all the time i was training, each one of them was putting in the miles and having their own experience prepping for the l.a. marathon.
mel is the wife of a friend of mine, though now that seems a really silly way to describe her. she's my friend. a while back her husband had mentioned that some day she wanted to run a marathon. she'd done one 1/2 marathon before and an olympic distance triathlon, so she was clearly athletic, but hadn't done a whole lot of focused training and racing and she had a baby 16 months ago.
one day i randomly wrote on her facebook wall that i thought she should run the l.a. marathon. she laughed at me and said she was thinking of doing a half in january, but that was it for now thankyouverymuch. i told her she should come out and run with the group i was leading on sundays. she told me we were too fast. a few more back and forths and she decided to come out.
what i suspected was totally spot on! not only were we not too fast, this girl is a natural born runner and determined as all get out. she ran with us each week and each week she rocked it. january's half marathon came up really quickly. she ran it and she smoked it. her confidence started to build. i continued to tell her i thought she could still do l.a. we'd need to alter the typical mileage build and reconnoiter some things, but i thought her body could handle it.
at some point that suggestion became a reality and she was "in". i could tell on our long training runs that she still had gas in the tank when we finished. she seemed to recover really well each time and she was dedicated about getting up to run at 5am during the week before baby, husband and work beckoned.
nick, mel and i were together from the start until about mile 16 when mel pulled ahead. i've never been so happy to see someone drop me. i knew she had a fast time in her and she needed to go do it! she finished with a very impressive time.
i loved watching her journey.
my sister rachel and i ran the 2000 l.a. marathon together. we trained for 6 months with the l.a. leggers, doing a walk/run program that got us both to the start and finish line -- together. as i've mentioned before, when i heard about the course change for this year i told my sister about it and she was intrigued. she hadn't been running much over the past 10 years, so i wasn't really sure that she would want to do it, but lo and behold sometime back in the summer she signed up for the l.a. leggers and took herself down there week after week to train with them.
there were a few times she wasn't able to join their long saturday run and had to do them on her own and i was amazed at her tenacity. 18 miles is a helluva long way to run ... it's even longer alone. she did it and honestly, she seemed like she was really enjoying herself.
initially she had some knee problems and i was afraid they might take her out, but she went to physical therapy, started using the foam roller, stretching icing and even ... took the dreaded ice baths!
on race day, rachel started with her l.a. leggers group and ran the first part of the race with them, but ultimately wound up going ahead a bit. she ran with some of the folks she had trained with, but for the most part was on her own and having a blast.
my brother nick is relatively new to marathon running, well to running in general, but man has he taken to it! he started running a couple of years ago and at this point he's probably done more road races than i have! i ran the new york marathon in 2007 and he was there to cheer me on ... little did he know i would be walking from mile 19 and that he'd be joining me somewhere around mile 23 trying to encourage me to start running again (didn't happen). the next year he ran new york, his first marathon, with his girlfriend emily and i was there to cheer him on!
nick and emily live in new york and when i suggested they come run l.a. with me and rachel they were game and thought it might be a good way to keep fitness through the hard east coast winter. man oh man, what they were in for. both nick and emily have become avid fans of the vibram five fingers. it's one thing to run barefoot through the hamptons in the summer sunlight, it's another thing all together to churn out 18 miles in 20 degree weather along the westside highway. they did it and i think they're badass!
nick and i ran together until about mile 21 when i had just a little more push in me and we parted. it was hard for me to not stay together and i felt a pang, but i also knew he would want me to push if i was able.
emily is one of those people who seems up for pretty much anything. a funny combination of intimidated and inspired by the vastness of the unknown, i relate to that so much. she had run the l.a. marathon years ago. at the time her friend josh and his wife elizabeth had planned to run it too. then elizabeth got injured, but they still came out and josh ran part of the course with emily. josh and his wife have since moved to los angeles and i have become friends with them. same fella that joined us out there on sunday.
emily has some awesome friends out here in l.a. and she was able to run different sections of the course with some of them. and though they didn't see each other throughout the day, she and rachel somehow found each other at mile 25 and got to share the final mile!
going in to sunday's race, we had all had our own training experiences and we all had our own goals, but we were getting to share the whole experience. we all had our own flavor of pre-race nerves and how to manage them. it's great for me to see everyones process. i learn from it.
in the end, each and every one of us achieved a PR marathon time. i think that's pretty exceptional and a testament to some pretty great training and a lot of heart.
my only regret about this race is that j. was injured and unable to do it with us. the hills on this course were made for him and he would have fed off of the energy more than anyone. he'll be there in 2011!
congratulations to all my friends and family who ran on sunday. i'm so proud of all of us!
and to my siblings, for you i will suffer public humiliation for a laugh. here i am on our way to the expo. everyone was packed into the car and i didn't want to share the nasty bug i had caught. now that's love!