Monday, March 9, 2015

Once More Onto the Streets of Burbank Dear Friends. Once More...

So here it is, the last Team to End AIDS run before the momentous 2015 Los Angeles Marathon which is now just a week away. True to form we’re still, as The Eagles once sang, takin’ it easy. We did a recovery run of 8 miles which took us through the streets of Burbank and Glendale which we have become very familiar with these past few months. It was nice way to celebrate another truly successful training season although it also feels very unreal that we’ve finally come to the end of it. I still see myself coming back next Saturday for another run even though I will instead be at the marathon expo getting my bib.

My constant obsession with Homicide: Life on The Street, a brilliant TV show that has been off the air for close to 20 years now, was today’s reason why I arrived at Griffith Park a little later than usual. Upon my arrival, Coach JC was telling everyone not to set any land speed records on this recovery run. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we were way ahead of him on that.

The route of this run was chosen by our fellow Lucky 13 pace group runner John who succeeded in raising more money than any other Team to End AIDS participant. Not bad for a guy who is about to run his very first marathon. Part of me wanted to dare him to put in a hill or two on this route just to remind everyone that there are hills in the LA Marathon, but he decided to spare us that fate.

It was another very, very sunny day in Southern California, so I decided not to wear a jacket on this run as I knew I would be disposing of it sooner than later. I felt that I got off to a good start, but I ended up trailing behind many others in my pace group. Actually, I shouldn’t consider that a bad thing because we all were supposed to take it easy on this run anyway. Still, I wondered if being the last person in said more about me than I wanted it to.

On this run I continued to keep a good eye on my form as I constantly kept thinking that I was leaning forward much more than I should. Moreover, I was seriously intent on avoiding any injuries that could possibly come my way. How infinitely frustrating would it be to suddenly drop a microwave on your feet a week before the marathon? Forget about how painful it would be (and boy would it hurt like a son of a bitch), to do all those months of training and suddenly be undone by the most pathetic of accidents can’t do much for your ego, assuming it’s inflated enough to get you through this crazy thing called life.

The fact that this is our last training run feels unreal. I’ve gotten so used to meeting up with my fellow Team to End AIDS runners that I feel like I’m still going to see them at Griffith Park next Saturday. Instead, we will next see one another at the Triumph Dinner this Friday, a dinner which will also serve as our carbo load feast to give us fuel for the marathon. Either that or we will bump into one another at the marathon expo this weekend.

 You know what this means? I’ll get to sleep in on Saturday morning for the first time in months. Now normally that’s a cause for celebration, but it actually feels unnerving. The clock is ticking and we only have so much time left to hang out with one another.

While I am a bit nervous about running the LA Marathon for the fifth year in a row, I’m even more nervous about what’s going to happen after it. My hope is that I will make going to the gym a regular habit or that I will make more frequent use of my Nintendo Wii so that I can keep the pounds off. After last year’s marathon I let myself go a little too much, and anyone knows me knows how much I like to complain about how history repeats itself.

As we approached the finish line where I was bringing up the rear, it still didn’t feel like the training season was coming to an end. I still feel like I need another run or two before I start travelling 26.2 miles from Dodger Stadium all the way to Santa Monica. Well, there’s always maintenance runs.

So this looks to be it for now. A big thanks to all the Team to End AIDS coaches, runners and volunteers who have all helped one another to prepare for a feat few would dare to take on. Another big thanks to the Bolivers for all their love and support as they have been with us right from the start. We will miss their peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers come marathon day. Then again ask them to make a whole bunch for the runners next Sunday would be rather suicidal considering the thousands who have signed up for this event which involves a sport which is as mental as they come.

More importantly, thanks to all of you who took the time to donate to my fundraising efforts for AIDS Project Los Angeles. Special thanks also to Ed, Dan and Kay Mahoney for getting me to my goal in such an incredibly generous fashion. You have done more to help those afflicted with AIDS than you realize.

So let’s get hydrated, stock up on Gatorade (and maybe even buy stock in Gatorade while we’re at), get those salt packets and energy gels ready, buy large bottles of sunscreen and anti-chafe cream, and make sure to not break any bones or pull any muscles on or before March 15th. More importantly, let’s get ready to run through a city that will come together in a way it usually does not. 2015 LA Marathon, HERE WE COME!!! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Running on, Instead of Digging in, the Dirt

Since we have now completed our “celebration run” of 23 miles, it is all about taking it easy before the actual Los Angeles Marathon which is now only a couple of weeks away. This week had us doing a recovery run of 10 miles, and we were encouraged to take it easy now more than ever. No need to run another 20 miles after what we endured last week as it would be beyond counterproductive to do so at this point in our training.

Coach JC, in his morning announcement, told us that we probably won’t run the LA Marathon any faster than we ran last week’s 23 mile run. Hearing that made me kind of depressed. My best time for running the LA Marathon is 5 hours and 46 minutes, and it took me 6 hours and 23 minutes to complete our “celebration run.” Deep down, I still want to shoot for a personal record like I have the last few years. Hopefully that is still a strong possibility.

Coach JC also told us that the volunteers ran out of Gatorade during the 2014 LA Marathon. Hearing that was a surprise to me because I don’t remember being any Gatorade being handed out throughout that marathon at all. Well, whatever the case, they better have plenty of it this time around.

The key piece of advice we were given this morning was to be prepared for the marathon way in advance and to not do everything at the last minute like we all do when it comes to everything else. Hearing Coach JC tell us that suddenly had The Lion King (the movie) going through my head and Jeremy Irons, who voiced the villainous Scar, singing “Be Prepared.” It’s always Disney villains that come to my mind during moments like this. Go figure.

Our route had us remaining inside of Griffith Park, but it quickly got altered when we were told that a tree had fallen down in the road (TIMMMMBEEEEEERRR!!!) along with a power line. The city workers told us that we would have to turn around as no one was going to let us through. As a result, we diverted onto a dirt path that took us around the fallen tree and towards Los Feliz Boulevard where we would we reach our turn around point.

After weeks of ridiculously warm weather, things have actually been cooling down a bit and there was even a strong chance of rain for a change. It never rained on us during this run, but it actually would have been a nice addition as this was a shorter run than usual. There may always be a resistance to change, but this change would have been very welcome as California is suffering through the worst drought in ages which has me constantly thinking of this line from Fred Allen:

“It didn’t affect me at first, but after a couple of weeks something told me to take a bath.”

I found myself getting winded far too soon which surprised me, and I couldn’t figure out why. I figured that running on dirt would be easier on my joints than running on asphalt, and don’t even get me started about what running on concrete is like. But Kerry, my fellow 2011 LA Marathon survivor who has done many trail runs in the past, informed me that running on dirt ends up absorbing more energy than we think. When running on asphalt, we end up getting a nice little bounce out of it which really helps. But with dirt, we end up getting a lot of energy suckage which takes a lot of us to where we realize that carbo load dinner of spaghetti with alfredo sauce didn’t give us enough to work with. Well, we learn something new every day.

We again met up with the Bolivers whose support of our runs remains never ending as always, and my addiction to those peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers they provide us with remains forever infinite. I had more of them than usual on this run, but I again attribute that to running on dirt more than anything else. Perhaps I should have taken some energy gels too, huh?

So this 10 mile run turned out to be only 8.85 miles long due to a mid-course correction. Still, I ran for 2 hours and burned 1,402 calories, many of which I ended up inserting back into my body with chocolate milk, some chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s and a stop by McDonald’s for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich. As bad as their food may be for me, the deliciousness factor of that sandwich supersedes any concerns I have for my cholesterol level.

This recovery run was full of unexpected surprises, and it taught me a thing or two that never occurred to me in my five years of training for the LA Marathon. This run was also proof that when a tree falls in Griffith Park, it does make a sound!