Running 16 Miles While Los Angeles Gets Pounded With Rainstorms

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It was raining surprisingly hard in Los Angeles the night before our latest Pablove run. Getting a decent night’s sleep was rather difficult as the rain was LOUD and quickly brought back memories of when I ran the 2011 LA Marathon. That was the first full marathon I ever ran, and those who survived it will always refer to it always as “the monsoon marathon.” The joke was we didn’t run it, we swam it as the rain poured down on us with no sympathy whatsoever, and a harsh wind blew at us from the side which made things even worse. Instead of heat stroke, we had to worry about hypothermia.

These memories rushed through my head as I got ready to drive out to Griffith Park in Burbank. We were going to run 16 miles, so the effort to keep dry was of the upmost necessity. Granted, we need whatever rainstorms we can get in California, and this is regardless of whether or not we are dealing with a drought. Sometimes I look at those heavy clouds in the sky to where I want to yell at them, “Hey, pretend this is Seattle!”

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For the record, I arrived at Griffith Park 20 minutes before the clock struck 7:00 am, and Coach Joaquin said I could go ahead if I wanted to. Instead, I wanted to wait up for my fellow runners so I could start with them. Things however were complicated by my sudden need to go to the bathroom. That Promax chocolate chip cookie dough energy bar went right through me, and I didn’t want to start running while carrying an extra load if you know what I mean. I drove to the nearest portable toilet which was several yards away to, you know, drop the kids in the pool. When I returned, more of my fellow Pablove runners had shown up and were ready to go.

I did have my red poncho on, but there was big rip in it in the chest area, and I was concerned it would not keep me dry as a result. Fortunately, Coach Joaquin had brought several supplies including some emergency ponchos. As I took off my red poncho to put on a new one, my fellow Pablove runner Jasmine said, “Don’t take that off! It’s freezing!” It may not be negative 40 degrees in Burbank, but yeah, it was especially frigid this Saturday morning. But by the time I put the poncho on, and finding the right opening for the head was a little challenging, my fellow Pablove runners had already taken off. I was bummed I didn’t get to start with them as it meant I would be running all by myself once again.

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Now this 16-mile run was originally supposed to take us outside of Griffith Park and onto the streets of Burbank, and this included Forest Lawn Drive which is always one of the most dangerous streets to run on. The fact it goes by a cemetery makes it all the more dangerous, let alone ominous. But with the streets being especially wet, Coach Joaquin changed the route to something he described as being far more “boring.” Fearing we would get splashed by oncoming cars which would revel in driving through water puddles against their better judgment, he kept our route inside the confines of Griffith Park. The upside? No hills.

Going into this run, I did have a pain of sorts in my right foot. For some bizarre reason, I fell into the unneeded habit of walking on the side of my foot to where I struggled in my maintenance runs during the week. I wasn’t in agony or anything, but I was feeling hobbled by this inescapable irritation I felt as I ran in my neighborhood while listening to the latest episode of “The Ralph Report.”

As I ran through Griffith Park and avoided the wet leaves on the ground which are ever so easy to slip on, the irritation in my right foot was there in a way I could not consciously ignore. I began to wonder if I should cut this run short as the risk of injuring myself was higher than usual. At the same time, this is the longest run we have gone on to date, and I am not a fan of cutting any run short, and that’s even if doing so is for my own benefit.

While running, I came across the much younger runners of the group Students Run LA. Seeing their thin and healthy bodies proved to be a cruel reminder of how my body is nowhere as svelte as it used to be. I just hate, once we get past the age of (expletive deleted) years old, that our metabolism is not at all what it used to be. The world can be far too cruel to us as we get older.

Coach Lourdes was also on hand at the turn around to give us treats like oranges, bananas and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Any and all treats she had on hand were a welcome delight as I consumed them and headed on back in the direction I came.

Because of the sudden change in our route, we were made to run the same way twice. But when I went around again, the irritation in my right foot became especially irritating, and I began to wonder if I should call it a day. This led to me getting stuck in my own head as I debated whether or not to continue. A part of me felt it necessary to soldier on as the LA Marathon will be here before we know it. But the other part was intent on convincing me it was best to call it a day before things got worse. This debate raged in my head as I ran by lonesome across the soaked streets of Griffith Park, and there was no one nearby to help me decide.

In the end, I decided to turn around and head back to the starting line. As much as I would have loved to run all 16 miles, it made more sense to cut this run short as my right foot was giving me more grief than my knees do on a regular occasion. All the same, I was still kicking myself for not running all 16 miles. I cannot help but feel like I am failing myself and the Pablove team by not running the distance we all were expected to traverse. I guess I just love beating the shit out of myself for no good reason.

I explained to Coach Joaquin why I ended my run sooner than expected, and he was very understanding. When all is said and done, I did run 11 miles which is especially impressive considering my situation, and I got to finish alongside many of my fellow Pablove runners in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.

In retrospect, it’s a good thing I stopped when I did as the rain began pouring down again with a vengeance even before I started driving back to my apartment. Imagine if I was still pounding the pavement when this happened; that new poncho I wore would have come in very handy!

I didn’t even bother using an umbrella as I walked into a nearby McDonald’s restaurant to purchase two Sausage McMuffin with Egg Sandwiches (one was not going to be enough) as I was too lazy and exhausted to worry about getting pneumonia.

The rest of my day was spent resting and putting ice on my right foot in an effort to ease the pain or irritation or whatever you want to call it. We have a recovery run next week of eight miles, and I hope and pray I will be in one piece when it comes. I have trained for this same marathon for several years now, and I fear my body may be taking more of a beating than usual.

Photos courtesy of Joaquin Ortiz.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: So far, I have raised $531 towards my goal of $1,500 for The Pablove Foundation. Even if all you can donate is $1 or $5 dollars, please do not hesitate to do so in our effort to lay waste to the evil disease which is pediatric cancer. Click here to reach an enlightened state of existence.

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Six Miles for Scott Boliver

Scott Boliver in New York

The wretched year that was 2018 has now vanished into the annals of history, and 2019 is here with the promise of hope and better things. This is a wave I am eager to ride for as long as humanly possible. It also brought the Pablove runners back to Griffith Park in Burbank for our first run of the new year. We were all out of town for the holidays, and now we are back to burn off all those calories we willingly put on. I could say I was forced to do so, but this would be a flagrant lie.

The first run of the year also serves as a memorial to one of the greatest marathon coaches you could ever hope to have, Scott Boliver. Scott coached us during our Team to End AIDS (T2EA) days while he fought a brave battle against cancer, and he called this battle “slay the dragon.” For the record, he did beat cancer to a bloody pulp, but his body still gave out and we lost him six years ago. I was devastated to learn of his loss as was everybody else, and it felt so unfair. Heaven may be lacking in angels, but it can’t be lacking that many.

This memorial run always brings out past runners who may not be training this season, but they are still infinitely eager to pay their respects to Scott. Among them was JC Fernandez, another marathon coach from my T2EA days who proved to me he still reads my articles on The Ultimate Rabbit when he told me, “Hey, you’re here on time!” Yes, I arrived at Griffith Park 15 minutes before 7:00 a.m. in the past instead of showing up after announcements by Coach Joaquin have been made or when all the runners have taken off before my, I’m assuming, eager arrival.

Also showing up for this important occasion were Stephen, Virginia, Cristie and Jody, and it is always nice to see friends from the past. Another person I was thrilled to see arrive was Gene who has the kind of infinite enthusiasm we all want to bottle up for a profit. I also would like to add he arrived in a Tesla. This is the kind of car powered by electricity, but knowing Gene, he could power it up with his infinite enthusiasm. Heck, he could power it for years!

But the most important guests in attendance were Scott’s parents and his wife Dolly. We went over to the tree planted in Scott’s honor where Dolly thanked us for showing up, and she did say this while bursting into tears to where Scott’s parents lent their support to her as she fought her way through sadness to talk to us. Those who knew Scott loved and found him to be one of the most inspirational human beings who ever walked the face of the earth, and the fact he was taken from us at far too young an age still feels deeply unfair.

Speaking of the tree, it has grown so much since the last training season. It doesn’t need much to keep it standing straight anymore. Just look at it.

As a result of the memorial, our run started a half hour late, and no one could blame me for that (LOL). This was a six-mile run for both the half and full marathoners, and it took us outside of Griffith Park and onto the asphalt streets and sidewalks in Burbank. For the most part it was a flat run, but then there was Fairview Avenue, the most deceptive of all hills.

Here’s the thing about Fairview Avenue; from a distance it does not look like a hill as the street appears quite level. But once you run up it, your legs quickly realize you are going uphill and get really mad as a result. My legs were telling me, “You lied! This is a hill! You insane bastard!” As for my knees, they gave up arguing with me a long time ago.

Once I managed to haul my ass up to the top, and it always takes much longer than it ever should, I caught up with Coach Joaquin who was all smiles, and he pointed out where the turn around point was which only a few yards away. Joaquin then assured me it was all downhill from there, and that phrase always sounds so sweet.

As usual, I was the last one to cross the finish line. But for the record, I did three maintenance runs this past week instead of the two we are asked to do, and this was while I was on vacation in the Bay Area. Even before I made it back to Los Angeles, I was working hard to burn off all those calories from the delicious food I feasted on. My dad loves to cook!

Next week will has us Pablove runners running 16 miles. Now we are getting serious! If I don’t get any form of exercise from now until next Saturday, I am a full-blown masochist.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: As you all know, I am running this particular Los Angeles Marathon in support of The Pablove Foundation, a non-profit determined to find a cure for pediatric cancer. To date, I have raised $531 towards my fundraising goal of $1,500. It’s a new year, so don’t hesitate to make a tax-deductible donation before the end of it. Click here to find out how you can donate.

See also:

Scott Boliver, Gone But Never Forgotten

A Pablove Run in the Midst of Devastating California Wildfires

California wildfire

It has been a terrible week for Southern California. Last Wednesday, a lone gunman carried out a mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, a city I lived in for five years, which left 12 people dead. But as the city mourns a terrible tragedy, it is now being endangered along with a number of surrounding areas by a horrific wildfire which has now left acres upon acres in ashes. The fire has hit close to us as well as Griffith Park is being threatened by the same wildfires to where parts of it have been down, and animals from the LA Zoo had to be evacuated. As a result, us Pablove runners saw our Saturday run cancelled, but we were encouraged to do the run on our own.

This week’s run was five miles for full-marathoners, and two miles for those doing a half marathon. I am still committed to running the full marathon, so five miles it was. After sleeping in for a change, I did my run in my neighborhood which is in the mid-Wilshire area right near Museum Row. I usually do my maintenance runs on 6th Street all the way to San Vicente Boulevard and then turn back, but with this run I decided to take things in a different direction.

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As I stepped outside my apartment, I found it was a warm sunny day in November. Just when I thought the warm weather would finally depart Southern California, I was reminded of how climate change is not a hoax. The sun was bearing down on me as if I were an extra in “Lawrence of Arabia,” and this combined with the inevitability of me running on concrete instead of asphalt made it clear this run would be tougher on my joints than usual. I had my interval timer watch on my wrist, and I was all set to go and determined to be a self-starter. Nothing would stop me… except for the fact I forgot to put on my water belt. I should have known better. There is no excuse for me to go out for a run without bottles filled with grape-flavored generic Pedialyte and water containing electrolytes. Why I initially left my apartment without these necessary tools is something scientists are currently looking into.

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I decided to head down Cochran Avenue towards Washington Boulevard as it would provide me with an uneven course which had hills to run up and down. That’s right, I gave myself hills to run over! In past training seasons, none of my fellow runners ever looked forward to running up any hill put in their path, but hills are part of the Los Angeles Marathon, so we have no business avoiding them.

One thing I was reminded of as I ran the streets of Los Angeles was how we are often greeted with inescapable distractions while running through Griffith Park, Burbank, Glendale and other parts of North Hollywood. There are all those fast food restaurants like Carl’s Jr. which had posters on its windows of the most luscious double cheeseburgers, and they made their fast food meals something you couldn’t wait to sink your teeth into. Of course, once we enter any fast food establishment, we are greeted with a reality we did no ask for as the meals are never as appealing as we imagined. We end up feeling like Michael Douglas in “Falling Down” when he gets his burger and says, “Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with this picture?”

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Instead, I was greeted with such distractions like yard sales where I could buy things for an unbelievably low price, or by signs for “A Bronx Tale” musical which was based on the play by Chaz Palminteri which was in turn adapted into the fabulous motion picture directed by Robert De Niro. None of these things made me hungry, but they informed me of opportunities I just might be missing out on.

Last week, I ran at a pace of 3:1, but this time I ran at a pace of 2:2 after having done so in a maintenance run during the week. Since I came out of that run in one piece, I was confident I would do the same here despite the hot and dry weather. Surprisingly, I did quite well. I owe some thanks to the female voice on the Runkeeper app. When I did my maintenance run, the word she said which stood out most was “steady.” She never said “run,” “light speed” or even “ludicrous speed,” just “steady.” By staying “steady,” I got through this run without ever feeling winded. This training season is clearly getting off to a good start.

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One thing I was reminded of from previous training seasons is how excited dogs would get whenever we ran pass them in residential neighborhoods. It’s as if they were saying, “Hey! Wait up! We wanna run too!” In the neighborhood I live in, there are also plenty of dogs being walked around town or staring at passing humans behind gates or fences, but these ones are a little more territorial. Some were interested in running, but others were far more intent on protecting their owners’ homes. One big dog growled at me to where the “Beware of Dog” sign really wasn’t necessary. Another one came out of nowhere, and I jumped as it barked loudly at me as if to say, “GET OUT OF HERE! THIS IS MY OWNER’S HOUSE! YOU DON’T PAY RENT HERE!” I started to feel like Chevy Chase in “Fletch” when he was chased by that Doberman Pincher, but I did stay steady and didn’t go into warp speed.

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When I got to Washington Boulevard, the sun was bearing down hard but I was determined not to be turned into a human shish kabob. I even dared myself to run on the side of the street which had no shade. When I turned around and ran on the other side, I asked myself why I didn’t appreciate shade enough to run in it. What was I thinking?

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There wasn’t an alert on my phone to tell me I had reached the halfway point, so it occurred to me to take a look at it as I got closer and closer to Fairfax Avenue. When I did, it showed I had already run 2.55 miles. It would have been nice to be informed of this sooner, but anyway. I ran back the same way I came, and this time I kept my distance from the dogs. Regardless, they remembered exactly who I was and didn’t hesitate to bark at me from a distance. Excuse me for existing!

And then there were those yard sales which I did slow down by, thinking there might be a CD or a DVD worth purchasing. But knowing the weather was going to get hotter and the air quality wasn’t getting any better, I just went on by. When I arrived back at my apartment, Runkeeper made it official that I had ran 5.07 miles, and I did it all by my lonesome… Well, last season I did most of the runs by my lonesome, so this isn’t anything new.

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After all these years of marathon training, the one rule I have never forgotten is, when running, to land on the balls of my feet. You never land on the heel as the odds of getting injured will be far greater. This is one of the many reasons why I still get to train for the Los Angeles Marathon, and for the ninth year in a row.

Ben after a run

FUNDRAISING ALERT: Now this may not be the best time to ask for donations as we are all eager to help those suffering from the wildfires wreaking havoc all over California, but if you have any extra change, please consider making a donation to The Pablove Foundation. While millions of dollars are given to cancer research every year, only a very tiny portion goes towards a cure for pediatric cancer. Please click here to learn how you can help.

 

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.

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.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND 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.

Ben Of The Marathon

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After a week away from Los Angeles Marathon training due to my covering the press day for “Bleed for This,” which had me occupying the same room with Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal and director Ben Younger, I arrived back at Griffith Park in Burbank to join up with my fellow Team to End AIDS runners for an 8-mile run. There was a big running event going on in the Hollywood area this morning, but I managed to avoid the road closures placed in everyone’s path and got to Griffith Park right on schedule.

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Having been away for a week, it kind of feels like I have been away for a month. On one hand, I got to meet up with my friend Marta who has returned to train with T2EA. On the other, I found myself meeting a new bunch of runners whose names I hope to memorize by next week. Being in the 15-minute pace group, we were expected to run at a 3:1 pace. Some of the other runners, however, were a bit iffy about as they weren’t sure they would do well at this pace. In retrospect, I wonder if I might need to adjust my pace as I was struggling the last few miles.

This run took us outside of Griffith Park and into familiar areas of Burbank. We went as far as Magnolia Street where we reached the turnaround point, and then we headed back to our starting point and prayed we would reach it in one piece. The zipper on one of my pouches broke before I boarded the LA Metro train for the AIDS Walk a couple of weeks ago, so I was left with just with this little camera bag to hold all my energy goodies. I prided myself on how I didn’t need to consume any energy blocks or gels on this run, but I would have benefited from taking at least one of them.

I was determined to watch my speed this time around, and I did take it easy at the start even though my fellow pace group members were not in sync when it came to starting our watches and phone apps at the same time. Having said that, I used it as an excuse to reach my walking break sooner than my watch would allow me.

When I am running, it is ever so easy for me to get lost in my own thoughts. This form of exercise has always been great for me in terms of relieving myself of endless anxiety and depression, but it also keeps me from staying in the moment when I need to. I’m always trying to remain conscious of my form as I always feel I am slouching forward too much. This shit always catches me by surprise, and I keep kicking myself as a result.

On my way to Griffith Park, I tried to get into the mood by playing music off of my soundtrack/movie score iPod which had on shuffle. I guess I was trying to find a piece of music which really got my mojo going, and I kept pressing the next track button in an effort to get to it. The best I could come up with on my route was “Insensatez” by Antônio Carlos Jobim which is featured on the soundtrack to David Lynch’s “Lost Highway.” The word insensatez means “how insensitive” in English, but in Portuguese it means “absurdity” or “folly.” Being that this is my seventh year in a row where I have trained for the Los Angeles Marathon, I can’t help but wonder if my decision to do it yet again is an absurdity or a folly of sorts. Well, one thing’s for sure, I’m being very insensitive to my knees which have long since given up trying to argue with me.

For some odd reason, the theme song to “George of the Jungle” kept playing in my head as I ran through the streets of Burbank. Maybe the rhythm of the song is what kept me energized as my energy began to run low. Either that or it was someone’s way of reminding me of how easy it can be to get into an accident when you don’t pay attention to immovable objects around you. George was certainly a muscular dude who knew the jungle and the animals which inhabited it very well, but his confidence typically got the best of him when it came to swinging on those vines. There’s nothing wrong with having an ego, but never let your ego get overinflated. You’ll end up running into something hard which will remind you of something you should damn well know already: you’re not indestructible.

Once back at Griffith Park, we were all witness to a terrifying sight: JC eating dill pickle soup. Now anybody who knows JC knows the man despises pickles with a passion, but he offered to consume it for the sake of raising money for APLA. Like him, we will do anything to complete our fundraising goals, and this was his ultimate sacrifice to appease all the donors out there. With all due respect to the Bolivers, who made the soup, it really did look like puke. I had to turn away from JC after he took his first taste and his face got all scrunched up. I’ve already vomited enough this year, and 2016 has been the year to vomit all over.

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Looking back, I did a good job on this 8-mile run, but now I need to step up my game in terms of training. In addition to my two maintenance runs, I need to get in some cardio workouts whether it’s at the gym or by using Wii Fit. Laugh all you want; those Nintendo games really give me a heart-racing workout.

This marks the last run before Daylight Savings Time ends, a time of year I never look forward to, and that’s regardless of the fact it gives us an extra hour of sleep. When it gets darker early in the evening, it makes me feel like the day has already ended and that I am up way past my bedtime. I hate that. It’s also the last run before this clusterfuck of a Presidential election FINALLY concludes. We could be looking at a very different America depending on who gets elected to the Oval Office. Let’s hope justice wins out in the end.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: To date, I have raised $237.50 for AIDS Project Los Angeles, and I invite you kindly to help me reach my goal before the end of 2016. Just click here to make a donation. No donation is too small or too big, and it will go directly towards helping those who need it. Thank you for reading.