After a week of ridiculously warm weather in the Los Angeles area, the clouds once again descended on us just like they should during one of the coldest months of the year. After what proved to be a rough 15 mile run, this week had us Team to End AIDS runners doing a recovery run of 8 miles. In the past I would have said that 8 miles was no big deal, having trained for the Los Angeles Marathon for the past four years, but after being reminded of how battered my body can get after last week’s 15 mile run I came to see that our marathon training can no longer be taken lightly at this point.
Getting myself out of bed that Saturday morning wasn’t too much of an ordeal, and I am happy to say that I didn’t get too caught up in watching Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear, made back in a time when remakes were rare and actually worth watching, before I drove out to Griffith Park in the safest way possible.
When I arrived at Griffith Park, Coach JC was talking to the Team to End AIDS runners about the most important things to keep in mind when running a marathon. With this being a recovery run, JC reminded us to take it easy and not speed our way through to the finish line. The most important mile we end up running in a marathon, he said, is the first mile. The second most important mile in a marathon is the second mile, and it served as a much needed reminder of how easy we need to take it at the start of things. Trying to set a land speed record at the start of any marathon is always doomed to failure. Besides running a marathon isn’t about how fast you can finish one in, but of how much you can endure in the process.
After that we did our warm ups which involved moving our heads from side to side, rotating our hips and feet clockwise and counterclockwise and doing high knees and kickbacks, we were herded out one pace group after another to the starting line for a run that was confined to the inside of Griffith Park. We would start out on Zoo Drive like we always do, and then we would continue on to Crystal Springs Drive. This would take us to the other side of the park at which point we would turn around and hopefully not get run over by cars or bicyclists.
Before that, I caught with a number of my fellow runners who have returned to the fold after being away for a number of weeks. One of the main things we talked about was how certain members of our family kept having severe emotional breakdowns on Christmas Day. I experienced that myself when my niece went through a roller coaster of emotions this past year. While she has a strong affection for Santa Claus, she also has serious issues with his wife who is in charge of leaving goodies in our stockings.
A fellow runner said that her mother handed out checks to the family for Christmas and that she apologized for the amount being smaller than usual. We all agreed she has nothing to apologize for.
I once again brought my Droid phone with me in an attempt to track my run with Runkeeper. I had the workout all set up and ready to go, but when I pressed the start button it seemed to forget that I had set up intervals. Once again, I had to rely on other’s watches to keep track of when we ran and walked. Maybe I should try the Strava app that Floyd and Stephen use on their runs. Either way, I really need to get a new watch with interval timing. I have to believe that those kinds of watches still exist.
One of the joys of today’s run was meeting up with all the AIDS Life Cycle participants who were riding through Griffith Park on their bicycles. Many of these bicyclists previously participated in Team to End AIDS training programs and it was great to see them again. People like Madonna Cacciatore, Robin McWilliams and Esther Kim are among those I have trained with in the past, and seeing them take on a new kind of endurance challenge is both wonderful and encouraging. It also serves as a reminder of how long it has been since I rode a bicycle. Come to think of it, I can’t even remember the last time I rode a bicycle. Yikes, I’m getting old!
Another bicyclist whose name I can’t quite remember called out to us and said, “Hey, how are my T2 bitches?” Money can’t buy that kind of loyalty.
On this run I tried to remain conscious of my form as it was starting to feel like I was leaning forward more than usual. I make an effort to keep my back straight, but I also don’t want to make it look like I’m running up and down the street with a stick up my ass. I’m not in the military for crying out loud. No offense to those of you who are serving or have served in the armed forces and thank you for your service by the way.
My legs are still recovering from last week’s 15 mile run which left me in need of a long ice bath, but I managed to hold it together and didn’t run out of energy thank goodness. This past week, with the exception of one all night bender, I stayed away from alcohol and kept hydrating myself with water and Gatorade. I also went out of the way to make salads for myself which contained butter lettuce, avocado, a very light parmesan ranch dressing and a hard-boiled egg. I’m trying to cut down on what I eat, but I’m also aware that I will need carbs for other runs to come. Just like Floyd said, running gives you a great excuse to eat lots of pasta. As for myself, I’m always looking for an excuse to put alfredo sauce on my angel hair spaghetti. You know, the good kind where the grams of fat are in double digit territory.
Just as we were heading to the finish line, it started raining down on us. It’s a good thing it wasn’t pouring down like it would end up doing later on that day. Those of us who survived the monsoon that was the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon can attest to how brutal the rain and the side winds were on us, and hypothermia is something I’m not eager to experience again in this lifetime.
The snacks and treats that were left for us were chocolate milk, chocolate soymilk, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Chips Ahoy chewy chocolate chip cookies, oranges and bananas. For some reason no one is ever quick to go after the fruit as everyone is far more interested in snagging the runner’s favorite hangover cure: chocolate milk. Then again I should talk because I never have any of the fruit either. That’s right, shame on me!
As I got into my car to drive home, the CD I was listening to, a mixtape if you will that I created of songs featured on Homicide: Life on the Street started playing Garbage’s “I’m Only Happy When It Rains.” Oh the irony! Hearing Shirley Manson sing of how she’s in love with her deep depression and asking us to pour our misery down on her reminds of the crazy state of mind I’m in a lot of the time. While I’m running, I get lost in my own thoughts and they are not always pleasant ones. I always seem to be looking for ways to infuriate myself for no good reason. I guess that’s why I keep running; to get rid of the bad and negative vibes that keep messing with my psyche.
Oh, I also learned where the Bolivers got the idea for serving us peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers. It turns out that when their children were young, they kept making them peanut butter and pickle sandwiches at lunchtime. How’s that for inspiration?
FUNDRAISING UPDATE: As you all know I have reached my fundraising goal for AIDS Project Los Angeles, the non-profit group I am running the LA Marathon in support of. However, I would still like to encourage you to make a tax deductible donation as it’s the start of a new year and we need to make it a great one for the recipients of their work and care. Just click on the link below to learn more.