An Easy Three Miles in Burbank

Ben Kenber The Triumphant Runner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“(Turn around)

Every now and then

I get a little bit lonely

And you’re never coming round

(Turn around)

Every now and then

I get a little bit tired

Of listening to the sound of my tears

(Turn around)

Every now and then

I get a little bit nervous

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

 

That last line keeps messing with my head…

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

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

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

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY PABLOVE PAGE.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE ON MY FACEBOOK FUNDRAISING PAGE.

Pablove Foundation logo

A Pablove Run in Memory of Scott Boliver

Scott Boliver photo

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

Scott Boliver tree and family

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

JC Fernandez at the Boliver tree

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

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

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

Scott Boliver and JC

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

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

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

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

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

img_20161105_093504277_hdr

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

Porto's Bakery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boliver treats

Boliver family at tree

Bubba Eeyore at the Boliver Tree

One Last Pablove Run for 2017

Pablove Foundation logo

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

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

Pablove 2018 last 2017 run 1

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

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

Pablove 2018 last 2017 run 2

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

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

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

Pablove 2018 last 2017 run 3

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

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

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

Pablove 2018 last 2017 run 4

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

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

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

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

A Tough Pablove Run for Me

Pablove 2018 December 9 run

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pablove Foundatrion logo

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

Tyler Peek a Boo Pablove photo

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

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

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

Running in the Aftermath of Thanksgiving for Pablove

Pablove 2018 week four

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pablove Foundatrion logo

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

Click here to donate on my Pablove fundraising page.

Click here to donate on my Facebook fundraising page.

 

No Pablove Runner Walks in LA!

Next 7 Miles

I did manage to do two maintenance runs, 30 to 45 minutes each, before this Saturday’s run of seven miles. I was hoping to get a third run in, but the need to pay bills with unforgiving deadlines just had to take precedence as they always do. Still, I want you all to believe I am taking my training for the 2018 Los Angeles Marathon very seriously, and I plan to outdo my performance from las year and hopefully lose a lot of pounds in the process.

Coach Kerry referred to this run as the “7 of 7” in that we were running 7 miles starting at 7 o’clock in the morning. This made me a bit thirsty for a certain alcoholic drink, but getting dehydrated this early in the morning was completely out of the question. I managed to arrive at Griffith Park right at 7 a.m., and it was a peaceful drive to our training site and also a somber one as I listened to 100.3 The Sound, my favorite Los Angeles radio station which is about to go off the air permanently next week. Such a loss.

Pablove 2018 Week Two

After running at a 3:1 pace last week, I decided to run a 2:2 pace. At the same time, I think everyone else was determined to run the whole seven miles because, once again, I was left in the dust with only my water bottles and energy blocks to keep me company. At least this week I have a fresh pack of energy blocks as the one I had last week was left over from the 2017 LA Marathon. Biting into one of those blocks was trying to bite into a slab of concrete. I’m still stunned none of my teeth fell out.

Actually, seeing every other Pablove runner shoot off into the distance quickly reminded me of my favorite Missing Persons song, “Walking in LA.” The key lyric from that song is “only a nobody walks in LA,” so this week I was a nobody. I did keep up with the running and didn’t fall behind everyone too much, but it would be nice to keep up with the rest of the team for a change.

By the way, I just want to say that I always wanted “Walking in LA” played at the starting line as it seems very appropriate. With all due respect to Randy Newman, “I Love LA” has kind of overstayed its welcome, and a change in things would be beneficial. Of course, this request will most likely fall on deaf ears. Then again, everybody does love LA on marathon day as total strangers who would ignore you under any other circumstance cheer you on to the finish line.

This run took us outside of Griffith Park and into the streets of Burbank. It was nice running by familiar spots in this city as it was slowly waking up from its Friday night slumber. I was especially grateful to run by the bread factory as the smell of yeast was truly intoxicating and brought a smile to my face. After all these years, I still get a rise out of that smell!

I’m also proud to say I am more focused on my running form to where I am not easily distracted by those juicy photos adorning the windows of such fast food restaurants as Jack in the Box, Carl’s Jr. and KFC. A lot of times after a run like this, I am eager to drive over to the nearest McDonald’s for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich. Even my dad cannot resist the tastiness of McDonald’s breakfast menu as it contains sandwiches far more succulent than the Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder. But as I find myself more committed to losing weight than ever before, I decided to skip a trip to McDonald’s even though it remains forever tempting.

And yes, we did get a hill to run up this time around. Grandview Avenue provides us with a hill which can seem never ending even though it is nowhere as steep as any hill Griffith Park has to offer us. I still find myself getting easily winded while running up a hill to where the walking breaks cannot come soon enough. With this training season, we are certainly in a rush to get to the tough stuff sooner rather than later.

By the time I ascended to the last half of Grandview Avenue, I finally caught up with my fellow T2EA/Pablove runners like Stephen and Glendale. They all cheered me on, waved to me, and they assured me the turnaround point was not far away. Once I made it to the turnaround, Coach James was there to encourage me on and to start picking up the mile markers as I was the last runner to reach them. You know it’s time to wrap things up when I’m finally on my way back to Griffith Park.

So, I didn’t keep up with my Pablove Marathon comrades, but I did get back to the starting point in one piece. Coach James suggested that I try a 2:1 pace next time and to keep as conversational a pace as possible. In the meantime, I am determined to get three maintenance runs in during the week instead of just two. Once again, I am taking this LA Marathon training more seriously than before, so watch out!

FUNDRAISING UPDATE: I am raising money for The Pablove Foundation, and so far I have raised $200 towards my fundraising goal of $1,500, and I could use your support. The Pablove Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer, and even the smallest donation will go a long way. Click here to find out how you can help.

The Pablove Foundatrion logo

What’s Pablove Got To Do With It?

Pablove 2018 first day

It’s that time of year again. Or, more correctly, it is a little past that time of year when I start training for the Los Angeles Marathon. The group I train with usually starts up in October, leaving us time to decide what to wear for our Halloween costume run, but instead, we began on November 5, 2017, and this is not the only thing which has changed. For the past seven years, I have trained with Team to End AIDS for the LA Marathon which benefits AIDS Project Los Angeles. APLA, however, decided to end their endurance training program as they are redirecting their fundraising focus, and Coach Kerry has since left the organization and is now working with another non-profit called The Pablove Foundation. Essentially, it is still the same group of people I am training with, but now we are fundraising for a different non-profit whose aims are as important as APLA’s.

The Pablove Foundatrion logo

So, what is The Pablove Foundation? Coach Kerry was very excited to tell us all about it, and his enthusiasm for this organization proved to be contagious. The Pablove Foundation was founded in 2009 by Jo Ann Thrailkill, Jeff Castelaz, and Grady Gallagher in honor of their son and brother Pablo Castelaz Thrailkill. In 2008, Pablo was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms Tumor, a very rare form of childhood cancer. His family was determined to help Pablo beat cancer or, as out late Coach Scott Boliver would say, “slay the dragon.” Pablo’s cancer went into remission, but he was denied the childhood anyone and everyone deserves as it came back with a bitter vengeance, and he died a mere six days after his sixth birthday. As I have heard time and time again, there is nothing worse than outliving your child, so I can only imagine the pain and infinite heartache Pablo’s family were forced to deal with in the wake of his passing.

But the memory of Pablo lives on through this organization which aims to invest in underfunded, cutting-edge pediatric cancer research, and to improving the lives of children with cancer through the arts. Coach Kerry even told us about the photography classes they teach to the kids, and this makes me look forward to the exhibit of their work which will take place soon. In short, Kerry made it sound like a fantastic non-profit everyone should donate to, and I am proud to be fundraising for it.

Cancer has robbed me of many people I am glad to have known in my life like Scott Boliver, Grant Martin, and Gino England and, like AIDS, it is an indiscriminate disease which lays waste to the human body in a most devastating way. Sooner or later, I knew I was going to support an organization created to fight cancer, and The Pablove Foundation is an excellent one to start with.

This year’s group is much smaller compared to the T2EA endurance programs of the past, but perhaps it will make things more intimate to where we can get increased instruction on our training. It was good to run into longtime friends like Glendale and Stephen, and we reveled in the fact that we survived another furiously hot summer which overstayed its welcome in Southern California all the way through October.

Our first run was 5.5 miles, and it was relegated to inside Griffith Park. The coaches instructed us to run to the sheriff’s station and then turn around, and it was very straightforward to where no maps needed to be handed out. Coach James, returning for another year to trains us crazy runners, advised us to run at a conversational pace. If we found ourselves huffing and puffing at any point, we were doing it wrong.

Pablove 2018 team picture

I’m proud to say I got a couple of 30 to 45 minute runs in before our first training run, and I like to think I was more prepared than usual. Even though it was still cold, I tossed my Nike jacket to the side as I figured things would warm up quickly. Things certainly did heat up as we made our way down Zoo Drive towards the Gene Autry Museum. I watched as my fellow runners ran at a confident and conversational pace, and I kept watching them as they faded from my sight.

Once again, I found myself running solo as everyone clearly took the time to do more cardio exercises than me. While training for the 2017 LA Marathon, I typically found myself finishing dead last on a regular basis to where I felt the need to apologize to the coaches even though it was never necessary.

I decided to run at a 3:1 pace, meaning I ran for three minutes, and then I walked for one. In retrospect, it would have been better if I ran at a 2:2 pace as it would have kept me from feeling winded during the last mile or so. By writing this down, I guess you could say I wasn’t running at a conversational pace. Of course, when everyone is getting further and further away, the only conversations I end up having are with myself, and they can be nuts!

I did catch myself crossing my arms in front of me instead of keeping them to the side, so I did my best to remain conscious of how easy it is to slip into bad habits. It doesn’t matter how many of these marathons I do because they are always filled with additional challenges I foolishly thought I had conquered in the past.

Each marathon training season starts off the same for me. No matter how many times I do this, it always feels like I am starting over from scratch. I now feel this is an inevitable feeling as it can be too easy to give up on running, let alone exercising, after I cross the finish line. Plus, running in triple digit temperatures is not altogether appealing.

Please believe me when I say I am super serious about training harder than I have in the last few years. Having been a LA Marathon veteran for some time now, my confidence in knowing I can cross the finish line has gotten to be too much. I come into training season wanting to improve my time or to lose weight, and I haven’t succeeded in either. Hopefully, this year will provide me with different and beneficial results.

I have changed up my eating habits a lot over the past few months to where I thrive on eating egg white cheese omelets with added vegies and imitation crab meat. The protein keeps me feeling full, and feels good to know I am really cutting down on calories. Of course, I had to give up breakfast cereal as Golden Grahams became far too addictive for my own good, but maybe someday I’ll allow myself to go haywire and munch on those again.

So, the first week of marathon training is complete. Next up, I will be running 2 to 3 runs during the week and getting in extra cardio training whenever I can. Trust me, the boxing game on Wii Sports is a serious calorie burner.

Ben Kenber finishing 23 miles in Feb 2017

WRITER/RUNNER NOTE: This marathon training season, I will be raising $1,500 for The Pablove Foundation. Please click here to learn how you can donate and, yes, it is tax deductible. Thanks again for your support.

Click here to visit The Pablove Foundation website.