Day 11 of 2012 LA Marathon Training

I’m trying to remember the last time it was so foggy in Burbank. This couldn’t have been the first time fog has smothered this city, but as I drove down Barham Drive towards Griffith Park, I was shocked at how thick it was (especially around that Walt Disney Studios high rise). It made me wish that I had brought the theme music from John Carpenter’s “The Fog” with me just so I could play it for my fellow runners. When I was on vacation and we were enveloped by the fog, I put that music on which got a strong reaction from my parents.

Team to End AIDS had us running 14 miles, the equivalent of running a half marathon. It’s our longest run yet, and after last week we found ourselves more prepared for it. After struggling through that 10 miler, we all agreed we needed to focus more on our 30 minute maintenance runs. I ended up doing one with fellow pace group member Sandy Lin in Century City on Thursday right near Fox Studios, which I lived next door to for a year. It felt like a homecoming once I recognized the streets we were running down.

I ended up starting too fast on this run as my mind became preoccupied with frustrations and infuriations I’ve been experiencing during my seemingly never ending period of unemployment. As a result I ended up leaving most of my pace group in the dust until I realized how far back they were. This got me to slow down so they could catch up. Another pace group member, Jessica, tried to keep up with me but soon decided against it. This was smart on her part because I had no business turning into Speedy Gonzales while hurtling down the streets of Burbank.

This run had us going down familiar routes which did not torture us with hills that were either deceptive or in full view. Our pace group (Twisted Blisters) got split up to where it looked like we would finish not only separately but very far apart from one another. As I passed Sidewalk Studio (where I performed in various shows with 3KO Broadway Theater Company) and Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant, I started to wonder if I had missed a turn.

Now when this happens I get truly pissed at myself because I’m usually convinced that I will screw up if I am left to my own devices. Team to End AIDS has been great about leaving out signs indicating where we need to turn, and I began to wonder if I missed one. They also give the pace group leaders maps to follow, and it would have helped if I brought one with me, and that’s even though I’m not the leader.

After I passed those volunteers offering water and pretzels to us runners, I began to realize that I might have gone a bit too far. If it weren’t for many T2EA runners wearing those red shirts, I would have run much farther than 14 miles. Whew! I didn’t screw up! Man I would have kicked myself like crazy if I did.

The most amusing thing this run was going around all these houses in Burbank, we noticed that many still have not taken down their Christmas decorations. Are they trying to get a head start on Christmas 2012?! How ridiculous will they look when summer comes around? I can just picture the conversations between couples in those households:

“Honey, are you going to take down those Christmas decorations today like you promised?”

“I’ll get to it honey,” says the husband as he plops down on the couch to watch the New York Giants take on the Atlanta Falcons.

This all makes it sound like an old episode of “The Bickersons:”

“And that reminds me John, I need you to take down those Christmas decorations.”

“I can’t do it today Blanche.”

“That’s what you said last week!”

“Well I kept my word, didn’t I?”

Some runners struggled again this week as certain parts of their bodies ached far more than others. But just when I thought they gave up and got a ride by car back to Griffith Park, they reappeared and didn’t look like they were about to give up. There has always been a great sense of community between all the T2EA runners. This isn’t a competition about who’s going to cross the finish line the fastest. The whole point is to finish the marathon no matter how long it takes you, and we all want each other to succeed.

Even after all these weeks, I’m still learning the names of my fellow runners. Actually, many names are finally sticking with me especially when it comes to the women of Twisted Blisters. It’s the men who I keep getting mixed up (except for Oscar, I know you by name buddy!).

We all got some professional (not to mention colorful) looking certificates at the end which was proof to all that we did in fact run 14 miles on January 7, 2012. I have got to thank all those volunteers on the road that waited patiently for us to come by so they could refill our bottles with water or lemon-lime Gatorade. And there’s always those peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers which gives us all something to look forward to on these runs. I practically live for them when training with T2EA!

There was a feast at the finish line provided by one of the pace groups (I forget which one) with hard boiled eggs (protein is a must-must after this), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white and wheat bread, bagels with cream cheese and jelly, chocolate milk which everyone now agrees is a great recovery drink, and some homemade pasta salad which was vegetarian for those who really wanted to know that. Saturday is the only day where I am utterly justified in pigging out as there are many calories to replenish after running long distances (with or without hills).

When I got back to my apartment, there was the one thing I had to do which could not be avoided: taking an ice bath. I would prefer to jump in a hot tub (or Jacuzzi if you want to call it) instead as that was what I did after being sore as hell while running cross country in high school. But apparently it’s not good on the swelling in your legs and feet.

I guess that makes sense as you come out of 14 miles having bruised and beaten up your body, or at least the lower half of it. All you have to look forward to afterwards is that intense soreness that never forgives and won’t let you be, and an ice bath becomes the one true remedy for it. As much as I’d like to believe a good dose of Icy Hot and a couple of ice packs from the drug store would do the trick, I find I’m just kidding myself.

Getting into the bath was a challenge not just because the water was cold (and that was before I put the ice in), but my body was telling me that it didn’t want to bend down. If I did end up sitting, then there was a good chance I get up for a long time. I mean really, after a good long run anywhere, your body is just begging you to sit down, but your brain is like:

“I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up!”

You know how when you jump into a swimming pool and your body gets all shocked by how cold the water feels, and that’s even though the temperature of the pool is between 78 and 82 degrees? Well, that’s nothing compared to when you sit in a legitimately cold bath. My body felt like it was going through spasms when I finally lowered myself, but it eventually adjusted to its immersion in the frigid water. I only got one big bag of ice from the supermarket, but maybe two would have been better.

As I sat back, my iPod (which was sitting on its speaker a few inches away from the water) was playing a podcast of Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman doing a dramatic reading of a Batman comic book. It was enough to take my mind off the swelling of my muscles which was now decreasing. There other parts of my body which shrunk much more than I would have liked though… Okay, I said a little too much there…

Looking back, this particular day of training felt like a huge accomplishment. We deserved to come out of this feeling great as we have come so far in a short period of time. For those of you who had to drop out for one reason or another, we understand and hope to see you again in the future. Thank you to all the Team to End AIDS coaches and employees who are among the nicest and coolest people I have met in Los Angeles. It’s been a great journey so far, and the training continues…

FUNDRASING UPDATE: I am now halfway towards my goal and have raised $561.20. I still need your help in getting me to $1,000 before January 20th. If I don’t meet my fundraising update, I will have the difference charged to my credit card. Even if you can only donate $5, don’t let that stop you. Yes these are tough times, and if that’s all you can donate, that’s fine. If all my Facebook friends donated just that, I would be beyond my goal.

Click here to make a tax deductible donation to AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Other days of training for the 2012 LA Marathon:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 9.5, and 10

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