V.24 No.42 | 10/15/2015
Letters from Downtown: Runner's Edition
I'm a runner. It's hard to pinpoint the moment in my adulthood when I decided to lace up the tennis shoes that my mother bought for me one Christmas (specially designed for the woefully flat footed) and take a jog around my North Campus neighborhood. It's even harder to determine why I continued. In my adolescence I was never particularly athletic and my gym class's Presidential Physical Fitness exam timed mile run was an event greeted with unparalleled dread. Yet, despite its mysterious origins, my enthusiasm and commitment to running has been one of the few consistencies of my adult life.
For almost as many years as I have lived in Albuquerque, I have lived north of UNM's campus. I had runs of every possible length and difficulty plotted out and committed to memory—a trek around the golf course followed by a tour of Nob Hill, Indian School to San Mateo and back around. Some runs were undertaken with such frequency that I had memorized every dip in cement, every uneven step.
Recently I moved my life and all of my belongings to a house Downtown. Creating circuits for runs has given me the opportunity to explore my new surroundings and interact with my new neighbors, for better or for worse. Whether they're passing by on a creaky bicycle or in an SUV, everybody, I mean, everybody downtown has something to say to a runner. Or, let me contextualize this further, every man has something to say to a female runner. Sometimes they are shouts of encouragement, sometimes they are vaguely threatening queries into my relationship status. Regardless, the cross section of pedestrians, car traffic and my running routes have increased. This has given my runs an entirely new texture. Formerly an hour-long foray into my own thoughts, my runs now seem to put me on the defensive. I startle when cars drive by and honk, I tense reflexively when I cut across a street without a streetlight. I'm not sure if I'm finally taking to heart my mother's advice about being on guard and carrying pepper spray, or if I'm just not used to living in what could be loosely described as an urban environment.
This past weekend I participated in the 32nd annual Duke City Marathon on a relay team. It was nice to see the usual dynamic subverted. Instead of traffic, runners—more than 5,000 of them—dominated the Downtown streets. Traffic was rerouted as masses of bodies in spandex trotted from Third Street and Tijeras to Paseo del Norte and back again. The most chatter I heard was the offering of water by volunteers at the intermittent “motivation stations” and the simple call, “on your left!” as cyclists sharing the Bosque Trail cruised past. Yet, as my teammate rounded the corner on to Third Street, an onlooker from the still-cold shadows of downtown's tall buildings, shouted, “woo, girl! Look at those long legs!” From where I rested on the curb, I had to shake my head. Encouragement or catcall? It felt like an affront that as my teammate accomplished something important, and yes, physical, that all that this idyl man in the shadows had to remark on was the aesthetics of her legs, not how strong and powerful they are, but how attractive. I can't speak for every woman sprinting passed you, but to the bystanders at organized marathons or my marathon runs around the neighborhood: no matter what you have to say, your silence is more appreciated than your compliments.
V.21 No.12 | 3/22/2012
Braving the LA Marathon
A first-hand account
By Ilene Style [ Thu Mar 22 2012 2:22 PM ]
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.
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!
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!
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—
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!
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"!
V.19 No.26 |
Attention Horror Movie Villains!!!
By Patricia Sauthoff [ Fri Jul 2 2010 12:28 PM ]
Kelly Ripa wants you to break your ankles for charity! The bubbly co-host of "Live with Regis and Kelly" is hosting a run called the High-Heel-A-Thon on September 22.
Men are allowed to run too and there's no indication that people have to wear heels, but if they don't, who are the zombies/ax murders/undead going to feast on?
V.19 No.22 | 6/3/2010
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Run With Kenyans
Athletes help two countries with one sport
By Marisa Demarco
Richard Rono is a member of two communities—and both have troubles. The Kenyan runner has lived in Albuquerque for about 12 years, and he sees that children in the U.S. struggle with obesity. Back in Kenya, the children suffer serious health problems resulting from a lack of sanitation and money. So Rono had an idea—he will train people here to run and help them lose weight naturally. The money he raises will go to Kenya to build latrines and help prevent cholera and other diseases.
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