Sunday, March 04, 2007

The L.A. Marathon

One of the first things I mark on my calendar every year is the L.A. Marathon, which always occurs on the first Sunday in March (today). Not only are we the only people I know who actually watch the marathon (on TV) from start to finish, but the streets around the race route (and beyond!) are always so horribly impacted that it’s almost impossible to travel anywhere north of Culver City the entire day. Karen and I were going to go to the Pasadena City College flea market this morning, but canceled when we realized we’d have to cross the race route at least once no matter which way we went. Better to stay home and just watch the race.

The beginning and end of the marathon are always the most exciting: hearing the inspirational story of at least one breast cancer survivor who runs the 26-mile course to celebrate her new lease on life, and then at the end cheering for the lone woman runner who looks like she might beat the men but never does. Very motivational.

But for us, the best part of the marathon is seeing some of our favorite parts of L.A. on television as the runners race by. This year, the course started at Universal Studios, north of Hollywood, and ended in front of the Los Angeles Public Library in downtown L.A. Once the TV is on, it’s a constant commentary between Tim and me as the camera rolls by numerous local landmarks.

Mile 1: “There’s the fire station on Cahuenga! Yikes, can you imagine running up that hill?!”

Mile 3: “They’re making the Franklin Avenue curve in front of the Presbyterian church! ‘Hollywood Bowl parking—No stacked parking!’” (We’ve walked down that hill. I can’t imagine running down it in a horde of 25,000 people! How do the runners keep from getting trampled to death?)

Mile 4: (Tim) “They’re turning right at Hollywood and Vine!” (Me) “Haven’t they finished converting that building into condos yet?” [talking about the building where Tim used to work]

Mile 4.1: (Tim) “THERE’S MOLLY’S!!” [in a weepy voice, remembering lunches of yore] (Molly's is Tim’s favorite Hollywood hot dog stand).

Mile 6 (Hancock Park, where Vine turns into Rossmore): (Me) “Looks like all the rich folks are still sleeping—not many people cheering from the sidewalks.” (Tim) “Or maybe they all went to Santa Barbara for the weekend...”

Now bored (not our favorite part of town), I hop into the shower, but am out in time for Exposition Park and environs.

Mile 13: “There’s the Coliseum!” (followed by a brief infomercial touting the beauty and cultural advantages of the Exposition Park area. Huh?)

Mile 14: “I see USC!”

Mile 22: (Tim) “They’re crossing the L.A. River!” (Me) “There’s the downtown Sears!” [getting excited again]

At Mile 23, the runners head west as the camera suddenly pans toward downtown L.A. The view is breathtaking and for a (very!) brief moment I wish I was dashing toward the finish line. The men overtake the sole woman runner (a 45-year-old Russian) in the last mile and then it is all over. Along the way, we heard the story of a woman who had lost 100 pounds, which she keeps off by exercising. We also saw a blind man running his third (!!) marathon and watched a father pushing his disabled daughter in a stroller.

Maybe we should actually participate in the marathon next year, even if we only walk two miles and then jump onto the subway. To get in shape, I’ll start by walking around the block as soon as this year’s winners are crowned.


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