point where I could pick it up again. Not only did I pick it up again, but I ran faster! That’s a fantastic sign and one I’d hoped for beforehand.

If the Rock n Roll San Diego Half Marathon finds me running like I have the past few weeks, I think I’ve got a very realistic shot at a new half marathon PR! I know that neither week produced that at 13.1 miles. However, in both weeks, I needed to save energy past 13.1 miles to finish my run. Only time will show me what’s possible. I enter this taper time with my spirits high. I’m looking forward to 4 more mid-week 4 mile runs, one 6 mile run on the weekend and a gym workout before heading off to San Diego!

3 thoughts on “A Long Run with Hills and Famous Houses

  1. great route-those hills into Altadena are no joke. I love that you ran by the Don Draper house-I will have to take my boyfriend over there to show him.

    and you have had a great training cycle since LAM and the weather is finally cooperating! Crossing my fingers that the weather holds up-I definitely think you could PR especially if you use the Saturday 5k as a shakeout run.

  2. I’m an East Coaster and have grown to love your run posts since you always do such a great job with the photos. Keep up the training and I look forward to hearing how the SD 1/2 goes!

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