I figured I would sit this year out and take a rest from marathons of any kind, but just when I thought I was out, I pull myself back in! I know the correct line of dialogue from “The Godfather Part III” is “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” but nobody really pulled me back into this. Encouraged maybe, but it was a decision I made on my own. So even though my knees and other parts of my body are going to be seriously pissed off at me (and they will let me know this every chance they get), I have decided to go ahead and train for the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon with Team to End AIDS. This will make it the fourth year in a row that I have trained for this particular marathon.
So what keeps me coming back to this marathon? After I finished this year’s LA Marathon, I figured that would be it for a while. But then I saw that a lot of my friends were coming back yet again, and it began to feel depressing to not be a part of next year’s festivities. That’s what keeps bringing me back to this marathon training program; the people, the friends I have made and the new people I hopefully will get to know better very soon (whether I will remember their names by the time of the marathon remains to be seen). There’s also the coaches like Kerry Quakenbush, JC Fernandez, Bart Tangredi who gave me a hug when he saw me, and Ashley Owens who remains a very bright and happy person (and who also told me she’s looking forward to my blogs) that make me excited to return.
But while some may look forward to the training more than they do the actual LA Marathon, I have honestly come to look forward to the LA Marathon more than anything else. In a city that seems hopelessly fractured with all kinds of people struggling to get along with one another and traffic jams that seemed designed to test our sanity, this is the one day in this city where everyone comes together in a way they usually don’t. Total strangers who don’t know you are out there cheering you on, and it’s that enthusiasm that keeps you going even as your legs feel like they are about to give out before you even before you get to San Vicente Boulevard.
I arrived at Griffith Park in Burbank just as the coaches were starting to address everyone who showed up. I was surprised at how big the turnout was as this past year saw a big drop in those participating. I went through the crowd and found Jessica, Drea, Joanne and Virginia who had ran the LA Marathon with me last year. It’s always great running into old friends, and I hope they don’t take the word “old” as some sort of direct insult (call it a misguided one). One of them warned me that the upcoming winter season is going to be “really wet,” so now those fears that this will be like the 2011 LA Marathon are racing through my mind (just what I need).
Coach JC came up right in front of us and ever so loudly yelled out, “GOOD MORNING T2!!!” While he might have seemed a bit timid during the last LA Marathon training session, this time he came to us with a lot of confidence and experience, and he appeared to be relishing the opportunity to train us all once again. Many marathon veterans returned, but this training session also brought out a lot of first timers which was great. JC told the newbies that there were many among them who ran this marathon before “and they came back!” The way he said it, it made us veterans seem all the more insane to even think about running it all over again. Well, maybe some of us just love torturing our knees (I see many ice baths in my future).
We had a choice today of running either 2 miles or 5 miles, and the 2 mile run is usually reserved for the newbies so that they can determine which pace group they will be running in. In the past I wanted to run 5 miles because I wanted to challenge myself and not take it easy on the first run. The rest of my friends, however, wanted to run just the 2 miles. But today it was the other way around. All my friends/fellow pace group buddies were determined to run 5 miles and I just wanted to run 2. The truth is that I have only done so much running since the last LA Marathon, so I felt it was in my best interest to start off slow. Besides, I had a press conference for “Ender’s Game” to attend after this was over, and I kept staring at my watch to make sure I wouldn’t miss out on it.
I did bring my Ironman watch with me even though the strap on it has since broken off. This is what happens when I yank certain things a little too hard (please don’t look into that statement too deeply). One runner I haven’t met before named Steven took notice of this and said it reminded him of when his watch died during his last marathon. We always depend on our Ironman watches to keep us on pace as we run these marathons, and I think it’s a collective fear that those same watches would die out on us under the same circumstances. But what really got me was that while Steven was running past a house in Hancock Park, there was a loudspeaker that was playing the Chicago song, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Talk about the irony!
Since I was running only 2 miles, the interval timing of 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking didn’t apply to me, so I just kept running and never ran out of breath. Although I might have been huffing and puffing a bit, it turns out I was in better shape than I thought I was. When it was all over, it was determined that I should be in the 13 minute a mile pace group which is the same group I was in before. That means I can still run with my friends as well as some new T2EA runners and those who are running their first marathon in 2 or 3 years.
Overall, it was a good start to this marathon training season, and I very much look forward to what happens from here. This morning got off to a chilly start but it warmed up very quickly. This may prove to be the warmest Saturday morning we can hope to have for a long time. With November fast approaching, the temperatures are going to descend and the frost will begin forming on the grass before we realize it. Today was easy to where I didn’t even have to bring my water bottles and food, but that’s going to quickly change starting next week.
Seriously, I am looking forward to this marathon in an even bigger way than before. In 2013 I achieved my personal record of 5 hours and 50 minutes, and I would like to equal that at the very least. Even if I don’t, this training session is going to be quite the adventure. I am really looking forward to it!
As before, I am looking to raise $1,000 for AIDS Project Los Angeles. To my surprise, I have gotten off to a strong start with $236, so I plan to reach my fundraising goal sooner than usual. Please keep in mind that any donations you make to APLA are tax deductible and will make a significant difference on your 2013 tax returns.
Please click here to make a donation.
Surviving the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon
Los Angeles Marathon Runners Reunited (and it Feels so Good)
Week 1 of 2013 Los Angeles Marathon Training
Day 1 of 2012 LA Marathon Training