See, it's a Prequel, because it's out of order. I ran the LA Marathon 5 days before Old Goats 50. You know... as a fine taper. But it's a Sequel, because this was something that began long, long ago...
How did I get started running, you ask? Well, it's very simple. Growing up, I was thoroughly convinced that my dad was pretty much the most awesome guy ever. He knew the answers to basically everything, he teased my mom, which was funny, he made excellent pancakes and by golly, he was fast. My pops liked to tour the local 5k/10k scene in the slow-pitch softball off season*, and I distinctly remember going to watch him run around St. Louis, thoroughly impressed by the insane distances he was covering. SIX MILES?!! Holy shit. My dad is incredible.
|Told you. I had to be exactly like The Kev.|
That was 1994, so needless to say, I don't remember a ton of details from the day. Most likely it was humid and I had the best time ever. Those are the only things I can say with any confidence. Also, apparently I came in 4th overall woman which I guess was pretty good considering I was 11 and wearing soccer shoes. Unfortunately, a 'real runner' neighborhood lady didn't really like the fact that I'd beaten her, so she found it necessary to point out that the rules clearly stated that you must be 16 years of age to participate in the 5k. Not even out of grade school and stripped of my medal. Such a disgrace to my country.
|I love that I corrected it in red pen.|
|400/800 meter track star - finally faster than the old man.|
|Collapsing into dad's arms after winning|
the MSHSA XC State Championships.
My senior year of college, I decided to run a marathon. Again, my dad made the treck up to Chicago and again, I could hear him cheering me on, now through literally millions of people lining the streets of a huge skyscraper-filled city. It was pretty awful, considering I was wearing a men's cotton undershirt, some volleyball shorts and knew nothing of gel or the concept of drinking water, but hey - I made it. When I found my old man after the race, the first thing he told me was that he was proud of me. But the second was that he would NEVER run a marathon because the body was just not made to go over 20 miles and that's why I couldn't even step off a curb. The third was a riotous bout of silent laughter, recalling a couple he saw at the beginning of the race with perfect hair and full make-up, clearly running to be seen, who looked quite a bit different and well... melted by mile 20. We have a very similar sense of humor.
|The marathoner and the guy who will never |
run a marathon.
Fast forward a bit to my foray into ultrarunning. That's a story I should probably tell at some point, but we'll save that for a later date, as it has nothing to do with this post. On a related note, I know I have not once mentioned the 2012 LA Marathon yet, which is the title, but trust me - this exposition is entirely necessary. To this day, I'm not quite sure what my dad first thought of the whole thing, but all I can remember is honestly feeling like for the first time in my life, he really wasn't very interested in my running. The 50k was one thing, but when I first mentioned 50 miles, I recall some questions into the safety and logic of doing such a thing. Make no mistake, he told me he was proud of me, but the concept was entirely foreign, and unlike me, he was not surrounded by a group of people who thought it all perfectly normal and worthwhile. He was surrounded by no one who had ever even heard of "ultrarunning."
|Parents highly pleased with themselves. Me diagraming|
how I'd basically had them foiled, but threw all notions
aside when he'd called me the previous day from work,
i.e. Dana Point, CA.
(photo: Kevin Chan)
I don't know exactly how long after finishing AC it was, but at some point last year, I heard the first mention of it out of his mouth. My dad, who believed that 20 miles was out of control, thought he might run a marathon one of these days. There was no poking and no prodding and no guilt-tripping. And at any rate, he just wanted to know what it might take and what kind of training he might need to do. The half marathons and various trail races were becoming a little easier, and like I always suspected, eventually it just gets to you that there's something a little crazy out there that other people are doing and goddammit, you should be able to do it too. I didn't get these genes from a donor, people.
|Ah yes... it's going to be an excellent day.|
(1400 & 890 -in Mizzou colors-
if you're wondering)
Dominic dropped us off at Dodger Stadium race morning, and we stood packed in a tent, praying it wouldn't rain, as forecast. Pops was clearly excited - and man, how couldn't you be? He'd knocked out all of his training, trimmed down to a quite svelte version of himself and now was about to run farther than he'd ever run before. After three rounds of Randy Newman, we were off.
|Perfect form and all smiles through mile 6 - hills|
Somewhere around mile 9, I realized that dad was no longer talking to me, but I remembered that he said he always seemed to have a low point around 9 miles into any run. OK, I thought. We'll shake this. A few miles later, I took this photo around the halfway point and posted on Facebook on the run for our family keeping tabs back in MO. Subsequently I was confused to see the LOL comments popping up on my screen - but couldn't really see the details of the photo, as I was running and there was a glare. On second thought, I now see why.
|Look at it this way. At least you aren't heel striking, man.|
We got there, we high fived Team DeSplinter and we saddled up for the last difficult section of the course - the hills of the VA. Dad was worked, but we were moving right along, and I didn't doubt for one second that we'd be at the finish line soon. I reminded him that it was going to hurt now... probably really bad... but that it would soon be over and it would all be worth it. But he already knew that. My dad is wise beyond his miles.
|Does this look like that sleepy-time photo above, or what?|
The last few miles were rough. Dad was hurting and I tried to encourage him with the fact that we were passing people who were completely dejected and walking, yet he remained focused forward and in stride. His legs cramped and hurt all over, and after a little convincing, he eventually concluded that it would not hurt any worse to run than walk and it would all be over sooner. We called my mom with a little over a mile to go, back at home, recovering from a knee replacement and super disappointed that her operation would not allow her to be waiting at the finish line in that moment. Even better - you get to talk to us during the race AND I am forever haunted by online photos of me "racing" talking on a cell phone. Go ahead and look it up, people. I don't care.
Dad picked up the pace as the finish line came into view and I let out a few war whoops. I was so filled with pride for my dad - in fully committing to doing something he said he'd never do, and completing it all with such a positive attitude, despite the fact that I know he was in some serious pain. I can't quite describe the feeling, but it was pretty freaking amazing. I always kind of feared that point where you realized the roles were switched between you and the parents you idolized, and now you were leading the way for them - but I've got to tell you, it was all quite wonderful. Right before the finish line, my dad, still the most awesome guy I've ever known - now even awesomer, grabbed my hand and we stepped victoriously across the finish line. I will never, EVER forget that moment as long as I shall live. It meant more to me than I could ever fully explain for reasons I probably don't even fully understand.
But I am sure that one of those reasons is to say I told you so.
|Mile 26 - smiling because we're almost done, or because a huge timing clock|
is currently being rammed into Dom's head? You decide.
(photo: the part of Dom that was not being attacked)
|Plural this time.|
END NOTE: Turns out that dad ran the whole marathon with the flu, and was sick for a full week prior. This from the man who passed kidney stones running his first half marathon. If you've ever found a better candidate for an ultramarathon, I'd find it hard to believe.