Monday, December 29, 2014

12 Miles and a Sexy Santa Suit!

The weather gets colder, but we Team to End AIDS runners are still more than willing to show up at Griffith Park at a ridiculously early hour Saturday mornings. This week had us running 12 miles with the promise of no hills, but as Spock said there are always possibilities.

I had trouble getting to sleep the night before, but I still managed to haul my ass out of bed at around 6:15 a.m. which in retrospect was amazing. This week’s movie which was showing on cable and delayed my departure from my bachelor pad was S.W.A.T., the movie version of the TV show starring Colin Farrell, Samuel L. Jackson, L.L. Cool J and Michelle Rodriguez. 

I was especially excited about this movie as it was directed by Clark Johnson, the man who played Meldrick Lewis on one of my all-time favorite TV shows Homicide: Life on the Street. The show may not have gotten great ratings during its run, but those involved with it continue to make their presence known in any and every medium out there.

So yes, I was a little late getting to Griffith Park, but I arrived just in time to see Coach JC unveil his beautiful Mrs. Santa Claus dress which looked just fabulous on him. Coach JC offered to wear this sexy looking dress (Mr. Santa Claus can only dream of looking this good) if all Team to End AIDS runners managed to raise $60,000 by the end of the week. Suffice to say we succeeded in making that a reality, and here we were marveling at our coach and taking pictures of him with our iPhones and cameras for posterity. It was especially brave of him to wear it for reasons I’m sure you’d understand… IT WAS BLOODY COLD OUTSIDE AND THE DRESS DIDN’T HAVE MUCH FABRIC TO WARM HIM UP! HIS SKIN WAS EXPOSED FOR PETE’S SAKE!!!

During his speech to us, Coach JC reminded everyone of how hard concrete can be on our feet. This is why you see us running on the streets instead of the sidewalks because the asphalt is much better to run on, and that’s what we all will be running on when the day of the marathon arrives. Of course, there are always police officers on our tails ordering us to get our asses back on the sidewalk, but we can jump back onto the asphalt once they’re out of sight. 

This run once again took us outside of Griffith Park, and we took the usual route over the freeway and into Burbank and then Glendale. As we ran past a park, we all were all treated to the grisly image of a dead skunk on the side of the road. He (or she) looked like they didn’t know what hit them. Perhaps the skunk was there to remind us to look both ways when we cross the street. Surely none of us want to end up (or smell anything) like him!

On this run the big conversation we all had was over Sony Pictures’ decision to not release The Interview in movie theaters. We were all in agreement that they should have just released it as this set a very dangerous precedent, but we also had to remind ourselves that Sony made the decision after numerous theater chains announced that they wouldn’t screen it due to terror threats made. In short, they didn’t want to be held liable for anything that happened at their establishments. It is true what they say: money is the corrupter. Hopefully Sony will change their mind and release The Interview on Christmas Day like they originally planned to.

The biggest obstacle we encountered this time around was staying on pace. Just when I thought we all started our timers at the same time, it soon turned out that we didn’t. Some decided to pause their timers upon arriving at the rest stops, and that threw us off to where we kept starting and restarting our watches on a regular basis. I ended up losing count of how many times I restarted my watch as it seemed to be increasingly impossible to be on the same page with everybody else. The fact that we were able to figure out our pace before we crossed the finish line was nothing short of a miracle.

At one point we reached that familiar street which was divided into two sides of traffic and had a bike and walking path down the middle which stretched for miles. I’ve ran down this road before, and there’s something about running in what seems like the middle of the road that feels both defiant and freeing. Damn the traffic! Damn the bicyclists coming in front and behind me! Nothing’s going to stop me now… except of course for the occasional street crossings and stop signs. 

It was at this point that the hit song by The Pretenders, “Middle of the Road,” started to play inside my head. I’m pretty sure the title of the song isn’t meant to be taken literally, but that didn’t matter to me in the slightest.

Actually, many ended up running on the streets instead of the middle road as, once again, the asphalt is much kinder to the feet. While I knew the middle road was made of concrete, I was still compelled to run on it regardless. But after a bit I decided it might be better to run on the street even as the roads got increasingly narrow to where we had to run in a single file run. Of course, I later found myself getting back onto the middle road just because I was drawn to it or something stupid like that. It also got me to meet up with Coach JC who drove ahead of us to check in and make sure we were doing okay. JC, still wearing his beautiful Mrs. Santa Claus dress, ended up saying to me, “I am not looking forward to your next blog.”

One of the sites I came across on this run was a speed limit sign that indicated the speed you were going at. My brother loves to race through them to see if they will overload and send sparks flying. As we approached it, it read 15 miles an hour. For a moment I thought it was measuring the speed we were running at, but it turns out there were a number of bicycles behind that were coming up a lot sooner than we realized. As we ran past it, I was hoping it show us going at breakneck speed. Then again, we have been constantly reminded that our marathon training has not been about speed but instead endurance.

We made it back to Griffith Park in one piece, and the most frightening thing of all was that we made it look like running 12 miles was not that hard. What’s wrong with us anyway? 

We should also take the time to congratulate those who completed those first time marathon runners as this run marked the farthest they have run in one day to date. Way to go y’all!

This is our last run before Christmas and many of us were getting ready to leave town to spend it with our families. As we departed, we all wished one another a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah or Chanukah if you prefer to spell it that way. Since there were a number of holidays coming our way in the next few weeks, I made sure to wish my fellow runners a Happy Kwanza and a Happy Boxing Day to make sure everyone was covered. We’ve got to be equal folks.

I’ll be out of town next week for the 5 mile run, but I will make sure to run it when next Saturday comes. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a ridiculously Happy New Year. Be safe.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: For those of you tuning into this blog for the first time, I am training for the 2015 Los Angeles Marathon in support of AIDS Project Los Angeles. They are a non-profit organization that has spent years helping those afflicted by this disease we have yet to eradicate. I encourage you to donate to this organization, and together we can put an end to AIDS for once and for all.

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