When I got an email from Nike inviting me to an event, my first thought was, “They are going to kill me”. Not the kind of “kill me” where they tell you they are angry at you. The kind of “kill you” like Phil Knight taking you down cold with a sniper from a helicopter Sarah Palin style.
I read up about the event. Nike was asking certain members of the L.A. blogging community to come participate in and cover the Nike+ Human Race event in Los Angeles. In exchange for my services, Nike would give us some shoes and gear to run in, race registration and access to the runners’ VIP tailgate party before the USC/Oregon State game (plus some game tickets with the other runners). Still not convinced that I wasn’t being set up for assassination, I tread lightly. At the same time, the race benefit Pete Carroll’s A Better L.A. foundation, which is one of my favorite charities of all time.
There was one problem. My band Fight From Above was playing in San Diego on Friday night and the race was at midnight. I was angry I couldn’t run in the race, but still wanted to support Pete and the cause. Running is one of my favorite things, I have always worn Nike clothing (my feet are flatter than Nebraska so I usually wear Brooks shoes), so this seemed like a good event to make peace with Nike, assuming Phil Knight didn’t kill me with a bomb hidden in an iPod.
I asked someone if I could run a 10K on my own, then show up to the event. After all, only when Oregon State is in town is it socially acceptable to yell things like “hit those Beavers” and “man, that’s a lot of Beaver” without coming off like a total pervert. Nike accepted, which meant one of two things:
- they were willing to make peace with me in support of a good cause.
- they had me right where they wanted me.
I got my last will and testament together before heading down to San Diego on Friday. I spent the afternoon at George’s in La Jolla trying every strange drink they had on the menu and staring at the sea lions chilling in the bay. I had gone to Hodad’s the week before for the University of San Diego homecoming and I think once a year is enough. That hamburger ate me, not the other way around.
Eventually, it was showtime and we made our way to the venue and got into significant trouble as there was a bar tab for us. Somewhere between the queso fundido, Guiness and whiskey I was eating, I was pretty sure something inside me would break. Regardless, we played our set and our singer (a hero for not drinking) was ready to drive Ichiro (my whip) back to L.A. in the middle of the night. I had a 10k to run. Yikes.
The freeway was fogged in from La Jolla all the way to Irvine almost. I am talking about 30 feet of visibility tops. In the middle of the night, past the witching hour, I was sure we might just drive off the road and right into a tank drill at Camp Pendleton. Was Phil Knight using the Nike fog machine to make it look like an accident? Note to self: queso fundido makes you paranoid.
Somehow we arrive off Saticoy to drop off the amps by 3am. The valley looks even more like hell at this hour. At least we’re home. The fog seemed to lose us and by now, I am really not sure what I ate was queso fundido at all. It might have been orange play-doh and soon I will die. I press on home over the hill to my 37-acre chateau (1000 sq. ft apartment) and catch 4 hours of sleep.
Morning. Go time. Throw on the gear Nike was kind enough to hook me up with and set off to run my 10k. I am not a liar. I owned that 10k. I felt pretty good. Took a shower, threw on my USC gear and took Ichiro to the city.
Parked at Adams so I could walk The Row and Trousdale. Ran into some friends from school, work, all of that. Found Miner wandering campus looking for me. We hit an ATM and then made our way to the Nike event. Time to see what was up.
Diplo was spinning and we spent a good half hour drinking the incredible amount of Heineken they provided and watching him do his thing on the turntables. I realized I should have been a DJ. He was doing all kinds of crazy stuff. When I saw Oakenfold in London years ago, I couldn’t really tell what was going on. In fairness, I was 19 and in London. I was just stoked I could order beer.
Eventually, I met a rep from Nike who hands me our game tickets. He checks my name off the media list and a couple minutes later comes back. He has put it together. I am the sweatshirt guy. He tells me it was funny, but that someone in charge of PR wants to meet me. I am pretty sure I am dead now. I start to call my mother, but a very nice woman arrives and we actually joked about the situation for a few minutes. Apparently, Nike has a sense of humor and that makes me feel better. Everyone is super cool. They even started inviting in people who were watching this party go one, even if they didn’t run the race. People are learning about running, learning about A Better L.A. It’s good. No one is trying to kill me, there are no blue/gold sweatshirts around. I shake hands with Nike’s reps and officers and decide we’re good.
I’ll be honest, it’s a big weight off my chest. As was the case with the beef jerky incident, all I ever look for is a reason to get behind a good product. As I said many times during the whole USC/UCLA sweatshirt crisis, I have always liked Nike products. All I wanted was to get rid of the tainted gear, which I think we did. Mission accomplished, Lost Angeles. Jack Links sent me some replacement jerky, which I gave out to friends at the office. I learned about their company and their product. It worked out.
I think I got that experience with Nike on Saturday. They raised a lot of money and awareness for Pete Carroll and his foundation, which as an Angelino, is one of the most important charities around. They raised awareness for running. The Human Race is a really cool initiative. It was a really cool day.
I took off my kevlar vest that I wore just in case and decided to head into the game. We beat the Beavers all around the field. I got to meet a really cool cat who kept yelling crazy pump-up speeches when the game got close at the end. Picture the dude from White Chicks who sings Vanessa Carlton. He said things like:
- We gotta PUNISH these guys!
- Let’s treat them with some good old fashion Christian vengeance. Southern Christian style!
- You gotta put a hit on some of these Beavs!
- I want to see some blood, baby!
- Hit somebody! We gotta make them boys PAY!
- Pay the toll! Woo!
- When he wipes the towel he’s gonna pass!
Basically, this guy was awesome. I wanted to bring him to work with me for ultimate pump ups daily. I don’t even know what the hell he was talking about half the time. But he was awesome no-less.
So what did I learn? That’s what you need to ask yourself after a weekend like this. Here I go:
I like La Jolla. Calpirhinas are strong. Basil works well in booze. Sea lions have it better than me. Detroit Lions have it worse than me. Fog is scare. Phil Knight doesn’t make fog. Queso Fundido is a hallucinogen. 10K feels like 40K after a night in San Diego. Nike isn’t trying to kill me. Nike has a sense of humor. Hint is a pretty good flavored water. The best kind of beer is still free beer. Veggie burgers dress up as hamburgers for Halloween. If Phil Knight is trying to kill me, he is being patient about it.
So. For those of you who are upset my Nike battle is over, don’t be. I have a HUGE bone to pick with someone. I am going to take things to a new level. I plan to be a narc, a jerk, a prick and a scoundrel. Even better, I have pictures. I have license plate numbers. There is a real estate company in Beverly Hills that will find out what it’s like to be hunted. So don’t worry, I haven’t lost my edge.
I just needed to make peace with Nike. I thought, we could drag this out, or I could help them support A Better L.A.
In the end, I said, “Just Do It”.