I forgot to post this piece. This is the post-marathon article that was in the Daily News.
Los Angeles holds a special place in modern marathon history. The 1984 Olympics was the first time women officially allowed to compete as marathon runners. Joan Benoit of the United States won the gold with a time of 2:24:52. And then for the sake of this piece nothing interesting happened in the sport for the next 23 years until I picked up my bib.
I’m a finisher! I ran the entire length of the 22nd Annual City of Los Angeles Marathon. It was my first marathon ever. I had a decades long 30 cigarette a day habit. After I quit I needed a new way to abuse myself. I trained and I finished. Do I feel good? No. Marathon running is more painful than Basic Instinct 2 in a slow-mo 3D loop.
And that’s just the actual race. Now, I have blisters, I think I may lose a toenail and all my leg muscles are ridiculously stiff. I’ve been walking like the lead zombie in Return of the Living Dead. “Grains!” “Grains!”
It was so brutal. It was so challenging. I so can’t wait to do it again!
The race we know today as a marathon started out as an elective distance around 25 miles. In the 1908 Olympic games in London the exact stretch between Windsor Castle, the official starting line of the long race, and the Royal Family viewing box at the Olympic arena was 26.2 miles. I’m sure there have been a lot of committee meetings since then to sort this issue out. Nonetheless, it’s a weird number in miles AND kilometers (42.19) and that’s not easily accomplished.
I got to Mile 25 and started grumbling something about King Edward VII. It’s not like anyone could look at me and think I was crazy – I was running a marathon – I AM crazy. “Stupid royal family – my feet hurt!”
The race was difficult for me. I finished about an hour later than I wanted to. My lungs were out of synch with my will to press hard. It was a hot day. I heard that you ‘hit the wall’ around mile 20. This is a myth. I hit the wall at mile 3 and kept on slapping, punching and kicking it for the next 23.2 miles. Now I am wrestling between being really proud that I made it to the finish line and a little humiliated that the racewalkers beat me there.
If you have never run the marathon or been out there to cheer, it’s a sight worth seeing. I have never seen people in LA – average people who are strangers to each other, coming together, encouraging each other, gleefully helping each other out – without being in the wake of a natural disaster. But that’s how it was at the marathon. They were people helping me out – I was helping out other people. I was seeing Angelenos be nice to one another – kind even. There I was with my fellow human beings of all races, creeds, ethnicities, and nationalities – knowing that we were going to get through this together. The good will spirit and determination was flowing like Gatorade.
You could say that the citywide marathon has all the good attributes of an earthquakes (the community coming together, heroes, getting to check out LAFD) with half the clean up and just a fraction of the fatalities!
See you out there next year!