Monday, December 7, 2015

Weiland and Dealing with 16 miles

After a week away in Northern California to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and do a recovery run on a treadmill (don’t worry, I increased the grade on it to 4%), I am now back in Los Angeles to continue my training for the 2016 LA Marathon. I did my best to keep up with my maintenance runs as this week’s run had us going 16 miles through Burbank and Glendale. But once again I was reminded of how all my years of training for the LA Marathon mean only so much as it always feels like I’m starting from scratch.

I had the music of Stone Temple Pilots blasting out of my car speakers as I drove to Griffith Park for the latest Team to End AIDS run. This past week, the band’s lead singer Scott Weiland passed away at the age of 48 which was very sad to learn about. Weiland was a vibrant lead singer who commanded the stage with a highly energetic presence, but his talents were long overshadowed by his battles with substance abuse. Like many, I hoped that he would beat his demons down to a bloody pulp, but there were a few demons left that served to end his existence at far too young an age.

I’m happy to say that I actually kept up with my pace group for the majority of this run to where I was convinced I would cross the finish line with them for a change. But thanks to a stop light which they understandably defied and me “dropping the kids in the pool” a little more than usual, I was once again by myself. While Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” keeps playing through my head during these runs because of all those “turn around” signs the coaches leave out for us, I instead had Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” flooding my memory banks as I was once again enduring the phenomenon known as the loneliness of the long distance Kenber. Plus, people made great use of the song on “Friends” and the movie “Shrek 2.”

I’m not sure why I went to the bathroom a little more than usual on this run. Maybe it was that tasty chicken cobb salad I had the other night at The Counter. That’s right; I ate something other than a burger there. Lord knows I don’t enough green stuff these days, and I figured all that protein would be of great benefit for this run. Well, maybe I should stay away from salads on the night before the marathon. That’s just a thought.

The weather was perfect and we all managed to finish our runs before the temperature rose up to the mid 70’s. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold, and there was a nice breeze going on which kept things bearable even as we ran up the hill on Grandview. As a result, I got to focus more on my surroundings which were full of leaves and dogs barking at us in excitement as if they were saying that they wanted to run with us. There was one dog who kept barking in a metronome fashion to where we runners started barking back. As Rowlf the Dog said in “The Great Muppet Caper,” it helps to know a second language.

I even got to see a dog chase a squirrel, and that immediately brought the great Pixar movie “Up” to mind as all those talking dogs were always easily distracted by the squirrels they thought they saw.
Among the conversations my fellow pace group runners involved themselves in was how the big twist in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” was spoiled in a recent film class. Apparently a friend of a friend had to take a scene from a movie and use it to explain certain aspects of filmmaking, and that person ended up showing the scene from “Gone Girl” that spelled out what was really going with a certain character. Now I am not about to spoil that twist for anybody reading this, and that’s even though the threat of doing so might actually make for a good fundraising opportunity, but I felt for those runners who had “Gone Girl” completely ruined for them. Some secrets should not be revealed until it is absolutely necessary, and that person who spoiled the one from that movie should be arrested for revealing that among other things.

Running on this day reminded me of why maintenance runs are so important. I did do mine before this particular run, and it helped to keep me from slouching and crossing my arms in front of my chest, both of which take from me as a runner. I’m always convinced that I am slouching while running, and doing this marathon training is a strong reminder of what I need to watch out for. I’m happy to say that I did great work in keeping my arms moving forward instead of in front of my chest, and now I feel like I am on track to run a good marathon.

Granted, I lost a lot of steam before I crossed the finish line back in Griffith Park, but I crossed it all the same. My pace group members had long since gone home but I didn’t hold that against them because everyone has their life to get back to. I did however get to partake in a couple of cups of chocolate milk, the perfect answer to a runner’s hangover, but I can never drink enough of it. Still, the Bolivers did bring a cake for us runners to share in. Granted, it was for the Honolulu runners as their marathon is coming up next week, but they were kind enough to leave us some leftovers. It didn’t matter if it was still early in the morning; this cake was going to taste fantastic no matter what. Heck, anything tastes great after you have ran many miles!

While I had other work to do after this run, those 16 miles still took me for a loop and left me drained of my energy. Still, I did have enough enthusiasm to drive to a nearby McDonald’s for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich and a Dr. Pepper, but the rest of the day left with a large level of justification to do little to nothing. You all know by now that I’ve trained for five LA Marathons before this, so no excuse is needed to justify how I feel.

From now on I plan to increase my cardiovascular activity in the hopes that I might actually finish a run with my pace group, and that’s of the utmost necessity because the LA Marathon will be here before we know it. Once again, I have to thank every single volunteer who took the time to give us water, Gatorade, pretzels and whatever else we needed to survive this especially long run. They never get enough credit, and that’s regardless of whether or not they have the last name of Boliver.

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