Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The 14 Mile Wipeout

After a recovery run of six miles which had me keeping up with my fellow pace group runners for a change, this week had us running 14 miles. I came into it with my usual confidence that I would complete it with little problem, but I was beset by some issues which came to take away from that confidence which may have been over-inflated unnecessarily.

The night before had me searching for my cell phone as I suddenly realized that I didn’t have it on me. This led me to have a near nervous breakdown as I have never lost any cell phone I’ve ever owned whether it’s a Nokia or an iPhone that is far past its prime. I searched the movie theater where I saw “The Peanuts Movie” as well as the Ralphs Supermarket I went to afterwards where I bought all the energy blocks I knew I would need for this run. After a great deal of self-flagellation which involved slapping myself in the face and yelling in my car at full volume, I found my phone which was lying on a sidewalk where it could have easily been taken. The fact that it wasn’t taken is amazing. Of course, realizing how tragic it was to lose my cell phone made me realize that, like everybody else, I am a slave to technology. It always felt like I avoided being a slave to it, but that was probably just me being in denial.

Anyway, I arrived at the Team to End AIDS meeting spot at Griffith Park just in time to hear Coach JC talk about how there’s still a stigma to admitting you are HIV positive. This past week saw Charlie Sheen admit to the world that he is HIV positive, and with that admission brought a strong realization of just how misinformed people are about this. By now it should be plainly obvious that being HIV positive does not equate to a death sentence. People are still able to live active and healthy lives even if they have been diagnosed as such. Coach JC became emotional as he told us how flabbergasted he is at just how many people around him don’t seem to have a clue about what being HIV positive really means.

This week’s route took us all over Burbank to where the map looked even more convoluted than the plot to the first “Mission: Impossible” movie. Heck, last week’s run was like that as we couldn’t figure out if we needed to take a right or left on Sonora.

Believe it or not, I actually managed to keep up with my pace group for the most part, but that inevitably changed towards the end. Because of my lack of sleep, my energy started to evaporate on the last few miles. I consumed more energy blocks than I usually do, and it got to where my heart was pounding as if John Bonham was doing his “Moby Dick” drum solo on it. This morning started off with a chill in the air which quickly made me put on my black Nike jacket, but with the sun already high up in the sky I knew it was not going to stay cold long so I left it on the bench before proceeding to the starting line.

It’s a good thing I left my jacket behind because the summer weather we thought had finally left us came back with a vengeance. The temperature went up to at least 80 degrees, and while I really could use the extra vitamin D, the heat really got to me more than usual. Thankfully the Bolivers were on hand to give us all the supplies we needed to cross the finish line. I’m not just talking about those peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers they always have on hand; I’m talking about that cooler of ice cubes they had because I shoved as many of them as I could into my water bottles. Once again the colder my water bottles were, the more infinitely refreshing the liquids inside of them were. As a result, I found myself drinking more water than usual and consumed a couple of salt packets to help absorb it. I could feel the salt on my skin as I made my way to the finish line, so I knew I needed to keep consuming it even it was a bit disgusting.

Also, I couldn’t help but peruse the various yard and garage sales that were taking place throughout Burbank. I would spend less than a minute at each one because there was only so much time I could spend looking at the DVDs, VHS tapes and stuffed animals that were on display.
When it came to the last few miles, I had finally fallen way behind my fellow pace group runners but was still determined to cross the finish line back at Griffith Park. However, this did not keep me from stopping at one last garage sale where I found an Eeyore plush doll. Now anyone who knows me best understands just how big a fan of Eeyore, and I have gone a mission to rescue as many as I can. Plus, it was only a dollar.

I’m going to call this one Boliver Eeyore. The name seems more than appropriate.

Somewhere around mile 12, my pace group leader Walter drove up to me in his car and asked if I was okay and if I needed a ride back. I told him I was fine and thanked him for checking up on me. In retrospect, I think I should have let him drive me back as I was pretty much winded at that point and was practically crawling my way to the finish line. I guess it’s just that instinct I have inside of me to not quit anything. I need to remember that sometimes it’s okay to not finish a run.

Fortunately, the coaches were still around when I FINALLY crossed the finish line back in Griffith Park. Coach JC got a picture of me and my new Eeyore and gave me a certificate congratulating me on completing this 14 mile run which was the equivalent of a half-marathon. I thanked him and the others for waiting for me, and they calmly reminded me that it was their job to do so. Point taken.

The rest of the day had me resting and recovering from this run as it took a bigger toll on me than I expected it to. There was work I needed to do, but I was just too winded to do much of anything except lay in bed. It didn’t matter that I have trained for the LA Marathon five times before; my body still reminds me when I’ve pushed myself a little further than usual.

I still need to get those maintenance runs in during the week and increase my cardio activity as well. That belly on my body is far too big, and Thanksgiving has yet to take place. Pray for me!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

'Kingdom of Shadows' interview with Bernardo Ruiz and Oscar Hagelsieb

Monday, November 9, 2015

There Will Be Hills

I’m sorry I haven’t written much about my marathon training recently. The last week or so has been insanely busy as I have been going from one press day to another, and I even got to interview Gaspar Noe, the director of “Irreversible” and “Enter the Void.” In the midst of all the driving I did around Los Angeles, I did manage to get one maintenance run in but not two.

Last week’s run was the Halloween costume run, but I didn’t get around to buying a new costume and wasn’t all that enthused to put on my Jason “Friday the 13th” Voorhees costume on again. So I decided to come dressed as the Team to End AIDS runner that I am and fell back on the Wednesday Adams excuse: “I’m a homicidal maniac, they look just like everyone else.” Other than that, I did very well and managed to keep up with my fellow pace group runners for a change. This surprised me the most as I didn’t get around to doing any maintenance runs before that run.

It should also be noted that the weather in Los Angeles has FINALLY cooled down after a summer season and hot temperatures that refused to go away. For once we got to wear layers of clothing, and we welcomed the warming rays of the sun for a change. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to ditch my Nike sweater jacket  as there was no way the weather was going to stay cool for very long.

This week’s run had us running 12 miles, and Coach JC sent us a message with a subtle take on one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s greatest movies:

He also indicated the following in that same post:

“I'm not saying when. I'm not saying which.
 I'm just saying that the LA Marathon ain't flat.”

Lo and behold, Coach JC had us running up that steep hill which led us to Crystal Springs Drive and the other side of Griffith Park. We of course were all huffing and puffing even before we made it to the halfway mark. When it looked like we got to the top, we quickly realized that we had not gotten to the top. Honestly, there was a lot more walking than running as a result. As “Spectre” was just released a few days ago, I kept thinking about what James Bond would do in this situation. Then I remembered that I don’t have any of his gadgets (that underwater car would be cool to have though).

Once we got over the hill, I started losing track of my fellow pace group runners, and I eventually fell behind them as I needed to drop the kids off in the pool (a.k.a. going to the bathroom). Fortunately, I did get a map from Coach JC before beginning this run as I didn’t want to get lost like I did before. Unfortunately, I either lost it or it just evaporated into thin air as I made my way down Griffith Park Drive. I don’t know how it escaped my grasp, but it wasn’t a disaster as I did remember where I needed to go. Even as I went through a repeat of “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Kenber,” I was determined to complete this 12 mile run even if there was no one alongside me. I was also determined not to get lost either.

Coach JC did pop up at one point during the run and encouraged me not to swing my arms in front of my chest but in front of me instead. I’m glad he pointed that out because I didn’t even realize I was doing that. While you run, your arms should be pointing in the direction you are going. Swinging your arms in front of your chest just robs you of energy and has you risking injury. I remember learning about that while attending an LA Marathon expo, and that has stayed with me ever since. So to be told that I was doing that was shocking to me because I thought I was way better than that.

Thank goodness that I had plenty of energy gels on me, and that Gu Roctane gel was a huge help when I had to run up the other side of that same hill. By this time the sun had risen much higher than we wanted it to rise, and it started to feel like summer all over again.

I made it back to our starting point in Griffith Park in one piece, proud of myself for completing this 12 mile run even as I spent most of it running by my lonesome. However, I was disturbed that I had fallen into the habit of crossing my arms in front of my chest while running. I also found myself slouching forward more than usual which I thought I was good at avoiding. I said out loud that every time I come back to train for a marathon, it feels like I’m starting all over again. This led Coach JC to say out loud, “Are you kidding me?” He then remarked that, even after having run dozens of marathons, he finds himself falling into bad habits all the time and constantly has to keep an eye out for them. It made me realize how everyone feels like they are just starting over again when they begin marathon training.

So next week we are having a recovery run, but I’m going to get my two maintenance runs and do my best to stay hydrated. Bring on the electrolytes baby!