Monday, March 5, 2007

5:37

I finished the Los Angeles Marathon. Not at any great speed. But I got through the whole thing. The accomplishment feels great. It was quite an experience, and one I'm happy to check off.

I had hoped to finish in less than 5 hours. That would have meant running at a slightly faster pace than I had done a month ago when I ran 23 miles in 5 hours. The excitement of the day and the course were definetely a boost, as I had thought they would be, but the combination of the hot weather and the crowd slowed me down.

The day started at 4:30 AM. Got up, took a shower, got dressed in the clothes I had laid out the night before, ate a Clif bar and a banana. Then I woke up Peleg and he drove me to a subway stop which I then rode up to the starting point at Universal City.

I met up with my pace group at the home of one of the group who lives a few blocks from the start. We then walked down together and found our place in the massive line up behind the starting line. 26,000 of us were running that day. When they finally opened the course it took 10 minutes just for us to cross the starting line.

I had imagined the crowd would ease up as we spread out over the miles, but we never really did. That turned out to be one of the biggest problems for my run. I was never really able to get into a mental groove because I had to constantly watch out for people in front of me, stopping short, or moving sideways to get around people. It was a major distraction, and major hassle all day.

And the water stops were insane. Every mile there would be another nightmare of people crowding in from both sides of the road holding out paper cups of water. Bless them. But runners would spill water and then drop the cups creating this slick obstacle course to negotiate. I appreciated the water, and on the hot day drank my share, but grew to dread the approaching water stops as the day progressed.

My running group had planned to run together and we did a fairly good job. I had never bought a watch so I was really depending on staying with the group to keep on pace and to manage our run/walk interval. A couple of us tried to run a little faster than the rest of the group, and realized that we were off our pace for completing in 5 hours. By about mile 11, Raj and I were ahead of the rest of the pack and decided to just go on by ourselves. And then poor Raj started to suffer some cramping in his legs. We stayed together to mile 19 where he got some spray-on pain reliever which seemed to help, but shortly thereafter the pain returned and he told me to go on by myself.

So I ran the last 6 miles by myself. At that point I wasn't worrying about staying on pace anyway. It was all I could do to keep going. It was a great route by the way. gorgeous views of the city, and really fun to run through a series of diverse neighborhoods, which is what makes LA so great.

Without a doubt this was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It's crazy hard. The distance is just too long. I'm very glad to have had the experience. Very glad I can check it off. But I don't feel any need to do it again. I'm sure I'll continue running. I'll probably do a half marathon now and then. But I told my friends at the finish line that they were never to let me sign up for a marathon again. And they got it on videotape.

2 comments:

Edward said...

I read you every day and this time I gave Ed a synopsis of your first marathon-We think you are great! You made it! And, even though you "checked this off your list" you could do it again. Or, in your own immortal words, dare we ask, "What's Next?"

Good Job!
Eve, Eddie and Samantha
P.S. If you want more comments please try and make your "word verification" a little easier to read. It's tough on us old farts.

Rev. Ricky said...

I get tripped up on that word verification, too. My eyes are definitely not the best. But sorry guys, nothing I can do about it. It's a service managed by the blog host (google). Not something I have control of.

This is another instance of a common complaint I have with our increasingly secure society - the amount of wasted time, energy and money honest people must suffer through because a few people won't follow the social contract.