Sunday, March 04, 2007

Eugene Training - Week 9

Sunday, March 4, 2007 the 22nd running of the City of Los Angeles Marathon and the 13th Acura L.A. Bike Tour.

Bryan and I got up at 4:00 a.m. I was happy that I didn't get much argument from Bryan. He, like is mother, is NOT a morning person. We were on our way a few minutes after my planned departure time of 4:30. I had put the bikes on the back of the car the night before and our bottles were filled and in the refrigerator ready to go.

The contrast on the freeway was incredible. We had driven down the the Convention Center on Saturday with the usual crowded freeways. On Sunday morning we had our pick of lanes and speeds. The start of the bike tour was the Los Angeles Coliseum, home of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. I heard the other day that LA is considering a bid for the 2016 Olympics too. Just after were made the connection to the 110 freeway from the 10 we were stopped by a half mile long line of cars, all with bikes. There are two off ramps for the Coliseum. Rather than sit in the line for the first ramp, I made the decision to take the next one, MLK Blvd. As soon as I passed the point of no return on the freeway we saw a sign saying "next exit closed". Now I would have to take the following exit, turn around and come back. This would add time I hadn't really planned into the schedule. Fortunately the road crew was just in the process of coning off the lane and I was one of the last people to get to exit at MLK. MLK would be closed as it was the beginning of the bike tour and mile 15 of the marathon.

We found parking easily and unloaded. At first Bryan was cold, but I think it was mostly nerves. I did wear my gloves but I might have been OK without. We both had on tights, shorts, a long sleeve shirt and our bike tour t's. Bryan told me at home that no one better mention that we matched, although it was originally his idea to do so. We lined up about 5:40 in a line that extended at least 1/4 in front of us and eventually that far behind as well.

After a fire works show over the Coliseum the tour began at 6:00. The crowd caused us to walk our bike basically to within feet of the starting line. And then we were off to the sounds of Randy Newman's "I Love LA", just like the marathon.

The crowds were pretty thick early on, much like in a marathon, except that finding a space and passing was complicated by the piece of equipment we were rolling down the street. Bryan was a little more fearless about weaving. I had cautioned him against doing so reckless for fear of causing crashes. We were able to hang together about 2 miles, although Bryan was obviously holding back. On the first little down hill he took advantage of the smoothness of his road bike and before I knew it he was out of my sight. From the back everyone wearing t-shirts with the word Acura printed on it all look the same. I was certain that he would go ahead but I'm not sure it would be this soon.

I enjoyed the ride from the perspective of a runner. I thought about the turns, the sights and the general downhill and longed to be running. Before the 6th St bridge I saw my first serious casualty of the race. The biker was down and being attended to by EMT's. The had a neck brace on the guy and there was a lot of blood on the ground. Prior to that I had seen a couple of little pile ups but nothing too severe, with the early crowds the pace was too slow to cause any real damage to bike or human. This was obviously a different story.

The other side of the bridge was a nice long downhill. I knew Bryan would be flying down that hill. This is when I started worrying about my son. At the bottom of the hill I witnessed another crash involving 3 people. They seemed to be shaken but not hurt. I pulled over a little later to check my cell phone. No call from Bryan so I had to assume he was OK. A few miles later I saw another pretty serious chain reaction crash. Bikes and limbs were flying every direction. At that point my worry level for Bryan went crazy. I thought this isn't any fun. I'm worried that he could be involved in one of these crashes due to his excitement over going fast and his inexperience in riding in crowds.

For some reason the saying "no guts, no glory" came to mind. I decided I would rather keep my guts, skin and bones in tact and rode on conservatively, checking the phone once or twice more. Finally while I was approaching mile 18 my phone rang. It was Bryan. He was back at the Coliseum, finished, elated and in one piece. He had ridden 20 miles in about 1:30. By the time he called me he had already picked up his medal, had some gatorade, some snacks and called his Mom. I got the the finish line about 20 minutes later. Within a few hundred feet of the finish we passed another down biker. The paramedics were performing CPR. I heard later on the news he had suffered a heart attack and died. It wasn't the best way to end a race.

Bryan had a great time, so did I really. We loaded up the bikes and were out of the Coliseum just about the time the marathon started at Universal City 14 miles away. We made it home by 9:00 and watched the local coverage of the race on TV. It was quite the finish.

Bryan is looking for other rides to do. I think he's found something he really enjoys. We talked about my marathon schedule and how I wouldn't be able to ride with him a lot for the next two months. He was willing to for me to drop in off at the trail and he'd go. "It's not like you can keep up with me anyway!" he said.

Later today, I was feeling pretty tired and took an unplanned nap. Later my stomach was feeling queasy, so I opted out of today's run. So that makes the third consecutive week that I've fallen short of my six day per week plan. The rest of the week went down like this:

Miles for the week: 41

M: Rest
T: 6 miles, 49:59 (8:20 pace)
W: 6 miles, 51:45 (8:38 pace)
H: 7 miles, 1:03:22 (9:03 pace), Fartleks 1-2-3-2-1
F: 6 miles, 50:20 (8:23 pace)
S: ~16 miles, 3:16 (12:15 pace)
S: 0 miles

I'll have to tell you about Saturday's run another time. It's late and I'm beat.


Juls said...

It is sweet how our children can want to match, or be like you in some other way, but they just don't want it to be a big deal. I didn't read your whole post (I'm a little tired these days) but it sounds like you both were in for a great day. I hope that was the case.

Rae said...

How fun!!! I think I would be scared to death riding in a pack like that. It's so awesome you guys got to do that together!

Lisa said...

I think the queasiness in the afternoon may have been the after-effects of the stress you felt thinking your kid had been in a pileup. I think the only solution is to get you a "real" bike so you can keep up with him and put your mind at ease!!

Anne said...

This was a much more exciting account than I read in the LA Times today. They made it sound like there were just a couple of scuffles and one heart attack. Nothing with blood....

Wes said...

Sounds like a great way to spend some time on the road, especially with family. I feel for the guy that had the heart attack. That's so sad. I've heard of people dying at marathons, but biking? That's a first. You know you are a marathon maniac, so I doubt another extra rest day is going to set you back.

David said...

I guess bicycling is not for amateurs, especially in high speed races. Yow!
Those boys will leave you in the dust for awhile but, if you perservere, they'll back up to you (at least I keep hoping).

Joe said...

How cool a time was this, Darrell. Good for you and Bryan! What a neat shared expreience.

I'm glad he avoided the pileups...that is such a non-issue in running but I can sure see how it would happen biking.

Sad to hear of the death...yes, that puts a damper on it all.

Your pace on the Saturday run must have quite a story behind it. Oh my!

Donald said...

Thanks for the descriptive report. I was curious as to what the course would be like after yet another change.

I've always had mixed feelings about the bike tour - it's obviously a cool thing for the bikers, but it makes the marathon very hot by pushing the start time so late in the morning.

Glad you enjoyed the day.

Mike said...

Glad you both made it through safe and sound! Sheez, I never realized there was so much carnage on that "fun ride"!
Keep it rolling on the mileage- solid numbers there!

Jessica Deline said...

sounds like fun! And that would be great if the Olympics comes to LA in 2016 so then I can finally see some olympic events. I'd love to go watch some of the track stuff.

Bob Gentile said...

Those bike wrecks can be scary, I think I will stick a little closer to ground for now :-) But cool way to spend that time with your family.


~nattie~ said...

wow, i had no idea the bike tour could be so dangerous. i'm glad both of you had a good time and finished up in one piece.

angie's pink fuzzy said...


Faithful Soles said...

Darrell, great post and way to do it with your son. I ran my son's first half-marathon with him (he is 14) in January, and it was an awesome experience.

If you get a chance, please visit my running web site, Faithful Soles. I have a categorized and searchable Running Blog Database on there and would appreciate it if you would link your blog to it. Thanks and continued good luck to you and your family.