Thanksgiving is Gone, but the Calories Linger On

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Hey everybody. I am really struggling with fundraising right now and could use your help. As in the past, I am running the 2017 Los Angeles Marathon on behalf of AIDS Project Los Angeles, and I have been tasked with raising $1,100. If all my Facebook friends donated just $5 dollars, I would not only meet that goal but surpass it by a wide margin. Before reading on, click here to find out how you can make a tax-deductible donation and stick to the tax man before the year’s end.

I’m finally back in Los Angeles after the Thanksgiving holiday, a time that knows no diet plan. It certainly was a calorie-laden holiday, and my father and brother put together quite the feast. The fact I didn’t suffer much in the way of heartburn was extraordinary as second and third helpings were inescapable. But while on vacation, I wasn’t about to skimp on my marathon training, and running was of the upmost necessity after gobbling down turkey, creamed corn, apple and pecan pie, stuffing and the occasional serving of vegetables. I actually did my recovery run on a treadmill, but I increased the grade to 3% to make it more challenging for myself. My family and I were staying at a house by the ocean, and I did a lot of walking on the beaches and grassy paths which left my heart beating faster than just about anything else, maybe even sex.

This past week had me catching up on making money to pay the kind of bills Donald Trump has avoided paying for years, and this kept me from doing my maintenance runs. So, coming into this 14-mile run, I felt like I was going to fall behind everyone else in an embarrassing way. But at least this time I made it to Griffith Park before everyone else ran off without me.

On my way over to Griffith Park, I had my soundtrack and film score iPod playing on shuffle mode as I was trying to find the right piece of music to get myself pumped up. The best I could come up with was the “Helicopter Chase” theme from James Newtown Howard’s score to “The Fugitive.” Listening to this piece of music quickly reminded of Harrison Ford’s role of Richard Kimble, a doctor wrongfully accused of murdering his wife who ends up escaping police custody and going on the run in an effort to clear his name. Being someone afflicted with an infinite persecution complex, I relate to what Kimble went through even though I am not a vascular surgeon and did not kill my wife (for the record, I am not married).

Today I was planning to run at a 3:2 pace as running at a 3:1 pace was not the same as it used to be for me. But upon learning the rest of the 15-minute group was going to run at a 2:2 pace, I decided to adjust accordingly as I felt it would be nice to run with the group for a change instead of by myself.

Well, it turns out running at a 2:2 pace was the best thing for me as I never struggled for energy or “hit the wall” at any point during this 14-miler. The extra minute of walking allowed me more time to recover, and it felt good to keep up with my fellow pace group runners instead of falling behind which I have found myself doing these last couple of years.

Another notable presence on our running route was the Burbank Police Department, and a motorcycle cop did not hesitate to stop us in our tracks when he found us running on the street instead of the sidewalk. He was quick to inform us that the walking path which runs down the middle of Chandler Boulevard was built for people like us. We never got the opportunity to tell him about how running on asphalt is easier on our joints than concrete, but it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.

Following this, we saw a number of Burbank cop cars pulling one driver after another over to the curb, so clearly they were trying to meet some sort of quota. Not that I don’t support the police, but making an unscheduled and forced donation to them always feels like thievery to me. It doesn’t matter if you deserved to get a ticket or not because, who wants to pay it? A lot of people go 80 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone. Not me, but a lot of people.

One thing my pace group did get to do on this run, and it is something I always hoped we would do, was sing a marching song. One of the runners serves in the military, and he got us to sing along with him. Here’s my favorite part:

“If my chute don’t open wide,

If my chute don’t open wide,

I got another one by my side,

I got another one by my side.

If that chute don’t open round,

If that chute don’t open round,

I’ll be the first one on the ground,

I’ll be the first one on the ground.”

Hey, it was either that or something from “Full Metal Jacket,” and some of the marching songs in Stanley Kubrick’s film are not exactly appropriate for the ears of Burbank citizens.

It took long enough, but the weather is finally getting colder, at least in the morning. It was seriously frigid when we arrived in Griffith Park, but the temperature did rise as the sun came up. I think we managed to beat the heat for the most part, and we arrived back where we started just before it became unseasonably warm.

I am in the slowest pace group now as several other runners have since dropped out of the program for one reason or another, so only the coaches were still around when we returned to Griffith Park. Part of me feels a little disappointed in myself as I kept thinking I would be in a faster pace group after running so many marathons, but instead I have slowed down to where I wonder if I will ever be the svelte individual I was back in my high school days. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

But seriously, I felt really good about changing the pace on this run. I came through it without feeling hopelessly exhausted, and I felt satisfied in a way I haven’t in some time. There was plenty of chocolate milk left over to cure me of my runner’s hangover, and I drove back to my apartment for a well-deserved nap which lasted much longer than it should have (not that I’m complaining or anything). Next week we have a recovery run, and we will need it after this one. Coach James encouraged us to do our maintenance runs on Tuesday and Thursday so we would have time to recover and to keep increasing our mileage on them. I’ll do my best, but like Boy George once said, time won’t give me time dammit.

Thanks for reading.

Running the AIDS Walk

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The second week of 2017 Los Angeles Marathon training had us doing something a little different. Instead of meeting up at Griffith Park on Saturday, we instead met on Sunday, October 23rd, in Downtown LA for the annual AIDS Walk. But while the word WALK is prominently displayed in the event signs, we were there instead to run it, and it proved to be a good preview of what we can expect in March 2017.

Now the AIDS Walk is typically held in West Hollywood, but this time it took place in Downtown LA and for the very first time. Another runner told me this was because the Governor wanted to spread out the LGBT related events throughout the city so the acceptance of them could be wider and wouldn’t necessarily be confined to one part of it. This change did throw some people off as they used to be able to just walk down to the event which was a block away from the apartment, and when something like this is held downtown, you can sure bet traffic will be a nightmare for everyone foolish enough to be driving.

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For me, the AIDS Walk being in Downtown LA got me to do something I haven’t done since living out here: use the Metro Rail. The coaches begged us to use public transportation as the odds of us finding parking were going to be remote at best, and getting in and out of town was going to be an endurance test of another kind (and one which is not at all healthy).

I went to the Jefferson/La Cienega station, one which I have passed by many times back when I commuted to Marina Del Rey on a regular basis. That they did not charge a fee for parking there was both a surprise and a delight as parking is such a racket in Los Angeles, one which sucks too much money out of our wallets. The cost of going one way into Downtown LA? $1.75. Looking at the price, I immediately wondered why I never bothered using this service before. There’s no denying how cost effective it is.

Of course, being this was my first time riding on the Metro (thank you, Berlin

), I was afraid I was going to screw up and get on the wrong train. I also had to make a transfer at 7th Street Station and get on either the Red or Purple Line to get to Civic Center which was our meet up point. A lot of times when I’m afraid of going in the wrong direction, I usually do. Fortunately, thanks to the dozens of people wearing AIDS Walk t-shirts at 7th Street Station, I was fairly confident I was heading in the right direction.

It was fun traveling on the Metro Express as it brought back memories of when I took the BART train into San Francisco. At the same time, it reminded me of all the dead and passionless faces I saw seated near me as people looked like they had the life sucked out of them long ago. That scared me to death because I thought I would end up looking like them before I knew it. I still get scared of that even to this very day.

When I finally arrived at the Civic Center/Grand Park Station, I made my way down 1st Street where the T2EA runners were meeting up. The major plus of this event is that our group was always the one to start off, and we would always start just before everyone else did because AIDS Walk primarily benefits AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) which we run in support of. While everyone else has to wait behind barricades like cattle, we sat at the very front and were more than ready to conquer the asphalt and concrete roads of Downtown LA.

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Coach James and Coach Kerry said we may find ourselves wanting to treat the AIDS Walk as a race, but we needed to resist the urge. In retrospect, I ran way too fast. I’m in the 15-minute pace group, and my average pace for this event was 12:57. I spent a lot of time trying to focus on my form as I’m always afraid I am slouching or leaning forward too much. It didn’t occur to me right away that I was running too fast. I wanted to keep up with my fellow T2EA runners, but as usual the majority of them left me in the dust. As training continues, I want to work harder at being lighter on my feet.

The volunteers proved to be as supportive as those at the LA Marathon, coming out to give us high fives as well as water, chips, bottles of Gatorade and Muscle Milk, and they even had ice cream and popsicles. I was close to getting a popsicle, but I already had a bottle of Muscle Milk in my hands and decided not to overdo it. Plus, I’m on a diet, or so I keep telling myself.

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The major upside was the weather wasn’t too hot or too cold. It was overcast with a nice breeze; a big contrast with last year’s AIDS Walk which had us suffering through temperatures in the triple digits. This time we were lucky and not frying like eggs on the sidewalk. It would have been nice, however, to have had a celebratory lunch in a restaurant with air conditioning.

Coming into this, we were told the whole thing would be 6 miles long. But as I was approaching the 5-mile stretch, one of my fellow T2EA runners who was standing to the side and told me, “Just kidding! It’s only 4.87 miles long!” In other words, PSYCHE! I don’t think the coaches realized it was shorter than everyone expected, but it was just as well as I crossed the finish line because the last hill, which proved to be steeper than any we run up during the LA Marathon, pretty much did me in.

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Volunteers gave us paper certificates confirming we completed the 2016 AIDS Walk, and they also handed us reusable Walgreen bags which we filled up with bottles of Gatorade and Propel as well as bags of French Onion Sun Chips, Cheetos, Veggie Ranch Sun Chips, Kettle Cooked chips, and I imagine there was some Doritos chips out there somewhere. I kept putting a whole bunch of things in my bag, figuring a volunteer would at some point order me to stop hogging all the goodies. Still, it looked like the volunteers were desperate to give everything away in an effort to justify all the boxes of goods purchased.

Looking back, I think I had a good run. I just need to watch my speed in the future weeks and keep up with the maintenance runs. Also, it would be great to get some more cardio exercises in.

But the real benefit of this AIDS Walk was discovering the Metro Rail as I plan to make more use of it in the near future. No more of this paying $10 to $15 dollars for parking. Like Clint Eastwood kept saying in the movie “In the Line of Fire,” I love public transportation.

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UPDATE: I am once again raising money for AIDS Project Los Angeles and am trying to reach my goal of $1,100 before the year’s end. All donations are tax-deductible and go to a great organization. Please click here to make an online donation, or you can download a form to instead pay by check. No donation is too small or too big. Thanks for reading.

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