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The Lazy Marathoner: Better late than never

May 26, 2009 | 12:18 pm

Marathon 

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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