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Dear LAMarathon,

This is not a race report.  That will come later.  Most people who know and tracked me, know that I had stellar training, but a crap race…involving lots of mile 19 drama with an ambulance ride not taken.  But this post is not about that.

This is a letter to the LA Marathon organizers,

Peter.  First of all to Peter, who got my mother and me to the Inspiration Dinner to meet Pete Carroll.  This had to be the crowning event for us, and even though I was just one runner in 25000, you found it possible in your heart to get my mother to meet Pete himself, a most exciting moment for her…and for me, watching her throw her arms around a man she has rooted for, yelled at, talked to, supported, all these years for USC.  It was truly the best moment of the weekend, even if I hadn’t run the race.  Thank you.  This event, as well as The Blessing of the Shoes, made the weekend a great success.

Being in Dodger Stadium at 6:30am was beautiful.  Looking at the Dodger videos, and sitting in the very place where my parents had season’s tickets in 1988 was heartwarming.  The organization of the checked baggage trucks was great, and the excitement in the crowd was palpable.  We had a slight problem getting to the start corral after the race started, because we had to jump in from the porta-potty lines to get in the corral…meaning that we had to weave, Frogger style, through the 3:30 pace group.  It was the fastest I had to run all day :)

The course was amazing.  Even though it was a tough first four miles, I could tell it was beautiful.  And hot.  But, beautiful. 

The bands were fun.  A bit too loud for me, but I hit the wall at mile 8, so everything after that, you take with a grain of salt.

I don’t know how you engaged the communities to be a part of this race, but it was the Los Angelinos themselves, who made this event amazing.  At mile 8, when the group of Down’s Syndrome ladies came out and held me, I knew I was home.  In the town that I love.  With it’s crazies, it’s diversity, the storefront signs, the random people who cut up oranges just for the hell of it, the people on the side who were still cheering even when they could have gone home.  The transvestite drag-queen cheerleaders.  The clappers and the horn blowers.  It went on and on and on.

Your race tables were beautiful.  Lots of drinks.  Lots of people.  But, it was the in-between, the non-stop support all the way.  Yes, there were people at mile 5 saying, “You’re almost there”, and at 8, 12, 15…when we were nowhere near *there*.  They didn’t know.  They couldn’t know.  They tried, and I recognize that there are a million other things people could have been doing on that beautiful morning, but they were there…on the course.  Even in Beverly Hills, on Rodeo Drive, people had trays of food set out for us.  Miles when I thought I should simply walk off the course, there was no way I could do it.  I came upon a group of disabled boys, who were handing out water.  And I said thank you to every one.  And their smiles were worth the entry fee into your race.

San Vicente was beautiful, and I could finally move.  Just a little bit.  And still, families with signs and clackers, and bananas.  THIS is the LA Marathon.  The people, who have for years been given a bad rap.  That Los Angeles is a pit, or just another big city…these neighborhoods created a feel of community, of “We are the World”, and gave to all of us at the end.  We were the ones who knew our races were gone, out of contention.  The ones who, like me, had high hopes of a PR, but lost it…your city, your people gave me just enough juice to get to the next block.  When I would turn.  And there would be another set of families. 

Because.  Because this race, this course, this event…without you even knowing it…and probably without the sense of  planning it this way…THIS race made me remember growing up in LA, in the Valley.  Remembering as a little girl, seeing the big skyscrapers and wondering…wondering who lived there.  THIS race, with all the course support, the bands, the hydration, the medics…without you even knowing it, gave this native a sense of homecoming. 

Because in LA.  We don’t care where you went, we just care that you came back for a visit…even if only for a little while.

It was not a flat course.  It was tough.  It was a marathon course.  I have much to grapple with in the coming days…what went wrong, what I need to do.  IF I can come back, ever.  IF I have it in me, in this 51 year old body to undertake the training and discipline that it takes to not only get on your course, but to conquer it.

But if anything is to be said about this race, it is this:  LA, you did it.  You rallied.  You got us there.  Thank you to all of the organizers, the volunteers, the locals.  I couldn’t imagine a better place in which to bonk, which I did.  And, if I know anything about LA, I know it will welcome me back with open arms…as if to say, “We’re here, if you want it again”. 

Love Always,

Linda Eddy Vermeulen

24 thoughts on “Dear LAMarathon,

  1. Great post. This was a great event. Even for it being a first time course and the kinks it had, the volunteers and organizers did a superb job on race day.
    Congrats to you for getting through it.

  2. Dear Linda,

    You are a warrior. You are not the same woman I met last summer. You may cry now, but those tears only fury your fight. You may doubt, but that doubt will fuel your resolve. You are the Linda who believes in the rally…you believe in the come back…you believe in the life after (whatever the “after” might be). You believe.

    Believe in yourself. Believe in your strength. Believe in your will.

    AND BELIEVE ME…we’ve all bonked. We’ve all doubted. We’ve all cried at what could have been. Should have been. Would have been.

    You will deal with your emotions in these coming days that have left your wide-open raw from yesterday. And then, you will believe…again. You and I both know that we don’t run for race day. We run for the day-to-day. And when you doubt, I will remind you…from where you came.

    These races do not define you! We all learn from them. We try again. And again. And again. And maybe there is no day of satisfaction. No day of redemption. No day of vengeance. But I also know there is no QUIT in Linda Eddy Vermeulen!

    Deal with the sadness and disappointment. I was there just 2 short months ago. And when you’re ready…the run will be waiting!

    I’m so proud of you. xoxoxo

    Love,
    Shannon

  3. Linda,

    That was a beautifully written piece. So inspiring and real. It was a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to your return next year.

    Thanks again!

    …P…

  4. Linda–

    I’m the President of the Los Angeles Marathon, so I can tell you with certainty that not only are you and folks exactly like you why my colleagues and I do what we do, but that you also just made me cry and made my day at the same time. Thank YOU for being part of yesterday’s history. We look forward to welcoming back both you and your Mom to next year’s event.

    Russ

  5. Linda,

    This is a well written piece of memoir. I’m touched by your expression or the elaboration of your feelings. Thank you for sharing your amazing thoughts.

    Kebin

  6. I got chills reading this! What a lovely post. Thank you for sharing it with us. I wish I could have been there to experience the LA marathon, but this may be the next best thing.
    -Sue

  7. Linda, I too finished yesterday and ring every word that you put down here. The city, our city, for better or worse was the ultimate comfort zone to this mammoth task. I had heard before that the volunteers do a great job, but to experience it first hand was uplifting and motivating. I made sure to give a huge smile and “thank you” to each person I took water from, grabbed an orange from, received a free towel from, etc. I clapped at crowds on the side that didn’t know who I was and I didn’t know who they were, but we were both of the understanding that something great was going on in our city.

    Running a course that was so familiar, that I had driven on most if not all of the paths we ran on for years and to finally see that this race is bigger than just a “marathon”. It’s a life experience and the backdrop is not the concrete and glass, but the blood and soul of the people who supported all of the runners.

    Thank you Linda for echoing my sentiments on this epic adventure and THANK YOU LA for helping me complete my 1st marathon in style!

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  9. Linda, one of the best posts you have ever written! I cried and laughed at the same time!!

    I know you so wanted to race the best race you could yesterday!! I know you wanted it! I wanted it for you because this was your race-from your mom meeting Pete to the start line being at Dodger Stadium! So I am so sorry that the race you wanted didnt happen! But WOW what you gained in respect, heart and motivation is so worth it! You did something that most people would have quit! You finished! And you finished after bonking early! That is AMAZING!!! You are a strong woman! I am so proud of you! I wish I had see the look on the faces of the fireman/paramedics/police when you said no to the ambulance!!! Hell No! You were going to finish! That is what the marathon is all about!!! Unfortunately, they can’t all be great races!! God knows I’ve had my fair share of shitty ones where I’ve bonked and cried to the finish line-we have all been there!!! You conquered it and prevailed!!!!

    We are all so proud of you!!!

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  11. I never did cry before the marathon. Really didn’t even tear up during the marathon (ok, a tiny but when they played the national anthem because I always do when the national anthem is played) and I didn’t even cry at the finish like I was sure I would. I think I just didn’t have anything left in me. But then I read your post earlier this afternoon and damn woman, just when I thought I was doing good…wow, you broke me down. :-) Wonderful, heartwarming, and inspiring post Linda. I just re-read it because I wanted to feel warm and fuzzy again. You’re awesome! Thank you for sharing and man, can’t wait for the race-report now!

  12. It’s not about your time. It’s about running the race in a place that means so much to you. Well written post, Ms. V. Congratulations.

  13. Great post! I’ve only been to LA once. Earlier this year for the BCS Championship game. We were only there for 3 days, but I’ve thought about the city almost daily since the trip. Maybe it was because of some of the things you mentioned above. Or maybe it was just because of the weather. I don’t know. But I definitely left with a better image of LA than I had prior to visiting.

    Maybe one day I’ll run the LA marathon. If I do, it’ll be because I remember this letter.

  14. Can I just say “ditto” for all of the above, especially Shannon’s comment? It’s not about the time, no matter how much we think it is when we set out to conquer the distance so many months before. Great post.

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