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The Lazy Marathoner: Better late than never


Now that's the way to throw a marathon.

The Los Angeles Marathon had been under fire for shifting from it's traditional March run date to May --  disrupting training schedules and leaving some runners concerned that the weather in May would be too hot.

Well, Mother Nature played along on Monday, serving up perfect running weather -- overcast, cool temperatures and a breeze that at times turned downright windy. (On the final stretch, I saw someone's cap blow off.)

The crowds were phenomenal. What the gallery may have lacked in spectators, it more than made up for in intensity. Onlookers shouted and waved to runners they'd never seen before as if they were cheering on their best friends.

The volunteers were terrific, too, underscoring how well-organized it all was. (One caveat: the long lines at Saturday's Expo, when volunteers seemed to fall behind on goody-bag duty leading to long lines. They also ran out of posters at one point. But the ultra-cool medal kinda made up for it.)

Best of all, there were port-a-potties EVERYWHERE at the start of the race, and placed every mile on the course.

Well done, L.A. Marathon!

There could have been some extra restrooms in the first few miles -- there were long lines there -- but the reality is is that there are never enough bathrooms. That said, there weren't any lines to speak of after those early miles.

But the true indication of a marathon's organization is how it treats the back-of-the-packers (and slowpokes like me). The support we got was terrific. Plenty of water and Gatorade -- and the volunteers at the end of the race were peppy and cheerful and didn't act at all as if they'd been cheering on finishes for hours upon end.

My race was a bit of a disappointment -- I came nowhere near my goal of breaking 6 hours. I'd been struggling with a foot injury -- I can run pain-free for a handful of miles, but when I start to get to 8, 10 miles, the pain along the top of my left foot becomes unbearable. My doctor, of course, said stop running for a few weeks and let it heal. Good advice, but not exactly helpful given the fact that I'd already registered for the marathon and committed to doing it. My compromise was to taper off more than I'd intended, and my race plan was up in the air. I figured I could run/walk the first half of the marathon, and then run the second half -- the thinking being that by the time my foot really started to hurt, it would be over.

The first few miles went great. I was completely on track to finish in 5:59. (I had a purple index cards with my mile splits written on them for handy reference -- I can barely do math sitting at a desk with a calculator, much less while I am running.) There was a costly bathroom stop at Mile 4 that took about eight minutes because of the lines. But I was convinced I could make it up at the last quarter of the race, even if it meant coughing up a lung. By Mile 8, however, my foot was throbbing so badly I wondered whether I could even get to the finish line. I will admit I thought several times about throwing in the towel. But as I began to figure out who I could call to pick me up, and how I'd get them to navigate marathon traffic, blah, blah, blah, I was already on Mile 14 or 15. Later in the race I saw a man holding a sign that said: "Oh Hell, you've come this far, might as well keep going."

That summed up my sentiments, exactly.

In the end, it took about eight hours. (You have no idea how much it pains me to write that sentence.) I say "about" because I didn't even bother to check for an exact time. Because, really, does it matter? Exactly.

But that's what so great about the marathon. No matter what happens, no matter how slow you go, at the end, you run through a chute, you cross a finish line, and you get a medal. A MEDAL! How cool is that?

What's next? I will indeed take a few weeks off from running. But that would still leave plenty of time for the Long Beach Marathon in October ...

--Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Liz Baylen / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (12)

I ran the marathon a couple of years ago, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. And I love what the Crenshaw Kid had to say about getting involved if the marathon affects traffic in your area. It's unfortunate that the event can provoke negativity among some, but this should be a great civic happening, a celebration of our city. I really love the idea of running from Dodger Stadium to the sea. Hope all area runners decide to get behind that idea and push for support by all the municipalities and residents who would be affected.

Just as David and Carol mention, the marathon is not a free event. Everyone that participates has paid to do so. They marathon is a once a year occurance. Advertisement for the race starts months in advance. It should not be a surprise that the marathon is taking place. Any inconvience that you experience can be avoided by simply planning ahead. The marathon is a great event. It shouldn't be something that non-runners/walkers dread. It should be something the entire city, runners and non-runners alike, embraces.

Erin, you do know the Marathon is a private business, don't you? It's owned by a group headed by L.A. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. That Group and the Dodgers organization chunk down a bunch of the money to put on the Marathon. Honda is the major sponsor and they plunked down big bucks, also.

There were about 18,000 runners who paid $125.00 each. That comes to $2,250,000. Add to that the 7,200 cyclists who paid $45 each ($325,000). Add to that the wheelchair and 5K runners - I don't have those numbers. As for the overtime pay many of the cops, paramedics, firefighters, etc were working their normal shifts.

Don't be such a sourpuss hater - try to enjoy life a little. And if you can't do that at least make sure you know what your talking about. See you next year. The proposed course for 2010 is Dodger Stadium to the beach in Santa Monica. Yes, THE Santa Monica one of the other sour-pusses were saying would never tolerate the inconvenience of the Marathon in their neighborhoods. Yuk Yuk Yuk! ROTFLMFAO!

Folks, once a year the streets of mid-town are closed for the L.A. Marathon... ONCE A YEAR! I live smack dab in the middle of the course and my family is as inconvenienced as anybody else. You know what I did about it? I got involved. I ride the bike tour that precedes the marathon then I go cheer on my family and friends (& strangers, too) running the marathon. Some of my family and friends volunteer every year and we always attend the expo that precedes the marathon. We walk and ride bikes along the route, visit some of the interesting shops and restaurants we would otherwise never go in. We salsa to the Mexican music and sway with the beat from the steel drums and reggae bands. And after a few hours, it's over. Then we, unfortunately, go back to business and life as usual.

I live on Wilton and work nights and every year I can't sleep because some idiot, puts on huge DJ speakers a block away and blares the mexican music. They don't even have a permit, it's so loud it's ridiculous.

Erin, Fred, Healthy guy, get a life this is Los Angeles. Reading that negative rap on where someone else is responsible for your discomfort is weak. The Marathon is a great bonding event for all who look to life as a positive. How about the Dodger stadium to the Sea race that is proposed? ya got a better idea? let's hear it! or will you find fault in that too or find a way to be positive no matter what the economic climate is. Get in touch with the human race.

Remember that a big chunk of the $125 registration fee for a marathon like LA's goes to pay the bill for the road closures and other support required to hold a marathon. Folks who are running pay for the extra city services required. Remember also that a big marathon attracts a lot of folks from around the country and even the world. Those people are staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and so on, helping to support the local economy. Think of it in terms of an enormous convention that comes to town once a year; you probably wouldn't turn down 30,000 convention delegates, eh?

Great point Fred! Especially about your comment,"I would love to see them run this race through Santa Monica, there would be hell to pay from rich folks! (In mid-city there are a bunch of poor folks, largely latino, who aren't gonna complain as much, and who really cares if one dies? - certainly not the marathon organizers = idiots)"

Congratulations Rene!! And boo to the two party poopers who posted before me. Even in hard times, people need to have fun. I paid $125 for the privilege of running this race.

I agree, the race had excellent organization. They really seemed prepared for hot temperatures with far more water stations than usual, and I ran through every open fire hydrant. I loved that!!

The big downside was the date. The spectators who were out there were fantastic, but there weren't enough of them. And there were 10,000 (ten thousand!) fewer runners than usual. It made for a long, lonely slog.

I must say, as well, that more and more runners on cell phones detracts from the race. Instead of interacting with other runners-walkers, they're talking to people they already know, somewhere else. I love the sense of community that has happened in previous marathons. Let's bring that back with a good race date and a mayor and city council that foster community spirit.

I disagree with you, Erin. It's not a wastful event. It's part of city life and culture.

The race is awful for those of us inside the circle of hell. 2 years ago, I tried to get my kid to his piano lesson for 2hrs and could not get out due to gridlock.

An AMBULANCE was completely stuck and could not get out for at least 15min - someone probably died. If you know anyone that could not receive medical attention during this, please sue the hell out of the city, I have wrote them numerous times regarding the safety and gridlock issues due to poor planning.

I would love to see them run this race through Santa Monica, there would be hell to pay from rich folks! (In mid-city there are a bunch of poor folks, largely latino, who aren't gonna complain as much, and who really cares if one dies? - certainly not the marathon organizers = idiots)

What this article fails to mention is all the overtime, maybe even double time awarded to all of the city employees (cops, trash, clean up crews) working a Monday Holiday, when this city is BROKE. City races are great, but when teachers and others are loosing their jobs, special events like this should raise the money to pay for these city services. Just another wasteful event money & trash wise.


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