Today was the much dreaded/anticipated LA Marathon. Dreaded, because it royally screws all traffic in Los Angeles. And if you’ve ever heard of Los Angeles, you probably know our traffic is pretty screwed to begin with. The race route cuts a line through the city from the 5 to the ocean, with no way across. It’s kind of like the Berlin Wall, except it only lasts half a day. And it’s for a good cause. The race was also much anticipated, at least by me, because I was going to finally run and complete a race.
Last year, I religiously followed a 10-week training program in preparation for the Portland, Oregon Half Marathon in October. Two weeks before the race, I planned a 12-mile run through Glendale, Los Feliz, Hollywood and West Hollywood. About 9-10 miles in, I tripped in a pothole, fell, and broke my elbow in two places. Awesome. I walked the Portland Half two weeks later, arm in a brace. This was directly followed by a couple of months of healing, minimal exercise, and eating lots of holiday food.
So I was more than ready to give it another go. And by ready, I mean I followed about half my training schedule, fit in exactly one run over seven miles in the past two months, and almost forgot to pick up my race packet yesterday. The usual.
LA doesn’t have a half marathon, but this year they had a charity relay. One team member runs the first half, then the second team member tags in. I was running with the Courage Campaign team, and didn’t actually know my partner at all. I briefly met her last night at a team dinner. I decided we were the perfect pair, because she didn’t train either, and she wanted to run the first half. Since I hate waking up in the morning, that was ideal for me. Looking at the weather report last night, it said 90-100% chance of thunderstorms. Obviously. Come to LA where it’s beautiful all year round, except that one day that 25,000 people are going to attempt the truly stupid feat of running really far.
I prepared myself mentally for the downpour. I thought of the time my parents took us on a horseback ride in the Smoky Mountains during a thunderstorm. (To be fair, I think the thunderstorm started after we were down the trail a way, but I remember my tiny little brain seething in anger and indignation.) I figured hey, it’ll be like that, except I have no one to blame but myself. At least no one will know I’m crying. Instead, I woke up this morning to blue, clear skies. Not trusting this, I put on a tank top, long sleeved shirt, warm vest, and a hat. Fortunately, I decided against the gloves.
It was gorgeous. Not a drop of rain. Lots of sun. In fact, I got a bit of a sunburn on my face. Which wouldn’t be awful, except for the hat I was wearing (see above photo). It makes for an awkward tan line. All in all, it was an incredible run. I ran through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and Santa Monica, and I love the fact that I’ve finally lived here long enough to have fond memories of all these places. One of these fond memories now is running 13.1 miles through them. Some of the highlights of the race included: tranny cheerleaders in West Hollywood; seeing Natasha and Adam at Mile 20, and stripping down to give them my disgustingly wet long-sleeved shirt which they graciously took home for me; being cheered on by Henry Winkler - that’s right, the Fonz - at Mile 23; running the Sunset Strip - last time I did it I had just scraped myself off the pavement and continued on with a broken elbow; and seeing Brad cheer me on at Mile 15. Which leads me to the ultimate highlight of not just this race, BUT MY ENTIRE TIME IN LOS ANGELES.
I MET HOLLYWOOD JESUS.
I stopped to chat with Brad, who said “Hey, Jesus is here too.” And I think I stopped breathing for a moment. I cannot tell you how much I have wanted to meet Jesus of Hollywood. I have seen him regularly for the past three years. It seems like he is everywhere all at once. I distinctly remember the first time I saw him, not long after I got to town, walking past the Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd. And I thought: “That was Jesus. That was JESUS. I love this town.” To me, Hollywood Jesus symbolizes everything I love about LA. And to meet him while running the LA Marathon? Well, I’m pretty much in heaven.
Thanks Brad, for snapping the photo. I will treasure it forever. And thanks to Jesus of Hollywood for making my year. I do have to admit, when it got to the end there, and I was kind of wishing someone would carry me, I thought about that Footprints poem and laughed again. That will never not make me laugh.
P.S. Nobody carried me and my legs hurt a lot. They might never work again.