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.

CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION.

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.

EXC FORREST LAWN MEMORIAL PARK IN CALIFORNIA.  HERE WE SEE A NEWLY DUG GRAV

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.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY PABLOVE PAGE.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE.

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.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY PABLOVE PAGE

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY FACEBOOK FUNDRAISER PAGE

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.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY PABLOVE PAGE.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY FACEBOOK FUNDRAISING PAGE.

Pablove Foundation logo

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.

img_20161105_093504277_hdr

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.

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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.”

Pablove 2018 last 2017 run 4

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.

A Tough Pablove Run for Me

Pablove 2018 December 9 run

I have trained for the Los Angeles Marathon seven years in a row, and this marks the eighth year I have trained for it. Still, I am constantly reminded of how it doesn’t matter that I am a hardened marathon veteran because I can still screw myself up when it comes to training. This week’s run had us going 12 miles through Burbank and Glendale, and we even ran up and down Forest Lawn Drive which goes right past the cemetery of the same name. I point this out because the speed limit is 45 miles per hour, and it can be ever so easy to become roadkill like all those skunks which were left to rot on Highway 1.

I managed to get one maintenance run in this past week as Southern California was ravaged by brush fires which laid waste to the hills overlooking the 405 freeway, and they came very close to decimating the Getty Center. As a result, the air quality in the Los Angeles area was a lot worse than usual, and it’s never been great to begin with. John Carpenter made a movie years ago called “The Fog,” and I am still waiting for him to make the inevitable sequel, “The Smog.”

I keep telling people how there’s nothing like a hot summer day in December as the weather in Los Angeles has become unseasonably warm on a regular basis to where I am thrilled we start our runs at 7 a.m. in the morning. It also gives us a huge incentive to finish our runs before the sun rises all the way up in the sky as the heat only serves to slow us down and steal our energy.

After freezing our butts off in the frigid morning, we started our run and, as usual, I did my best to keep up with everyone else. It was around mile four or five when my fellow Pablove runners had vanished from my sight and left me in their vapor trails. From there, I just kept running and became more dependent on those walking breaks.

At one point as I was running along Riverside Drive, I passed by a tree where birds were squawking like crazy. It was like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” especially the one when Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor and everyone else are hiding in the house, and all you can hear is the furious sound of the flying beasts as they battle their way inside. I wonder how the residents of Toluca Lake put up with these birds as they serve as a desperately unwanted alarm clock on a Saturday morning.

This marks the first run in years I have done with this group which had us running up Forest Lawn Drive. We are always encouraged to run against traffic as we are far more visible to those driving their Honda Accords or Volkswagen Jettas at 45 miles an hour, at least, but I found myself eager to get to the other side of the road as I felt more in danger than usual. Like I said before, this street goes right past the cemetery of the same name, and this adds to my always heightened awareness of my own mortality and of the mortality of skunks who failed to look both ways when crossing Highway One.

But an even bigger challenge faced me once I arrived back at Griffith Park, going up the hill to the park’s back side. This hill can feel never ending. Once you get to the top, you realized you haven’t. All you can do is keep huffing and puffing as the grade increases more and more to where you wonder why God created hills in the first place.

After making it over the hill, I found myself taking more walk breaks to usual. It got to where I started yelling out “fuck” whenever I started walking again as I felt like I was failing myself and my fellow runners. I wanted to finish strong, but now I found myself almost begging for Coach James to give me a ride back to our starting point.

Nevertheless, I made it to the finish line even though it felt I liked I limped toward it. All I could wonder at this point was, am I even taking my training seriously? Am I risking failure in an effort to remind myself of the things I need to do? Will I ever be able to keep up with the other runners to where some will still be around waiting for me when I finally cross the finish line?

Well, let’s talk about what I will do before next Saturday’s run. I will do at least two maintenance runs of 30 to 45 minutes each, I will stay hydrated and increase my intake of electrolytes as they are more than just an R.E.M. song off of “New Adventures in Hi-Fi,” and I will stay away from the booze more often than I don’t. Granted, it helps to have a Jack and Coke, if not two, these days when Donald Trump wreaks havoc in the White House or on Twitter, but it does kinda get in the way of running multiple miles through Burbank and Glendale.

Nevertheless, I did cross the finish line, and this is all that really matters. I am not out to set a new land speed record, and any chance of doing so has long since passed me by. This is about running through the streets of Los Angeles and seeing how an event like a marathon can bring so many strangers together. It is an amazing sight, one which I hope you will all get to witness sooner than later. Having witnessed so many marathon runners going past my apartment ten years ago, it proved to be an inspiration and got me to put my running shoes on for the first time in years.

The Pablove Foundatrion logo

But more importantly, I am doing this in support of a wonderful non-profit organization, The Pablove Foundation. This organization, which is dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer, recently held a gallery show in Los Angeles to show off the incredible photographs taken by the children, ages ranging from 7 to 15, whom are referred to as “Pablove Shutterbugs.” The photos they took are incredible, and I would love to take some classes Pablove offers to learn of their secrets. Shooting a photograph might be a simple thing, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Click here to see some of the photographs from the Pablove Los Angeles Gallery Show.

Tyler Peek a Boo Pablove photo

This photo is entitled “Peek-a-Boo,” and it was taken by Tyler who is 10-years-old.

In short, I ain’t giving up and I’m not throwing in the towel. There’s always room for improvement, and everyone will see this improvement next week, and that’s even if I still finish last.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: With my fundraising and Facebook pages combined, I have now raised $280 towards my goal of $1,500 for The Pablove Foundation. The end of 2017 is rapidly approaching, so be sure to get those tax-deductible donations in before the ball drops in Times Square. With this disastrous tax bill going through the Senate right now, there will never be a better time to stick it to the man. Click here to see how you can make a donation.

Running in the Aftermath of Thanksgiving for Pablove

Pablove 2018 week four

Well, it has been an eventful couple of weeks since I last wrote about my marathon training. The week before Thanksgiving, we ran 8 miles through Burbank, and I actually didn’t come in dead last for a change. My longtime T2EA pal Stephen was running low on energy, and he invited me to go on ahead. However, I decided to run alongside him as leaving behind didn’t feel right. Once we finished, he informed me I had managed to stay at a 13-minute pace per mile. I can’t begin to tell you how elated this made me feel as it meant I was making progress for a change.

Then came the week of Thanksgiving when I was out of town, and I did my best to keep up with my maintenance runs. However, I did neglect to turn my weight scale back 10 pounds as it is always mandatory to do so during this particular holiday. My dad did all the cooking, and it was unmistakably delicious to say the least. And, as always, Alka Seltzer came to my rescue.

Now I am back in Los Angeles, and while getting up in the morning can be a herculean effort, I managed to arrive at Griffith Park before anyone else. Coaches James and Kerry can testify to this. Seriously, ask them.

At this point, it is safe to say I am the designated driver of the Pablove running group as there always needs to be someone in the back to keep an eye out for runners suffering problems or falling behind. It might as well be me as I always finish dead last to where I feel obligated to apologize to Coaches James and Kerry for keeping them waiting. Perhaps I keep apologizing in the hopes they will reassure me my training is becoming a waste of time. Once again, James and Kerry did tell me I had nothing to apologize for, so the apologizing ceases from here on out.

This week’s run was 10 miles, and I was determined to keep up with my fellow runners as much as possible. It was an especially frigid morning to where I was not about to take off by black Nike jacket. While warm weather still permeates us residents of Southern California to where I feel justified in saying there is nothing like a hot summer day in December, we could all tell things would not warm up right away at 7 a.m. in the morning.

I’m not sure what everyone’s running pace is at this point, but I am certain it is not 2:1. Instead, I just kept running with everyone as they kept moving further and further away from my sight which, last I checked, is still 20/20. When they started walking, so did I. When they began running again, so did I. I am happy to report I actually managed to keep up with my fellow Pablove runners for five to six miles before they became I was left in their vapor trails.

I did my best to run at a conversational pace, but after a while I didn’t care because it wasn’t like I had anyone to talk to. It got to where I couldn’t even smell the yeast rising in the bread factory we always past by. God, I love that smell!

Coach Kerry kept popping up out of nowhere as our source of water and energy if we were running low on either, and he also made sure we made an immediate left on Clark Avenue after turning right on Victory Boulevard. Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to miss Clark Avenue.

As the run went on, I tried to stay conscious of my form. At times, it felt like I was leaning forward too much, and I immediately straightened up. It was like my back was telling me, “HEY ASSHOLE, YOU CANNOT AFFORD A CHIROPRACTOR RIGHT NOW, SO STOP FUCKING AROUND. I’M NOT THAT FLEXIBLE!” It got to where it looked like I had a rod shoved up my ass, but at least my back was straight. Still, I probably don’t need to be quite so rigid. I also made sure not to land on the heels of my feet. It can be ever so easy to do so and cause long-lasting physical damage. After so many years existing on this planet (I plead the 5th as to how many years it has been), I have still never broken a single bone in my body.

When I finally made it back to our meetup point in Griffith Park, everyone else had gone home except for one dude who waved me on as he was driving away. I came out of this run feeling like Rudy Huxtable when her dad forgets to bring her to the kitchen for dinner. She claims he forgot her on purpose, but he tells her that Theo, her older brother, refused to eat until she got to the table. As soon as the two arrive in the kitchen, Theo and the others are already on their way out. Bummer.

Oh well, it was another successful run, and Coach James told me if I didn’t want to go at a 2:1 pace, then it was alright to keep running until I felt like taking a walking break. I celebrated by having a Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich at McDonald’s because their breakfasts are so damn good, and then I went back to my apartment. I was going to take a nap, but I had a phone interview with writer/director Ron Shelton about his latest film, “Just Getting Started.” I desperately wanted to just pass out, but I do have a job outside of marathon training. But you can bet once I was done interviewing Shelton, I spent the rest of the day napping like never before.

It’s now a day later, and my legs feel like dead weights. The soreness never disappears, but I will manage. I always have.

The Pablove Foundatrion logo

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I have now raised $255 towards my fundraising goal of $1,500 for the Pablove Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer. These funds come from two different places: my Pablove fundraising page, and the fundraising page I created on Facebook. You can donate on either page, but if you donate on Facebook, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match the donations to a certain amount. As always, I appreciate your continued support.

Click here to donate on my Pablove fundraising page.

Click here to donate on my Facebook fundraising page.

 

Running 23 Miles in the Aftermath of a Torrential Rainstorm (in Los Angeles)

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So, this past Friday in February 2017 saw Los Angeles get pummeled by the biggest rainstorm it has seen in years. Streets and sidewalks were flooded over, old trees were battered, branches were torn off and left on the road for cars to run over or hopefully swerve around, and hydroplaning was not what it used to be. Turning on the radio, it was no surprise to hear the local station playing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, but I kept praying for someone to play the Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine” for the sake of some much-needed irony.

Yes, this was the exact same weather I and so many others endured while running the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon. It rained hard and the wind blew at us from the side to where hypothermia became a larger threat than heatstroke. The joke was we never ran the 2011 LA Marathon, we swam it. Heck, I joked I was somehow tricked into doing a triathlon instead of a marathon. Sometimes it is fun to run in the rain, but this was a huge exception.

The rainstorm which came down on us Angelinos happened the day before we Team to End AIDS runners were scheduled to run our longest run of the training season: 23 miles. As a result, I got more prepared for this run than usual. I got a new pair of Brooks running shoes, my red poncho which keeps me warm as well as dry, a new water belt which has two water bottles instead of four, and I had my Monsters University hat on as usual. The only thing I was missing was a new pair of compression tights which I really need to get before March.

Some people also took the time to put duct tape on their shoes to ensure their feet wouldn’t get wet. I should have thought of that, but anyway…

Well, the good news was the worst of the storm had pretty much passed us by when we arrived at Griffith Park at 6 a.m., one hour earlier than we usually show up because of this run’s epic length. There was a bit of drizzle, but nothing which we could possibly drown in. Regardless, the most dedicated T2EA runners could be counted on to show up as they are determined to participate come rain or come shine.

I’ve been through this training program several years now, but the 23-mile run always gets me especially anxious. I know I can do it, but I also know the agony I will be forced to endure once I am finished. Coach James reminded us this is our “celebration run,” and we should not treat this as a race in any way, shape, or form. Still, I knew it was going to be hard to celebrate once this run was concluded. Not impossible, but hard.

One thing I definitely kept in mind was to start off slow and not overdo it. It was in our best interest to save energy throughout this run as it is too frackin’ easy to burn out before we got to the halfway point. Also, it was highly likely we would hit “the wall” on this run more than ever before. “The wall” refers to the mental wall we eventually hit during the run where it feels like we can’t possibly run anymore. It doesn’t matter how big of a carbo load dinner or how many pounds of pasta we ate beforehand because we will hit the wall when we least expect it. The trick is to keep going because these 23 miles won’t run themselves, dammit.

For this run, we actually started out on Forest Lawn Drive. This surprised me as I felt the coaches had long since deemed this part off limits. It’s a dangerous stretch of road to run on, especially when it’s early in the morning, because of the blind corners we are forced to go around. There were points where we had to run single file because we have little warning of what could be coming around the curb. We were also running past a cemetery, and this threatens to serve as an omen of the most unwelcome kind.

But we did survive Forest Lawn Drive, otherwise I would not be here writing about this. The run took us through Burbank and Glendale where passed by such sights as Warner Brothers Studio, Disney Studios, and fast food joints with their burgers which are never as appealing as they look on those posters. When we passed mile signs indicating where we were at distance wise, I found myself saying the same thing, “That’s it?” For some bizarre reason, I thought I was going to complete this 23-mile run sooner than later. What the hell is wrong with me anyway?

We had a wealth of volunteers this time out, and they had plenty of water, Gatorade and other assorted goodies for us to fuel up on. I was keen on staying on top of my salt intake because last year, when I did this same run, I came out of it seriously dehydrated to where I was walking like a zombie out of a George Romero movie. Actually, it also didn’t help that I partied hard with a few Jack and Cokes afterwards. I eventually had to go to urgent care and get hooked up to an IV with fluids. Lesson learned.

I did end up eating a handful of Tostitos lime tortilla chips which had more salt in them than any chip I ever had in my life. My mouth was in shock for a few seconds to where I had to drink almost a whole bottle of water. Talk about an assault of the senses! I have never crammed that much salt into my mouth before. I’m not in a hurry to do it again.

During the last half of the run, I ended up falling behind everyone else which was a bummer. It wasn’t the first time it happened, but before I was able to catch up with my fellow runners. This time I was on my own, clinging onto an almost empty bag of Ruffles potato chips I got from the volunteers. It got to where I started to feel like Chevy Chase when he was running around in the desert and getting all delirious in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” Granted, I wasn’t actually in the desert, and I wasn’t wearing my jacket as a hat and singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” but I had definitely hit that wall I was talking about earlier.

I wasn’t in immense pain, by my muscles were already very sore to where I wasn’t screaming out in agony, but instead just getting irritated over the fact I couldn’t run any faster. It started to feel like a dream where I was stuck in one place and couldn’t move any further. Whether it was Heather Langenkamp getting stuck on those stairs in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or Patricia Arquette caught in some jelly-like substance in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors,” I was desperate to increase my velocity before some crazed psycho with knives for fingers started coming after me for not running at my assigned pace.

I did have a map of the course with me and kept looking at it every five seconds. Of course, I lost it as it slipped out of my pocket without me even realizing it until much later. But by then, I knew where I was going, and this is even though I felt like Bugs Bunny and kept wondering if I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

This training season has seen me become the slowest runner on the team. It’s almost embarrassing as I used to be faster than this, but in the end I did cross the finish line. I increased my pace as fast as I could as I came up to the finish line, and there were still many people there to cheer me on as I completed my 23 miles. After I was done, all I wanted to do was sit down forever. The first thing I should have done was stretch out my legs, but I didn’t have the patience to bother.

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The coaches treated us with a feast of sandwiches which included roast beef, turkey with pesto dressing, veggie, and ham and cheese. I had one of each as those calories I had burned off needed to be welcomed back in one way or another. And yes, there was plenty of chocolate milk to go around. Us runners need chocolate milk to recover, almost a gallon it seems.

After all this running madness, I went home and crashed in bed for several hours. As I’ve gotten older, so to speak, naps have become more commonplace for me than ever before. It used to be impossible for me to nap during the day, now it’s far too easy for me to taking advantage of one. I’m starting to miss the days where I had boundless energy. Maybe I should start drinking coffee.

Do I feel good about this 23-mile run? You know what, I shouldn’t even be asking myself this question. I should feel good about it. I crossed the finish line to the delight of all the T2EA team who stayed to watch me do so. But I wonder if I can still cross the finish line with the same amount of gusto which I had in the past when it comes to marathon day. Here’s hoping I will when March comes around.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: Thanks to the threat of me running with an oversized Eeyore on this 23-mile run, I went from having raised $729 to $1,044 in a week. After finishing this run, I finally reached my fundraising goal thanks to my brother Ed Mahoney and have now raised $1,129.70 towards AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). But even though I did reach my goal, I still encourage you all to make a donation towards my efforts as every little bit helps those who can no longer help themselves. Even if all you can spare is $5, that will still go a long way. Just click on this ridiculously long paragraph to see how you can help.

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Hardwired… To Run 12 Miles

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For some bizarre reason, it slipped my mind that Metallica’s latest album, “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct” came out this week. As soon as I saw it on display at the Barnes & Noble store located at The Grove in Los Angeles, I immediately purchased it along with the Criterion Collection Blu-ray of “Boyhood.” Could I have bought Metallica’s newest album at a cheaper price elsewhere? Perhaps, but I’ve been a big fan of this heavy metal band ever since the “Black Album.” I have been playing “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct” on my car’s CD player endlessly since I bought it, and the first track was playing loudly as I drove out to Griffith Park for another run with Team to End AIDS.

In the name of desperation

In the name of wretched pain

In the name of all creation

Gone insane

We’re so fucked

Shit outta luck

Hardwired to self-destruct”

It’s interesting to listen to those lyrics in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprising, and infuriating, victory of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election. Also, I have endured my share of wretched pain I have ran the LA Marathon, and yet I still find a reason to run it yet again.

Today had us running 12 miles as well as traversing over the punishing hill on Crystal Springs Drive. And let’s not forget the other hill we had to ascend on Grandview Avenue. We can complain about running up these hills all we want, but when it comes to the LA Marathon, and we were reminded of this during the recent AIDS Walk, there will be hills. As much as we want to avoid them, they are inevitable and not worth avoiding.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, and I will plead the fifth as to what those circumstances were, I arrived at Griffith Park later than I should have. When I got there, everyone had already started and I was cursing at myself for being left behind. I passed by JC who was quick to remark how I arrived just in the nick of time, and I couldn’t disagree with him on that even if I wanted to. I was peeved I had somehow ended up in this position which I promised I wouldn’t this training season, but Coach Jennifer assured me it was okay as everyone has those moments. She even attempted to drive me out to where my pace group was at so I could join them, but I’m still in the process of learning everyone’s names and faces. She ended up dropping me off at the foot of the hill on Crystal Springs Drive, and in the end, that’s exactly where I needed to start.

You would think after all these years I would have mastered running up the Crystal Springs hill, but I had to keep reminding myself to run a slower pace as I seemed determined to run up this hill so I could get it over with. But with all the running and puffing I was doing, I kept remembering the whole point of this training was to run at a conversational pace, so I had to keep slowing down to make sure I was doing just that. When I finally got to the top, it kind of felt like I was on a wooden roller coaster which was clicking along endlessly until gravity started taking over. Having said that, I did watch myself as I ran downhill. While as kids we loved to let ourselves run wild at any given opportunity, running downhill at warp speed was never going to be to my benefit. This is how nasty injuries occur.

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As I headed on through the depths of Griffith Park, I kept hoping to come across Robin Russell who loves to play his drums in this region of it. The rhythm he loves to play at always help on an especially challenging run like this, but he was probably busy on this particular Saturday morning because he was nowhere to be found. Not to worry though, we are all bound to run into Robin at some point during this training season.

Because I didn’t arrive at the same time as my fellow runners, I ended up running these 12 miles mostly by myself. It’s a good thing I had a map on me, otherwise I could have run in the wrong direction despite my best efforts to avoid such a spectacularly stupid fate. Throughout the run, I kept wondering if a 3:1 pace was really working for me. Some of my fellow pace group runners felt more comfortable going at a 3:2 pace, and I started to wonder if I should do the same. It’s always my intention, when it comes to training with T2EA for the LA Marathon, to run faster than I have in the past. But with my advancing age, something I am safe to say I don’t resemble on a physical level, I owe it to myself to take it easy to where I don’t criticize myself as much. If this means slowing down, then that’s not something worth complaining about.

This particular morning was a cold one, and I found myself wearing a jacket in months, maybe even a year. When I got out of the car, it was still quite frigid, but with the sun already rising in the distance, I figured things would heat up very quickly as Southern California loves to stay unseasonably warm. Indeed, it soon turned into a ridiculously warm November day to where I wondered if California had suddenly moved closer to the Equator alongside Hawaii. Still, it felt like a risk not to leave my jacket on. Out here, we are so used to it never being this cold, ever.

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Coach James was on hand at the Boliver water stop to dispense good advice, and he encouraged me to look into getting Gatorade Endurance Formula. This formula is different from the regular Gatorade which is so easy to find at your local Ralphs Supermarket, and you have to order it online to get it. Considering this is the same formula given to runners on the marathon route, it is something I really should look into getting. Still, why is it only available online? Geez, this is like Indiana Jones trying to track down the Ark of the Covenant.

So, Thanksgiving is coming up next week, and I will be out of town. My plan is to keep up with my cardio exercises as well as my maintenance runs. Where I am going, you can bet I will be doing A LOT of walking at the very least. Plus, with all the delicious food I will end up eating (my dad and my brother are fantastic cooks), I will have more than enough calories to burn off and Alka Seltzer to keep the massive heartburn at bay.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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Please click here to find out more about AIDS Project Los Angeles which I am running the LA Marathon in support of.