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

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Conquering the 2018 Los Angeles Marathon

LA Marathon 2018 Pablove team photo

It was almost hard to believe, but the time had finally come to run 26.2 miles through the vast city of Los Angeles. The day of the 2018 Los Angeles Marathon had finally arrived. Was I prepared? I couldn’t say for sure. This is the eighth year in a row I have ran this event, a brutal test of endurance, and while I am a true marathon veteran, I still approached this particular one with much nervousness. Was I really ready? Had I done all the training I needed to do? The only way I would know for sure is when I crossed the finish line, and I was determined to cross it regardless of any concerns I had.

LA Marathon 2018

We had a wonderful and delicious celebration dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy Restaurant located in The Grove the Friday night before the big day, and from there we were encouraged to get as much rest as possible. Since there was a full bar nearby, Coach Kerry said we could have all the alcohol we wanted, but he made it clear we were not to touch a drop of it on Saturday. As for myself, I abstained from drinking any alcohol throughout the week as running this event completely dehydrated was not much of an option.

I did have to work for a few hours Saturday night, and getting to sleep was challenging as always. While I had a very restful sleep Friday thanks to Temazepam, I found myself understandably restless as I knew what I would experience following the marathon, soreness which would feel never ending. Plus, a new episode of “Saturday Night Live” was on, and it was being hosted by Bill Hader with musical guest Arcade Fire, an unbeatable combination. Somehow, I managed to turn my television off before I could see him reprise his endlessly hilarious character, Stefon, on Weekend Update. Still, my mind would not rest until I made a payment of any kind on my past due credit card bill. Afterwards, I read several chapters of Amy Poehler’s memoir, “Yes Please,” before I found myself sliding into the realm of sleep. Considering I couldn’t get myself to put the book down for a long time, this was surprising.

The alarm on my Android phone and my interval timing watch went off simultaneously at 3:15 a.m., and for once it didn’t take long for me to haul my ass out of bed like it does any other day of the week. I had set up everything the night before, so I was all set to go. I even took out the trash as walking anywhere following the marathon was out of the question. My running shoes, which I bought only a couple of weeks ago from A Runner’s Circle (I was in and out of there in less than 5 minutes), were right next to the gym bag I packed with a change of clothes, deodorant, another pair of shoes and whatever else I needed following this amazing event which inspires in even those who do not run it. Unlike the night before when I was panicking about all the things I was afraid I would forget, I was quick and efficient in getting out the door at a reasonable time.

One thing I was especially thankful for this time around was how much cooler the weather was. The last few years have seen the Los Angeles Marathon deluged by high temperatures which meant we had a better chance at getting sunburned than in setting a new personal record. So, considering how the forecast was predicting this Sunday to be an especially cold one made me very happy as, for the first time in years, we would not be feeling like shish kabobs on the grill as we passed through Century City on our way to Santa Monica.

The line to get on a bus which would take us from Santa Monica to Dodger Stadium moved a lot faster than in previous years, and I arrived at Dodger Stadium in what felt like record time. However, I do have to say the bus I was on bounced around a lot to where I wondered if the shock absorbers on it needed to be replaced a long time ago.

Unlike previous years when I ran with Team to End AIDS where we had a suite inside Dodger Stadium, us Pablove Foundation runners had to wait outside in the freezing cold right next to the UPS vans which served as the gear check stations. The fact I was able to find any fellow Pablove runners in the midst of the thousands of others was amazing as I expected to see them. But sure enough, I ran into a couple of them as they tried to figure out where the hell everyone else was. Eventually, those Pablove runners who were not stuck in traffic met up with one another in front of the Los Angeles Road Runners gear check van. It says a lot about that this group got their own UPS van unlike all the others.

While I was glad the weather cooled down a lot this marathon year (as much as it can in the realm of global warming anyway), it proved to be a very chilly morning in Santa Monica to where my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. I had a couple of non-cotton shirts on as wearing the Pablove singlet by itself was a little too horrifying as it is already clear to the world I have yet to reach my ideal weight. I also was wearing a UCLA cotton jacket which I picked up from the local Goodwill Store the day before, but even then, I was moving my legs around in an effort to keep warm.

LA Marathon 2018 Pablove socks

All the Pablove runners had the foundation’s logo proudly displayed on their outfits whether it was on their singlets or their socks. The socks were pink by the way, a color which doesn’t always look great on me, but on this day, it didn’t matter. They were given to me a while back, and they have proven to be a great and much-needed pair when it seemed like all my other pairs have gone past their prime.

Coach Kerry was supposed to meet up with us before the marathon began, but he ended up getting stuck in traffic as there was an accident on the freeway. Still, it was all good because the support system was definitely in place as we always look out for one another.

At around a quarter till 7 a.m., we went to our individual corrals which were designated by the pace we were running per mile. I had been running a 15-minute mile pace this season, but I ended up waiting in the 13-minute corral instead as Walter, a fellow marathon veteran, was there and it felt good to start off with a fellow T2EA/Pablove runner before we lost sight of one another.

The Elite Runners were the first to start, and when Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” began playing on the speakers, we knew it was our time to start. However, just as it felt like we were proceeding to the starting line, everyone was starting and stopping at a rather alarming pace to where it felt like we were on the 405 freeway during rush hour. Seriously, if you ever want to know what the life of a snail is like, drive on the 405 when the work day is over. It doesn’t take long for it to resemble a used car lot. At one point, I yelled out Al Pacino’s famous line from “Carlito’s Way” of “here come the pain!” Walter laughed and replied, “Well, not yet!”

By the way, I always wonder why the organizers of the L.A. Marathon never bother to play “Walking in L.A.” by Missing Persons as we head to the starting line. Even they must be getting sick of “I Love L.A.” by now.

Anyway, I managed to get across the starting line while stepping over all the sweaters, jackets and mylar blankets which other runners tossed away once they began running. We do what we can to keep ourselves warm, but when we start running, people don’t hesitate to shed the extra layers of clothing they don’t need. The trick is not to trip over anything as there is always something on the road for us to trip over or slip on to where the marathon can end as quickly as it began.

LA Marathon 2018 the start

As I made my way out of Dodger Stadium, my teeth were still chattering as the temperature was still at around 50 degrees, and I soon became impatient for the weather to warm up, if only a little. Obviously, I didn’t want to experience another hot summer day while running this event, but I also don’t want frost forming on my clothes like it did several years ago. Believe me, there was a time when it did snow in Burbank.

While there is always some joker at the start of the race holding up a sign which says “the end is near,” I found it both very reassuring how one guy proudly held up a sign which said, “The End is Very Far.” For once, someone spoke the truth at Dodger Stadium.

And as you can expect, the Bible thumpers were all over the place, holding up signs which said “Jesus Saves” among other things or trying to get our attention through the use of megaphones and yelling out, “Give your life to Jesus!” Now I don’t know any of these people personally, but they strike me as a group who has taken the word of the Bible ever so literally to where they won’t allow themselves, or anyone else, to question it. Most of the runners I saw were annoyed by their presence, and one put his hand behind his head to make it look like he had horns. The Bible thumper with the megaphone saw him said, “Yeah, I see you. This guy likes to worship Satan.” Everyone in the vicinity laughed out loud in response.

As we made our way from Silverlake into Chinatown, I once again was in awe at the sight of thousands of runners making their way through the city. It remains quite the image every time I run this marathon as it feels like the whole city has joined in to either run it, volunteer for it, or to simply be a spectator. I wanted to take a picture of this, but my damn Android phone kept shutting down on me even though it had 90% power. Seriously, when did this device turn into an iPhone?

From there, we made our way into the unmistakably urban streets of Downtown Los Angeles, and it was at this point the temperature rose into the high 60’s. Once I took my UCLA jacket off (I went to UCI by the way), I wrapped it around my waist as I figured it would still be needed with the weather being so cold. When I ran this marathon for the second time, I held onto the second-hand jacket I bought for the whole thing as the winds kept howling like crazy to where I kept waiting for all the palm trees in Santa Monica to get blown over. But it soon became clear that, while there was still a nice breeze in effect, the temperature was not about to drop down to where it once was, so I ended up ditching the jacket at around Hope Street. It either fell into the hands of a second-hand shop employee and may end up being sold yet again at the Goodwill store I bought it from, or it made some homeless person very happy.

Incidentally, this country really needs to get back to fighting wars on poverty and not poor people.

In Downtown LA, I went up the first of several hills this marathon had to offer, and it never fails to test my limits as I force myself to run up the street where all the courthouses are at. One thing which really helps on this hill is the presence of all those Taiko Drummers who gleefully pound away at a furious pace to where I think they are playing the “Tsunami” theme which was featured in “Rising Sun.” I have the soundtrack, and as a teenager I often found myself boogying out to this music as it forced you to shed your inhibitions in a way other music could not.

LA Marathon 2018 Jasmine in hazmat suit

At around mile five, I heard someone from behind me calling my name. It turned out to be Jasmine, one of my fellow Pablove runners who was quickly catching up with me. At the Pablove celebration dinner, Jasmine told me she had been really sick this past week to where she wasn’t sure she would be able to run the marathon. But she did indeed show up and in a hazmat suit as well. When I first saw her in the suit, I couldn’t help but tell her, “I loved you on ‘Breaking Bad!’”

Jasmine was still under the weather as she caught up with me, but I wouldn’t have known how sick she was if she hadn’t told me. I really admired her for persevering despite dealing with the flu, and she called me a lifesaver as I continued at 3:1 pace. While part of me wanted to see if I could set a new personal record and finish in less than six hours, it felt more appropriate to stick with Jasmine as she confessed to me that I was saving her life. You know what? Jasmine explained it best in her Facebook post several hours later:

“Now that the dust has settled at bit, I wanted to say a few things. As many of you know, I had a pretty nasty flu a week up to the marathon. It settled into my chest and by marathon morning I was still sick, hadn’t eaten much for the week prior and I was coughing up a lung. So, when I started, it sucked and kept sucking.

At mile five, I ran into Ben Kenber. Ben stayed with me for the next 14 miles, talking to me, encouraging me and basically keeping me in the game. When it became obvious to me that I couldn’t keep up with him anymore, Ben still didn’t want to leave me. What a guy!

Ben finally went on, at much insistence, to run his race but, I just want to thank you Ben, I don’t think I would have finished without you.”

LA Marathon 2018 Kerry and Jasmine and Ben and Kat

Indeed, we kept with one another for over a dozen miles, and Jasmine remarked how this was one of the best-catered marathons she had ever ran. In addition to all those volunteers who were handing out paper cups of water and lemon-flavored Gatorade, others were handing out orange slices, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas (which contain potassium that feels so heavenly on any long run), Red Vines, Jolly Ranchers, and fun size Snickers. While I may have been hesitant to consume these things in the past, it suddenly became in my best interest to do so as I take whatever runner’s fuel which presented itself to me. After lagging behind all the other Pablove runners this past training season to where I was astonished Coaches Kerry and James were still waiting for me in Griffith Park at the finish line. I kept imagining they were rolling their eyes as they were eager to get home and enjoy the rest of their weekend, but they were still there to cheer me on as when I made it to the end.

Jasmine’s flu made her belch quite a bit, something I used to think only men could do, but I have long since been corrected to where I am annoyed when other men consider themselves superior to women. Let’s face it men, we never were in the place. Every time Jasmine burped, I made sure to tell her “bless you.” I know you only say this to someone when they sneeze, but it felt appropriate considering the distance we were trying to travel. She kept up with my pace of 3:1, but every time I heard her watch beep, I thought it was mine. It became a routine for Jasmine to tell me it was her watch going off. Still, it was a force of habit to check my watch whenever any beep went off.

LA Marathon 2018 Kerry and Kat

At mile 11, we finally ran into Coach Kerry who was waiting for us right near where The Pablove Foundation office was. He was there with Kat and several others who were cheering us on, and he gave Jasmine a big hug as he was worried about her. As to why he didn’t give me a hug, well, scientists are still looking into that.

When it came to mile 19, Jasmine decided she wanted to walk the rest of the way. As she indicated in her Facebook post, she encouraged me to go on, but I wanted to make absolutely certain she was okay with that. She made it clear I should go on, and I congratulated her for making it this far despite having to deal with a disease which cruelly greeted her a week before she was set to run this marathon. Please believe me when I say I was not quick to leave her behind as I very much admire her for getting as far as she did. It’s been a long time since I had the flu, but I remember just how debilitating it was to have it. The flu robs you of your ability to do much of anything, but it didn’t rob Jasmine of her ability to run the LA Marathon. Furthermore, I got to meet her mother and some friends of her who were kind and patient enough to wait for her on Hollywood Boulevard.

LA Marathon 2018 Kerry Jasmine and Ben

One of the more unfriendly parts of this marathon is running through Century City as the roads lacked of shade from the occasionally brutal sunlight. Then again, I did get to pass by Robin Russell whose energetic drumming always lifts me up whenever I find myself slowing down more than I would like. I remember first seeing him pounding away at his drum set during the 2009 LA Marathon and totally digging the rhythm he was drumming. It’s always great to see him out there, supporting us runners with his playing.

When I started my way downhill through San Vincente Boulevard, a street which always feels never ending, it was then that the soreness began overtaking me. I was actually feeling really good for most of the marathon, and I even took an Extra Strength Tylenol capsule to ease whatever pain my body was experiencing. However, my legs were starting to feel the pain. I wasn’t in agony, but it was an especially irritating pain which just annoyed the hell out of me. I have never broken any bones in my body before and I am in no hurry to experience that level of pain and torture, but this kind of pain really irked me. It was like I was telling my legs to give me a break as there were only a few more miles to go, but just like Edward Norton in “Fight Club,” my legs were calling out to me in vengeance, “I am Ben’s inflamed legs!”

As I continued down San Vicente, I did run into Coach James who was all smiles once he saw me. As always, he was enthusiastic and proud of us runners as it was clear even to us just how much our training had paid off these past few months. James had a whole bag of treats for us, and he kindly gave me a bottle of Cool Blue flavored Gatorade. Along with the ice-cold bottle of water some from UCLA gave me, this proved to be a most welcome gift. James, if you are reading this, thanks for everything.

I did bring my soundtrack iPod with me and put on some tunes to take my mind off the soreness. “Sliver” may have been a terrible movie, but the soundtrack which came out of it was awesome, and songs like “Slid” by Absurd, “The Most Wonderful Girl” by Lords of Acid and “Unfinished Symphony” by Massive Attack helped to move my spirits when they appeared down for the count. Also, Aftershock’s “Slave to the Vibe” remains one of the lost hits of the 1990’s.

Following this, I listened to the “Tangiers” track from John Powell’s score to “The Bourne Ultimatum.” It is one of my all-time favorite pieces of film music as we watch Jason Bourne race over rooftops in an effort to save his friend from an assassin. Listening to it makes me feel like I am running to either stop something bad happen, or instead running from an adversary who looks to seal my doom.

When I finally turned on Ocean Avenue and headed towards the finish line, I was determined to listen to Peter Gabriel’s “The Heat” from his soundtrack to “Birdy.” This track really got me to run fast when I needed a boost, and it certainly came in handy as my body was starting to give up on me. The soreness continued to escalate to where I was acting like some spoiled rotten cheerleader who kept complaining about how there was a run in her nylons. I was basically telling my legs, “Ow! Stop it!” as I could finally see the end just ahead of me. My soundtrack iPod only had a little bit of power left, so I prayed I could listen to “The Heat” as the finish line got closer and closer. Keep in mind, this music by Gabriel has been used on numerous movie trailers, and it never fails in getting my adrenaline running.

I held eight fingers up in the air as I crossed the finish line, signaling to everyone this was the eighth year in a row I ran and completed this marathon. From there, I kept walking as to stop moving at all was not a good idea. We still needed to cool down from what we had just endured, and to suddenly come to a full stop is not at all healthy. I got my medal from one of the marathon volunteers, had a cinnamon raisin bagel and just kept walking. The volunteers were still on hand to give us food and drinks (of the non-alcoholic kind of course) as we now had to put a lot of calories back into our bodies.

On my way past the Santa Monica Pier, I came across another one of those Bible thumpers who was also equipped with a megaphone and saying, “If you are an adulterer, you are a sinner! If envy another person, you are a sinner! If you are a thief, you are a sinner!” This became very monotonous to where I began to wonder, who isn’t a sinner? Heck, I wanted to go up to the guy and ask him this. Of course, he would have responded by saying he was not, so what would be the point? Surely everyone has sinned at one time or another, but does this really mean we will never make it to heaven?

In the past, Team to End AIDS had a booth set up for runners to stop by and sit for a bit as we reveled in what we had accomplished and indulge in some much-needed refreshments. The Pablove Foundation, however, did not have anything set up as we were, once again, a small group, so I just kept walking and walking until I got back to my car and drove home. I avoided the 10 freeway which I knew was going to be backed up and I drove through the back way of Santa Monica and thru Marina Del Rey and headed straight down Washington Boulevard. Geez, I sound like an episode of “The Californians.”

Before I made it back, I did drop by my local Ralphs Supermarket to pick up a few things, among which was a 10-pound bag of ice. For once, I was going to subject myself to an ice bath, something I actually hadn’t done in quite some time. But considering how infinitely sore I was, an ice bath felt absolutely necessary as it always succeeds in reducing the swelling in the legs. I still had my marathon medal on and going through the supermarket was a lot like running those 26.2 miles as complete strangers saw it and congratulated me on my grand accomplishment. One supermarket employee asked to hold it, and she was stunned at how heavy it was.

These congratulations continued as I made my way back to my apartment. One guy even passed by me and said, “And you’re still standing!” I was also ever so thankful to find a parking spot on the side of the street which would not be subjected to street cleaning on a Monday, and this meant I could sleep in.

Having an ice bath was a different story, however, as the water in my bath tub kept draining almost as quickly as the water went into it. I should have known something was up when a dozen minutes had passed and the tub wasn’t even half full. Keeping the faucet on also made it impossible for me to listen to the Fresh Air interview Terry Gross did with Danny Trejo about going from being a San Quentin inmate to becoming an in-demand actor. I did finally put the ice in once the water got to a certain level, but this ice bath was unfortunately not as effective as it could have been. Following this, I crashed in bed and had a nice, long nap. Again, I didn’t get much sleep the night before, so you can sure bet I caught up on it.

Now it’s a few days later, and my legs are still recovering from the soreness. Walking normally has gotten easier, but I still find myself wanting to cry whenever I see a flight of stairs in front of me. Even though I know I will fully recover, looking at stairs after running a marathon always makes me wonder if I will ever go up them again with the same enthusiastic energy I once had. The answer, of course, is yes, but it always feels like I never will. I also find myself in a constant state of tiredness, but this may have to do more with depression than running the marathon.

JC Fernandez at the Boliver tree

Recently, JC Fernandez, one of my former coaches from T2EA, posted the following on my Facebook page:

“Hey Ben! At the start of the year, I mentioned how I felt Coach Scott’s presence in your weekly Ultimate Rabbit posts. Your determination and will to push through your struggles is the embodiment of his mantra ‘keep going.” Reading Jasmine’s account of the race this weekend and how you stuck by to support and encourage her, sacrificing your race for her well-being… and I feel him again.

Thank you for carrying on his spirit. And congrats on another 26.2!!”

Indeed, Scott Boliver’s spirit has never left us as he always told us to just keep going, and it felt great to hear I embodied this spirit from JC. For us T2EA and Pablove runners, it isn’t always about setting a new personal record or winning the whole thing. It’s all about crossing the finish line. If you set a new personal record for yourself that’s great, but what really matters is finishing the whole thing come rain or shine. Even when we have hit the runner’s wall where are brain is telling us to just give up already, we keep going. Maybe we will run a bit slower or just walk the rest of the way, but we keep on going even when everything tells us to call it quits. In the end, that’s all we can do, just keep going.

Scott Boliver photo

In life I try to be humble about a lot of things as having an oversized ego has led me into painfully embarrassing situations more often than not, but few things in life have earned me more bragging rights than running a marathon. While I may be shy about some things, there is no reason for me to be shy about the medal I earned.

My thanks to Coaches James and Kerry and to everyone at The Pablove Foundation for helping me get through this season. I also want to send out congratulations to my fellow Pablove runners for participating and completing the 2018 Los Angeles Marathon. Special congratulations to Jasmine who ran despite being sick and finished about 20 minutes behind me.

Will I be back next year? I’m not sure. The last few years have had me wondering if it is time to take a break from all this running, but when the start of the training season is near, the excitement overcomes all the rational thoughts I have, and I find myself happily back at Griffith Park on Saturday mornings. But with my advancing age, something I prefer not draw too much attention to, maybe I owe it to myself to give my body an extended rest. Then again, Harrison Ford said it best in “Raiders of the Lost Ark:”

“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”

The 2018 Los Angeles Marathon was truly one of the best years for this event. The weather was perfect, the nutrition was endless, and the support from complete strangers is always welcome. And, as one spectator pointed out on a sign he held up, we were running much better than the U.S. Government.

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I have now raised $1,389 for The Pablove Foundation. As a group, us Pablove runners succeeded in raising around $60,000 in the fight against pediatric cancer. It is important to note that while the U.S. Government does give a lot of money to cancer research, only 4% of it goes towards childhood cancer. My personal page is still open, so if you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please do not let me stop you (as if I would ever want to).

CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION TO THE PABLOVE FOUNDATION.

See also:

What’s Pablove Got to Do with It?

No Pablove Runner Walks in L.A!

Running in the Aftermath of Thanksgiving for Pablove

A Tough Pablove Run for Me

One Last Pablove Run for 2017

A Pablove Run in Memory of Scott Boliver

A Longer Than Expected Pablove Run

An Especially Frigid 18 Mile Pablove Run

There’s Nothing Like a Hot Summer Day in February

23 Miles in the Frigid Los Angeles Wilderness

One Last Pablove Run, and One Last Hill

LA Marathon 2018 the runners

Scott Boliver tree 2014

23 Miles in the Frigid Los Angeles Wilderness

Ben Kenber after 23 miles 2012

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

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A TAX-DECUCTIBLE DONATION TO THE PABLOVE FOUNDATION.

Pablove Foundation logo

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

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

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

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

Pablove Runners 2018 on Feb 24

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

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

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

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

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

Lays Potato Chips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HERE ARE SOME OF THE OTHER SONGS I LISTENED TO ON THIS 23 MILE RUN.

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 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

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 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.

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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

Scott Boliver, Gone But Never Forgotten

Scott Boliver in New York

WRITER’S NOTE: This article was originally written and published in 2013.

Scott Boliver was a great person on top of being a superb marathon coach. During the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon, he made sure we had what we needed to cross the finish line, and he always greeted us with a big smile and a warm demeanor. The past year or two had him dealing with two different types of cancer which threatened to get the best of him physically and financially, thanks in large part to our still deeply flawed American health care system, but he fought against this indiscriminate disease long and hard and eventually beat it. We all got wristbands which had Scott’s nickname for his cancer fight written on them: “Slay The Dragon.” As a result, he became one of the most inspirational people we had ever hoped to meet in our lifetime.

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So, it was an enormous shock when we got the news Scott died on January 3, 2013. I had last seen him only a few days earlier while training for the 2013 Los Angeles Marathon, and he appeared to be in good spirits and still had that great smile of his for all to see. While had been to the hospital a few days earlier due to some swelling in one of his legs, a runner in my pace group had been in contact with him and said he was feeling fine. Even as we ran 12 miles in the rain and freezing wind, Scott was with us and keeping an eye on what we needed work on. At the end of the run, he made sure we didn’t stay outdoors long because we were all soaking wet and didn’t have much of an excuse to deal with hypothermia or pneumonia.

The word of Scott’s death spread like a wildfire on Facebook, and I remember staring at the screen in sheer disbelief and saying, “No, no, no, no, no!” Two other people who played a big part in my life, Jim Kirkwood and Grant Martin, had also died from cancer, but their deaths were not a surprise. They had fought their own fights against this indiscriminate disease, but it eventually took a huge toll on their bodies to where the damage was irreversible. When the end came for them, it was very sad but also kind of a relief. Although we missed them, we took comfort in the fact they were at peace and no longer suffering.

While I wanted to weep for Jim and Grant, I never shed tears when learning of their passing. I wanted to, but the tears never came for some odd reason. But the news of Scott’s death reduced me to a total wreck, and I was crying like never before. How could this man who had inspired so many with his constant slaying of the dragon that was cancer leave us so suddenly? Scott seemed to be in such great shape even after all he had been through, and yet fate proved to be unforgivably cruel in taking him away from us. Leonard Cohen said it best: “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.”

I cannot even begin to imagine what Scott’s family is going through right now, and they have my deepest sympathies. He leaves behind a loving wife, wonderful children and his parents who have just endured one of the worst things any parent can ever experience, outliving their child.

Scott Boliver Coach

Those who have trained with Team to End AIDS have had the opportunity to meet Scott’s family, and his parents have been especially wonderful to hang out with these past few months. They have spent so much time preparing snacks for us to consume during our training and always have plenty of water and Gatorade for us to refill our water bottles with. Remember, these are the same people who introduced us to the delicious peanut butter and pickle covered Ritz crackers, and we all live for those now.

I read a blog by Sara Catania entitled “Week 34: The Scott Boliver Experience,” and she shared some things about Scott I didn’t know about until now. He worked as a prison psychologist and lived in the city of Brea out in Orange County. The marathon training for Team to End AIDS takes place at Griffith Park in Burbank which means he has to make a round trip of 80 miles by car. Regardless of the distance, he still made it out to Griffith Park and typically got there before anyone else did, and we started running at 6 a.m. on certain mornings. I used to make a 70-mile round trip to and from Disneyland when I worked there, but I got nothing on this guy!

I also remember him putting together games and contests for the longer runs which had us guessing what songs came from which musicals, or what foreign country a certain kind of chocolate came from. This made our training all the more entertaining, and this was especially the case if you had those people in your pace group who could actually answer those questions without a doubt (I’m at a loss when it comes to musicals and chocolate). The winner of these games got a breakfast or some other special meal courtesy of Scott who paid for these wonderful prizes out of his own pocket.

Looking at this kind of dedication makes me admire Scott all the more because it seemed like he spent all his free time outside of his day job doing things for other people. Nothing seemed to bring him down even as the cancer diagnosis caused him a number of headaches which would have driven anyone else to insanity. Catania said it best:

“Coach Scott exudes empathy. When runners would ask him about every little pinch and blister, he’d take it all as seriously as the questioner required. He never talked about his own aches and woes. When the wildfires last fall came within a few feet of his home, he didn’t mention it to the group and didn’t miss a training.”

One of my favorite memories of Coach Scott came during the 2012 Los Angeles Marathon as I ran up San Vicente Boulevard. Now those familiar with this marathon will know San Vicente is the part of the run which lasts far longer than it has any right to. You are running up a nice street filled with beautiful houses you can’t possibly afford, and it feels like you will never reach the end of it. Just when you think you’ve reached the corner which leads you towards the finish line, you haven’t. That darn boulevard goes on forever, and it feels like it is designed to torture you psychologically more than anything else.

But eventually I did see Coach Scott on the side of the road, and seeing him was a huge relief as I was seriously on the verge of going completely mental. He was waiting for us all with that wide smile of his, and he picked the perfect place to meet up with us. It didn’t matter how many hours it took for us to finish the marathon because he was always there to make sure we had everything we needed. Seeing him there to greet me and give me a hug was exactly what I needed to cross that seemingly elusive finish line.

Now he’s gone and I just don’t get it. Perhaps his body was irreparably weakened from all the surgeries and chemotherapy treatments he was forced to undergo. His death feels so unfair, so unwarranted, and if there is a God I want to verify with him, or her, if they got the right person because I feel he, or she, made a serious mistake.

In his passing, however, we have come to see how far the love for Scott goes, and it goes an infinitely long way. His friend Larry Jacobson set up a memorial fund on Go Fund Me to help out Scott’s family who has suffered financially in the wake of his cancer fight and various medical bills which are far more than any family should ever have to pay off. Before Scott’s death, his family had to move out of their house and into an apartment, and now his wife and children find themselves with little money for food and rent.

The goal for the memorial fund was $20,000, and this amount was raised within the first 24 hours after it was set up on the internet. In the next couple of days $30,000 was raised. 11 days later, over $66,000 was raised. If this doesn’t show you how deep the love and respect for Scott goes, nothing will.

Here’s to Coach Scott Boliver. We all hear about these inspirational people in the news and we get a little cynical about them because we’ve become conditioned to believe no one can ever be that good a person. Scott, however, was the real deal, and the way he lived his life will continue to inspire every single person who ever knew him. No one who worked with him will ever forget the effect he had on their lives. There’s no doubt in my mind everyone loved him.

The Boliver family

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SCOTT BOLIVER MEMORIAL FUND AND TO MAKE A DONATION.

Here’s another article written about Scott Boliver:

“Goodbye, My Friend” by Michelle Gottlieb

 

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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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Thanksgiving is Gone, but the Calories Linger On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If my chute don’t open wide,

If my chute don’t open wide,

I got another one by my side,

I got another one by my side.

If that chute don’t open round,

If that chute don’t open round,

I’ll be the first one on the ground,

I’ll be the first one on the ground.”

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading.