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Kristen and the LA Marathon

On Sunday, I had the chance to witness Kristen in run the LA Marathon.

It. was. awesome. 

The Road to LA

After completing her 5th Half Marathon last spring she started thinking about LA.

A marathon is intimidating. A 5k or half had become pretty manageable for her. One builds on the next, you know what to expect, and lots of people are happy there… just improve on the last one to better your time.

She spent a month or so toying with the idea. When you consider the length of time it takes to prepare for the marathon– in her case about 6 months of training– and all the things that have to go just right– a few runs during the week, a long run on the weekend, three kids, a husband who travels for work, nutrition, injuries, illnesses, and all the normal stuff– it’s a huge undertaking just to train.

The last several weeks has been a series of longer and longer training runs. We’d wake up early on a Saturday and I’d drop her off, track her for 3-4 hours using Find My Phone, drop off water every few miles, then pick her up at the end.

One week she circumnavigated most of San Diego Bay from the Coronado Bridge all the way down to Imperial Beach then up through Chula Vista and National City to San Diego.

https://instagram.com/p/zFZca_sjtY/?taken-by=mclanea

Another Saturday we drove up to Oceanside and she ran all the way to Solana Beach along the Pacific Ocean

https://instagram.com/p/zXeSY9sjkW/?taken-by=mclanea

Marathon Day

In the week leading up to the race all of the talk was about the heat. An early Spring heat wave pushed temperatures to the mid-90s with 15% humidity on Saturday. That kind of heat and 27,000 runners going 26 miles just don’t mix. The last 24 hours of wondering about the impact of the heat were no good. You wanted to get it out of your mind, but dang– that’s too hot to run that far.

Kristen barely slept on Saturday night. Nerves and excitement and all of that. When my alarm went off at 3:45 am, she was already up and just about ready to go.

I dropped her off at her Santa Monica shuttle at 4:30 am and went back to bed. Our friend April crashed at the beach house, too… I took her over to the same shuttle stop at a pedestrian 6:30 am before heading back to the house one more time to check on our kids. When the race started at 7, I packed up my stuff– a cooler full of frozen towels, my camera, and my phone to meet her along the way.

11 Miles In

My first stopping point was about 11 miles into the race in the business district of Hollywood. My experience in LA is so limited (Despite living just 2 hours south, we avoid LA like new moms avoid sleep.)

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A legacy runner, someone who has competed in each of the past 30 years in the background and a high school student, part of a “Students Run LA” initiative, in the foreground. And some dude carrying a cross for 26 miles. This is the LA Marathon.

The first thing you need to know about the LA Marathon is it’s very diverse. Usually, the races Kristen has run in have been predominately 30-something year old white people. But that just wasn’t the case in LA. There were people of every walk of life, every age… middle schoolers and elderly… every ethnicity, and every cause.

But, more importantly, Kristen was in great spirits.

In LA, you get to run with all kinds of people... even guys who run in full Native American head dress for 26.2 miles.
In LA, you get to run with all kinds of people… even guys who run in full Native American head dress for 26.2 miles.

I asked her how she was doing… GREAT!

https://instagram.com/p/0QTyXmsjpT/?taken-by=mclanea

From here, I made my way south from the race course to start navigating through the side streets, grabbed some coffee at Starbucks, and made my way to West Hollywood to try to see her 45 minutes to an hour later.

15 Miles

When I found the race course at exactly the 15 mile marker, Kristen was still a mile or so down the course, so I took a while to stand there, people watch, and cheer folks on.

Here’s something awesome about big races. Everyone comes out to cheer people on, even if they don’t know a single runner in the race. They show up, they cheer, they encourage, and lots of people even bring things to give to runners out of their own pockets… fruit, water bottles, and er– hot dogs and pizza slices, too.

Marathons are full of interesting things... like men with hip length dreadlocks peaking at TV motorbikes.
Marathons are full of interesting things… like men with hip length dreadlocks peaking at TV motorbikes.

And when I finally spotted Kristen, she was still having a blast FIFTEEN MILES into her day.

https://instagram.com/p/0QaDqpsjoE/?taken-by=mclanea

22 Miles

From West Hollywood, I went back to our minivan and started to work my way across town more to get to the next spot on the course, 22 miles, in Brentwood– most famous for being the home of O.J. Simpson. To get there… I had to wind my way through neighborhoods like Beverly Hills… where my minivan made me feel like I was on the cast of Beverly Hillbillies.

From there parking was a real problem. I ended up finally finding a spot about 5 blocks from the race course. And in my rush, I forgot to take notes on where I parked… more on that later.

By this time the heat had kicked in. Racers were super fortunate that an unexpected, un-forcasted cloud base made it pretty pleasant most of the morning, high temperatures in the mid-80s. But that started to burn off late in the race. And it started to get really, really hot. 

In this last set of pictures I want to point out some of the lasting impressions I had on the marathon.

The marathon is a community effort. Tons of official and unofficial volunteers make it a GIANT 26 mile long celebration.
The marathon is a community effort. Tons of official and unofficial volunteers make it a GIANT 26 mile long celebration. The family to my right knew a couple runners, but their endless supply of orange slices and ice made hundreds of runners smile.

And don’t forget about causes. I’d say a quarter of the runners were running to raise money for something.

Team World Vision had more than 600 runners, raising money for clean water in Africa.
Team World Vision had more than 600 runners, raising money for clean water in Africa.

And– oh yeah– this smiling lady.

At 22 miles, Kristen had never run this far. Notice that she's smiling and having a great time while runners around her aren't quite looking so fabulous.
At 22 miles, Kristen had never run this far. Notice that she’s smiling and having a great time while runners around her aren’t quite looking so fabulous.

By this time, she was starting to get tired and hot, so she accepted my invitation to take 2 minutes off to cool down… bring on the frozen towels!

https://instagram.com/p/0Qlt60sjju/?taken-by=mclanea

Having just come through a non-shady part of the race with 4 miles left in the blazing sun, 2 minutes of cooling off really seemed to help.

And at this point… it’s just a victory lap. Six months of training and it was abundantly clear she’d finish her first marathon!

26.2 Miles

After this pit stop I got a text from April, she was at the finish line and looking for a ride back to the beach house.

The problem was that I was 4 miles away… cell service was jacked up with so many people trying to post selfies… and I HAD NO IDEA WHERE I’D PARKED!!!

Seriously. I was so pumped to go see Kristen at 22 miles that I forgot where I parked. 15 minutes later I finally found my way and was back in the car.

From there, I got lucky and guessed a side street that went all the way to Santa Monica, Colorado Street. And I took that all the way to where I could see the finish line… but then got stuck in traffic. I picked up a very tired April and then we spent the next two hours trying to find Kristen and make our way back to Venice Beach.

Success!

Huge congratulations to Kristen. She made it look easy… if 26.2 miles can be easy.

And I don’t know what her next challenge will be. But I think it’ll involve a bike and swimming. 

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Time Transport

Time from Copious Films on Vimeo.

This video disoriented me. I was so into it that I literally had to look away from the screen and think about where I’m at. (At a friends house in suburban Seattle.) I think there’s something mesmerizing about the combination of the music and clips.

Put your headphones on. Make it full screen. All yourself to really concentrate.

Enjoy.

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Back From the Brink

I just turned on my computer for the first time in 7 days. 

It still feels a bit funky. My fingers are stretching to familiar places but typing feels totally odd. Yesterday, I woke up to cuddle a freezing Jackson back to sleep. Today, he woke up in his crib to a warm bowl of oatmeal and a morning full of Curious George & Elmo.

The McLane Family is 500 miles from our little June Lake camp site, 8,600 feet above sea level and a million miles from yesterday.

I spent a week intentionally disconnected from my day-to-day life. I turned off my email, signed out of Facebook, never opened Wunderlist or even had the thought, “I should write that down.” For the first time I can remember I even let the blog go fallow for a week.

It felt good to rest.

When I wrote my last post I was on the brink. I was past tired. I was exhausted. I don’t know what comes after exhaustion but I was pretty much there. It’s not so much that the exhaustion was hurting my work as it was that it was hurting to work. Day-by-day the grind was like a bruise that kept getting punched. Even embracing a more regular Sabbath wasn’t helping. I needed real rest.

After a week of hiking, exploring, playing, laughing, star-gazing, and fishing… I feel better and found rest for the first time in a long time.

It had been a few years since I really shut it down for 6 consecutive days. I don’t know if it’s my insecurity, the desperate feeling we had to turn it around at my old gig, or what… but I do know shutting it down was the right thing and something I need to do more often. (I have 3 weeks of vacation planned for the remainder of 2012.)

Rush-free Play

As we drove home yesterday, Kristen and I kept joking about the fact that we all still liked one another. Camping brought us closer together. As we left June Lake we were all a bit sad it had ended. I think all of us had embraced a little fantasy that it didn’t have to end… that we could just head to the grocery store and restock for another week. (And hit the showers to clean up!)

I think that’s a sign of a good vacation, that you leave wanting a little bit more and having fully entertained the option of never going home.

Each day was filled with a slowventure where we made breakfast together, cleaned up camp, and went somewhere to explore. We had a simple lunch of PB&J or fruit, cheese, and crackers. Somehow we managed to make it home in time to make dinner and have a camp fire before bed. (Did you know marshmallows are a food group while camping? I think each of the kids ate their weight in marshmallow!)

Together, we saw some of Earth’s greatest treasures. Yosemite denies description. Photos cannot capture awe. The giant sequoias, the Valley, the Tunnel View, the Merced River, Tuolumne Meadows, the Tioga Road, even The Mobile… all are happy places.

We spent 2 days not catching a single fish but smiling the whole time. We went up and down mountains. And we played in lots and lots of streams.

I loved watching Megan and Paul get lost in ancient forms of play. They made bow & arrows and pretended to hunt chipmunks. They wandered in the woods collecting stuff. They stared deeply into the starry abyss. They played with fire.

And they were rarely bored.

It’ll probably take me a few weeks to really unpack my vacation. But all I know is that I need more of that more often!