Archive for May, 2009

LA Marathon

One of my favo(u)rite things to do while planning a vacation is to scout out the race calendar of my destination and sign up to run an event while visiting (E and I ran the British Heart Foundation’s 9K Croydon Hearts Jog while in London). Gearing up to move to LA, I plunked myself down at the computer and researched as much as I could about the SoCal running scene. The entire moving operation was pretty hasty so it was no surprise to discover the LA Marathon was exactly one month into my move and thus too soon to train for. I went for the next best thing and signed up to volunteer at the 25 mile water station (fun, as it is the last water station of the 26.2 mile event: everyone is desperate for water so you get a lot of service, plus, observing the human condition from this point in the race is interesting as most everyone has either gone mad or has completely given up on their posture).

Moving to LA meant leaving my Toronto running friends behind. A few months ago, I confessed that my passion for running was waning: I’d recovered from a pulled muscle in the fall but lost the drive to get back to where I was before my injury. My speed and endurance were off and I feared nothing could motivate me – especially moving away from my training group. I worried that I would lose interest in running altogether because I wouldn’t have a network or any initial goals. But, my first few long runs in LA have really proven me wrong: it’s easy to run here, and a great way to familiarize myself with my new surroundings.

In keeping with my Toronto schedule, every Sunday morning I’m off on anything between a 2h to 2:30h run. After a few weeks of rejuvenatingly hot, sunny LA running, the marathon would often swirl through my thoughts. I would think, “could I actually just do this thing?”. Last Thursday I looked on Craigslist for a spare bib… and found one! “42 Kilometres is crazy! I’m in NO shape to survive this thing!” I said as I responded to the ad. All I had in the tank was my renewed positivity and excitement for the journey ahead. That Saturday I met the guy at the expo, and on May 25th, was Matthew Ryan from Venice Beach.

Matt, suffering from a sore knee, is a member of the LA Roadrunners so with my bib came lots of perks: I got to start in the front corral, had a separate, free bag-check location, and bagels and juice on the morning of the race along with a roaring pep talk by a few of the veteran members. I was so nervous: I’d run a very unsuccessful first marathon in Niagara Falls and thinking back to all the walking I did at the end of that race sent shudders down my spine! Plus I had actually trained! E said I would finish LA faster than Niagara and I thought no way! As we were standing in that corral, the motivational speaker was saying something about how the marathon is a reward after all the hard training and hills and speedwork and I felt like such an impostor!

The gun went off and the thing began. My goals were to keep an even pace and to smile the whole way (Vingnation says it’s because it takes less muscle to smile than it does to frown – keep that energy for the legs!). The miles seemed to melt away. I was really appreciating the scenery and actually had a running narration of my blog going through my head as I saw so many interesting things: we ran through an absolute ghetto for about 3 miles, and as we’d pass a highschool, the cheerleading squad was out there on the side of the road doing some crazy flipping/yelling routine. Ah, America! I didn’t see as many God Lovers as I thought I would (shirts saying something like, “I am not running – God is running for me”, etc.). Oh – my smile was infectious! I got SO MANY high fives and “you go girl”s and “there she is!”s and comments like “she looks good for a marathon!” that it was honestly fueling me to keep going. There was a big party happening at the 21 mile intersection and I did a little dance with my arms as I ran by. Everyone cheered! I made the peace sign or waved at every camera lens and even cheered at people who were holding signs saying “Go Fernando!”. At  mile 23 I felt like I just wanted to walk, but when I ran past a speaker playing Venga Boys, I even found motivation in that: “the Vengaboys ARE coming!” I thought (I was crazy!!).

The entire race was perfect. I walked only for a few stumbles as I tried to drink a cup of Gatorade and my pace was consistently faster than my 4-hour paceband I wore on my wrist (where a time is given for every mile in order to finish at an exact time). The course was hard: very hilly, possibly even a net-uphill. At mile 26, with 0.2 miles to go, I almost started crying. I was smiling and running as fast as I could and everyone was cheering and I finished the marathon in 3:58. I am SO PROUD of myself for this accomplishment! I technically should be much faster than 4 hours, but a sub-4 hour marathon on absolutely no training with as many hills as there were  makes me SO happy! I love that, at the drop of a hat, I can run a sub-4 marathon. Oh, and I beat my Niagara Falls marathon time by 12 minutes! E was right!

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Today, like every other day, is a calm, cloudless, sunny hot day. I’m celebrating from my internet computer (11 minutes to go/15) by proclaiming this might be one of my last library internet visits before we officially get the net at home on Tuesday! Huzzah for the photos- and more frequent blogs-to-come.

The other day, as I was walking home from the library, the most amazing, most “California” thing happened to me: I found a JUMBO avocado just lying in the grass on the side of the sidewalk. I looked up – and sure enough – a tree. This thing weighed about 3 pounds and was just shy of a football in size. I had a lot of errands to run that day and was kind of wishing I’d found it later because I ended up carrying the dang thing with me to the bank, power station to pay a bill, Ikea to check out lawn chairs (Memorial Day sales are HOT, people), and then all the way back home. I speak of it in the past-tense because yesterday, after sitting on the counter for a couple of days, was Guacamole Day. SO DELICIOUS!

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We’re fine. Neat stuff! (…?)

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Maple Street

Every day, I think about my blog. I’m doing such fun interesting stuff but as it is our first-week anniversary of moving into the apartment (yesterday!), we have yet to hook up the internet at home. Or get a phone. Or get a car (which isn’t so bad – the bus and Metro quite rule AND we have our bikes!). I’m confined to the LA public library’s Buena Vista branch 15-minute Email Express (exotic, non?) until further notice.

I have gathered in my brain all these little hot pockets of bloggable goodness but the 15 minute countdown at the corner of my screen makes me nervous to hash it all out right here right now. Oh, and still no photos: I honestly haven’t taken many! What am I supposed to photograph? A palm tree? The Hollywood sign? The ocean? LA is so recognizeable that I figure you can all just Google it yourselves. I’ve seen it, so, just imagine me in those photos. Voila! The H-sign is pretty neat from a nearby hike up Mount Hollywood and at first experience, the wasteland of Sunset Blvd. is a giant turnoff but now Hollywood is one of my fave ‘hoods because the urbane-ness reminds me of Toronto.

Oh, and every girl between the age of 17-25 (if you are older than this and doing it too, I feel sorry for you) looks like Lauren Conrad.

Last week, while unpacking, I opened a box full of kitchen stuff. I found a bag of medjool dates and sat down to eat a few: a much needed and delicious break. I got to thinking about how these dates had probably been grown in California, and had been shipped out to grocery stores across North America. And here I was, in South Cali, eating them right out of a box that had been packed up and shipped back to the dates’ originating locale. The carbon footprint of these dates is immense! I felt bad, but have been slowly discovering since moving here that almost everything I eat is grown in California. In fact, I scoff at something that comes from Nevada (agave, in case you were wondering what produce could possibly come from Nevada) or Mexico. Locavorism is just a natural part of existence here, and it’s great. You don’t even have to try!

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