This proved to be a bittersweet day for Team to End AIDS as it marked our last training run before the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon which is now a week away. Sure, we still have the celebration/carbo-load dinner next Friday and the marathon expo to hang out at together, but things won’t be the same after this. It’s been great fun running with all these wonderful people these past four months, and the training tends to be the most fun of this whole marathon program. Hopefully we’ll be able to stay in touch with each other when this is all over.
Today we did one more recovery run of 8 miles, and we ran through the familiar roads of Griffith Park and Burbank. By the time we arrived at the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot, the sun was shining very brightly in the sky but it was thankfully nowhere as hot as it was last Saturday. The heat really messed with our minds during our ten mile run the previous week, but thanks to a lot of cold and rainy weather that came down on Los Angeles area the last few days, the temperature dropped down a lot. Heck, even the 5 freeway was shut down because of all the snow.
Because of the especially cold weather, I had all my usual running gear on. The grey compression shirt I wear underneath my red Team to End AIDS shirt, the same one I decided not to wear last week, was back on my body. I have, however, run out of sunscreen and I need to get more before the LA Marathon. One of these days I’m going to get sunburn that’s even worse than what I got as a child. It sucks how we always have to learn things the hard way.
On top of it being a beautiful day, the weather was just perfect in that it was not too hot and not too cold. Everything felt just right, and as a result we ran with no real problems. Joanne, our pace group leader, was back after battling those evil migraines the previous week, and she kept going all the way to the end. Another member, Lillian, spent this past week battling an unwelcome cold and she was still recovering from it. Regardless, she still showed up to run with us and that shows a lot of dedication on her part.
Coach JC took it easy on us again and didn’t make us run up any hills. He also announced to us that he was so glad that he would no longer have to use his outside voice after this week. We should take the time to acknowledge the excellent work JC has done in getting us ready for this marathon, and that’s especially the case as he was more or less thrust into this position after Coach Scott passed away unexpectedly. I also would like to add that he has done great work in putting together one of the most insanely entertaining drag queen bingo fundraisers you could ever hope to attend.
We also got to see the Boliver family one more time, and all the pace groups gave them thank you cards for all the love and support they have given us during this training session. We especially have to thank them for all those peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers they have provided because they forever remain delicious. This is not to mention all the other goodies they have provided us with like water, Gatorade in a variety of flavors, Chex Mix, gummy worms, hand sanitizer, tissues, red vines, salt packets, and of course banana bread. They have kept us endlessly supplied with all the things we need during these long runs, and we will forever be thankful for that.
The only stumbling block we had on this last run was with a motorcycle cop we ran into on our way back to Griffith Park. He saw us running on the road and ordered us onto the sidewalk with a voice that was gentle yet harsh, kind of like how Melissa Leo sounded in “Flight.” Now in a lot of cases we run on the road instead of the sidewalk because the asphalt is much kinder to our feet than concrete. This is not to say that we’re not careful when we’re on the road as we are constantly watching out for cars and bikes coming in our direction.
The officer, a portly man who looks to have been a motorcycle cop for a while, said that we were in the bike lane and needed to stay clear of it. The ironic thing was that we passed by a woman who was riding her bike, and she said she would rather be on the sidewalk than on the road. Of course, that same cop told her to get off the sidewalk and stay on the road. It should have been simple as that to trade places, but that cop, who was busy giving a ticket to someone who most likely didn’t deserve it, wouldn’t let us be.
Granted, we had been warned to follow all the rules of the road during our training and, regardless of a minor infraction or two that we will proudly plead the 5th on, we have done so as we would like to survive to see the day of the marathon. The coaches told us that the Burbank police would cite us if they deemed it necessary, but it’s not like we’re out to break any land speed records.
Once we passed the cop, we went back to running on the road. But it didn’t take long for him to get back on his motorcycle and ride right by us. He got on his speaker and again told us in his sweet but needlessly condescending voice to get back on the sidewalk where we belong. None of us had the opportunity or the patience to explain to him why it was more comfortable for us to run on the road, but it wouldn’t have made a difference if we did. Drea pointed out that this was the first time in our four months of marathon training that we have had any problems with the police. Fortunately no one got a ticket, and thank god for that.
Coach JC again left a number of signs for us on the road, and among them were ones that said “call a cab… It’s faster” and “admit it… You’ll miss Riverside.” Riverside is one of the many roads we have run up and down during training, and while some people said that they won’t miss it, odds are we will. Then there were a number of signs towards the end of our run that reminded us of how much we have helped others in doing this marathon. They told us that many will live to see another sunset, another sunrise, and many other great delights in life because of what we have done here. Whether we realize this or not, it is important that we are reminded because some of us (myself especially) can really lose sight of this. AIDS Project Los Angeles is a great organization, and I hope I have made that abundantly clear by now.
There was no big celebration at the end of this run as we had already reached the peak of celebrations after completing 23 miles. There were some caramel cookies and bags of trail mix, but there was no buffet of hard boiled eggs or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like before. But that’s okay because we do have a big celebration dinner coming up next Friday at The Grove in Los Angeles, and we will be loading up on the carbs big time to prepare for the LA Marathon.
Now all we need to do is make sure that we don’t get deathly sick or break any bones for the big day. How frustrating would it be to suffer some ridiculous accident a day or two before the marathon commences? As Ralph Macchio told Elisabeth Shue in “The Karate Kid” when he let her drive his car and she asked how fast it goes, “let’s not find out.” Yes, let’s not find out indeed.
Coach JC did point out that while Los Angeles may seem like an especially self-absorbed city to the rest of the world, everyone who lives there really does come together during the LA Marathon. People who have never met you or have no idea who you are still cheer you on as you make your way from Dodger Stadium all the way out to Santa Monica. Whatever perceptions you may have of the city of angels, many of them are turned upside down as thousands of runners pound the pavement on that momentous day. Having run this same marathon twice in the past two years, I can assure you that is a fact.
This may be the last marathon I do for a while, or at least the last one for me that involves fundraising as I am pretty much exhausted by the process. Still, you can never say never and perhaps I will return to train again with Team to End AIDS in the future. Heck, maybe someday I can be a coach. I will miss the camaraderie of all the runners I have gotten to know these past few months, and I will never forget them. They have helped to keep me sane in this most frustratingly difficult of times, and their strength of character says so much about what we are capable of as human beings.
So wish us all luck on March 17, 2013. The days leading up to it will have us staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol and loading up on carbs to prepare. Yes, we will be running on St. Patrick’s Day and getting hammered after we’ve crossed the finish line (not immediately mind you). In the past we avoid celebrating with our Irish drinking buddies because this holiday came before the marathon. This year, however, we got lucky. Hallelujah!
Day 20 of 2013 Los Angeles Marathon Training
Day 19 of 2013 Los Angeles Marathon Training
The Marathon Runner’s Nightmare