I was worried about this run. It was only 6 miles, but I only got about 4 hours of sleep the night before. I had a busy night with a screening of “Out of the Furnace” at the Harmony Gold Theatre to go to, and then I went straight from there to a friend’s birthday party where I couldn’t resist the birthday cake with its Reese Peanut Butter Cups frosting, a couple of slices of Big Mama’s & Papa’s Pizza or a plastic cup filled with Diet Dr. Pepper (caffeine alert!). I was going to leave the party earlier, but a number of guests were playing “Rock Band” and I couldn’t resist joining in. Looking back, I think it’s safe to say that I kind of stole the show as I got to sing “Break on Through” by The Doors and “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga, the “South Park” version. I ended up having to sing like Eric Cartman which is a little out of my vocal range, and afterwards I felt like I had killed my voice.
For the record, I didn’t drink any alcohol at this party as I knew that doing so would not help me on my 6 mile run the following morning. Plus, the LAPD had a DUI checkpoint set up on Cahuenga Boulevard and it wasn’t worth taking the chance (not that I would want to take the chance mind you).
I did manage to make it to Griffith Park the next morning despite my lack of sleep, but I ended up being a little late because parking proved to be more difficult than usual. Once again, there was a great deal of construction going on in the park as well as a 10K run that was taking place just outside of the Gene Autry Museum. Even after all the repairs they made to the park last time which had us moving our training site to the parking lot of the Los Angeles Zoo, there apparently is still a lot of work that needs to be done. I got to the Team to End AIDS meeting area just in time to hear Coach JC tell us to be very careful around the construction that was going on and to keep an eye out for the bicyclists that were going to be coming in our general direction.
This run kept us inside Griffith Park, and it was also the first time this training season that we had a hill to run up. Now when it comes to running up hills, us runners (be it veteran or newbies) usually get nervous because we all know how our legs are going to hate us for going upwards instead of downwards. Nevertheless, we need to run up these hills because it’s a very necessary part of this training. There will be hills to run up during the Los Angeles Marathon, and while they may not be as bad as the ones we have to endure during training, we will eventually be thankful that we ran up them at all. Like many things in life, it takes ages for us to appreciate the hard lessons we have learned.
After a couple of weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had us all wondering why the hell the average temperature was 80 degrees, fall has finally arrived in Los Angeles. The sun didn’t even come out for the longest time that morning, so its rays were not there to warm us up. Still, we did find ourselves warming up very quickly as we kept running. My Nike black jacket kept me warm during the first part of the run, but I found myself taking it off before we reached the halfway point.
The pace group I am in usually walks for the first four minutes, but this time we hit the ground running. Why we ran instead of walked at the start? I am not sure, but it was nice to get off to a fast start as opposed to a slow one. Besides, as one of my Second City teachers, Ron West, kept telling me, “Less questions Ben! LESS QUESTIONS!!!”
After all the marathon training I have been through, I think it’s safe to say that I have finally mastered the art of landing on the ball of my foot. We have been trained from the start to land on that part of our feet because landing on our heels ends up creating a lot of irreversible damage that our bodies will be hating us for as we get older (damn it). When I don’t land on the ball of my foot I can tell because my knees are quick to remind me. My knees and I have had a contentious relationship as they hate the fact that I’m training for another marathon. It’s like they are yelling out to me:
“Look what you’ve done to us!!! Where are we going to be at when you’re sixty? You can forget about knee replacement surgery because you’ll never be able to afford it!”
When we did start running uphill, it didn’t feel all that bad. But then someone said, “Was that the hill?” To this our mentors Jessica and Esther replied, “No.”
Then came the real hill which, while it wasn’t the toughest hill we ever ran up, had us huffing and puffing like crazy as we attempted to ascend it. All of a sudden, I had the Kate Bush song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” going through my head:
“It doesn’t hurt me.
You wanna feel how it feels?
You wanna know, know that it doesn’t hurt me?
You wanna hear about the deal I’m making?
You be running up that hill
You and me be running up that hill
And if I only could,
Make a deal with God,
And get him to swap our places,
Be running up that road,
Be running up that hill,
Be running up that building.
If I only could, oh…”
As the song kept playing in my head, I started to wonder if Kate Bush had ever run up a hill like this one.
Any hill that I run up quickly reminds me of the one in Oak Hill Park that I ran up many times during Cross Country runs in high school. I vividly remember my leg muscles burning with an intense pain as I ascended up that hill which seemed never ending. Most of the hills I have run up since then have not been anywhere as bad, but I can never forget how brutal that one was even after all these years (never mind how many).
For the most part I was doing well, but when it came to running up that hill I found myself getting winded a lot sooner than usual. Our group pace is 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking, and I was keeping up with that until we started to run upwards. Before I got to the top, I stopped running because I found myself getting exhausted and couldn’t keep myself going. As a result, I was disappointed in myself because I felt like I gave up a little too easily. However, no one else was disappointed because it is to be expected at this early stage of marathon training that we have trouble conquering a hill and run out of breath, and it’s better that it happens now instead of during the actual marathon.
When we finally started running downhill, that was a huge relief. But at the same time I had to remind myself and others to watch our speed as we ran descended. It’s tempting to let yourself go when you are running down a hill, but to allow ourselves to run really fast is never in our best interest. We can end up doing a lot of damage to our bodies as a result, and it would be very embarrassing to trip and fall in front of everyone.
We all arrived back at where we started and our fellow pace group member Tom high-fived us for a very successful run. Kudos goes out to our mentors Jessica and Esther for keeping an eye on us and they made sure, just like those American soldiers in the movie “Black Hawk Down,” that no one got left behind. Granted, there was a few times where we took off before some runners finished their bathroom breaks, but Jessica and Esther were adamant that we wait for those who were struggling to catch up with us.
Big thanks also goes out to the parents of the late Scott Boliver who were on hand to provide us with drinks, snacks and those delicious peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers that we all crave like sugar addicts with a sweet tooth. Moreover, it was great to have those available to us before we ran up that hill. Lord knows we really needed the fuel. It also allowed us to bug Coach JC, who happened to be there, about what we can expect from future episodes of “Scandal” as he is a script consultant on that TV show. He refused to tell us anything, but he did tease us mercilessly by saying, “You have no idea what we’re gonna do!”
Now that we have conquered this 6-mile run as well as our first hill, it feels like the easy stuff is over. Next week will have us running 8 miles, and Coach JC has been on us about how super important hydration is for marathon runners. He has been encouraging us to bring our own water bottles for next week, but if we don’t then he and the other Team to End AIDS coaches will be happy to provide us with one of those 2 gallon plastic jugs of water we see at the supermarket to carry for 8 miles. So from now on there is no excuse for not being properly prepared.
Coach Ashley has also been constantly messaging us about picking names for our pace groups, and it appears that the 13 minute group has chosen theirs: 13 The Sequel. Other choices included 13.1 X2 and 13 The Revenge, but 13 The Sequel won out in the end. And guess who thought of that one? Me! ME! ME!!! HA, HA! I GET BRAGGING RIGHTS!!! Rarely does my choice for a pace group name or a Second City show name or anything else ever gets chosen. Someone else usually comes up with something cleverer, but this time no one was cleverer than me. I RULE!!!
FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I am making very good progress right now and getting to my fundraising goal faster than usual. So far I have raised $411 and am at 41% towards my goal of raising $1,000 for AIDS Project Los Angeles. I really could use your help, and even if you don’t know me personally, please rest assured that your money will be in good hands as it is going to one of the very best non-profit organizations in Los Angeles. With the holidays coming up on us fast, many people need your help now more than ever.
Please click here to make a TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation.
Rise and Shine, It’s Team to End AIDS Time!
Week 5 of 2013 Los Angeles Marathon Training
Day 5 of 2012 LA Marathon Training
Day 5.5 of 2012 LA Marathon Training