One Last Pablove Run, and One Last Hill

Ben Kenber finishing 23 miles in Feb 2017

It’s been an interesting time for us Pablove Foundation runners. Having conquered 23 miles throughout the treacherous streets of Burbank, Glendale and parts of North Hollywood we haven’t gone through previously, we now had to ease up on our weekly mileage as recovery runs became a much-needed necessity. As the Los Angeles Marathon is now only a few days away, the last thing we needed, or wanted, to do was overdo anything. But with this run being our last for the training season, the coaches still had us running up the dreaded hill in the back of Griffith Park.

We were supposed to run 10 miles last week, but the threat of a major rainstorm forced the coaches to cancel it as they didn’t want to risk us getting sick before the big day. As a result, we had to run those 10 miles on our own. But when it came to this week’s run of eight miles, the threat of a major rainstorm in California was still in the air to where it was reported that it was actually snowing in Sacramento, something which rarely, if ever, happens Still, we needed to get one last run in before traveling 26.2 miles from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, and had to be both easy and challenging.

The coaches begged us to wear clothing which would keep us dry as heaven forbid we would develop pneumonia or some sinus infection which would make breathing more of chore than it should ever be. So instead of wearing my black Nike jacket like I always do, I wore this red poncho I still possess which in addition to keeping me dry also keeps me feeling very warm to where I become a beacon for humidity. I left my cell phone and iPod in my car as getting either of them wet was out of the question. Plus, we were running only eight miles, and that distance is a walk in the park for us marathon veterans.

Coach James was suffering from a nasty chest cold which he said had him coughing non-stop the night before. Still, he was usual enthusiastic and smiling self as he congratulated us for completing another marathon training season. The course he had in store for us kept us inside Griffith Park as we would be doing a loop around the park and up the dreaded hill one last time. Of course, my interpretation of these directions got a little confused, but more on that later.

We all went to the starting line and Coach James said, “Okay I want all my 14 and 15-minute runners to start first.” I repeated these instructions to everyone to make sure they heard him and, yes, it was my way of briefly deflecting the fact of me being the runner he was talking about. Coach James instructed us to run at a conversational pace and at the same pace we should be expecting to run on race day. I got off to an easy start and kept it up throughout. I was especially surprised at how well I was doing as fitting maintenance runs into my busy work schedule this past week proved to be more challenging than usual. Hey, I got bills to pay!

I kept waiting for the rain to come hammering down on me, and it was already pretty misty. While those clouds didn’t look like they were impatiently waiting to burst all over Los Angeles, the weather in Southern California has been especially bi-polar this past month. More often than not, the days are unseasonably warm, but recently the temperature has been surprisingly frigid, and these cold temperatures are coming to us just as we are about to see the beginning of spring. The weather gods must be having a great time messing with our heads as we are not sure what to expect from one day to the next. Here’s hoping this means the day of the marathon is cooler than it has been in the past few years. Running in the heat is overrated among other things.

I reached the turnaround point which was just pass the pony rides and made my way back. While running through Griffith Park, I came across dozens upon dozens of other runners whom I could only assume were training for the LA Marathon as well. Why did I assume so? Well, a number of them were wearing LA Marathon t-shirts from previous years, and why else would they be running on a rainy Saturday morning, let alone at such an ungodly hour? Many smiled as I passed by them, and some even said “great job” to which I returned the compliment. This proved to be a nice preview of what you can expect on marathon day as the city of Los Angeles comes together in a way it usually doesn’t as complete strangers cheer you on to the finish line.

You can rest assured I was equipped with all the energy gels and electrolyte tablets I could ever need for this run. I also have to acknowledge just how much Pedialyte has been for me this past training season, let alone after a night of heavy drinking. If you are ever lacking for electrolytes, be sure to have a bottle of it handy. It comes in different flavors, and it is a lifesaver if you are dealing with dehydration and diarrhea at the same time. It also has far less sugar than your average bottle of Gatorade.

As I approached the finish line at Griffith Park, I felt the same level of confidence I experienced a few weeks ago when I arrived where we started at what felt like lightning speed. When I am only a few minutes behind the runner who finishes before me, it always feels like an enormous accomplishment. I’m always the last Pablove runner to finish, and it’s always nice to know I haven’t finished an hour and a half later than everyone else.

Coach James did not see me making it to the end, but this is because he expected me to arrive on the other side of Zoo Drive. This is when I realized why I finished with such an astonishing level of confidence: I forgot to run up the hill. How did this happen? Didn’t I hear him say we were going up that hill like he told everyone else? How could I have forgotten about this? Perhaps I was expecting a sign which said “turn left here.” Or maybe I thought he didn’t mean… Upon realizing I forgot to run up the back of Griffith Park, I really started to beat myself up. What a stupid mistake I made! Coach James, however, was still all smiles and told me not to worry about it. Besides, he said, he had tortured us more than enough this past season, and me being a hardened marathon veteran more than spelled out for him how ready I was for the big day. I got in my car and drove off, feeling someone reassured.

But as I filled up my gas tank for $3.19 a gallon at Costco (the fact this is the best bargain for gas right now is depressing), I found myself lost in thought as the demons in my head would not stop beating me up over forgetting the hill. These demons also started taking the form of people from my past who left my ego in tatters during my time at high school, college, jobs, etc. This made my shame at not running up that hill all the more distressing, and I started to believe I would be reminded of this on many, many, many occasions. It was at that point I got back in my car and made the decision to go back to Griffith Park and run up that hill. It may have started to rain a little harder, but I had to do this for me and to shut up those voices in my head.

This time I brought my soundtrack iPod with me as some tunes were required this time out. Keeping in mind how we needed to run at conversation pace, I started off with a few tracks from the soundtrack to “The Color of Money,” a Martin Scorsese film. Don Henley’s “Who Owns This Place” had a nice rhythm to it, and Eric Clapton’s “It’s in The Way That You Use It” kept me from going too fast. And then came the hill, and I suddenly realized why I finished today’s run with such confidence: I didn’t run up the hill.

If there was one thing I wanted to improve this time out it was to go up the hill without running out of breath too soon. Once I begin my ascent, I am immediately ready to give up and walk. I relied on Peter Gabriel’s “The Heat,” the instrumental version of his song “The Rhythm of the Heat,” to get me up there faster than usual. But as soon as the song was finished, I had to admit to myself I was running way too fast. As a result, I took a longer than usual walk break in order to catch my breath. Ultimately, I feel like I have come a long way from when I started this season as I got up to the top a lot quicker than I usually do. And knowing there will be a few hills to conquer during the LA Marathon, it’s good to know I am improving.

I made it back to Griffith Park in one piece and reveled in my success to where. I even found myself smiling. Looking back, running up the hill felt a lot longer than the run itself. You can sure bet my legs were achy breaky (thank goodness my heart wasn’t), and while I wanted to celebrate with a big breakfast burrito, I instead drove back to my apartment and crashed in bed.

It’s hard to believe we have come to the end of another marathon training season. I always expect the last run to come with a strong feeling of finality, but it never feels like an ending. Even though I know we won’t be meeting up at Griffith Park next Saturday, it still seems I am going to be there. This training has been a significant part of my life these past few months and being without it always feels strange. Or maybe this is just a subtle way of someone telling me, “What makes you think you are going to stop training after the marathon?”

So here we go. Onward to another Los Angeles Marathon. Best of luck to us all, and here’s hoping and praying the weather will be much, much kinder to us than it has been in the last few years. As much as I may need a suntan, I don’t want the sun to shine too brightly on us.

LA Marathon 2018

Scott Boliver tree 2014

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: With the funds raised on my personal page and various Facebook fundraisers, I raised a total of $1,011 this season for The Pablove Foundation. As a group, we Pablove runners raised over $48,000. There is still time to make a tax-deductible donation if you would like. Doing this marathon for Pablove has been an honor, and I am proud to continue the fight against pediatric cancer.




23 Miles in the Frigid Los Angeles Wilderness

Ben Kenber after 23 miles 2012

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: Now I usually put this update at the end of my marathon training articles, but this one goes up at the front as my fundraising deadline is coming up very soon. The coaches have put the deadline at the end of February and, after some confusion, I have officially raised $761 for The Pablove Foundation. My goal is to raise $1,500, and I could really use your help. Please donate only what you can, and hopefully a miracle will take place and we can reach this goal before the clock strikes midnight on February 28th.


Pablove Foundation logo

Last week had us Pablove Foundation runners doing a recovery run of 13 miles (you read that correctly), and four of those miles were run on the track at Burbank High School as Coach James wanted us do tempo runs in an effort to improve our individual paces per mile. I ran the first four laps around that track without taking a single walk break. I was on fire that day, and it showed as I crossed the finish line back at Griffith Park. Coach James and Coach Kerry were more impressed with me than usual as I wasn’t too far behind the other runners. Yes, I am improving!

This week had us doing the longest run of the marathon training season, 23 miles. We were also going to be running this insane number of miles during one of the coldest weeks in recent Los Angeles history. Although spring is just around the corner, temperatures have threatened to reach polar depths down here in Southern California, and I kid you not. For the first time in ages, I considered wearing a sweater on a daily basis, something which previously felt completely unnecessary. We have become so used to experiencing unseasonably warm weather all year round in this part of the Golden State, so this huge drop in temperature took us all by surprise. Heck, even recent transplants from states like Maine found themselves complaining about how cold it was, and the winters in Maine are brutal!

I arrived at Griffith Park about 10 minutes before our run was scheduled to begin. With a run like this, we usually start it at 6 a.m. in order to finish it before the temperature rises to a torturous level. However, since the forecast gave Saturday a high of only 64 degrees, the coaches had us starting at our usual time of 7 a.m. Either way, we all knew we wouldn’t be finishing this run until at least noon.

As you can guess, we were all shivering like never before as Coach James told us what to expect on this run. One fellow Pablove runner remarked, “As they say in Canada, it is currently one degree Celsius.” We only have so many layers of clothing on as we expect to shed some of them before we reach our midway point, so we paid the price for a few minutes before we begin our run to where we all wonder if frost would start forming on our clothes. Believe me, this has happened before.

Pablove Runners 2018 on Feb 24

Being the slowest runner on the Pablove team, I was the first to start, and I made sure to tell everyone “see you next week” as I had no doubt none of them would be around to see me cross the finish line. This run had us doing three loops: one inside Griffith Park which had us going up that godforsaken hill, another which had us returning on the treacherous, let alone ominous, road of Forest Lawn Drive, and another which took us through Glendale and Burbank. Eager to get off to a quick start, I may have started to run a little faster than I should have, but considering how frigid the weather was, can you blame me?

I mentioned in a previous article how I am the proud owner of two 160GB iPods, one of which is dedicated solely to film scores and soundtracks. This week, I brought the other to see how the music on it would assist on this run. As I made my way up the first of several inclines, I listened to Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey,” the song which made me consciously aware of who the former lead singer of Genesis is. The start of the song always sends a shiver down my spine as it reminds me of how freaked out I was by its accompanying music video when I first watched it at the tender age of 7. For years afterwards, I had to keep changing the channel whenever it appeared on MTV. I have no problem watching it today, and I have long since become a die-hard Peter Gabriel fan, but I never forgot how the video became the stuff of nightmares for me.

If I ever felt my energy waning at any point, I was sure to put on a faster paced song on like “Kiss of Life” or “The Rhythm of the Heat,” songs you experience more than listen to. Of course, I soon had to become aware of how fast I was running as the music got me super excited to my own detriment. We were supposed to be running at a conversational pace, and I got so caught up in the music to where this slipped my mind. Then again, what do you expect when I am taking in the extended version of Gabriel’s “Big Time” as I struggle to ascend a hill even Kate Bush never sang about?

Other songs which became instrumental in helping me included the Microbots trance dance mix of Erasure’s “Always,” Everclear’s “Everything to Everyone” (something I tried too hard to be when I was a kid), The Power Station’s cover of “Get it On (Bang a Gong),” and Franz Ferdinand’s “Do You Want To” among others. Actually, this run also helped to remind me of just how much I loved listening to Phil Collins’ “12” Ers” album as it featured very kinetic remixes of his songs “Sussudio” and “Who Said I Would.” Those songs furthered my determination to finish these 23 miles sooner than later. Of course, I once again found myself running a little faster than I should have, and my walk breaks eventually began to last longer than one minute.

Even as the sun rose in the sky, we still had a strong breeze to work with as we pounded the pavement. It made me realize something, this is the kind of weather we live to run in during the LA Marathon. It’s certainly a lot more fun running in these temperatures than it is in 80 plus degree heat. Sadly, this weather will probably not be around on marathon day, so we should enjoy it while it lasts. Still, hopefully it will very overcast as wevget closer to Santa Monica.

Lays Potato Chips

Coaches James and Kerry met up with us along the route to make sure we had all the nutrition we needed. I had plenty of energy gels on me, but their helpings of cookies and bananas were especially handy as the potassium made a huge difference. The other thing which really helped were the bags of Lays potato chips. They were the normal, plain kind, but that didn’t matter because those chips still had all the salt our bodies needed to absorb the water and electrolyte drinks we couldn’t stop drinking throughout.

Salt was the one thing I needed to remember to take a lot of. Our bodies can expel it fairly quickly to where you can feel it coming out of your face. I remember running 23 miles on my own a few years back and later getting seriously dehydrated to where I couldn’t keep anything down. My dad came by a day or two later, and even he saw how I was moving around town as if I were an extra in George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” As a result, I had to go to urgent care at Kaiser Permanente where I got an IV of fluids. The truth is, I didn’t consume enough salt during the run, and my body was aching for sodium among other things…

Well, there was also the case of me celebrating too soon with an endless number of Jack and Cokes a few hours after I finished. As a result, I will never consume alcohol on the day of a run with this magnitude. Simply put, it isn’t worth the trouble.


Towards the last half of the run, I could not escape the soreness which was enveloping my body. Those joints of mine can only take so much, but even then, I was surprised I was suffering as it felt like I handled the first part of the run much better than I anticipated. But as I went on, I decided to take one extra strength Tylenol caplet to ease the pain. I figured I would take another later on, but one seemed to be sufficient. Believe it or not, I don’t use much Tylenol or any equivalent kind of medication these days. This is probably because I almost got completely scared off of taking any kind of pain medication after witnessing the cinematic shock therapy which was Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem for a Dream.” If you know someone who is considering experimenting with drugs, make sure they check it out.

My iPod threatened to shut down on my early on as I was listening to “Get it On (Bang a Gong).” The music suddenly stopped, and the screen said to hook it up to a power source. I was pissed because music had suddenly become a valuable tool during these training runs, and to be without it was infuriating. Fortunately, my iPod came to its senses and realized it had more power than it was letting on. Still, it decided it didn’t have enough juice to last me on the last three miles, and this was just as I began listening to the Revolting Cocks’ cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy.” Damn, and I hadn’t listened to that version in a long time!

In the past years when I trained with Team to End AIDS, the 23-mile run, which is still called the “celebration run,” we were greeted at the finish line with tremendous fanfare as the T2EA staff was there to cheer us on, and we were greeted with a feast of sandwiches to gorge on. This year, we did not have such a finish as Coach Kerry doesn’t have the same staff he used to, but this was okay because the victory of completion was something we need to acknowledge within us instead of just from others. We need to appreciate our accomplishments more than others do because, otherwise, what’s the point of running all these miles?

Following this, I drove home and crashed in bed for several hours. Despite having done this same run the last seven years, my body still takes a toll to where I can’t get myself to do much of anything else for the rest of the day. I did celebrate by having a cheeseburger at Five Guys in the evening, but my body felt better lying down on a mattress more than anything else.

Here’s to all the Pablove runners for running all 23 miles whether it was at Griffith Park on Saturday morning or elsewhere. Congratulations. Now if you will excuse me, I will be taking a much-needed break until Tuesday when I will resume my maintenance runs. I know my knees will appreciate this.



There’s Nothing Like a Hot Summer Day in February

Burbank High School TrackOkay, it has been a very busy few weeks between working and training for the 2018 Los Angeles Marathon. After cutting short a run just a couple of miles before I could have made it to the finish line, I started to wonder if I would be better off running the half-marathon in March instead of the full 26.2 miles. But after forcing myself to do more cardio exercises throughout the week, I came back with a vengeance and surprised my fellow runners with my speed as we ran several laps on the Burbank High School track. Coach James wanted us to work on our tempo and run each mile faster than the previous one. Even with my pronounced belly, I held my own against my fellow Pablove Foundation runners who continue to run at a much faster pace than me. It even got to where I arrived back at the park only a few minutes after the last runner had left for the day.

The following week had us enduring our longest run yet – 20 miles. This took us further out into Burbank and Glendale than ever before, and I think we all ran through part of North Hollywood at one point. The longest runs are always the hardest for obvious reasons, but this 20-mile run had us enduring something more vicious: 90-degree weather. The heat was intense to where I couldn’t believe I allowed myself to continue. Seriously, I felt like Uma Thurman as she walked through the desert on her bare feet in “Kill Bill.”

Kill Bill Uma Thurman walking

We all must have gone through every single electrolyte drink available to us on this run, and it reminds me of how I need to bring some money next time so I can go by the nearest 7-Eleven if I ever need to for Gatorade or its equivalent. Also, I have long since run out of suntan lotion to where I wondered if I would get sunburned for the first time in years. Oh well, at least I got a good dose of Vitamin E… Or is it Vitamin D?

The weather in Los Angeles these past weeks has been seriously bipolar. During the day, it reaches temperatures cities should only experience during spring and summertime. At night, thinks get so frigid to where us Angelinos are suddenly reminded why God created sweaters. Running early in the morning allows us Pablove runners to escape the higher temperatures Southern California typically gives us more often than it should. But despite our best efforts, we still got caught in weather we typically live to avoid. While training for the LA Marathon takes place during the coldest months of the year, we Pablove runners still live in a place which doesn’t always have seasons.

When I finished the 20-mile run, I told Coach James how there is nothing like a hot summer day in February. He got a kick out of hearing me say this, and it’s always great to make your friends laugh. This isn’t even Hawaii, and yet it felt like we were suddenly much closer to the equator than we were ever led to believe. Let us pray things will not be overheating like a car engine when we run 26.2 miles.

This past Saturday had us doing the first of two recovery runs. We stayed in Griffith Park ran up and down the insane hill in the back of it twice. The first time we were told to run at an easygoing pace like we are going to on marathon day. The second time, however, we were to run up it at a much faster pace. This was all about improving our overall marathon time, but just staring at the hill was enough to make me say, “Bitch, please!”

In years previous, the coaches advised us not to wear headphones while running. This was done to keep us safe and aware of our surroundings, and it also allowed us to converse with our fellow runners so we would get to know one another better. But since I have spent more time this season running by my lonesome, I said screw it and brought along one of my two 160GB iPods. I have two of them because one is solely dedicated to containing film scores and soundtracks, and that was the one I brought for this run.

Actually, I did bring this same iPod with me the previous week, but I forgot to charge it up. Upon attempting to use it, the screen indicated it needed to be hooked up to a power source. This is code for, “you idiot!”

American Flyers movie poster

Music really did help me run up that merciless hill. One piece which did wonders for me was the theme from “American Flyers,” a movie about bicycle racing which co-starred Kevin Costner. Truth be told, I have not actually seen it all the way through, but I do remember the music from the movie’s trailers, and it is the kind of cheesy movie music which 1980’s movies typically employed more often than not.

During walk breaks, I kept choosing different pieces of music to listen to like Peter Gabriel’s “The Heat” from his soundtrack to “Birdy,” and the music composed and performed by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth for “Big Trouble in Little China” came in handy as well. Towards the last half of the run, John Powell’s adrenaline rush of a score for “The Bourne Ultimatum” helped me get over the top of the hill. I love Powell’s music for the Jason Bourne franchise as his scores make you feel the character’s desperation to stay alive as his antagonists continue to hunt him down whenever he is in their sights.

The Little Engine That Could

I tell you, every time I go up the hill in Griffith Park, I get reminded of the book “The Little Engine That Could.” You know, the one with the young train trying his best to ascend a hill while telling himself over and over, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” I wonder if anyone considered doing a follow up in which we catch up with that same train when he’s in his forties. Sure, the train may still think he can, but he most likely has put on a lot of weight since his glory days as his metabolism is not what it used to be, and the testosterone his body once thrived upon is now in short supply. I kept going up the hill saying to myself, “I think I can, I think I… Aw shit, I need to walk.” Seriously, we need these hills in our training as they will be part of the marathon course, but it takes no time for me to get winded as I attempt to ascend them. Just looking at it is enough to make me feel like those energy gels I just consumed won’t be nearly enough. Heck, I kept thinking of Roy Scheider’s classic scene in “Jaws” where he tells Robert Shaw, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Well, I did make it back to our starting point in Griffith Park in one piece, and Coach James told me to wait a few days before doing my maintenance runs so my body could have time to recover from the soreness it was already feeling. After indulging in a Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich at McDonald’s, I went back to my apartment and took a super long nap as I didn’t get much sleep the night before.


This Saturday’s run will be another recovery run before we run the longest one of all – 23 miles. Till then, I need to keep up with my maintenance runs and stay hydrated. Granted, maybe I’ll have to occasional Jack and Coke, but alkaline water should be at the top of my menu along with Gatorade and Pedialyte.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I want to thank all of you for donating to my fundraising efforts for The Pablove Foundation, an organization determined to find a cure for pediatric cancer. So far, I have raised $891 towards my goal of $1,500. Be sure to make a tax-deductible donation sooner rather than later. If all you can donate is $5, I will happily accept that. Heck, if all my Facebook friends donated just $5 each, I would be exceeding my goal by quite a margin.





Here Comes the Rain Again (and Finally!)

2015 Halloween Run

WRITER’S NOTE: This was originally written back in 2014.

The rain came down hard on Los Angeles Halloween night. The following morning still had heavy clouds hovering in the sky, leaves and branches were strewn all over the street, and my car finally got the wash it had been begging for. Yes, fall has finally arrived in Southern California, and it took the beginning of November for it to finally make its long overdue appearance. Of course, even with all the rain, it still won’t be enough to cure California of its current drought.

Although another Halloween has come and gone, the spirit of this wonderfully wicked holiday remained strong with Team to End AIDS. Then again, every day in Los Angeles is Halloween. Still, October 31st is one of the few days out of the year where we can embrace craziness with an infinite joy.

It was a small gathering at Griffith Park on this particular morning, but it wasn’t because of the weather. Many T2EA runners were out of state preparing for the New York Marathon which will be far stormier and have its participants dealing with headwinds which will undoubtedly slow them down in an incredibly frustrating way. Still, more power to them as this particular marathon, so I am told, is one of the best and most entertaining to run.

2015 LA Marathon cheeseburger costume

This was the annual costume run day which typically proves to be a good one to get people to donate to your efforts. One woman was dressed up as a delicious double cheeseburger, the kind we all see in those Carl’s Jr. and Burger King commercials. Of course, when you get to one of those fast food joints, the burgers never look as tasty as you expect. Still, looking at this costume made me very hungry, and my cholesterol level went up a few points as a result.

2015 LA Marathon hot dog costume

Then there was a guy who was dressed up as a hot dog. Moreover, it had mustard on it. I don’t know why there was no ketchup on it, or maybe I wasn’t looking at the costume closely enough. At one point, I couldn’t help but ask the guy, “Do you relish wearing this costume? Is it ‘chili’ wearing it in this weather?” This comment was greeted with a couple of laughs and numerous audible groans, but I had to ask. My brother couldn’t stop telling me puns when we were younger, so I get it from him.

As for myself, I didn’t bother wearing a costume this time out. After seeing one of my forms of my employment come to a shockingly abrupt halt, I was too bummed to shop for a new costume. I considered putting on my Jason “Friday the 13th” Voorhees costume, but I was tired of wearing it again. So instead, I just put on my usual running gear and a black rain jacket. If I had put on a black poncho and put the hood over my head, I could have said I was Bruce Willis’ character from “Unbreakable,” one of the few decent M. Night Shyamalan movies.

Today’s run had the newbies running four miles while the alumni ran five. Since most of the people in the pace group were new (or so I thought) to marathon training, I figured they would only want to run four, but I was surprised to see the majority were willing to run the extra mile. Was I cool with this? Absolutely! As much as we should be taking it easy, I was getting increasingly eager to rid myself of this spare tire which has formed over my stomach.

We went outside of Griffith Park again, down Victory Boulevard and towards Pickwick Gardens and Disney Animation Studios. We had to keep our eyes out for puddles, but what really made this run especially treacherous were all those broken branches and wet leaves we could easily have slipped on. And just when you thought it had stopped raining for good, it came pouring down once again. Memories of the 2011 LA Marathon went through the minds of its survivors as a result, but we pressed on regardless.

I again kept the group on pace as I remembered to bring both my watches, one of which has interval time and a broken strap. I did, however, screw up at the beginning as I forgot when our first walk break occurred. We ended up running for seven minutes straight as a result, and this forced me to carry my interval timing watch in my right hand to make certain this did not happen again.

I also have to give special thanks to Winston for helping me let the runners know when to run and walk. I did my best to keep my fellow pace group runners on pace, but if they couldn’t hear me, they could certainly hear Winston. It’s always nice to have someone back you up in anything and everything you do.

This 5-mile run ended up making for a nice post-Halloween day. As the run came to an end, the sun started climbing out of the clouds and shone down brightly on us. At the same time, it was still raining softly and the sight of it against the sun was beautiful to take in. It reminded me of when Ron Shelton, in his commentary track for “Bull Durham,” talked about how he used machines to make it rain for certain scenes even though the sun was out and how embarrassed he was by that. Stopped being embarrassed Mr. Shelton, assuming he’s reading this, because it does happen, and it looks as beautiful as it did in your classic movie.

Someone left us some utterly delectable chocolate fudge treats which proved to be completely addictive once you tasted them. I had a couple but eventually had to force myself to lay off them as others had yet to have them, and there is the issue with that spare tire I was talking about previously.

So, it feels like we’re all off to a good start as we survived running five miles in the rain without slipping and breaking a bone in our bodies. Part of me misses the people who I have trained with in the past like Jessica, Annette, Marta and Tom among others, but I know I’m in good company with the ones who have decided to train this time around.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: It’s now 2018 and I am training for the latest Los Angeles Marathon, and I am running it in support of The Pablove Foundation. My fundraising goal is $1,500, and to date I have raised $890 (this includes donations from my most recent Facebook fundraiser). Please help me in my efforts to lay waste to pediatric cancer. Too many lives are being cut short at far too early an age.



An Especially Frigid 18 Mile Pablove Run

Griffith Park welcome sign

After recovering both physically and, to a certain extent, emotionally last Saturday with the 12-mile run, we Pablove Foundation runners were now tasked with running a full 18 miles inside and outside of Griffith Park in Burbank. This run took place on the one-year anniversary of a historical event. That’s right, the Women’s March of 2017, a worldwide protest done to advocate legislation and policies regarding human rights. This march was celebrated with another today which brought out thousands of people to Downtown Los Angeles alone, and hopefully this same number of people will show up to the polls this year to make much needed changes in government.

Oh yeah, Donald Trump has now been inhabiting the White House for a full year, and that’s even though it feels like he has been there for much longer. To celebrate, he and the Republican controlled congress and senate shut down the government. Trump is certainly running the United States like he does his businesses, straight into the ground.

Anyway, this morning at Griffith Park proved to be super chilly to where my teeth were chattering like never before. Seriously, I started to feel like I was back in Denver, Colorado during an infinitely frigid Thanksgiving weekend, and the temperature there dropped far below zero. I couldn’t wait to start running as a result. As thankful as I was for the temperature being lower, let alone the fact winter-like weather actually making itself known in Southern California, this felt like an especially frigid Saturday morning designed to fuck with us more than usual.


This run had us running on Forest Lawn Drive, a very treacherous stretch of road which forces us to run in single file at times due to a blind curve which is just daring us to run past it. I again have to point out how Forest Lawn Drive goes right past the cemetery and mortuary of the same name. If this doesn’t put the fear of God into you, what will?

The 15 17 To Paris movie poster

If you are reading this, then you know I wasn’t hit by a car and my body is not in a terribly mangled state, and I made the turn onto Olive and ran past Warner Brothers Studios where posters of Clint Eastwood’s next movie as a director, “The 15:17 to Paris” were plastered on the buildings for all to see. And this being awards season, there were posters for “Dunkirk” and “Wonder Woman” on display as well to remind Oscar voters of how many critics called them the best movies of 2017. Here’s hoping both motion pictures garner a plethora of nominations.

At four and a half miles, we were to make a turnaround at the intersection of Verdugo and Sparks and go back the same way we came. Coach Kerry, who was driving along the route to make sure we were going in the correct direction, informed me the turnaround point was right across from the McDonald’s on Olive, but, of course, I ran right past it to where this run threatened to be much longer than it needed to be. Well, this had largely to do with me finding a safe and legal way to cross the street without getting hit by a car eager to run a red light. Running straight from the McDonald’s to the other side also had me running the risk of making a mandatory donation to the Burbank Police Department, and they already hate it when we run on the asphalt instead of the concrete sidewalks.

Pablove 18 mile volunteers

I would like to take the time to acknowledge two wonderful volunteers, Jasmine Kostraba and Dennis Herzig, fellow Pablove runners who took the time to make sure we had all the energy gels, bananas, electrolyte pills and orange slices we needed to cross the finish line. The both of them asked me why I ran past the turnaround point, and I responded, “You can’t say I’m not putting extra effort into this run!”

I have to say; those orange slices are quite heavenly on a run like this. I bite into one, and all of a sudden, I am reenergized to an astonishing extent. Give me that or a banana, and it’s almost like Popeye eating his spinach.

When it came to running back on Forest Lawn, I ran on the side which went with traffic instead of it against it as we are constantly advised to do. Coach Kerry, who drove up to me at one point, asked me why I was running on the other street, and I explained it was because advancing on the other had me fearing for my life as a particular blind corner made me feel like a moving target for someone eager to cling to the corner in order to stay at optimum speed.

Upon arriving back at Griffith Park, we ran from there to Los Feliz Boulevard where we ran uphill to another turnaround point. As much as I complain about the hills in Griffith Park, the one on Los Feliz is even harder to go up. I didn’t even make it to the turnaround sign when Dennis saw me and was quick to come up to me and say, “This hill is impossible, huh?” Yes, it is.

From there, I went down Los Feliz and back the same way I came. Dennis remarked at how I didn’t look tired at all, and this was quite the compliment. However, I found my energy dissipating rather quickly, and I started to cough a lot which didn’t help matters. I finally came to a stop as the voice inside my head kept telling me it was time to call it a day. This voice is one I constantly fight against as I am determined to complete each and every Pablove run, but this time I found myself surrendering to the inescapable fatigue consuming me.

Eventually, Coach Kerry drove by to see if I needed any water, food or energy gels to complete the run. But upon seeing my rather sullen state, he asked if I instead wanted to stop and take a ride back with him to the starting point, and I said yes. I apologized to him for not finishing, but he told me it’s okay, saying sometimes it’s best not to push it. What marathon training constantly reminds of is to listen to my body and what it is telling me. As defeated as I felt for not finishing all 18 miles (I completed 15 to 16 in the end), I think my decision to cut this run short was the right move.

Whether or not I get my maintenance runs done during the week, I do need to more cardio exercises. Being a marathon veteran, it’s far too easy to get confident about my training. Regardless of how many marathons I have completed, I still need to keep up exercising during the week as I can see what happens when I don’t get my maintenance runs done.

Coach Kerry also asked if I might consider doing the half-marathon instead. With the LA Marathon, participants do have the option of doing this as opposed to running the full thing. This option is now very tempting as I constantly finish these training runs behind everyone else. Kerry told me to think it over and assured me I have done terrific work this training season. I would still like to do the full, but I really have to give the half some consideration. Speaking of which, if I do the half, do I still get a medal?

Moons Over My Hammy

My legs were incredibly sore, but I managed to my haul my tired body over to Denny’s for the Moons Over My Hammy sandwich. Despite the high number of calories, I think I earned this meal. The rest of the day had me resting as my body ached all over. Once again, staying in bed can feel irresistible even when you have work to do.

My goal before next week’s recovery run, which should be 10 or 12 miles, is to get my maintenance runs done, and to do more cardio exercises throughout the week. We are still a few weeks away from the big day, but I cannot and will not leave anything to chance.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: We still have a way to go to reach our fundraising goal of $1,500 for The Pablove Foundation. To date, I have raised $639. There’s still plenty of time to make a tax-deductible donation, but sooner you make one, the better.




A Longer Than Expected Pablove Recovery Run

Pablove 12 Mile Run

After running 16 miles through the unwanted humidity of Burbank and Glendale, I figured this week’s run would be half the distance since it was a recovery run. Well, I was in for a bit of a shock when I learned we would be running 12 miles. Considering I ran only one maintenance run this past week, this left me worried I would suffer more than usual. But on the upside, the weather was much colder than the previous week, and I figured as long as I got back to Griffith Park before the temperature rose above 70 degrees (and it did), I would be alright.

Before I go on, you probably are wondering why I did only did one maintenance run instead of two. To be honest, I think depression began to overtake me this past week. I’m not saying this to make an excuse, but instead to offer an explanation. Over the last few days, I found myself very unmotivated to do much of anything, and it got to where getting myself out of bed was impossible. Sleeping is wonderful, but oversleeping, while it sounds great, has became a rather nasty habit. I was determined to make enough money to take care of my escalating Visa bill, but I only made a tenth of what I usually make because I just couldn’t get myself to do what needed to be done. It is at times like this where I am reminded of how training for the Los Angeles Marathon has been a lifesaver for me. Exercising helps release endorphins and gets those serotonin levels up to where they need to be, so I have to remind myself of this when it comes to next week’s run as cardio training helps elevate my spirits during a time where we are forced to endure a terrible Presidential administration.

Truth is, I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life, and I am often reminded of how easy it can be to fall into the dark pit of despair. I am taking medication to combat these two illnesses which can be the best of bed buddies to one’s own detriment, but there’s more to taking care of these mental afflictions than just medicine. Also, maybe I need a little more caffeine and sugar in my diet.

Anyway, this run took us outside Griffith Park and into Burbank and Glendale, and there was a hill involved as we ran up Grandview Avenue. However, we did make a left turn on Kenneth, so this particular hill wasn’t as torturous as the one we endured in Griffith Park. Coach James encouraged me to run at a 3:1 pace, and I did just that to see how I would do. For the most part, I kept up with the pace, but I did find myself eager to take a walk break before my watch informed me with its beeps that it arrived during the last few miles.

I always have two water bottles on me while I run these miles which can at times feel incredibly endless; one which contains water, and the other which contains a liquid filled with electrolytes. This other bottle typically has Gatorade of a certain flavor, be it grape or orange or lemon-line. This week, this bottle had the closest thing to Pedialyte in it. Why? Because Pedialyte or its generic equivalent is filled with electrolytes and zinc among other things, and it doesn’t contain too much in the way of sugar. Pedialyte is meant for babies suffering from dehydration and diarrhea, the latter of which no one wants to talk about during a lunch break, and it came to my rescue after a night of eating sushi I bought from the supermarket. I won’t go into specific details, but my body kept pushing out unwanted materials even after my stomach felt completely emptied.

Pedialyte and alcohol

Thanks to the generic Pedialyte, I was never lacking in electrolytes. In fact, I began to wonder if I had too many of them floating around in my body. I need to get more sodium into my body even if it means eating salt. Yes, eating salt by itself can be rather disgusting, but it has the same effect on me as when Popeye eats his spinach. I suddenly become energized as the salt absorbs the water in my system, and I am able to escape the clutches of fatigue even if it’s only for a little while.

When it came to keeping up with my fellow runners, I did manage to catch up to them at one point. Of course, this was near the beginning of the run when we had yet to run past Walt Disney Studios. Still, it was nice to have them in my sights a little longer than usual before they inevitably disappeared. I also look forward as I always do to smelling the yeast coming out of the bread factory we past by on the way to Sonora. I always get a rise out of it!

Upon arriving back at Griffith Park, I was greeted by the sound of bagpipes and, of course, I thought it was all for me. Whoever was playing them was messing up the notes a lot to where I wasn’t sure what music he was trying to play. All I can say is it sure didn’t sound like “Amazing Grace.”

Coach James was on hand to welcome me back and did so with a smile, saying he didn’t actually wait long for me to return. To hear James say this made me feel especially good because it means I am making good progress in increasing my running endurance. He also confirmed that the bagpipes were not there for my benefit. If they were, I would expect much better playing of them.

Next week, we are going to be running 18 miles, so I will do my best to prepare for it and try to keep my depression demons at bay. There is much I have to be motivated about, so as long as I keep that in mind, I should be fine.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: With my Pablove and Facebook pages combined, I have now raised $419 towards my fundraising goal of $1,500 for The Pablove Foundation. Every little bit helps, so be sure to make a tax-deductible donation today. If you can get me up to $800 by this Saturday, January 20, 2018, I will run through the streets of Burbank, Glendale and Griffith Park with an Eeyore by my side.




An Easy Three Miles in Burbank

Ben Kenber The Triumphant Runner

WRITER’S NOTE: This article was written on October 25, 2014.

It was another cool October morning when I stepped out of my apartment and got into my car for the drive to Griffith Park. Still, it’s not too cold to where we were forced to start wearing layers of non-cotton clothing on our runs just yet. Here in Southern California we are still dealing with 80-degree days even though fall has arrived, and yet summer remains stubborn about overstaying its welcome. I brought my black Nike jacket with me in case it was colder in Burbank than I expected, but I was fairly certain I wouldn’t need it, and I didn’t.

I managed to make it to the Team to End AIDS meeting spot just in the nick of time, having resisted the almost irresistible pull of those “Batman” reruns from the 60’s which were being shown on IFC (do they even show indie movies anymore?). The runners were still milling around when I got there, so I didn’t miss a thing. Then Coach JC came out and shouted, “GOOD MORNING T2!!!” For a guy who claims not to be comfortable speaking in public, he can now yell so loudly to where the employees at A Runner’s Circle in Los Feliz can hear him from miles away. Heck, I bet even the workers at Sports Chalet could hear him to where those in the shoe department looked at one another as if to say, “What is pronation?”

Today’s run was three miles, but some of the alumni were still open to running five. I decided to just stick with running three as I don’t want to overdo it at this point. I was under the assumption I had everything I would need for a short run: my Saucony running shoes, my Nine Inch Nails hat, my red Team to End AIDS shirt, my sunglasses, my water belt with two bottles of water and two bottles of orange low calorie Gatorade and a GU packet leftover from the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon. There was one slight problem; I forget my watch which has interval timing. I usually bring my iPhone with me in case I need to call one of the coaches or take pictures, but this time I had to use it for a different purpose as it had a timer on it.

When I walked over to the starting line, I didn’t realize I was with the wrong pace group. Chris eventually pointed out how I was about to run with the 12-minute pace group, and Coach JC looked at me with a shock as if I was trying to turn this into a race for myself. Realizing my mistake, I was a little embarrassed but recovered in time to join the not yet named 13-minute pace group. JC also informed me we would not be doing a “Bette Davis” on this run. I’ve been training for the LA Marathon for several years now so the running lingo is something I should know by now, but somehow this term continues to elude me. Hopefully I will relearn it again soon.

This run took us outside of Griffith Park and into familiar parts of Burbank as we went down Victory Boulevard before turning left on Riverside. We were again running against traffic like before, and the bike riders we passed by were nice and not the least bit territorial. Let’s hope there’s more of them on the road in the coming weeks.

After running with the same people for the past few years, I found myself with a new group of people who I have no business being shy around. I got to meet Winston and John who were nice and, like the other people I should have said hello to, were careful to obey the traffic signs. No one was above the law on this October morning.

This week I found myself focusing on my form as Coach JC gave a speech before hand about running to where our body is open to where it gets the most oxygen. No running in a hunched position and no ridiculously long strides that have us landing on our heels as that will cause irreversible damage our bodies will despise us for as we get older. I know my knees will never ever let me forget all the marathons I have ran, and when I get to the age of 60 (at which point I hope to still look like I’m 50) I know they will be telling me, “That’s what you get fool!”

When we got to Keystone, we turned around and went back the way we came. Dammit, the term “turn around” still reminds me of that depressing song by Bonnie Tyler called “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” My dad loved this song when it first came on the radio in the 80’s, but listening to it always leaves me sad. How am I supposed to feel after listening to lyrics like these?


“(Turn around)

Every now and then

I get a little bit lonely

And you’re never coming round

(Turn around)

Every now and then

I get a little bit tired

Of listening to the sound of my tears

(Turn around)

Every now and then

I get a little bit nervous

That the best of all the years have gone by…”


That last line keeps messing with my head…

Anyway, we made it back to Griffith Park in one piece, and Coach JC had to double check his board to make sure I didn’t run five miles at warp speed. If only such a thing were possible. “The Flash” may have returned as a television series, but I have yet to match his velocity. Hey, anything’s possible!

So, week two is over and done with, and it feels like everyone, including myself, is getting off to a good start. It also makes me glad I got those two maintenance runs in during the week as my body would have been pissed at me if I didn’t. I say bring on the more challenging runs sooner rather than later. Bring on the hills!

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE: It is now 2018, and I am training for the Los Angeles Marathon for the eighth year in a row. This time I am running in support of The Pablove Foundation which is dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer. With my personal fundraising page and my Facebook fundraising page, I have raised $419 towards my fundraising goal of $1,500. I am asking for your support to get me to my goal and to donate only what you can. Even if it is just $5, it will still go a long way towards helping me reach my goal.



Pablove Foundation logo


Back in the Marathon Saddle Again!

2015 LA Marathon training day one

WRITER’S NOTE: This article was originally written in 2014.

It’s back in the saddle again! Four times wasn’t enough for me, so now I’m back training for the Los Angeles Marathon for the fifth year in a row. Training with Team to End AIDS began again on October 18, 2014, and I actually found myself eager to get up early in the morning for a change. All my running clothes still seem to fit and haven’t developed any holes, so I don’t need to get new threads just yet. However, I think I should consider getting some new running socks.

For once I got to the running site with plenty of time to spare. I was eager to catch up with a lot of friends I haven’t seen in a while and to greet the coaches who always approach the start of a training season with a wealth of enthusiasm. It was great to see Coach JC Fernandez, Kerry Quakenbush and Dene Preston back in action as they welcomed us with the usual speeches about fundraising goals and what to expect this time around when it comes to training. We were also reminded again of how territorial the bike riders are when they’re out on the road, and this was before we began running.

Scott Boliver tree 2014

One of the best sights to take in when I arrived at the park was the tree planted in the memory of Scott Boliver, our former marathon coach who left this world far too soon. It was planted on the grounds a few months ago, and it continues to grow tall. It’s a wonderful tribute to a man who inspired us all.

When it came to reuniting with friends I have trained with in the past, I got to meet up with Chris who I ran the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon with, and this is the first marathon he has trained for in a couple of years. I also got to catch up with Kerry who, along with me, survived the vicious monsoon which was the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon. A lot of our run together had us reminiscing about the memories of that exceedingly wet day, the kind which, ironically, we could use a lot of right now in California so we can get over this drought. Yes, leaping over the puddles back then was impossible as they quickly became rivers we could only hope to levitate over (if only such a thing were possible).

It also proved to be a throwback to that training season which had us running through a snowy Burbank when frost began forming on our clothes to where steam was coming off of them on our last few miles. It says a lot about us 2011 Los Angeles Marathon veterans that we came back for another marathon after it because it proved to be a clusterfuck of epic proportions (or a “shittacular” as others described it). For me, it was my first full marathon and a time to realize how wearing cotton sweats was completely counterproductive.

Today’s run was a simple one to determine which pace group we would be running in for the next few months. We ran two miles through the streets of Griffith Park, and we were encouraged to run at a comfortable pace to where we didn’t fund ourselves huffing and puffing. I did well for a guy who has kind of let myself go since the last marathon I ran, and I never ran faster than I needed to. After the last marathon, my hope was to run in other events around Los Angeles or in other parts of California, but this didn’t happen for a variety of reasons. Now certain parts of my body are much bigger than they should be, and they are not the parts I am eager to see increase in size. Hopefully I can trim a few pounds off my aging body before marathon day in 2015.

When I got to the finish line, I asked Coach JC how badly I did (jokingly of course). He said I did fine and that I would be back in the 13-mile pace group. This sounds perfectly fine to me, and it means I will be again running at a pace of 3:1; running for three minutes and then walking for one. It soon turned out to be the most popular pace group as those who were in the 14 or 15 groups found themselves merging their way into ours. I guess we 13-minute runners are still the hip crowd to hang out with!

So, the easy work is done. Next week we will be running three miles and then increasing our mileage from there. I’m looking forward to another great marathon training season.

2015 LA Marathon CEO addressing the troops

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE: This marked the fifth time I trained for the Los Angeles Marathon. I am now training for it again, and this time marks the eighth year in a row I have taken on this admittedly insane challenge. This year, I am running it in support of The Pablove Foundation, an organization formed with the determination to find a cure for pediatric cancer. My fundraising goal is $1,500, and to date I have raised $306. I could really use your help, and invite you to make a tax-deductible donation to this wonderful organization. I thank you for your support.



A Pablove Run in Memory of Scott Boliver

Scott Boliver photo

It’s hard to believe it has now been five years since we lost Scott Boliver, our LA Marathon coach for several years. He fought a brave battle against cancer and beat the disease to a bloody pulp, but his body took a lot of damage and he passed away at far too early an age. On January 6, 2018, we arrived at Griffith Park to run 16 miles, and it also served as a reunion with many Team to End AIDS runners coming out to celebrate Scott’s memory. For those who knew him, he still inspires us to this very day.

Scott Boliver tree and family

It was great to see so many familiar faces who have been absent this training season. Among those in attendance were Scott’s parents, Ray and Pat, who were always on hand to give us peanut butter and pickle-covered Ritz crackers and banana bread. Also, there was Scott’s wife, Dolly, who told us how his coaching us kept his spirits up through his fight against one of many indiscriminate diseases. Like them, we still very much miss Scott, but a part of him lives on in each of us to where we feel his spirit urging us to continue on to the finish line. This may sound cheesy, but there you go.

JC Fernandez at the Boliver tree

One of the best speakers of the morning was JC Fernandez, the man who took over coaching duties from Scott upon his passing, and would continue to coach T2EA runners for the next few years. He also works on the ABC series “Scandal,” but you did not hear this from me. Anyway, JC spoke at length about the effect Scott had, and continues to have, on him and others:

“Scott had an ability to see the light inside you and draw it out to the surface so it can shine brightly for others. I can honestly say that not a day goes by that I do not think of him. Not with sadness and longing, so much as recognition of the role he’s played in shaping who I am today. Because of him I became a coach. Because of him I found my voice.”

JC even said he saw a lot of Scott and himself in the blogs I write about my marathon training, and the struggles I have been enduring seem stronger than ever before. The fact JC even mentioned my blogs, or articles as I like to call them, meant so much to me as it is always nice to know someone is following what I write.

Scott Boliver and JC

With this run, I was determined to run at a 3:1 pace instead of 2:1 as I felt it would be best if I finished these 16 miles sooner than later. Granted, I knew I was going to be the last one to cross the finish line, but I didn’t want to keep Coaches James and Kerry waiting too long.

For once, I got to start a run off with an opportunity to talk with a fellow Pablove Foundation runner who kindly described me as being the little turtle that could. Yep, this is who I am these days. As much as I would love to finish a marathon in under 6 hours, I feel those days have long since passed me by. She was running at a 6:1 pace, so once I got to my first walking break, I knew it would be a while before we would see each other again.

For the record, I did my two maintenance runs this past week, but I still feel like I need to do more cardio work during the week whether it is on an elliptical machine, swimming, or playing around with Wii Fit back at my apartment. The more exercise I can get in, the more pain and challenges I can endure.

During the run, I saw JC running in the other direction, and we waved to each other. Next thing I know, he’s coming up alongside of me and said how much he admired my endurance and everyone who takes six, seven or eight hours to finish a marathon. With him, he just wants to finish it in under five hours, be done with it and get his drink on, and I can certainly understand that. I used to be able to finish marathons in under six hours, but those days may be over. Still, after all these years, the only thing which matters is crossing the finish line. As great as it would be to set a new personal record this year, right now it doesn’t look very likely.

I very much appreciated JC coming up to talk with me about my blogs and continued determination to run even as I run behind everybody else. I hope he knows that.


I kept up with the 3:1 pace for a bit, but I found myself slowing to a walk before my walk break came up, so I adjusted my pace to 2:1. The one thing which threatened to do me and other runners in on this day was the humidity. For the past weeks, the Saturday mornings in the Los Angeles area have been frigid, but this particular one was a lot warmer. Coach James even told us to drink more water than usual as a result because the odds of us getting dehydrated sooner were much higher. I certainly did take the time to drink more water as I didn’t take in as much of it as I should have on past runs. After a bit, it felt like too much water wasn’t nearly enough.

Porto's Bakery

I ran by Porto’s Bakery at one point which had yet to open, and there was a long line of people outside of it waiting to get in. I remember going there once after a long run, and am a witness to the infinite number of incredible treats this bakery has to offer. As I ran past it, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window, and it looks as though I have visited Porto’s one too many times even though I have not. After all these marathons, I thought all this belly fat would be a thing of the past, but it is still around like the unwanted house guest you can never get rid of.

As I continued running up and down the streets of Burbank, I kept waiting for the fat shamers to come out to ridicule me. They did not, but if they had, I would remind them how I have run the LA Marathon seven years in a row, and this marks the eighth year I have trained for it. Size may matter in certain cases, but not in this one.

Once I had made it to the mile eight marker and turned around, I ran into Coach James, figuratively speaking, who encouraged me to run at a 3:1 pace to see how I would do, and I decided to give it a shot. I did well for a time, but the sun continued to rise up to where it felt like a decently warm summer day. It may be the first month of 2018, but Southern California constantly defies the winter season with weather we should never expect on the east coast.

Coaches Kerry and James were constantly driving along the route to make sure we had all the water, electrolytes and other fuel we needed to get back to Griffith Park. They also had the Bolivers’ peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers and their banana bread for us to consume, and I didn’t even hesitate to take advantage of either.

By the time I arrived back in Griffith Park, I expected there to be a sign waiting for me at the finish line which had written on it “Five Years Later…” I remember seeing this same sign at the start of “Ghostbusters II,” and we all know how that sequel turned out. Nevertheless, I did cross the finish line withthe coaches applauding me with endless enthusiasm. Coach James advised me to do my first maintenance run on Tuesday so I could give my legs an extra long rest. While I love to brag how I ran 16 miles, the soreness will remind me of how distance will leave me incapacitated for much longer than I intend.

I did have work to do following this 16-mile run, by I ended up spending most of the day in bed sleeping . Getting out of bed is never as appealing as it should be, and perhaps this should change in the future. Complain all you want, but I want to sneak in a few more minutes of shut eye.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I have now raised $306 towards my goal of $1,500, and I strongly encourage you all to keep the ball rolling. I have many friends who are afraid I will look down on them for donating only $5, but I will not. If $5 is all you can give to the Pablove Foundation, it will still go a long way towards defeating the causes of pediatric cancer. Click here to make a donation.  

Boliver treats

Boliver family at tree

Bubba Eeyore at the Boliver Tree


One Last Pablove Run for 2017

Pablove Foundation logo

The last few weeks of marathon training have been frustrating as I have struggled to keep up with my fellow Pablove Foundation runners and with my fundraising efforts. With the end of the year approaching, I feel like yelling in peoples’ faces or using blackmail are the only ways to convince them it is best to make a tax-deductible donation on or before December 31, 2017. Sure, you can donate in 2018, but why wait? Blackmail can be a wonderful thing, but it’s not really an option right now… or is it?

I got back from Northern California the day before this run, a recovery run which would have us running a distance of 10.5 miles. I did my best to keep up with my maintenance runs while I was away, and you can think what you want about what I just said. This time, I was determined to run at a 2:1 pace instead of trying to keep up with everybody else. I also had a number of things to run off my belly from the past week, and they include the small popcorn and small Cherry Coke I had while watching Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” the roast beef my dad cooked which was to die for, the endless plates of sushi and rolls I consumed at the Taru Restaurant in Danville, and the Santa Barbara Char I had at The Habit Burger Grill. Oh yeah, I also had a side of onion rings with ranch dressing. These calories had to be burned off. All of them.

Pablove 2018 last 2017 run 1

Summer overstayed its welcome into the fall months, but winter has made its presence known as the mornings are incredibly frigid even for those who have been spoiled by the weather in Southern California. Those Pablove runners who showed at Griffith Park were eager to get started as shivering in the cold is nowhere as appealing as it is for Polar Bear Club members to jump into the nearest subzero pond, and even those people are being encouraged not to do so as this is one of the coldest winters on record. Yes people, climate change is real.

I enjoy talking with my Pablove runners before our runs because lord knows if I will see them at the finish line (odds are I will not). As they left me in their vapor trails, I was determined to stay at my pace of 2:1 regardless of how far they got ahead of me. As I headed out of Griffith Park and into Burbank, I constantly wondered if my running form was correct. Was I leaning forward too much? Was I crossing my arms in front of my chest like I shouldn’t? A runner’s work is never done.

Pablove 2018 last 2017 run 2

I kept up with the 2:1 pace throughout, but I did have to take an emergency bathroom break as the ghosts of meals past threatened to explode in a most disgusting way. As I limped my way to the nearest bathroom, the following dialogue Daisy Ridley uttered in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” kept playing in my head:

“Something inside me has always been there, but now it’s awake and I need help.”

Bless the kind employees at the local CVS Pharmacy who allowed me to use their bathroom. The door to it had a keypad as many stores employ one now to keep the riff raff out. Still, these keypads can be frustrating as you have to seek out an employee to give you the code, and a lot of times you have to go to the front of the store while the bathroom is in the back of it. When you return to the bathroom with the code, there’s usually some dude who is convinced they were waiting there before you. Can you convince them this was never the case? Either way, the terror continues until you explode in one way or another. Thankfully, I did not dirty myself, and this is all the description you need.

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Once I got back on the road, I ran into Coaches James and Kerry who were on hand to provide us with water, energy gels and whatever else we needed to complete these 10.5 miles in one piece. Coach James saw one of my water bottles still had a lot of water left in it, and he strongly encouraged me to consume more water on future runs as it will become increasingly important as our runs get even longer. For some reason, I pride myself on not drinking too much water on these runs, but perhaps I should reconsider this.

The coaches usually have papers of our runs to hand out to us, and I depend on them as my sense of direction has improved all too slowly throughout my lifetime. As Coach James gave us instructions and things to keep in mind, Coach Kerry texted us the directions of our latest run which would take us out to Burbank and then eventually back to Griffith Park where we would, yes, run up a hill. Coach James encouraged us to run up said hill without taking a walk break. Did I succeed in doing this? I’ll plead the fifth on that.

I tried to track my run with Runkeeper for a change, but despite my phone having at least 90% of power, the damn thing kept shutting down on me. This was crazy, I thought. I have all this power on my phone, so why does it defy me so coldly? I guess there are certain apps which suck too much power out of the battery to where Siri, or the Android’s equivalent, is saying to me, “What?! Oh no! That is too much! I need a rest. Just leave me alone. It’s bad enough you play Yahtzee all day long!” So, naturally, I turn my phone on again to, at the very least, get a look at the directions Coach Kerry texted to me. But Siri’s evil stepsister once again got on my case as if to tell me, “Oh shit! Don’t you get it? Stop touching me! I’m taking a nap. Plug me into a power source and we’ll talk.”

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Fortunately, Coaches James and Kerry were on hand to make sure we all ran in the correct direction and didn’t end up heading towards Alhambra. Moreover, I got enough of a look at the directions to feel surprisingly confident about the path I was taking. Of course, it did help when Coach Kerry told me which street to turn on to start up that torturous hill.

The last few training runs I had left me feeling rather cruddy to where I felt like I was letting myself down. But upon finishing this 10.5-mile run, I found myself feeling really good for a change. I wasn’t struggling nor was I dragging my ass across the finish line, and I actually found myself smiling. Sure, everybody else had already gone home, but the coaches assured me the last runner finished 15 minutes before I arrived. Hearing of this made me feel like I am making good progress, so now I have to keep up with the maintenance runs and fit in cardio exercises whenever the opportunity presents itself.

With 2017 coming to an end, I look to 2018 for something with hope because I will go nuts if I do not. Here’s to finding a cure for pediatric cancer as well as finding some sanity in the White House as its current occupants don’t have nearly enough of it.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: So far, I have raised $280 towards my goal of $1,500 for The Pablove Foundation. There are only a few hours left in the year 2017, so be sure to make a tax-deductible donation before the clock hits midnight. With the god awful Republican tax bill having been signed by the host of “The Apprentice,” the time to get much needed deductions are running out. Click here to make a donation.