Monday, May 25, 2009

LA Marathon

Bad weather doesn't close down roads in LA.   Much like wrinkled skin, LA doesn't believe in bad weather.
LA does believe in marathons.  What better way to improve your health and support a cause while simultaneously stroking your vanity and the envy of your friends?

LA is the marathon mecca of the world.   There are gay pride marathons, breast cancer marathons, peace marathons, a slew of mini marathons, 5k and 10k runs.  There are even awareness walks for the physically challenged.  In any given month the greater Los Angeles area can have 20 or 30 marathons.  

Check it out for yourself.

No matter where I live in LA, the marathons pursue me like the hounds of hell, every year they find a way to disrupt my life.   

When I first moved to LA I lived off of Virgil Ave, just east of the Vermont iron curtain in what whites refer to as the "forbidden zone".    The LA marathon cruised directly down the street below my apartment.   From 6 in the morning until 1 pm,  I would hear nothing but endless cheering and the French/Canadian guy from the Waterboy shout:  "You can do it!"

I would valiantly try to sleep.

Clap, clap, clap.  "You can do it!"

I couldn't even leave, the car garage opened out into the street with the marathon.  

Clap, clap, clap.  "You can do it!"

"Shut the hell up!"

Clap, clap, clap.  "You can do it!"

Three years later I moved to the corner of Fairfax and Beverly.   This time the LA marathon runs 40 feet away from the house down Beverly and Fairfax.   Amazingly, the French/Canadian cousin of the first guy was directly out on the street.

Clap, clap, clap.  "You can do it!"

You have got to be kidding me.  Please, God, did you not want me to feel left out of the snow and ice and mud that mires the rest of the country?   

Clap, clap, clap.  "You can do it!"

The marathon blocks off everything north and west, and traffic funnels down to a couple narrow roads in an attempt to circumvent it.  

I'm not going anywhere.  

Clap, clap, clap, "You can do it!"

Twice I've randomly been driving through the city on Sunday morning in an attempt to avoid traffic only to be blocked by the ever ubiquitous marathon.   I stop being a person in a car, I become a rat in a maze, trying to veer around the mob of sweating bodies, police officers, and meter maids.  

It's no use.  Its like fighting a tidal wave.

This year my car has broken down.  The battery is dead, and I need to call AAA.   

Clap, clap, clap.  "You can do it!"

The marathon is going up and down La Cienega.  It's about a half block away.  It then turns East down Pico.   I'm screwed.  Those two streets have been swarmed by a mob of human bodies, alternatively running, walking, gasping and crawling their way on an imaginary exodus.   

I'm not going anywhere.   I decide to watch the marathon briefly.   

If you've seen one marathon, you've seen them all.  People of all ages, shapes, and sizes, gasping and wheezing as they putter by, all of them wearing pained expressions of agony.

Jesus would be proud.

At this point, a kid in a big wheel would probably beat most of them in a foot race.

A southern rock band with a touch of country performs on a stage in front of a 7-11 as the runners drag themselves up the road.   I spot a woman running with her baby in a stroller.

I clap my hands.  "You can do it!" I shout.   

I've never understood why people find it fascinating to go out and watch a marathon.   Watching people suffer as they drive their bodies beyond the limits of human endurance is not what I call a good time.   Still, people are lined up on both sides of the street, cheering, clapping, handing out cups of water.  

It gives me a new appreciation for The Passion of the Christ.

I cut through the crowd to get across the street.   Even though I'm moving at a walk, I'm liquid lighting compared to most of the runners.   Moving across a marathon is like the first level of Frogger,  anyone can do it.   Fat Albert could do it, a guy in a wheel chair could do it, a senior citizen with a walker -

-well maybe not a senior citizen with a walker.

I think Frogger was probably conceptualized by a guy who had been forced to cut through a marathon.  

Clap, clap, clap!  You can do it!


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