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”.
Linda Eddy Vermeulen