Sunday, March 8, 2020
To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can.
I let a virus defeat me. The Los Angeles Marathon was today and I wasn't there. Now I'm overwhelmed with regret.
Against all medical and governmental advice, the organizers of the LA Marathon, along with the city government, proceeded with the race today. They set up some precautionary steps to make everybody feel safer. The organizers banned participants from six especially affected countries like China and South Korea. They put out more hand sanitizers along the route. And they advised runners and roadside viewers to stay at least six feet away from each other. As if it's possible to corral 27,000 runners into a small starting gate and maintain six feet of distance between each other.
Social media lit up with outrage that the event was still happening. Dozens of conferences, concerts, and other large public gatherings have been cancelled. Yet out of sheer greed, or hubris, the city allowed the marathon to continue. They did however tell runners who aren't feeling well not to come. What a laugh.
The statistics would support the city's decision. Roughly 80% of people infected with coronavirus will get very mild flu-like symptoms, or none at all. The mortality rate is about 1-3% so far. In general, marathon runners are on the more healthy side of the overall population spectrum and unlikely to come down with severe symptoms. So I was actually ready to go ahead and check off another bucket list item today.
Then the hammer came down. My wife was adamantly opposed to me running this race. She called the mayor's office and California governor's office to try to get them to cancel the event. There were online petitions to convince the organizers to stop this from spreading what is already described as a worldwide pandemic. She threatened to kick me out of the house for at least two weeks if I ran.
Finally I had to relent. The negative consequences of running this marathon outweighed the positives. What if I did catch the coronavirus? Even though runners from the six most affected countries were banned, the participants come from all 50 states and dozens of other countries. There's no way the race could guarantee a disease free environment.
If I ran, I could potentially be spreading the disease to my own family before I showed any symptoms. The kids would then spread it to their schools before anybody realized they were infected. I would be out of a job for at least a couple of weeks, jeopardizing our financial situation if even one runner out of 27,000 turned out to be positive for Covid-19.
So I sat out the race. I didn't set my alarm clock to get up at 4:00 AM. I rolled out of bed well after the sun came up, like my usual Sunday morning. But now I'm consumed with what could have been. The weather outside is gorgeous, perfect for running. There was a light rain last night so the air is clean and crisp. The temperature is neither too hot or too cold. There are fluffy clouds floating over the city, providing brief respites of shadow for the runners under the unrelenting Southern California sun. In other words, perfect running weather.
For now I've lost my motivation to keep running. Next year seems so far away and I'm not sure I can keep up my desire for running a marathon that long. I don't even feel like maintaining my strict diet for now. Sure there are other marathons throughout the year. But this is the LA Marathon, my hometown event and one of the premier marathons in the country.
So you'll forgive me if I wallow in my own self pity for awhile and gorge on a pint or two of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Nothing feels worse than self defeat.
Sunday, January 19, 2020
6:00 AM I finally make it into the parking lot of the Rose Bowl. Gridlocked traffic for miles around. Outside temperature--39ºF. Holy shit. It's cold here at the Rose Bowl. I'm not ready for this.
7:00 AM This is it. Been trying to stay warm for the last hour. I'm ready to get this started. No more second guessing or negative thoughts. It's time. The starting gun goes off. Here we go!
Mile 1 I'm doing this! This isn't so bad. Look at all those putzes waiting in line for the porta potties already. Why didn't they go before the start of the race?
Mile 2 This hill is a bitch. I'm short of breath already. How am I going to last another 11 miles?
Mile 4 Holy shit. The lead runners are already returning. They don't even look like they're breaking a sweat.
Mile 6 Hmm. These honey gels taste pretty good. I wonder if Costco sells these?
Mile 6.5 Halfway there! Woohoo!
Mile 7 I love all these supporters on the side cheering us on. They're so ebullient and encouraging. They also have really clever signs. I like "On a scale of 1-10, you're a 13.1!" Also "I had a better sign but the Astros stole it!" But my favorite one was "Smile if you farted!" I didn't fart but that sign made me smile.
Mile 8 I'm just cruising here on autopilot now. Good chance to reflect. I think I'm living my best life now. I'm healthier than I've ever been. From the fat kid in high school who couldn't run even one lap around the track, now I'm running my first half marathon. I've got a wife who loves me, most of the time, and kids who aren't getting into any serious problems academically or socially. Life doesn't get better than this.
Mile 10 After that last hill, it's all downhill from here. I can even see the Rose Bowl again.
Mile 11 Oh shit I'm hitting a wall right now. I can barely lift my legs to take the next step. So tempting to cut across the parking lot and make a beeline into the Rose Bowl entrance.
Mile 12 My music app is playing "Torture" by The Jacksons in the '80's play list. It's uncanny how much the internet knows your every thought and action.
Mile 13 This is it. The last mile. I've got a second wind and everybody is hustling to cross the finish line now.
Mile 13.1 Running out onto the Rose Bowl field is such a thrill. This must be how the UCLA football players feel when they play their home games.
Oh man, I think I'm going to faint. All this water, bananas, and Goldfish crackers are not helping. I better lay down for awhile before I totally black out. I don't want to embarrass myself if they have to call a paramedic to treat me.
Back home My legs feel like they weigh a hundred pounds each. I don't want to move off the couch, ever. But it's all been worth it. Another bucket list item I can check off. Living my best life.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Another car for my future midlife crisis.
I have always been a fan of the 1954 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing. I loved that car even while in high school. While others had posters of the Lamborghini Countach or Ferrari Daytona on their bedroom posters, I have always dreamed of owning a Mercedes Gullwing someday. Alas I knew I would never earn enough money to own one of those million dollar originals. Now Mercedes has updated the Gullwing so that I can own one for a minimum of 200 freaking thousand dollars. Alas, like back in high school, that might as well be a million dollars.
People have the mistaken image of doctors as fat cats driving around in their Rolls Royce on their way to Per Se to dine on imported truffles and caviar before jetting off to Paris to watch an opera. While doctors are relatively well off, we're not Bill Gates or Warren Buffett rich. We may not be worried about where our next meal is coming from but most doctors live paycheck to paycheck, saving just enough for our mortgages and children's college educations. When the federal government talks about raising taxes on people making over $250,000 it directly affects people like physicians, who make just enough to have to pay higher taxes but not enough to not be bothered by it. If somebody is making a million dollars a year, they probably have enough to cover the extra tax payments. But a physician who makes $250k will have to cut back in order to pay the higher taxes.
So even though I'm making a very decent income, the Mercedes SLS AMG Gullwing is still a pipe dream, just like the Porsche Panamera. It's nice to dream about but for now I'll be getting into my seven year old Honda Accord to get to work.