So this is it, the last day of Team to End AIDS’ training for the Los Angeles Marathon which is now just a week away. After all these months of ridiculously unseasonable weather where Los Angeles residents experienced 70 to 80 degree temperatures in January and February, we were going to be running through the biggest rainstorm Southern California has seen in years. The weather forecasters were warning us endlessly that a lot of rain was coming, and they all had that look on their faces like, “For once we know exactly what we’re talking about.” On Friday evening the rain came down hard, and we even got a good dose of thunder which made us stand at attention and had our hairs standing on end. Heck, even Burbank got a tornado warning! When was the last time that ever happened?
As I have said in previous marathon articles, I didn’t run the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon as much as I swam it, and many other runners can testify to that. So when it comes to running in the rain these days, there’s no excuse for me not being properly prepared. I had my usual running gear on, and I also put on my black raincoat which I never really wear unless it is raining cats and dogs. Today was one of those days. Other runners went out of their way to put duct tape on their running shoes so that water wouldn’t somehow get inside and make their feet all soggy. When that happens, you end up feeling like you’re running in concrete galoshes.
I was keenly aware of the fact that this would be the last time us Team to End AIDS runners would be gathering together on a Saturday morning. True, we do have the marathon expo and the banquet/carbo load dinner next week to look forward to, but Saturdays won’t ever feel the same again. Sure, I’ll get to sleep in for a change, but it will definitely feel like something is missing. Training for this marathon was something I desperately needed after the emotionally tumultuous year that I had in 2013, and I am very thankful that I had this to come to.
Anyway, I managed to get to Griffith Park in one piece which was nice. It wasn’t raining when I got in my car this morning, but those clouds were dark and heavy, and they were hovering over us all day with the constant threat of rain that would be fiercer than usual. Did I find a good parking spot? Well, I found a parking spot, that’s the important thing. You have no idea how closely I looked at the curbs in the park to make sure that I did not park in the red zone. No more parking tickets! NO MORE!
Coach JC started off by congratulating us all for making it this far in marathon training, and we all felt a lot of pride for making it out to Griffith Park on this particular morning. He also made it clear that on marathon day, we need to start off slow and easy. As tempting as it is to get off to a fast start, it’s in our best interest not to zip by at warp speed. Even Scotty will be telling you, “I don’t have the power Captain!” Go ahead and let other runners pass you by as you make your way out of Dodger Stadium. Save your energy for the last half because that’s when you’ll need it the most.
Another great piece of advice Coach JC gave us was to not stop moving once we’ve crossed the finish line on March 9th. I imagine that the thought of coming to a sudden and complete stop at the marathon’s end is very appealing, but to do so would run the risk of our blood pressure dropping dangerously low. Looking back at the last three times I ran the Los Angeles Marathon, I found that I had to keep walking for a bit because the meet up point for Team to End AIDS was still a couple of blocks away. Still, I got to enjoy a free bagel that the volunteers were handing out along with the medals (no cream cheese though, damn it).
Today’s recovery run was only 8 miles long, and we have all long since earned the right to say that a run is “only 8 miles.” After staying inside Griffith Park last week, we were back on Riverside Drive and running through Burbank. All the time, we kept waiting for the rain to pour down on us in a fury. I was more than convinced that these heavy clouds were not teasing us like the ones that threatened us before the start of the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon.
We all took it easy on this run, and I found myself running at a steady pace and never faltering. I was in no hurry to finish these 8 miles, and besides I had to keep an eye out for all those wet leaves that were all over the road. Those things are so easy to slip on.
As we made our way through Burbank, I somehow started to think about Eddie Murphy. I’m not sure why, but his famous scene from “48 Hours” where he intimidates all the white patrons at a San Francisco redneck bar started playing in my head. That was the moment where Murphy became a movie superstar, and right now we are waiting for him to make the latest in a long line of comebacks.
Next thing I know, the other runners are talking about Murphy and how he was robbed of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Dreamgirls” (Alan Arkin won instead for “Little Miss Sunshine”). Drea thought it was politics that cost Murphy the Oscar, but one of the Stevens in our pace group (there are two of them) said that he heard it was because of “Norbit” that a lot of Academy members didn’t vote for him. Now on one hand I don’t think that Academy members should get caught up in another actor’s movie when they should be looking at the one he (or she) is nominated for, but on the other “Norbit” was a repulsive piece of cinematic toxic waste. Then again, Arkin did steal the show in “Little Miss Sunshine.” Oh well, the past is the past.
When we got to the turnaround point at 4 miles, it gave us the opportunity to see the Bolivers one last time. I kept staring at their peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers as if I would never ever see them again. As a result, I ate a whole bunch of them which is surprising considering that I haven’t eaten as many on the last couple of runs. We can’t thank them enough for all that they’ve done for us this training season. Keep in mind, they drive from the city of Fullerton to help us out, and that’s in Orange County. It is quite a bit removed from the Los Angeles area so, even if they are driving out to us early in the morning, it’s still a long ways away from Griffith Park. Trust me, I used to make that drive and on some days the freeway ended up turning into a used car lot.
In retrospect, it felt like this run ended as quickly as it started. Once I made that turn onto Zoo Drive, I found myself running faster than usual as I felt the need to finish first in the “13: The Sequel” pace group. As I headed towards the finish line, I kept thinking about the Peanuts special “You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown” and how Charlie got lost in thought during the last event of the decathlon:
“I’m going to win! I’m going to win the decathlon! They’ll treat me like Bruce Jenner! Parades! Flowers! Wow!”
Granted, the stakes weren’t that high on me finishing first, but I did feel a sudden surge of pride for some reason. And unlike Charlie Brown, I did not end up running in the wrong direction. Plus, if he was saying this today, I don’t think he would want to be treated like Bruce Jenner.
When I arrived at the finish line, the coaches were there along with the Bolivers and I made sure to give each of them a hug. It’s been a highly entertaining training season, and they were a big part of it. And with that, my training season with Team to End AIDS came to an end.
There wasn’t a feast for us this time as I guess everyone is saving their money for the Team to End AIDS banquet dinner taking place on the Friday before the marathon. Someone, however, was kind enough to leave us some pretzel sticks that were dipped in chocolate. These were actually one of the more interesting treats that we received during our various training runs, so in a way it was a nice send off to us.
Since there was no feast of bagels and cream cheese, fruits, cheese sticks or veggie straws to munch on, I ended up rewarding myself for a good training season with a Sausage McMuffin with Egg at a nearby McDonald’s (Michelle Brown, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry). Granted, rewarding myself with a meal that is obscenely high in cholesterol is probably not the way to go, but those sandwiches are just so damn delicious! In fact, I was even seriously considering getting the value meal that had 2 of those sandwiches, but common sense quickly kicked in and I realized that I didn’t need to congratulate myself quite that much.
I should also note that despite all the dark and heavy clouds hovering above us, it actually didn’t rain while we were running. Was it luck? Was it destiny? Was someone up there looking out for us in a way they weren’t during the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon? Who knows, but once I got back to my apartment it started raining hard once again and for the rest of the day. Go figure.
It’s going to be weird to wake up next Saturday and not have to drive to Griffith Park. I got to train again with a lot great friends and I got to make some new ones as well. I just hope that I don’t get all lazy after the marathon is over and forget to exercise on a regular basis. Lord knows that all the running I’ve been doing since October 2013 has helped me enormously on a psychological level.
With a week now until the Los Angeles Marathon, I will not drink a sip of alcohol and I will be hydrating myself whenever and wherever I can. I’ll be sure to do those two maintenance runs and I will take it easy on both of them. And I look forward to the Team to End AIDS dinner next Friday where I will get to see all the runners and coaches in regular clothes. That will be fun, and so will the dinner.
FUNDRAISING UPDATE: Well, not much to update on as I have reached my fundraising goal, but I did want to take the time to thank all of those who took the time to donate. Asking money from anyone these days is difficult, especially at a time when the economy in America is still struggling and many are still out of work, but you still came through for me in such a generous way. For that, I cannot thank you enough and you will be in my thoughts as I make my way from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica on March 9, 2014.
The following people are my wonderful donors:
Chris and Pat Kenber (my parents)
Jeannine and Allen Makely
IF YOU WOULD STILL LIKE TO MAKE A DONATION TO AIDS PROJECT LOS ANGELES, YOU CAN STILL DO SO BY CLICKING HERE. THANKS AGAIN.
Good Morning T2!!!
Week 20 of 2013 Los Angeles Marathon Training
Week 21 of 2013 Los Angeles Marathon Training
Day 20 of 2012 LA Marathon Training