I’m back from Los Angeles, and am happy to report that I finished my fourth—and last—marathon. After completing two 26.2-mile marathons in NYC and two in L.A., my marathon career is finally over. I’m also happy to report that the weather conditions for this year’s LA Marathon were much better that last year, when the 20,000-plus participants practically drowned trying to get to the finish line, battling torrential downpours and gale force winds. More than 2,000 had to drop out due to hypothermia. It was the worst weather in the history of the LA Marathon. But that's all in the past now. Here’s how it went down this year:
It rained the entire day Saturday, the day before the race. All runners had to go to the Marathon Expo at Dodger Stadium to pick up their race bibs and credentials for the following day. After we did that, our small all-girl sub-team, in a nod to the short-honored tradition of last year, went to get pre-marathon mani/pedis, an important and necessary prerequisite to participating in any marathon. The weather forecasts for this year’s event were all over the place, calling for rain, showers, thunderstorms and possibly windy conditions. So this time we planned and dressed for crazy weather. Ski underwear, gloves, hats, fleece jackets, waterproof shells, plastic ponchos (or hefty bags with arm and head holes cut out, for those who refused to spring for the 99-cent ponchos). Cameras, cell phones,and supplies of Advil secured tightly in Ziplock bags. Running shoes treated with waterproofing spray. Plastic bags to wrap our feet in, just in case. But miraculously, although it rained nonstop on Saturday, on marathon Sunday, Mother Nature decided to give us runners a much deserved break. Well, at least for most of the day.
Dodger Stadium before dawn
I'd like to say that the members of our small sub-team, 69,0000 Steps 4 Cancer, woke up bright eyed and bushy-tailed on race day morning when the alarm sounded at 3:30 a.m., but after getting a total of four hours of sleep the night before, waking up wasn't exactly an adrenaline-fueled celebration. We put on our 17 layers of waterproof clothing and drove to Santa Monica at 4 a.m. to catch a 4:30 shuttle bus to Dodger Stadium, where the race would begin. There, about 25 Team Concern marathoners got to eat breakfast and relax in a VIP suite, which was kindly provided by sponsor CVS. We VIPs also got to use real bathrooms instead of port-o-pottys, which was a treat that we all took advantage of a record number of times before the race started. At 6:30, Team Concern, along with the other 23,000 marathon participants, started positioning at the starting line. After "God Bless America" and "The Star Spangled Banner" were sung, the starting buzzer sounded at 7 a.m. and the runners were off—to the appropriate strains of Randy Newman's "I Love LA" on the loudspeaker. The handicapped runners went first, then the elite women, who, interestingly, start 17 minutes and 31 seconds ahead of the elite men, who took off next. Finally, the rest of us 22,900 participants began moving. As the starting buzzer droned, the sun, with astoundingly perfect timing, made its first appearance. It was an auspicious beginning indeed!
Team Concern members at Dodger Stadium prior to running to raise money for cancer research
The sun stayed with us on and off the whole day, and incredibly, it never rained. It was almost perfect marathon weather - partly cloudy, partly sunny, and in the 40’s and 50's most of the day. We walked with Lisi, a cancer survivor, who brought a stash of food in her backpack large enough to feed a dozen marathoners for several days. I, in contrast, brought only “Gu”, the amazing electrolyte gel that brought me back to life last year after I hit the wall at 10 miles, and a Powerbar. The Powerbar and a quarter of Lisi’s graciously offered sandwich were all I needed to get through the entire 26.2 miles. Compared to last year, when I hit the wall at the 10-mile mark (hitting the wall refers to the point in the marathon when runners have a complete energy meltdown after depleting their glycogen reserves), I felt amazingly energized at 10 miles, and still felt pretty darn good even at 20 miles, when most participants, no matter how much they train beforehand, hit the wall. As I had not trained at all for this marathon due to my pulled hamstring I got while skiing several weeks ago, I must admit I was grateful to whatever marathon angel was up above holding my hand and moving my legs.
However, at the 22-mile mark, the wind, which had steadily increased from about 10-m.p.h. at the start to about 30-m.p.h., suddenly picked up alarmingly as we neared the beach in Santa Monica, where the finish line was. The gusts, which had to be at least 50-m.p.h., were head-on and fierce. We had to hold on to our hats with both hands so they wouldn’t fly off our heads. (What is it with wind and the LA Marathon, anyway?) The incredible headwinds slowed everyone down big-time. The temperature, or
at least the wind chill factor, also dropped about 10-15 degrees. It made the last 4-5 miles—the hardest anyway—seem pretty endless. But, we kept reminding ourselves, at least it's not raining!
The 17-mile mark in Beverly Hills
We braved the winds for the last 4 miles, watching leaves and small branches flying off the sideways-blowing trees, and stepping over the piles of palm tree fronds that had blown into the street. We held our arms up high, cheered, and high-fived as we crossed the finish line. My legs ached, but I still felt somewhat perky, quite an improvement from last year when I was blue lipped, hypothermic and shivering too hard to even speak when I crossed the finish. Medals were placed around our necks. Mylar sheaths were handed to us to provide warmth, but the wind was so strong that I literally was unable to wrap the thing around me, as it kept blowing off. So much for warmth.
It seems a cruel joke that LA Marathon finishers are forced to walk yet another mile to get to their parked cars after having just run or walked 26 miles. I would suggest airlifting finishers to their cars next year, or providing pedi cabs. OK, we'd settle for shuttle buses. Hello, LA Marathon planners! No one wants to take another step after stepping over the finish line!
OK, back to the race. This year, I was able to notice much more of my surroundings, since I didn’t have to stare at my feet the whole time to avoid large, lake-like puddles. We went through some awesome neighborhoods—Downtown, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Thai Town, Hollywood, West Hollywood (where sexy cheerleaders in drag performed very unique cheering routines for us), Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Santa Monica. Los Angeles is infinitely more interesting seen on foot than seen from the freeway, which is where most people from L.A .seem to spend their time. And because of the pleasant weather, all kinds of peeps from the aforementioned neighborhoods came out to cheer us on, and offer us water, orange slices, bananas, energy bars, tootsie rolls and specialites from their local neighborhood restaurants. Bands played for us every few miles and DJs spun tunes in between the bandshells. Not surprisingly, we heard the theme from Rocky played at least 8 different times. Gotta love that, especially if you're a Philly girl!
But the best part of all is that the Concern Foundation for Cancer Research surpassed their goal of raising $100,000 to pay the salaries of two cancer researchers for a year, raising a total of $112,296.25. WOW! Our small 3-person sub-team of Deb, Cindy, and I (69,0000 Steps 4 Cancer), raised almost $8,000, thanks to Deb, our awesome team captain and extraordinary fundraiser, and to all of you who donated to this cause. Thank you again!
At last ...
Although I vowed that last year's marathon was my final one, and then vowed the same thing this year, who knows? Ha! Just kidding. The fat lady has definitely sung! I believe the song was "I Love LA"!
Not a lot of New Mexicans get the opportunity to attend the Red Carpet Soiree to End All Red Carpet Soirees—otherwise known as the Academy Awards. Most of us simply watch from the decidedly unglamorous comfort of our living room couch. But this year, the city of Albuquerque is teaming up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bring us the closest thing to being there. Oscar Night America is a series of officially sanctioned Academy Awards parties held in 49 cities across the United States. The events are done in conjunction with the Academy’s philanthropic arm, allowing proceeds to go to various charities around the U.S. Albuquerque is one of the elite few hosting one of these Oscar Night parties. The event will take place this Sunday evening as a benefit for Friends for the Public Library and the historic KiMo Theatre.
Across the Pacific Ocean, Japanese coastal towns are still in need of volunteers and donations as they struggle with the aftermath of March's earthquake and resulting tsunami.
Sunday's fine art auction “Hands Together for Japan” at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History refocuses attention on ongoing relief efforts. Decorating your home has never been so karma-positive:
Albuquerque Museum (2000 Mountain NW) Sunday, July 10 6 p.m to 9:30 p.m.
Five aid organizations put the event together. It features work from various Southwest artists including Anthony Abbate from Beals & Abbate Fine Art in Santa Fe.
Pieces for sale include pottery, oil paintings and prints that represent the culture of the Southwest and Native American traditions.
All proceeds go to Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, an organization that provides aid around the world. The team's efforts in Japan focus on restoring the homes and lives of the displaced elderly and affected communities. It also offers counseling and activities to help alleviate mental trauma after the disaster.
Princess Beatrice (pictured right) and her famous tea rose hat
At first glance Princess Beatrice's tea rose hat looks like a Cindy Lou Who hairdo. Don't be fooled, this is no Dr. Seuss invention, but a design by Philip Treacy.
The extravagant hat worn by Princess Beatrice to the royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton, got almost as much attention as the wedding itself. The hat inspired mockery, admiration and even a Facebook page. Now Beatrice is giving up the head piece to help benefit children's charities. The bidding on eBay.com, which began this week, has now reached more than $35,000.
The auction is being overseen by Auction For A Cause and all proceeds will go to The The Little Bee Initiative, a campaign set up by Princess Beatrice. The money raised by auctioning off the hat will be split evenly between two charities, UNICEF and UK Children in Crisis.
For all of the prosperous fashionistas out there, there is still time to place your bid on this truly individual hat. The auction closes on May 22, so hurry.
Japanese visual artist, musician and wife of the late John Lennon, Yoko Ono always has something inspiring to say. Here’s her message to the people of Japan, along with links to ‘Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami’ donation funds via American Red Cross and Save The Children.
BJ Timoner has been hoofing it across the country to raise money for the fight against pancreatic cancer. As of Feb. 1, he’d gone about 648 miles and raised $13,500 for The Lustgarten Foundation. All of the proceeds go directly to the foundation for research, Timoner assures on his website.
His father died after a battle with pancreatic cancer when he was 5 years old. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cancer killer in America.
He will be at the corner of Gibson and Broadway today at 3 p.m., and he invites people to join him for a walk into Downtown. “Make signs! Bring food! Be merry!” he writes. He’s started his journey in San Diego on Christmas and hopes to reach Bethpage, N.Y., where the foundation resides. He’d like to raise $100,000.
Rather than engaging in the typical Christmas Eve activities (imbibing nog, wearing flannel by a fireplace, receiving diamonds from your lover, not getting a present then discovering your husband leased you a new luxury car with a big stupid bow on top) the lavishly tressed hippies in The Withdrawals will be jamming extended guitar solos for charity. The show unfurls at Low Spirits (2823 Second Street NW) on Friday at 8 p.m. Admission is $8—get $3 off with two cans of food—and proceeds benefit the Roadrunner Food Bank. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)
Albuquerque metal four-piece Frostbite will not be getting a lump of coal this year. Tonight the band hosts its Fourth Annual charitable musical affair known as the Frostbite Food Drive. This event is now taking place at the Moonlight Lounge, located at 120 Central SW at the corner of Second Street, NOT at the Launchpad, as previously scheduled. Still rocking for a worthy cause along with Frostbite are Shattered on Stone, Green Street Elite, Just Lazarus and Futilitarian. The food drive benefits the Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico, which has been helping struggling families for more than 30 years as the state's largest hunger relief organization. Bring nonperishable food items to the show or drop them off at any Planet Fitness gym and feel like St. Nic himself. This show begins at 9 p.m. and admission is $5.
The next time a friend says thanks, but no thanks, to your latest offering of homegrown zucchini, think about donating it. You could join the network of organizations across the country that directs unused food toward the nation’s hungry. Food Forward, founded by Rick Nahmias and manned by hordes of volunteers, has gleaned tons of fruits from farms in Southern California to be distributed to food pantries. They post regular schedules on Facebook so volunteers can meet to pick fruit.
The world woke up a little less funky this morning. Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist, musical director and vocalist, Garry Shider passed away last night after a battle with cancer.
I'll always remember Garry fondly, having been lucky enough to share the most bizarre car ride of my life with him. See, my big brother worked for P-Funk for a decade beginning in the '90s. So late one night, well after a show at the Ogden theater in Denver, my brother asked me, 17 at the time, if I'd give one of his friends a ride to his hotel. My mom, a friend, Garry and I piled into my Honda CRX and off we went. Garry, sitting shotgun, was sweet as could be, thanking me for the ride and asking if us ladies wanted to accompany him to breakfast. It was about 3 a.m. and I really just wanted to go to sleep. Besides, there's not much to eat at that hour, but musicians don't really run on the same time schedule as the rest of us people.
Because Garry was the first person outside of my family to ride in that car, which I'd bought earlier that same day, I always remembered him. In fact, he called me "Sugar," a name I passed along to the car.
Because I was in high school and only kind of cool, I'd only known Garry as the guy who wore the diaper on-stage. I tried to be cool and not let him know that I was scared to death/ in awe of him. Fortunately, I'm pretty sure he was drunk, and, looking back on it, probably used to teenagers trying way too hard in his presence.
Though I never got the chance to meet Garry again, my brother, who quit working for P-Funk a few years ago, has stayed part of the family, flying to New York not long ago, when Garry was rushed to the hospital to say his goodbyes.
In the last few weeks the members of the Mothership have been working on a few benefits to pay for Garry's care (this is a good time for us all to remember that, though P-Funk is iconic, they're not exactly rolling around in stacks of money). Though Garry left the Earth last night, his family is still faced with bills. The Garry Shider Medical Fund has been set up in conjunction with an organization called Sweet Relief, a non-profit charity that offers help to musicians without medical insurance.
Paypal donations to Garry's fund will be split 80/20 with Sweet Relief to help other musicians in their time of need.
Since Garry got sick a benefit album of fan tracks has been in the works as well and will be available, hopefully next week--depending on funeral services--at the Medical Fund site as well as Citradelic.com.
If you ever wanted to get a nice, big, juicy taste of what's happening in the indie gaming scene, here is the best chance you'll have for a while. Wolfire is offering a pay-what-you-want package of games called The Humble Indie Bundle, a cross-platform (Win/Mac/Lin), DRM free selection of six titles: World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD, Penumbra Overture, and Samorost 2. Better yet for all you aspiring game developers out there, they are also posting source code for Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru HD and Penumbra. Your donation (one penny on up) can be apportioned how you like among the developers themselves, the EFF, and Child's Play. The offer looks like it will run through Saturday, though it's been extended once already due to its popularity.
In the news business (*puffs cigar, leans back in chair, puts feet on desk), I often find myself saying things like, "Seems like there should be some kind of group that could ... ". Then, months later, I'll find out there's a nonprofit in the state that fills exactly that need.
The directory delivers contact information, website links, region and areas served, budget, staff size, etc.
"An estimated 6,000 nonprofits in New Mexico are conducting essential work," writes the center in a news release. These groups build "health care clinics, food banks, domestic violence shelters, job skill training programs, affordable housing, childcare, youth mentoring programs, after-school programs, arts and cultural centers, community gardens, and animal rescue and adoption sites."
The online list should make it easier for people to volunteer or make donations. You can use the search tool to find nonprofits that work in your corner of the state or on issues you care about. Plus, the center says, the nonprofits can find each other and collaborate.
Buy a ticket, file into Roadrunner Food Bank's ginormous warehouse and knock back as many ramekins of hot, liquid loveliness from more than 40 chefs and restaurants as you can. The Souper Bowl is the most deliciously charitable way to help feed your fellow New Mexicans, ranked the hungriest citizens in the nation. Each $40 adult ticket ($10 kids 12-and-younger) goes right into the pocket of Roadrunner, which has distributed more than 170 million pounds of food since it started 30 years ago. There should still be some tickets at the door, but call the food bank at 349-8921 just to make sure.
According to this article, Washington—and the entire nation—is using today to take action. U.S. citizens are impoverished, Haiti is destroyed, and so the day of remembrance has become a day of charitable work.
Is anything happening in Albuquerque? I looked around. There was the annual parade yesterday. Maybe there are some awesome charitable events coming up that I haven’t heard about. If there are, post info about them as comments here. We’d love to know.
In the meantime, text text “Yele” to 501501 to contribute $5 to the relief effort. (Yele is Haitian-born hip-hop star Wyclef Jean’s charity.) Or text "Haiti" to 90999 to kick $10 to the Red Cross. Donations are added to your cell phone bill.