Marathon Training: Re-Invented LA 2011

A runner getting encouragement at Mile 25 of t...
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The LA Marathon is coming up.  It will be my fourth (Nike Women’s 2009, LAMarathon 2010, Marine Corps Marathon 2010).  Going into last winter, I was completely caught off balance with a gift from the LAMarathon folk (Peter) of a bib for the marathon.  In fact, it was in doubt whether or not I would run another marathon this year.  I was defeated with the same things that continue to plague me:  being too tired to complete the distance, wanting to sleep during the marathon, vertigo, among other things.

As luck would have it, I also started dating and fell in love with someone who lives out of town.  With 100 miles between us, we had to be creative in seeing each other, and of course that means weekends would be prime time for us.

So, I have this training that I must do …and a relationship that I absolutely WANT to do…Add to this that my long runs are typically beset with night before anxiety, running the route in my head, laying out gear, getting nutrition ready, etc.  I lie awake many Friday nights fearing the long run.  Plus, I didn’t want to spend four hours running during a weekend spent with my new man.

I stumbled upon the Hanson’s Marathon Plan in Runner’s World, and started researching.  It seems that the whole program works with shorter runs on the weekend because you are doing a boat load of miles during the week.  I called my coach.  I talked to people.  I started taking responsibility for this plan.  I’m in my third week of training, and I love it.   45 mile weeks are the norm, and the long runs on the weekend aren’t much more than the during the week runs.  In fact, the longest run is 16 miles…but this plan teaches you how to run your LAST 16, not your first 16 miles…because you are training on tired legs.  Here are some observations from the plan that I’m noticing.

  • I seem to have much more strength and energy in my legs at the end.
  • Both 13.1 & 14 milers were finished with fleet feet~no dragging
  • This plan teaches me how to run on tired legs…every day.
  • Long gone are 5 mile runs.  The new norm is usually 8 milers during the week.
  • Speedwork of 8 miles seems daunting, but is very exciting!  Accomplishments!
  • We are up at 4:30 am on Fridays, and out until 10pm at night many days.
  • I’m more tired during the week.  Quads were on fire at first!
  • I have zero anxiety on the weekends…(SCORE!)

I’m working now on my nutritional needs.  My coach sent me the plan and at the top it says EAT EAT EAT!! The first week of the miles and all the eating, I lost five pounds.  FIVE.  I continue to learn, as last night I had a Peaks and Valleys Run that I posted, and I had not eaten properly yesterday.  I hit all the paces until the end, and I had no fuel.  I had begged him during the day to let me off last night…that I was too tired…and he simply would not give in to me.  I ran it.   And, true to form, I learned the lesson that he predicted.

So far, I’m very happy with this plan.  The main shift for me, was taking responsibility for my training.  Attacking the plan, doing the CORE work.  And, most of all…accepting the responsibility that comes with a Marathon Registration.  Respect the distance, and train like you mean it!

no new year’s resolutions

I used to make New Year’s resolutions.  And it usually involved weight or stopping something bad.  And, by the middle of January, it was over.  Why make exercise and weight goals in the middle of January?  It’s cold!  New Year’s resolutions should be made in like, June.

So since my last post right before New Year’s, my training was pretty sketchy.  All the runs were good…but I still am challenged with the Long Run.  Right before New Year’s, I tallied up the miles I had run…and it was 989.43.  On Dec. 31st, I was going to run 11 miles, but when I told my kids, they were…less than overjoyed since we had finally gotten a free New Years!  So, the number stayed.

Toward the end of the week, I was starting to worry that I would not be prepared in time for LA Marathon.  I started to think my coach was INSANE for giving me such long runs. I hadn’t really connected with him.  I’m in love, and he was on vacation (the nerve!), so I thought the dude insane for assigning 18 miles for Sunday.  So, smartass me, I asked for hills on Friday.  Stupid.  Killed.  I only got in 12.5 on New Years Day.

I was sad.

Did a Sunday run, then tonight the gauntlet:

4-1/4 sprints + 2-1/2 sprint + 1 mile @ puke threshold + 2-1/2 sprint + 4-1/4 sprints. Cool downs between each. Rough workout

Tonight Kim called me and said are you ready?  I was.  We had done a half gauntlet a few weeks ago, but as I found out tonight, a half is not a full gauntlet.  We did the prescribed workout.  And, we kicked ass.  8.73 miles, and very satisfied.

And now.  You’re all caught up.

If I were to have a New Year’s Resolution, it would be to keep on…keepin’ on.  Cheers, and welcome 2011~

Unfinished Business

In March, I ran the LA Marathon.  You can read the LA Marathon Letter I wrote to the race organizers.  And part 1 (where I talk about Peter, the race director) , part 2 (the actual race)  & part 3 (the metaphors)  took forever to write. 

I bonked at mile 8, and was on the ground at mile 19.  There ya go.  That’s the short form.

And, I knew I had to go back to LA at some point.

Then came the Marine Corps Marathon.  And more misery. And realizing marathons are stupid.  I don’t want to do them.  It’s like when you decide you’re never ever ever going to fall in love again because you have been married twice…and then you get some random person in your life that makes you think twice…but I digress…

I decided that I’m 51 damnit, and if I do marathons, I will do them in really weird places and venues because i’m not like a young chicken.  Don’t have that many more in me blah blah blah.

And I get a note from Peter.  And the LAMarathon is an option.  And he gives me an incredible gift.  And all of a sudden I’m registered …and it’s 15 weeks away. 

And I talk to my coach who is quite confident I am going to do fine.   So, today, I knock out 12.25 miles in the fog, and I start to think about each mile of the LAMarathon course.

And I realize that I have unfinished business.  Not with the marathon, but with the Los Angeles Marathon.  My favorite course in the world, my city…my town.

So.  We begin again.  Unfinished business. 

I tell my boys about it in our family meeting.  I ask them how they feel about me training again.  They both sigh.  They are 13 and 11…and they say, but you’re gone all the time.  And, we talk about it.  And then…just like that, they are all cool with it.  The other night I bring in McDonald’s because I have a 5 miler, I don’t have time to cook and remind them just HOW MUCH they love training.

And…they laugh.

15 weeks.  And counting.

Wherein Twitter & My Real Life Become One…

I’m finally home after a very long weekend of driving, which started on Thursday, June 3rd.  I’m not sure I can put together a coherent post, so I will bullet my way into some semblance of decent writing, and perhaps you can get the picture of this non-race I ran. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

  • School is out.  I drive to take my kids to my parents’ house.  They get to spend a week there every summer without me.  Everyone wins on this one.  My brother in law picks them up, and I head to Dodger Stadium for the Atlanta game.
  • I meet up with Mike, Melissa, Candy, Nadim and Bob, who gets us GREAT seats on the third base line.  This is the beginning of a great weekend.  Laughing, trash talking, generally eating too much Dodger food.  No Dodger win, but Candy got a ball that I wrote all over, so as to commemorate the evening. 
  • The best part.  Taking pictures afterward.  Exchanging Twitter handles.  Eating crap food.  Realizing that people who don’t use Twitter are losing out on a great opportunity to expand and include more love and laughter in their lives.

Friday June 4, 2010

  • I must get to San Diego.  I drive to Kate C’s house.  This is a woman who’s opened her home to me, and lets me stay in this quiet, lovely condo.  For nothing.  Now, that’s trust.  Friends of Bill W. are like that.
  • I get to the Tweetup organized by Lori, Candy & Alison.  I meet Ali, a soon to be marathoner…another person I talk with daily…along with Lisa & Gretchen, Erin & her hubs, Michael…and Yasmine, the mother of the baby below, the list goes on and on.
  • I meet so many people there, I cannot comprehend, but more than anything, I am over-thrilled and just want to pinch his cheeks:  I meet my coach, Josh…also know as SpeedySasquatch.  Here is a man I talk with daily, and get workouts weekly, and email and text…and the only time I’ve met him was him running by me at the CIM relay.  He’s much younger than I imagine, and he is underwhelmed in my presence, so I work even HARDER to get him riled up.  Nothin’ doing.  I spend the time with him trying to get his grits cookin’, but give up because I realize this will come back in the form of 2-fers.  2x daily workouts. 
  • We eat at The Yard House, we walk to what I thought was the beach with Dan, Josh & his brother, Ali, Elyssa.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

  • Run 20 minutes at my hostess’ neighborhood.  Little jog.  Sweating bullets.  Blech on humidity. 
  • I drive back in to San Diego to meet up with Team Twitterati: Glenn, Josh, Mike  There is a separate post on these three men, but suffice it to say…Glenn is my confidante with most things running & twitter…Josh is my coach, and Mike is simply the kindest, coolest dude I have ever met.  I convinced him to do the relay thinking, poor guy…hasn’t run since November…and I will not mock him when he walks into the transition place. Boy, was I wrong.  Mike ALSO took me through the drama of last summer with the ex-hubs antics, supporting by email and twitter.  Good men.  Great team.

  • We have a brain-storming breakfast and head on over to the Expo…where we are given a DRUMSTICK….a drumstick, and the volunteers tell us we must run with this thing.  And, I go back several times to really see if we have to run with it.  And yes, we do.  I am not amused.

  • We spend lots of hours at the Expo, see Danica, Sam, meet Scott (a Dodger fan, and my new best friend who I get to tell the Kurt Gibson story), and see more of my team.  I meet the infamous, John of Hella Sound…the man’s music has carried me on more than one run…and I fall in love with his energy!!

there’s the stupid baton again ^^^

  • That night, Kate and I go to the La Jolla Speaker’s Meeting, and it is simply lovely and peaceful, and I come back, ready to get a good night’s sleep…I’m only running the last leg after all, shouldn’t be too bad…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

  • I am quite sure I set the alarm.  But, what wakes me up is Glenn texting me saying: I hope you’re awake.  Uh, I’m not.  I’m throwing things together to try to get to the Qualcomm stadium parking lot, to drop off my gear, and catch a trolley to my leg.
  • No, not to my leg.  To the dropoff.  Then I get to walk 1.7 miles to my transition place.  I walk with a lady from Bakersfield.  (I always wonder what happens to the people I meet and then never see again at races)

  • There’s the stupid baton again, but that was the early morning texts I got from Glenn & Bob, and that’s Mrs. Hoofy with Hoof (Mike on the trolley)…Oh, and that’s me at the transition point.  I hear you look thinner if you cross your legs…I have my TNT shirt on just in case some purple wants to share the love, even though I’m not part of it today.
  • We get to the transition area.  Waiting.  A long time.  Everyone is relaxed.  A downed runner, who collapses, and not one medic around, or in the area.  Other runners are trying to get this guy taken care of, and it is scary.  A good 20 minutes goes by before an ambulance comes.  People are calling 911.  Not a good sign for Rock And Roll…you’d think they would have someone there for Pete’s sake.  #fail.

The Actual Race

  • My favorite tweets from Glenn :   !%^@#$*^ When he is done.  I am laughing SO hard.
  • Glenn:  @SpeedySasquatch has been unleashed.  I just have this visual of my wicked fast coach. Unleashed.
  • Mrs. Hoofy:  “He” (Mike) just left.  Here’s where I get excited, after the 3rd trip to the bathroom (for reals, man), and I think poor Mike, he hasn’t trained, he must be so tired, etc.  Then I see her.  Then she gets a text from him that he is at mile 19.9.  Already.
  • I look up and there is my coach, having run a little more to get to us…he’s actually there to run with two on our team, but of course I think he’s there for me. 🙂
  • Then…holy hell.  Here comes Mike.  Sweaty, full of sweat, and kicking ASS so hard it’s like a speed demon.  I am wildly excited and feel thrilled!!!

~~~~~

  • I take the baton.  Out of the chute, over the overpass.  I am feeling strong.  My first mile is 9:46.  I am already impressed with myself.  I am thinking.  Damn.  I gotta start training for reals.
  • Mile 2 is getting a little harder.  Cuz we are on dirt.  Lots of dirt.  Lots of winding, and I can see people up and around this little Non-Fiesta island…and they are all over the place, so you never really know if you will ever leave.  Sort of like a house of horrors…because you’ve already seen people leave…but you.  You will never get off this island.  Could be a good horror flick 10:26 for Mile 2.
  • At this point, I do NOT know what to do with the freaking stick.  It’s in my hand, in my hat, in my bra, in my back, and I heard Josh had it in his mouth.  I just keep passing it back and forth.  Plus, I know that real marathoners HATE relay peeps, because they are so damned fresh.  Well, not me…but most.  I’m just getting hot.  I take water.  I start to think this is a sicker, southern California version of Lake Merced of Nike Women’s Marathon…someone is water skiing.  Really?  Mile 3 11:01. There’s a pattern here.  It’s hot, and I’m hot, and I have only run 3 miles.  It was somewhere around this hell that I saw HellaSound.  With signs.  Yelling.  Jumping.  It helped…a lot.
  • Mile 4, I see this guy walking.  I’m like DUDE.  You do not want to walk.  Talk to me.  We run.  The rest of the way.  But he is significantly tired.  And I’m tired.  But, I’m going to run with him.  Mile 4 11:19.  And I start to feel as though I can make it because hey, I’m supposed to be helping HIM.  I’m hot.  Have I mentioned I’m hot? 
  • Mile 5 is better because I know we have to be spit off this island at some point.  Mile 5 10:39.  People are spraying us, dousing us with water.  The guy I’m running with is bald, no hat, no glasses, and MAN it’s toasty.
  • .78 left …I see Gretchen, I see Glenn, and he runs us in.  Finally, I give the guy to Glenn, and I slow way down.  I’m not going to walk, but I want to.  I’m just not sure I can face my coach or my team and tell them I walked my part of 5.7 miles.  I hear the Rock And Roll people, and know I gotta get there.  The last .2 was LONG and much longer than a lap it seemed.  I finally, mercifully, cross the line. 
  • I walk back and forth.  Find and lose Glenn and Josh.  See Ali, and get to run with her for .4 miles or so.  What a treat!! I walk some more on the beach.  Stand by the 26 mile sign.  Until finally, we are in the weirdest line to get on the bus to take us to the trolley to take us to the stadium.  More on that with my next post.  But here is my favorite picture of the weekend.  I couldn’t get my coach to get into the Ms. V. emotion, but this picture reminds me that I simply adore him, and tomorrow I will get a plan from him, and I am convinced beyond anything, that this Fall, I’ll be getting that Marathon Success at Marine Corps Marathon.

Tomorrow:  My thoughts on Rock And Roll Machines…but for now.  Bed.

LA Marathon Race Report, Part 2

I’m up early.

4:30am.

This part of the race report is about fuel, and how I didn’t have enough, or the right kind, or something.

My brother in law Kenny arrives at 5am to take me to Dodger Stadium.  My Dad reads 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 to me.  I write my paces on my arm.  I re-read the email, the beautiful email that my coach sent to me.  I write:

5-11-16-21-24 on my arm, to remind me of when I take a Honey Stinger

I write:  1st 10K=11:00 min. pace, 10:40-10:50 rest.

I had big plans.  I was aiming for 4:45 as my top goal, but would have been happy with 5:00. 

I ate my pb on toast and half a banana. 

I get to Dodger Stadium.  In awe.  In love.  So happy and confident.  Have never felt MORE confident.

I even went to the bathroom.  FOR REALS!  I mean, really, could this day be even more perfect? 

I am in the porta-potty line again, because I know the race won’t start for 30 minutes.

I am in the porta-potty line when the wheelchairs start.

Then the elite women.

Then the elite men.

Then, holy HELL!  EVERYONE!  And, I come out to see the mass of people making the first turn in front of the original start and wonder how the HELL I am going to get across this.  The flood of people put the fear of God into me.  Finally, this man and I hopped the corrals, ran a bit with the 3:30 group, hopped, hopped, hopped to the back of the start pack with everyone else.

By this time, “I LOVE LA” by Randy Newman had played about 17 times.  I love that song.  But not 17 times.

I’m ready.

I finally cross the start line.

And, we are going slightly uphill, then downhill around the stadium.  It’s all good, but I can’t get a lock on the 11:00 minute pace.  Too many people, and I’m with the walkers.  Finally, we go out of Dodger Stadium, and I’m feeling confident for the first 3 miles.  Then I feel a slight twinge in my back.  Which shocked me, really.  What was this?

I went up the hill at mile 4 or 5, and what overwhelmed me was the sea of people ahead of me.  I counted blocks.  I counted stoplights.  There was no way to quicken my pace.  I just had to stay in the pack.  At mile 5, I took my first Honey Stinger.  It made me ill.  I can’t stand any of these things, but had given up Gu and others like it to use these.  The facts are simply this.  When my stomach goes, I go.  And, I was starting to fade already.

I remember the Taiko Drummers.  Fantastic.  Great job on the hill.  I remember nothing else.

At mile 8.  I stopped.  I was done.  Finished.  Absolutely, and without reservation.  I had never have the wheels fall off so soon in a race or a training run.  My stomach was aching.  My feet and legs were fine.  My new iFitness belt was not working for me.  It was my first time using it.   I put it around the front, around the back, across my breasts.  I almost carried it.  It was just BUGGING ME.  Because it was new, not because it was a bad belt.

For 10 miles, I bartered.  With God, with my coach, with my mother. 

PLEASE GOD GET ME OUT OF THIS AND I WILL NEVER EVER SIGN UP FOR A MARATHON EVER AGAIN.

I took water at every station.  I ran.  I walked.  I begged.  I saw a billboard with a girl in really high heels on her back with a beach ball between her legs.  I thought.  I want to do that.  The women on the billboards were mocking me.  They were.  I saw Chuck and Brian…or was it the Bob and Tom show at the Comedy Shop. (I’m not even sure, and don’t care…), but these 1 dimensional boards became the way to get down the road.  Those stupid ladies in their beautiful clothes don’t know how lucky they have it.

I could not believe my race was gone.  At mile 8.  But, it was.

A group of people with Down’s Syndrome sat on the left.  They were clapping.  The adult with them said, “Clap for Linda!”  And they started cheering…”Go Linda, Go Linda!”  And I turned around, and walked over to them.  One lady got out of her chair, ambled over to me and threw her arms around me.  And I hugged her as if my life depended on it.  It did.  Then another.  Until I finally ambled off myself.  I don’t remember much.

A lot of asphalt.

A lot of signs.

These 3 women ran into me, and I was pissed, and the one girl said, “WOW”, like, “what a bitch”, and I thought…screw you!!!  Seriously! If you are going to stop, don’t stop THERE! Arrrgg. 

But I realized that my race was gone, and the only thing to do now was run.

The 5:15 people passed me.

The 5:30 people passed me.

I tagged onto a group of people here and there. 

But, it was simply survival mode now.

I knew it was bad when the 6:00 pacers got ahead of me.  My head was screaming to stop.  Walk off this course!  No one will know!  Get OFF!

I stopped.  A lot.  I saw the orange balloon mile markers.  I lived for those.  I ran.  I ran a lot.  Then I stopped.  The heat from the ground and the water from the cups made for a humid water stop.  People handed out everything.  Candy, oranges, bananas, granola bars, water, gatorade.  One person simply had a gallon jug on top of a metal post.  No one was there.  Just a spout.  I put my head under and drank hungrily.

I found the LA Road Runners pace group.  I ran with them for about 1.5 miles.  They would run, then shout 5-4-3-2-1 and STOP! and everyone would stop.  and we would walk.  and then those fingers go up again, and i had simply no freaking clue what they were doing, so I just did it with them.  I followed a lady in a red bandana.  Just watched her feet, her backside for a long, long time.  And then…

Mile 18.5 comes.  Here they go again with the counting.  And I was losing my mind, thinking, is the sky gray? or is it me?  What is WRONG WITH ME!!!

I go to the bushes because I got hit with a wave of nauseau like being pregnant.  I hunched over to vomit.  But there was nothing to vomit.  No dry heaves even.  Just heaves.  (I found out much later how dehydrated I was).  I remember sitting down.  Then falling back into the bushes.  I laid in the bushes, wishing for a quick death.  I know, I’m drama like that.  But I swear to everything holy, I was more willing to die at that moment than ever.

The cops came over.

My arm was in the road.  Runners were hopping over me.  The cops tried to get me to move.  I crawled on all fours.  They asked me my name, how old I was.  The cop said, really?  I thought you were 35.  Nice try, buddy.  They said they had to call the ambulance.  My Garmin said I was down for 40 minutes.  Excruciating.  The paramedics came up with their annoying siren.  I wasn’t even embarrassed.  At that point just wished for the end.  They took my blood pressure, my pulse.  I asked them what it was.  I was fine.  THEN they took out their stretcher! (The whole time, they left on the ambulance, so I was sucking in exhaust fumes too)  I said, “What is that for?”  They told me I was going to the hospital.

Because my parents read this blog, I will not repeat what I said.  However, it included a few salty phrases, some yelling.  I told them I wasn’t going.  They made me sign that I wouldn’t sue them.  I was in trouble though.  I could barely stand.  They told me they were going to take me to the bus a few blocks back and take me to the finish line.

Again.  Not happening.  I fought with myself here.  They told me a 21 yr old man had cardiac arrest, and that it was okay for me to stop.  There would always be other marathons.  Again with the arguing in my head:

Linda, Your whole family is here.  You are finishing this course, even if you have to crawl the rest of the way in.  Your Dad is at the finish line.  You get off your ass right now and make him proud.  You can do this.

This was ridiculous.  I couldn’t do anything.

But, I got up.  And, I put one foot in front of the other.  I cried.  I was mad.  I had definitely not counted on 76% humidity.  I hadn’t counted on being sick.  I was going to have an hour PR!  AN HOUR!

This was long.  A battle.  A walk for all of Mile 19.  Mile 20, I am coming into the VA grounds.  I start to do what someone did for me in NIKE.  I just asked this girl if she wanted to run with me.  So we did for like 3 minutes, then stopped.  I could NOT move. 

Mile 20.  Where everyone hits a wall.  I had hit mine 12 miles earlier.  My sister and her daughter were there.  I could see them. I yelled.  I stopped.  They showed me their signs.  They hugged me.  I just wanted to sit down.  Right there.  Then I saw the purple balloons.  And, remembering where I was, I tried to envision all of our soldiers.  Fighting through every pain, every day.  And it was enough to take one more step.

I said to my running partner.  LOOK! CAMERAS!  Let’s fake having fun!  And it was enough to get us to the NEXT set of cameras.  Holy cow.  Was that tough. 

She stopped.

I found Mark, who had blisters on his feet.  I said, “Do you want to run/walk this with me?” He said, “I’m done, I can’t”.  I tried to explain to him that it would just mean he was going to be out here longer.  For the next 3 miles, we walked a half mile, then ran a half mile.  It was brutal.  But the people of LA were there.  Giving us so much.  Clapping, yelling…

I had to stop at mile 24.  In a restaurant.  I said goodbye to Mark.  I went in the ladies room, and my urine was very dark, and I had been drinking for 16 miles.  So, I knew that something was wrong internally.

I could start to feel the breeze.  I started to get some energy.  Coming onto the highway, it was still 1.2 miles to go.  I picked up Jose, an adult mentor for *Students Run LA*.  I asked him to run with me.  At mile 25.7, we started running, and we ran to the end. 

And I saw my other sister and her family.

And then, I saw my father.  My stately, wonderful dad.  Waiting for me.  Just like every other time.

And then.  Bliss.  The end. 

Part 3 is the overall assessment, and I can’t write anymore.  It still makes me too sad.  What I lost at mile 8 was the will to go on…worst day of my life for sure.  And, I think that’s enough for right now.   My fingers are tired, and my soul is weary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Part 3: My grandfather’s letter, the metaphor of the marathon, the KTLA coverage, the family support.  The will to try again…How something this bad…can be this fun.  What my coach gives me.  Every day.

LA Marathon Race Report, Part 1

It’s going to be hard to be succinct here.  Bear with me.

Driving into LA on Thursday night, I was struck with emotion.  Driving down the Grapevine, I simply started crying.  I couldn’t believe I was here, and was about to attempt my 2nd marathon.  I was so focused and ready, but this welling up of emotion I couldn’t have predicted.

I settled in to my Mom’s house, and started the laying out process of the things I needed.  I had no other shoes except 2 pairs of running shoes, so I had to borrow some flip flops from one of my sisters.  Other than that, the race weekend was going to be fun.  I went to the Expo on Friday, but I had to get out of there.  Too much excitement, too much amping up for me.  I had to scale back, get in the car & chill.  On Friday night, my coach had said to go to bed early.  But my family was over, all of them…playing games, partying, etc.  I was finally in bed at midnight.  My sister made a stellar pasta meal, and she started to not feel well.  Something I should have paid attention to…

Saturday, I went to The Blessing of the Shoes.  (earlier post).  I was ready.  Focused.  Could see the course in my mind.  Little did I know when I would go by that cathedral the next day, I would already be asking Jesus for some mojo.  I ate some of my sister’s spaghetti from the night before, and started feeling sick to my stomach.  Went to the dinner, ate 2 tortillas, some chicken, beans, rice…and not very much of it.  Starting to get the picture? 

What sticks out in my mind was the Saturday night Pre-Race dinner and festivities.  For my Mom’s birthday, I gave her tickets to it, so she could hear Pete Carroll.  Poor Peter, the race director had to deal with me tweeting him for weeks prior, so I could get my mom to a front table to hear her all-time favorite coach.

 My Mom threw her arms around Pete Carroll’s neck.  I couldn’ t have been happier.  He was quite gracious. And here I am with him too And Dean Karnazes

And Frank McCourtAnd what’s wrong with this picture?  I’m losing my house, he has all the money in the world.  If we got married, I would make him sign a pre-nup.  HAHA Yup, I think like that.    There was a bomb scare, and everyone had to move to the sand, and Pete was standing right next to us.  

But the man of the hour, was

Peter Abraham, Creative Director of the LA Marathon.

He is the one who got us there, who endured non-stop nagging from me…who made it seem so easy to be kind.  I will forever be thankful for him.  Probably no big deal to him, but for my Mom and me, it was something of a thrill. 

We got home around 9ish, started Watching Spirit of the Marathon, but soon felt sleepy enough to go to bed.  I set my alarms, laid everything out, including a new iFitness belt…which I loved.  However, what’s that thing about not doing anything new on race day? 

I was about to find out.

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Next:  Part 2

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