Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Running 10 Miles in Fancy Los Angeles Neighborhoods

So it’s finally come to this. The Team to End AIDS runners are now entering double digit territory with this week’s run of 10 miles. The easy stuff is over, and now we get to the nitty gritty of marathon training.

As usual I was running (figuratively speaking) behind as I was slow to wake myself up at 6 am in the morning. It took watching part of the movie version of Julia Sweeney’s one-woman show God Said Ha to get me into gear, but of course I got caught up watching it on cable even though I have a copy of it on DVD. Regardless of the fact that I had the ability to watch this movie later, I was still hooked to what was going on as Sweeney’s brother suffered from lymphoma. 

Anyway, I remain thankful that the streets of Los Angeles remain largely empty in the morning as I sped my way up La Brea Avenue towards Griffith Park. It would be great if these streets were always this empty and free of traffic, but that of is just a pipe dream. This is Los Angeles after all; the land of the car horn symphony. Everybody is in a hurry to go everywhere and nowhere. 

It was great to be back in Griffith Park and running with a group of people as opposed to running by myself on a treadmill. I arrived just as Coach JC was starting the warm up exercises. All the head and feet rolling is great to do, but I always get a little discouraged when it comes to doing the high knees. It’s been ages since my knees reached up to the bottom of my hands, and it’s taken me a while to accept the fact that God did not make me into a flexible human being. 

Now today’s run came with a certain amount of worry for me. I was scheduled to interview Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook and the Spierig brothers about their latest movie Predestination at the SLS Hotel, and I needed to be there by 10:45 am. I kept working out the amount of time it would take me to run 10 miles in and, even though we were starting at 7 am, I realized that I would be cutting it really close. What’s worse, I planned to bring a change of clothes, some deodorant and my HD video camera with me so that I could drive straight to the SLS Hotel right after the run. I decided I didn’t need to do that, and I eventually realized that was a mistake. I am never all that patient when it comes to math.

This week’s run took us outside of Griffith Park and into Burbank and parts of Glendale where the houses are really pretty and enormous. At one point we ran by the Disney Imagineering Studios to find that a huge line had formed outside of it. We kept asking those who were there what they were waiting for, and it turned out they were waiting for the studios to open so they could go inside to buy the new collectable pins. I worked at Disneyland a while ago and I remember all about pin trading. Seeing all these people lined up there reminded me how popular that activity is. 

I also got a kick out of seeing one of the people who was waiting there holding an ALF doll in her hands. I used to have an ALF doll of my own until a pesky rat ended up decimating my entire stuffed animal collection. Anybody out there remember ALF?

Actually, the other thing I was reminded of was when I stood outside of the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Boulevard several years ago waiting with dozens of others for the midnight release of Madonna’s “Music” album. Some guy walking by asked what we were waiting for and a woman said, “Def Leppard tickets!”

We ran past that bakery again. The smell of yeast in the air is still intoxicating no matter what time of day it is. It filled me up so much that I didn’t even bother to look at those tasty advertisements hanging outside of the fast food restaurants we usually run past. Those ads always have me salivating even though I know the actual product won’t even compare to it.

This run had us going up what I call a deceptive hill. It’s when you’re running up a certain street and you don’t realize you’re going up a hill until it’s too late. Once you do realize that you’re running up a deceptive hill, you then come to see just how far up it extends and you wonder what the hell you have gotten yourself into. Sure you can turn around, but that’s really not an option when it comes to training for the Los Angeles Marathon. We need these hills.

We also got to run alongside some of the nice and expensive looking houses in Glendale. It’s always humbling to run by these homes which look like they are sitting on top of a plantation and being constantly reminded that you can’t possibly afford them. I came out to Los Angeles in the hopes of maybe moving into a place like that at some point. Well, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, but I can still dream, can’t I?

I constantly kept looking at my watch throughout the run, and I got increasingly nervous as the minutes kept ticking away from 9 am to 10 am. In my head I figured running 10 miles would take an hour and a half at best, but again I am not very patient with math. I kept wanting to finish faster and not just to say I was the first in the Lucky 13 pace group to cross the finish line. I needed to get to my Predestination interviews on time. 

The other runners started commenting that I was running too fast and they were right. As 10 am drew closer and closer, I had Rush’s song “Time Stand Still” playing through my head. 

“I turn my back to the wind
To catch my breath
Before I start off again.
Driven on without a moment to spend
To pass an evening with a drink and a friend.”

By the time I made it back to Griffith Park, it was already 10:10 am and this upcoming interview was threatening to become another I would miss out on. Still, it was great to be back in Los Angeles running with these fine people who I missed. Training for a marathon by yourself is not impossible, but it sure isn’t anywhere as fun as training with a group.

I managed to keep as much focus on my running stance as I could as I threatened to keep running while hunched forward, and I need to look out for that. I also need to make that speed walking stance where my arms are above my waist more of a regular habit. There was a bit of a burning sensation in my lower legs throughout, and that’s probably a reminder of how important it is to keep doing those maintenance runs during the week (for the record, I did do mine).

After I finished I quickly did some leg stretches and ate a couple of chocolate chip cookies that were left for us, and I jumped in my car and sped back to my apartment all the time hoping that a cop car would not pull me over for any reason let alone a justifiable one. From there I had one of the quickest showers ever known to man and then quickly put on jeans and my National Sarcasm Society t-shirt and raced over to the SLS Hotel. It turns out the interviews were all delayed a bit, so I did manage to talk with everyone and had a fun time. 

Looking at this training run and the interview I had with Ethan Hawke, I kept thinking about how minutes slip away so quickly as you get older and of how events become memories far too soon. Once again, Rush’s “Time Stand Still” comes to mind.

“(Time stand still)
I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
(Time stand still)
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Time Stands still
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away.”

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: Thanks to my good friend from Baltimore, Maryland, Ed Mahoney, I have reached my fundraising goal for the 2015 LA Marathon and AIDS Project Los Angeles. His very generous donation has put my total at $1,061. But while I have reached my goal, I still encourage you all to make a donation to this organization as they continue to do great work for those who struggle with this disease. Plus, with the year coming to a close, time is running out to get that always welcome tax deduction when you donate to a non-profit group.

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