Then, the bad omens start. The 2 hr round trip walk to the expo on Saturday for the bib was rough. At 7am on race morning, the mile walk uphill to Dodger Stadium after abandoning our stranded bus on the LA Freeway was worse.
But, then the race started. That was worse-erer. I give you: The unedited LA Marathon blog.
Mile 0: It’s 7am, and I’m at Dodger Stadium. Starting outside the centerfield fence at Chavez Ravine is one of the highlights of all my races. I would tear up from the beauty if I wasn’t already crying from hiking up 1000 feet. I breathe in the smell of all the runners going to the bathroom in the bushes. Hmmm… smells like Yankee Stadium.
Mile 0.5: A hill? Already? It took me 7 minutes just to get to the starting line after the gun. Fortunately, I’m crowd surfing on 24,999 other poor decision-makers, and I don’t notice the uphill run.
Mile 1: Dodger Stadium. What the hell?! Did we just do a loop around Dodger Stadium? Or, am I already hallucinating? I decide it may very well be the latter and don’t care.
Mile 1.5: This hill looks familiar.
Mile 3: I’ve found my rabbit for the race. She’s moving at the same pace as me, so perhaps I will survive. I do my best to not look creepy. I am not successful.
Mile 5: Um…
Mile 7: …Yeah…
Mile 9: … we were told there would be landmarks….? More people would run if there were landmarks, punch, and pie.
Mile 12: I finally see something I recognize. Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I am dutifully impressed. My back burns like someone has poured liquid fire on it. I ask a passing rabbit if she can put it out. She runs faster.
Mile 14: My back has stopped hurting, but I pour some cold water down it to be sure. I feel nothing. It appears that the reason it feels better is because I’ve lost feeling completely. I’m not sure if this is good or bad.
Mile 15: House of Blues. I now can no longer feel my left arm either. In an attempt to ease the growing concern over both it and my back, I run with it down against my side. I look like a geriatric stroke victim… minus the drool. I think.
Mile 20: I’m now doing what I call the Soccer Shuffle. My feet barely leave the pavement. I’m running like David Beckham slide-kicking the ball down the field… minus the drool.
Mile 21: Dmn. [At this point, I seem to have lost the ability to think with all vowels but ‘e.’]
Mile 22: As I slow to a fast walk through the water stop, I glance at my watch. The fast walk pace is the same as my soccer shuffle. This depresses me.
Mile 23: The Veteran’s Administration. Apparently, these buildings are LA “landmarks.” With my soccer shuffle, the VA speed bumps (really, LA marathon planners?) I’m forced to navigate are more likened to LA “dogs on the top step of a stairway at 2am.” I've started hallucinating to the point I think I'm on a Japanese game show. I stumble over them and hurry on in case giant wrecking balls are being swung at me.
Mile 25: I’m content at this point to maintain this less-than-sterling pace for the next mile and go home…. And then I see the bowling pin. A quarter mile in front of me, there is a giant bowling pin running toward the finish line. I assume it’s a person in a costume, but at this point, I may still be seeing things, and the bowling pin is fleeing those Japanese wrecking balls. I see human legs. Touché, sports equipment. He’s hurting. Partly because it’s mile 26 and hot. Mostly because he’s dressed like a bowling pin. The back has some ad for Lucky Strikes bowling alley, but for some reason I see “You’re getting beat by an effing bowling pin” written on it. Well, that’s unacceptable. I speed up… to some minimal extent.
Mile 25.5: I’m actually not tired. My body is done with this maniacal experiment, but I have tons of energy. I decide to hit my second wind and give it a kick. The hurt can survive for a few minutes. I’m going to go out strong.
Mile 25.51: I experience simultaneously charley horses in my left calf and hamstring. For the next 10 feet, I prance like a hotfooted, rookie shortstop. [Ugh… just google it.] The feeling passes, and I speed up… slower.
Mile 26: I pass the bowling pin. Screw you, sports equipment.
Mile 26.2: My second, controlled kick is more successful, and I shoot through the final chute and onto Santa Monica Pier.
I stand on the pier and looked down at my bib. It's hard to believe I've made it 26.2 miles in less than 5 hours. It's equally hard to believe that I've been able to keep putting one foot in front of the other for almost 5 hours. I never assumed it was a certainty that I'd make it the whole way. I don't 'do' much with my days that one would consider life-affirming... but now I can say I have. I look at the back of the bib where I wrote ramblings from the night before...
If I die, tell my friends and family I lived free and happy. John can have my Xbox games. And, tell any children I may have sprinkled throughout the country that Daddy loves them. [Note: Check Florida and Texas. And Hawaii. And, maybe Northern Illinois.] Peace. Love. Baseball.