Monday, March 07, 2005


Yesterday was the Los Angeles Marathon. I live in the middle of the course which can be a real drag if you don't know that it's marathon day and you get in your car to go somewhere and you can't because all the roads are closed. That happen to me last year and I was really cranky about it.

This year I knew it was going to happen so I planned on walking one block north which is mile 19 or 20. I'm not sure, but people have run a really long way by the time they go by. I was watching the race on TV so I would know when to go and I have to say that the elite runners who run at the front and win - well they deserve to because they are hauling.

By my calculations I had about a half hour before I would see anyone coming on foot. The wheelchair race had already been won by the time I left the house. At 9:15 I had only been standing there for about 10 minutes along with a sprinkling of other neighbors when this blond woman wearing white gloves went sprinting past.

SPRINTING at mile 19. Or 20.

This was surprising because when I had left my house 20 minutes earlier there were two African women vying for the lead, and they were a few minutes behind her when they passed us. We all stood up and clapped and cheered. It was cool because people were spread out down the street so we would hear the clapping start and then it would spread down to us where we would pick up the rhythm and the woohoos.

There were wheelchair athletes still trickling in and I was in awe not only of the endurance and arm strength, but also at the ability to maintain balance in a state of exhaustion. We were located in between the Gatorade stand and the bananas, which I thought was the wrong order. I would rather eat a banana and then wash it down with some Gatorade then have to run the last six miles with banana breath.

Anyway, the men were gaining on the women who started, I think 15 minutes ahead, and they were in a much tighter pack and running even faster than the blond chick. They were all African and they were doing 4 minute or faster miles near the end of the race. I was in awe.

After the leaders, runners would come along one or two at a time, then in groups of three and four. One stopped to the use the porto potty that was set up just after the Gatorade and he was super fast - we gave him a huge hand. "We" being my new friends and neighbors, Marianne, Tammy and her boyfriend Chris. The four of us were standing there and we started talking, I think it was because we all heard the drum that someone west of us was playing and we were wishing we had drums too!

There's something about cheering people and watching it infuse them with renewed enthusiasm when their energy is waning. Many of these people, especially those coming after the leaders were clearly seasoned athletes, maybe even professional runners. Those women with not an ounce of body fat on them, which is not a good look really. They've run their breasts right off their chests and you can see muscle and sinew.

However it was a good look on many of the men. I really appreciate nice legs, well developed calves, defined quads. There was lots of that and soon Marianne and I were muttering things to each other like, "Check out 7191 - we like him!" And then this guy ran by who had, for some reason, chosen to run in his bathing suit. These were trunks made of a canvas type material in a bright Hawaiian pattern and they hit about 4" below his knee. His shirt was off and the sweat was weighing the trunks down so that they were hanging just above his pubic bone a la D'Angelo. Howdy six pack was displayed above the tapering hips and below the broad shoulders. Marianne and I watched him coming with our mouths agape and as he got closer I said, "Whoa, nice," - REALLY LOUD. It just kind of spontaneously slipped out.

Made him smile though.

We cheered loudly for everyone - those who were cruising effortlessly and most importantly for those who were clearly out of gas. I could relate to that hell of having run so far and not being close to finished. When I used to run I was one of those people who would stagger around at the end - mostly because I was winging it having decided to run a 10K the week before because I thought it would be fun. HA! And then because I was very young and stupid I would party the night before so I would be running with a hangover. Yeah. I'd show up at the STARTING line dehydrated and it was downhill from there.

But I remember one race where they played music, like the theme from Rocky as we were coming down the last mile and it made such a big difference. Gave me a second wind and all, so my new friends and I were talking about how much more supportive we could be. You know with a boom box and drums and noisemakers and signs with encouraging sayings on them. And then we talked about setting up a grill to make pancakes and bacon and, of course we'd have some pitchers of Bloody Marys - because it takes a long time to cheer 25,000 people along.

And because we didn't have all that stuff and our hands were getting red and tingly we went home around the time the stream of runners was getting continuous. I cleaned my whole house since I couldn't really do anything else and then as soon as they opened the roads I met a friend and went and hung at Geoffrey's in Malibu for some Bloody Marys and snacks.

But next year we have a plan, and if you're running the marathon look for us at mile 19. Or 20.

We will so totally lift you up!

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