Day Fifteen of 2012 Los Angeles Marathon Training
My 15th day of training with Team to End AIDS for the 2012 LA Marathon had us running 20 miles, our longest yet. This took place on February 4, 2012.
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I had the hardest time getting to sleep last night. Granted, this isn’t the first time I’ve ran 20 miles in one day, but that didn’t make me any less nervous. Having been through marathon training before, knowing what I’m in for makes it all the more nerve wracking, knowing my feet will hate me after I finish running and that an ice bath will most definitely be in order. That scene from “The Silence of the Lambs” where Jodie Foster was running through the FBI training course kept running through my mind as she passed these signs nailed on a tree:
It seems appropriate to remember those words for a marathon, but then again they do also act as metaphors for life.
As this was our longest training run yet (and what we jokingly called a “are we there yet” run), we ended up starting at 6 am instead of 7 as the coaches for Team to End AIDS didn’t want us to spend too much time in the bright sunlight. While we are still in the winter months, it already feels like we’re in spring. The weather in Southern California has always been quite strange that way.
Still, it was colder than usual in the morning as the sun was only beginning to rise when we arrived at Griffith Park. While I initially decided against it, I went back to my car and put on my black hooded Nike jacket because the weather threatened to be unforgivably frigid. Even with all this compression running clothes on, I still found myself getting the shivers.
Getting started took a bit, and it soon felt like we really were waiting to start a marathon. I remember the wait driving us all nuts when it came to starting last year’s LA Marathon. We killed time by having others take pictures of our pace group Twisted Blisters to document us runners before and after we completed the 20 miles. I already saw myself getting a picture taken by another runner of me collapsed next to the 20 mile marker to make my finishing utterly official. But just as quickly, I also saw myself finding it impossible to get up from a sitting position. Maybe it’s not such a good idea I do that.
Our run had us starting in a different direction as we headed down Forest Lawn Drive towards Burbank. Now this stretch of road is very dangerous as we are running against traffic for our safety, and drivers only have so much of a warning as they race around the corner at 45 miles per hour in the opposite direction. I ended up reminding our pace group members we needed to run single file as to not be easy targets for those other runners who were late and yet still racing over to Griffith Park.
I do have to say that when we do these runs, we don’t do dog owners any favors. We passed by many of them having a pleasant walk with their dogs, and those animals kept getting all excited as if they wanted to run with us. None of them wanted to just walk it seemed, and it was like they were telling their owners:
“Ruff! Ruff! Let me run like the wind! Ruff! Ruff! I need to be set free. I don’t care if it’s the law that you have to keep me on a leash when we’re out in public!!! Come on and live a little! If you don’t, I’ll piss on your sneakers which bought at Payless Shoe Source! Ruff! Ruff!”
Today’s run also had an interesting caveat as this time we got questions at each water stop to answer, all of them involved musicals. Now I never considered myself much of a musical person even though I am an actor and have a good singing voice (beware of me at karaoke bars!), but I actually knew more answers than I thought I would. This got me excited as I saw the Twisted Blisters standing to be big winners in a contest which somewhat kept our minds off the miles we still had ahead of us.
Still, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen musicals like “Les Miserables” which I remember seeing a performance of in San Francisco back when I was in junior high school. But while I still have vivid memories of watching it, the characters and what they said were a bit blurry. This may have been a result of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” playing in my head constantly as it was a big hit on the pop charts at the time.
But us Twisted Blisters runners lucked out because one of our pace group members, Lori, turned out to be a huge fan of musicals and was able to answer many questions. So you can imagine how freaked out I got when she fell behind as many runners did on this “are we there yet” training run. I kept looking for her, knowing she was our best chance at victory. Most of us, even those who love musicals, didn’t have a clue about questions involving “Rent” or “Starlight Express.” Does anyone even remember “Brigadoon?” I could only guess on certain musicals based on my knowledge of what they were about.
The best way to get me out to a musical these days is when Hollywood makes a movie version of one. Be it “Hairspray” or “Chicago” or even “Moulin Rouge,” the ticket prices are a little more affordable than going to the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood (although I should take the opportunity to go there some time).
The more questions we got, the more I kept thinking this was the musical god’s way revenge on me for not seeing more of them when I was younger. I may be one of the very few human beings on this planet who has not seen a production of “Cats” which played on Broadway for what, 20 or 30 years? As for “Chess,” all I remember from that musical is “One Night in Bangkok” (cool song). Besides, I prefer checkers anyway.
But what bugged me most was that there were no “Sweet Charity” questions. I can understand the inclusion of questions regarding “Hair,” “Hairspray,” and “Mamma Mia” among other musicals, but what about the one Gwen Verdon starred in? I was in a production of it in junior college, and I could have cleaned house with just about any question thrown at me regarding it. Still, I was thankful for a handful of easy questions like which TV show the writers of “The Book of Mormon” work on. Heck, even a first grader can answer that, and that show is not meant to be watched by first graders!
As for “Mamma Mia,” Pierce Brosnan is a terrific actor, but I imagine Simon Cowell of “American Idol” fame would have a field day over his singing voice. There’s a good reason why no actor playing James Bond hasn’t sang in the 007 franchise since “Dr. No.”
Anyway, we ran through the neighborhood of Toluca Lake among other places where some houses looked quite extravagant and inhabited by the wealthy. Looking at them immediately reminded me of what Florida Senator Marco Rubio said earlier this week:
“We’ve always been a nation of haves and soon to haves. Americans have never been a people who drive through a nice neighborhood and say ‘oh I hate the people who live in these nice houses.’ Americans have been a nice people who’ve drove through a neighborhood and said ‘congratulations on your nice house! Guess what, we’ll be joining you soon.’”
Oh sure, that’s exactly what we’re all thinking! I’m sure the people who live in these houses will welcome us with open arms or look forward to me being their next door neighbor. I was tempted to yell out to these homeowners “I’LL BE JOINING YOU SOON” just to see their reactions, but I wasn’t sure if the other runners would know what I was talking about. And besides, it was early in the morning and we have been constantly warned not inadvertently wake anyone up as people have been quick to complain about us doing that.
I tell you, if there ever was a week where having water bottles and food on us was of the upmost importance, this was that week. Even with us starting an hour earlier, the weather which went up to the 70s and even higher had us sweating more than we could ever have expected to sweat before Valentine’s Day. This made us all the more appreciative for those volunteers who are out there week after week waiting for us at the water stops with water, Gatorade, salt, and those delicious peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers which keep us fueled as we make our way to the finish line. They keep calling us heroes for doing this marathon training, but they are also every bit as heroic in their efforts. I don’t know how to say that without sounding inescapably corny, but there you go.
The last few miles had me and two other Twisted Blisters pace group members adjusting our interval timing from 3-1 to 2-2 (running-walking). We weren’t worried about not making it to the end, but our bodies were getting sore more quickly than we anticipated they would. I knew my feet were going to hate me even more than when I ran 17 miles the week before last! As this training goes on, the thought of having an ice bath has become all the more appealing to me. It’s worth having those involuntary muscle spasms as my body gets over the shock of cold water.
We were greeted with hoots and shouts of congratulations when we finally completed our 20 mile run. High fives were deserved by all and very briefly took our minds off of our infinitely sore muscles. At the finish line, a runner from another pace group (I don’t remember his name) told me:
“Looking forward to your next article on today’s run Ben! But seriously, don’t keep us waiting till Sunday! I can’t wait that long!”
Well, if said person is reading this, thank you for reading and I apologize for keeping you waiting. Typically I want to get started on writing quickly while everything is fresh in my head, but I’m usually limping to the supermarket to buy bags of ice and some much needed chocolate milk. What sucks though is that as soon as I start writing, I find myself yawning uncontrollably and needing to take a nap. It’s funny; I was never much of a nap person before training for marathons, but now I am eager to snuggle under the covers after exercising my ass off. I never did get enough sleep when I had a job.
Speaking of chocolate milk, gallons of it were waiting for us back at Griffith Park. We usually get rationed to one cup of it as the volunteers work to make sure each runner gets some, but having finished running 20 miles, they decided there shouldn’t be a one drink maximum or a two drink minimum for that matter.
I would also like to add that I have spent a whole week abstaining from alcohol for the sake of this day of training. Now that it’s over, I have more than earned the right to get wasted, sloshed, hammered, or whatever adjective you want to use to describe getting hopelessly drunk. For a good portion of us, a week without alcohol can seem quite hellish.
It’s shocking to see how fast months of training have passed us all by. The LA Marathon is now only a few weeks away. Not only do we have to be more prepared for it than ever, but we also need to reserve parking in Santa Monica for the big day. Better get that taken care of!
Other days of 2012 Los Angeles Marathon training:
In honor of this week’s musical quiz, I invite you to check these articles out as well: