Tuesday, April 16, 2013

for the love of running

you know, the tragic news that came from boston yesterday makes my recap of last week's hollywood half seem...trivial.  sure, it was a big deal for me to get through it.  but man.  it feels a little strange to rehash a day that centered around running a long distance (for me) and crossing a finish line so triumphantly, considering the folks who had to experience so much awfulness at the boston marathon.

but a quick look at social media shows that the running community is a strong, joyful one.  they're reaching out from all over to offer support and encouragement to their brothers and sisters who are suffering.  people are donating blood, sharing stories, sending love.  i've already heard of some who are organizing runs - doing what they love most to honor the runners in boston.  we've all been spreading the word for everyone who has a race shirt (5K, 10K, half, run, walk, whatever) to wear it today as a small show of support.  i may not have a personal connection to anyone who was there, but as a runner (of sorts)...it really hit home.

after the initial shock and sadness upon hearing the awful news, the first thing i thought of was that my girls had been waiting for me at the finish line last week.  i'm no tragedy whore, but damn.  DAMN.  what if...?  the mere thought just makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.

yet we can't live in fear.  what kind of life would that be?  although it's been turned into a cliche by now, the saying is true - we can't let them win.  we just can't.  life must go on, and more than ever we need to remember to cherish the ones we love.  give them hugs.  tell them that we love them.  go out and have fun together.  enjoy simple pleasures.  take advantage of the opportunities that come our way every single day.

and so, that being said...

i woke up way before the butt crack of dawn on the day of the half.  we had a 6:00 start time, and my legacy group was set to meet up at the start line at 5:30.  so i dragged my ass out of bed (to be honest, it wasn't that hard - i'd been awake on and off since 2) and got myself ready.

as i was doing my final check to make sure i wasn't forgetting anything, i heard a little croaky voice pipe up from the bed i'd been sharing with the bean:  "have a good run, mommy," she said.  melted my black heart right into a puddle on the floor.  i tiptoed over to give her a kiss, and she wrapped her little arms around my neck and gave me a sleepy smile.

even the elevator greeted me cheerfully.


i had about a half mile walk from the hotel's front door to the start line.  around the corner and a little way down the street was the finish:


it was really weird to walk along the famous hollywood walk of fame in the darkness, and i read every name on each star i scurried  past.  i recognized maybe one out of every five, and it helped to pass the time until i finally reached hollywood and highland, where the start line was set up.


this is ken, who along with his gorgeous wife sabrina serves as the race director.  he took a lot of heat for the snafus that occurred during last year's inaugural race, and has pretty much bent over backwards and jumped through every hoop imaginable to ensure that this year's run goes as smoothly as possible.  ken and sabrina are so incredibly caring and thoughtful - he even gave the legacy group his personal cell phone number in case of any emergencies.  i don't know any director of anything who would do something like that.


oh, do you love my costume?  i did.  so did a lot of other folks.  let me tell you, if you love being cheered on by countless random people all the way through a half marathon in southern california...dress like a laker.  i got high-fives and shout-outs all morning long.


also?  as i joined the legacy group for our start line photo, i caught a glimpse of someone who looked familiar - andrea barber, also known as kimmy gibbler from "full house."  she'd run this race last year too, and i'd actually traded a few tweets with her back in december during that whole spartan race insanity.  i went over and introduced myself, and she totally remembered me from twitter.  she's really sweet, and we could totally be BFFs.  i just know it.  plus, i'm now a degree closer to john stamos!  have mercy.


i saw quite a few interesting costumes, but none more so than this one:


after the group photo was taken, i peered down at my bib to see which corral i'd been assigned to.  i'm not gonna lie, i was kind of bitter to be stuck all the way back here:


also, i don't understand this.  i love me some marc by marc jacobs handbags too, but not enough to tote it all the way through a 13.1-mile course.


i forgot about all that once i finally got to cross that start line and get going.  the course was on a bit of an incline, but with all of the excitement and adrenaline pumping, i was doing okay.  since all three distances (5K, 10K, half) were starting at the same time, there was plenty of signage that clearly designated the turnarounds for each group of runners.


i was nowhere near close to even halfway through when that shiny, flashy pace car came into view - with the front runner just behind it.  holy cow.



last year, there was a killer hill that lasted for about two and a half miles at the end of the race.  due to complaints from residents in the area, the hill was eliminated and this year's course was completely different.  while touted as "fast and mostly flat," i can assure you that it was most definitely no cake walk.  not by a long shot.  by the time we reached the silverlake area, we were tackling some steep ass hills.


at last, i reached the first of two u-turns on the course.


this was pretty awe-inspiring.  not only was she running this hilly course, but she was pushing a wheelchair.


while i was doing...this.


going back down that killer hill helped me gain back some of the time i'd lost as i trudged up at a snail's pace.  and what was there to greet me when i got back to hollywood boulevard?  more uphill.  son of a...  but finally, i reached that second turnaround.


a little further down, i spied the sweeper van and what appeared to be the very last runner, trying desperately not to get picked up.


if you don't know the area, silverlake is populated by hipsters.  lots and lots of hipsters.  i was super amused at the confused looks on a few folks squinting at us through their horn-rimmed glasses, rocking their pegged pants and clutching steaming cups of coffee from this place:


and then there it was - the marker for that final mile that's always the bane of my freaking existence.  that 12th mile is always so stinking difficult for me.  i had two things on my side:  a slight downhill and a chance second encounter with a girl i'd briefly run next to at the halfway mark.  "run with me," she said.  and that's how i was shamed into not slowing down to a walk for the final mile.


i'm not gonna lie, i was absolutely dying for that last mile.  it seemed to go on forever, and my unexpected running buddy really kept me going.  i tell you, without her encouragement (and the fact that i was too embarrassed to give up), i wouldn't have crossed that finish line as soon as i did.  she's right next to me here (not the blond girl - sadly, she was just off to the side in this shot), as we're sprinting our way down the final stretch.



after a couple of texts and a phone call, i reunited with my daughters.


the bean was very proud of the little sign she'd penned for me upstairs in our room.


my official finisher's photo:


after a quick shower, we bid goodbye to the w.


even before the soreness had subsided, i found myself already registered for 2014's race.  hey, i'm legacy.  i gotta keep it up, right?

don't let the terrorists win.

7 comments:

  1. Amen Wan! Congrats on your run! Were the hills like those of San Diego?

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    Replies
    1. dude, pretty stinking similar. felt like they went on and on and on...

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  2. You still looked good even when tired and sweaty. Love the pic of the 3 of you.

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  3. Oh I <3 this! just what I needed to read- not trivial at all. LOVE the Laker idea. I might need to borrow that for DL Half cause I'm gonna need some love from the locals to get through that one! ;) You rocked it!

    Oh- and Kimmie Gibbler? GET. OUT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you! and yeah - me and kimmy gibbler. BFFs.

      GO LAKERS!

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  4. And this is why I love runners. Seriously, I teared up a little:

    "run with me," she said. and that's how i was shamed into not slowing down to a walk for the final mile.

    We support each other, through good and bad, and we help each other make it to the finish.

    ReplyDelete

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