I expected it would be challenging. I expected I would be exhausted and hurt all over. I had worries about 26.2 miles since the furthest I’d ever run was 20 miles, twice, and the second was not so much fun. I devised the usual plans to trick myself into not psyching myself out. The first six miles was a warmup. I’d made it into a regular Wednesday morning run, I knew it perfectly, the marathon would not begin until we came round Echo Park and back onto Sunset. After that, it would only be 20 miles. I’d run that before.
I had devised all these plans to deal with the challenges, especially the mental ones. I expected to hurt and be exhausted and maybe to think about quitting, or just to want to cross the finish line so I could get it over with. What I hadn’t expected was that it would be so much fun. At some point, and I think it was somewhere coming out of West Hollywood, all those little pleasant moments along the run – the kids with the cool signs, the Mayor of Weho giving me a shout out, the girl who works at the Mexican market around the corner from my old apartment in Echo park giving me a shout-out, the various gospel bands and Christian rappers all along Hollywood Blvd (what was all that god stuff about, anyhow? When I think of Hollywood, rap and Christianity are two things that don’t come to mind so much) – all those little individual pleasures added up to one big joy, and I realized that I had been running with a smile on my face pretty much the whole time and that this was really a fucking awesome, joyous, rad fun time. It was exciting. The was some really awesome shit.
I started having cheesy I Love LA thoughts. I’d been cataloguing landmarks through the run: I used to live there. I fucked a girl who used to live in that building. I remember me and Annie stumbling down that street drunk and handcuffed to each other (we thought we were so discreet). The Frolic Room. Oh yeah, my old Hollywood pad just up the block there. There’s the motel I stayed at when my wife kicked me out in ’86. Oh man, Gia and sushi and Monday nights at the Central to see Chuck E Weiss & the Goddamn Liars before it became the Viper Room. Stella lived down that street. There’s where the Source used to be: we had breakfast early the next afternoon and agreed no one should ever know we hooked up. Oh yeah, my two-day stint as a waiter in that place, back in ’86. That job sucked. Coconut Teaser. What was the name of that girl, hot little college student home for the holidays I met at the Firefly who lived up that street? I owe her an amends for sure… Ummm…another Annie memory, a block down there…Aside from the Beverly Hills stretch, there were personal landmarks all along the route.
Around the 20 mile mark, the exhaustion did indeed kick in. The fun more than mitigated it, and I’d paced myself conservatively enough that I had plenty of kick the last 6 miles, which is how I managed to pass nearly 700 people (the Marathon has good stats).
As soon as I can comfortably walk down stairs again I’m sure I’ll sign up for another.