I met with Patti, John and Bert at the sun-baked expo, wavering then, but not yet decided. Both of the guys were uncertain they were physically 100% up for the challenge, due to nagging knee pains, but were totally down with being out there. Patti is always cheerful. She loves hot weather, and was seemingly stoked and raring to go. I have run with all three before, and know how much they love the marathon. It was nearly contagious enough.
My friend, Bob, lives and trains in Tokyo. He REALLY trains. His blog is impressive numbers on top of intimidating numbers. We both ran Santa Barbara International last December. If memory serves, he was shooting for 3:04 then. He only managed to pull out a disappointing 3:09! We were supposed to meet up at the LAM expo, too, but we didn't...because I needed to get out of the heat. Patti, John and Bert and I headed off to find a couple of cold beers.
When the brews and snacks ran out, I headed back to my hostel digs, fairly certain I would NOT be spending the evening pinning my bib on my running shirt and going over the last minute race instructions. Instead, I came up with my plans for hanging out at the finish line, to take pictures of my friends as they conquered the new LAM route.
I wasn't able to go to bed as early as I normally do, because I had to deliver my other friend Sandra's bib to her. She was driving down from the Bay Area and couldn't make the expo. She rolled into Santa Monica at about 9:30, and the hand-off was complete. She also had a gift for me. She and I are both Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish addicts. Sick? We think not. Please don't judge. The surprise she had for me, was this beautifully hand-crafted goldfish cap! Sweet!Before hitting the hay for the evening I chatted a bit with the two new runner guys in my six-bunk hostel room. Turns out they arrived late at the expo and were not able to get the free t-shirts in the size they needed. Both wanted a large, but the marathon planners apparently didn't plan well enough to have the sizes that would satisfy all late-comers. I could only help one of them. I had a large I would not wear, seeing that I wasn't going to run. Gave one guy my shirt. He said he'd remember me every time he wore it. A nice thought...but I'm guessing not so much. Just glad to help.
As race morning arrived, I was not offended at all by the two roomies fumbling about for their gear at 4AM. After they slipped out, under cover of darkness, I went back to sleep. Got up two hours later and did a 10 mile run along the Santa Monica beachfront. Showered, then headed for the finish, expecting to see Tokyo Bob crush his goal time. Turns out it was not to be. Once again, he let us all down, only managing a dismal 3:08. A minute faster than Santa Barbara!I met up with him moments after he finished. His comment was, "these things don't get any easier." I could tell he was disappointed that he had not cracked 3:04. He would find out later, at the post-race party at his delightful daughter's condo in East Hollywood, he won his age group...again. I only have to trim a little less than 2 hours off of my marathon best to come close to what Bob does. He just rocks.
After Bob crossed the finish, honestly, I knew I had a little time to spare, before the rest of the crew would arrive. Grabbed a coffee, strolled out onto the Santa Monica Pier, and then came back to snag a photo-spot beneath the 26 mile banner. Waited there from when the time-clock said 4:30 til John passed before me. Turns out I missed Patti, Bert AND Sandra, even though I was standing there ready to capture their success on digital. I did catch John, thanks to text messaging.Every one of these folks is a star in their own right. This was not an easy course. Each handled it with determination and humor. I missed the shared experience. I am sorry I won't have the stories to swap about "that year we ran LA". However, I am better for having witnessed their accomplishment.