• I did something yesterday..

    something pretty intense.

    I ran the Long Beach Marathon.

    Aside from the giant sea serpents, a kraken, and a few sand monsters it was a pretty tame race.

    Rumor has it that the first Marathon was when a Greek messenger ran from Marathon to Athens to proclaim victory over the Persians in 490 BC. He ran the entire length (guessed at approx. 25 miles), shouted that they won, did a victory dance, and then dropped dead.

    Fast forward 2,503 years. I had school and work the day before, so I only had a few hours of sleep when I woke up at 3:45am. I and 2 others arrived in Long Beach to a crowd of people. We hung out for an hour in the dark listening to some announcer. They finally got the go ahead, so it was time for the national anthem. A few ear piercing moments later we were off.

     

    It was Long Beach’s 29th Marathon, and it showed. They had timed sunrise just right so that the pink and violet hues of the clouds reflected magnificently on the rippling water. There were water/powerade stations every mile, several medical tents, and protein goo handouts.

    Most of the people were way too over-the-top enthused. Yet, if you found the right group of people to run with you could find your Zen.

    The first few miles were just finding your groove. The shuffle of the feet surrounding you gave a rhythm that could add clarity to your thoughts. I usually mentally review homework when I run, but I didn’t find myself doing that until mile 20. I was more entranced with the beauty of Long Beach and the ocean… that was until we got to the sand.

    The Alamitos Beach was lovely. It wasn’t until we got to Junipero Beach around mile 8 that stuff went down.

    Ever see the movie Tremors? Well one of those things came up from the sand and ate a lifeguard tower with one bite. A sea serpent was suddenly wriggling along the pier. It was huge, and seemed to be heading straight for the Marathoners. Just as that happened, a kraken surfaced from the water with tentacles whipping around. It wrapped its massive tentacles around the sea serpent and ripped a section the pier off when dragging the serpent to the depths.

    The only thing more incredible than what I had just seen was that no one else even noticed. I looked from person to person and not a glimmer of recognition. I shrugged and ran on.

     

    Edit from author: I did see a sea serpent after all..

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/15/us/california-18-foot-oarfish/

     

    There were pace holders throughout the race. These are people paid by the Marathon to provide a marker to keep up with if you wanted a specific time. We followed the five hour pace car (intense woman holding a stick with balloons and a 5:00 sign). I had to keep out of ear shot because she [expletive-ed] with my Zen.

    Now, I didn’t run the whole way. There were moments of fast walking, a pee break, and pauses for beverages (I tried drinking and running, but I generally ended up choking on it).

    We kept up with the pace car fairly well, but at around mile 17 my left leg started seizing up. I had to walk more often, but smaller lengths of time in order to keep up.

    At this point, the most I had ever run was 15.6 miles…  I was a bit wary, but I’ve done tons of cross platform training. I also have the willpower of a badger.

    At mile 20 we’d been running for nearly 4 hours… strangely this is when I started reviewing mathematics prep for the GRE, proper counseling techniques, and various receptors in the brain.

     

     

    By mile 23 I knew I had this. I started to speed up.  Suddenly there were hordes of slow moving people. I heard them whining about how much further they had to go. I was incredulous. How did they get ahead of me at a walking pace, and then it clicked. They were Half Marathoners.

    At mile 25 I broke into a run. My feet pounded the pavement faster and faster with every step. I had saved my best mile for last. Where I was doing 11-12 minute miles earlier, this one I knew how much energy remained and I knew I had it in me so I pushed a 7.5 minute mile.  I flew past hundreds of Half Marathoners and Marathoners alike. It felt good.

    The man who won the LA Marathon finished it in 2hrs and 9min. I finished my Marathon in 5hrs and 12min. I’ve got tons of room for improvement, but ooo-wee that was quite the experience.

    When I got home I ordered some pizza and drank a bottle of awesome.

    You can get it at my favorite online wine sellers for $29.99 (K&L).

     

     

    2004 La Rioja Alta “Viña Ardanza” Reserva Rioja

    93 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

    “The 2004 Vina Ardanza is a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Garnacha from 30-year-old vines in Fuenmayor and Cenicero. It is aged for 36 months in four-year-old American oak. It has a very enticing bouquet with dark cherry, Christmas cake, dried fig and espresso with fine delineation and bags of exuberance. The palate is medium-bodied with taut tannins, underpinned by a keen citric thread that cuts through the licorice-tinged, dark berry and allspice-tinged fruit with style. It is simply delicious on the bittersweet finish. Drink now-2020+”

     

    I’m not saying you should participate in a Marathon. It is a taxing mind melting affair. However, I am saying you should drink wine.