Hello Good People In My Life,
Thank you for all of your support and good wishes throughout my Marathon experience. It would
have been complete hell if I didn't have all of you in my heart.
The toll on my body wasn't too bad. My knees, quadriceps and shoulders are soar. I noticed at
mile 23 my nip guards (men, not women have to protect their nipples against rash) had come off
cause there was blood stains on my shirt. Hot showers are going to suck for a couple of days.
The biggest thing for me was my back (2 bulging discs), left big toe (broken bone spur) and right
knee (inflammation or old man's disease) were never an issue. I confess, looking back, it went
better than I thought.
My run started a little shaky, due to the fact I was without a pace leader. The week before the
marathon, on our last training run, I decided to run with a group whose goal was to finish the
race in 4 hours and 30 minutes. I'd never seen these people before this run. They were in a
faster group than I, but had a great run with them that day. Steve, the pace leader, gave me a
green ribbon to wear on race day which meant I was one of them. Come race day, I couldn't find
Steve anywhere. So, I followed my original pace group to the start line, looking for Steve and
his allusive green ribbon bunch along the way. 8:00 AM, 15 minutes before the start of the race,
still no Steve. But, I did find a group of 4 team green people and we agreed to run together.
Jacob paced a group last year with a 4:30 goal. I forgot to ask him how they did. It was 95
degrees on the road last year, literally hell. The gun goes off, 4 minutes later we pass the
start line, the chip on my shoes is activated, and it's go time. The start is down hill on
Figueroa, and what a view. Looking down the street, as far as I could see, runners, thousands of
runners. But, hey, look over there, it's Mohammad Ali and the Mayor.
It is really a weird feeling being in a large crowd that's moving. It's even weirder when a part
of that crowd decides to stop in front of you. I was warned about that so I did a lot of side
stepping in the beginning and at the water stations. The little group I joined made it through
the start with out a pace leader and any mishaps.
I had so many things on my mind at one time, it was kind of crazy. Big toe, knee, back, was this
pace too fast. My running partner Jerome Butler (the one I blame for getting me in to this mess)
had run two LA Marathons in the past and passed on this pace group. My left brain activity
started early with the negative thoughts. So, countered with the fact that I had worked my ass
off for 7 months and this was all going to work out well. Plus, I just saw a guy running in a red
chicken suit. Mmmnm, chicken.
The first 3 miles went by in a snap. Everything felt good and I was enjoying the sights when
Little Team Green pulled into our third water station. I'd been trailing them the whole way.
Didn't want to push too hard too early. I got some water and looked up and they were gone. When
everyone is wearing t-shirts and short it's hard to find 4 people you just met who are wearing
t-shirts and shorts. I looked for the only distinguishing mark, a little green ribbon. I'd been
told that you shouldn't run it alone. It's just harder. We were only 5K into this thing and I'm
scrambling to find a group, again. As I made my way through the crowd, got my pace on track,
scanned the field and lo and behold, there's a green ribbon. Thank God it's Israel. I catch them
and told them we need to watch out for each other. Susan, the only woman in Team Green says,
"Yes, cause I don't want to run this by myself, that'd be hell."
Los Angeles has an ego. If she knows she's going to be on TV, she'll comes through with a Chamber
of Commerce day. Have you ever seen it rain at a Rose Bowl? No? Cause it's 75 and beautiful.
Bikini and beer weather for the rest of the U.S. to dream about. Well, LA did it again. Sunday
was perfect. I have no complaints with the weather. Especially since we've been soaked for
months. Los Angeles also has a bad reputation. Nasty in places, greedy, spoiled, certainly
indifferent. I didn't see that side of the city. As far as I could see, the streets were paved
with gold. Everywhere I looked Los Angelenos were cheering, helping and giving. Little girls,
standing in the middle of the street with their mothers, handing out orange wedges, water or
candy. Every one of them smiled and waved. All along the course people called out the runners
names printed on their bibs. If I had a dime for every time I heard, "Yo, William, looking
strong, or you can do it William" I could buy you all, something. But, you'd have to share.
At mile eight we agreed that at mile 13 we would walk a minute for every five minutes we ran. I
thought it was a good plan cause that's how I trained. Right around mile 12 I lost my group, and
this time it was for good. I was lagging behind again and saw Jacob the pace leader and Danny,
the last member of Team Green, standing in a Pot-O-Potty line. I wrote them off for good and
started looking for Susan and Israel. Alone again, naturally. I gave up at mile 13 when I
started my first 5 and 1 walk break. Susan's haunting fear had become mine. I'd been running by
myself by lagging behind, but I could catch them, have a conversation , get some support or
feedback anytime. I worried about mile 23, body hurting, mind playing tricks, hydration and my
feet. They already ached bad.
As I did throughout my training, I settled into the pain. There is a certain satisfaction in
taking the pain and owning it. I'm no freaking Hercules, but for the last 7 months I've been
able to take the shit. Even loosing every Friday night cause we ran early on Saturdays. Come to
think of it, there wasn't much partying on Saturday nights either. Damn!
I run cause of the high. I get it every time I run. I like endorphins, a lot. When you run a
marathon, multiply that feeling exponentially and you get what I call a Universal moment. You
know, that moment when the top of your head opens up, the whole world comes into your body and
exits through every pore on your body creating a wonderful shiver? I had a handful of Universal
moments. It happened a couple of times when a certain song would come on the personal audio
device I carried. My friend Mark lent me his iPod Shuffle. If you don't know about this thing,
check it out. It's the size of 3 sticks of chewing gum, holds 240 songs and has a 12 hour long
battery. Brilliant! Anyway, the Supersuckers rock and gave me the extra punch to get past mile
15, body tingling, smile on my face and no pain. But, as with all good things, the moment came to
I kept up my 5 and 1 routine and it was serving me well. Passing the 16 mile mark got me
thinking. Three weeks earlier I ran the last 10 miles with my pace group to familiarize ourselves
with end of the course. So I knew exactly when and where the hills were and one was coming up
soon. It was then that I started the stinking thinking. The freaking left brain again. If I'd
learned anything in my days, it's bad and good are next door neighbors. I immediately thought
about my friends and family and everyone on the course who were telling me I could do it. Love
was in the air. And, I've never met a hill I didn't like.
The best Universal moment happened just after mile 20. I had just passed a section that I
anticipated seeing a friend, but saw no one. A little bummed, I looked forward to seeing my Mom.
She was at the mile 22 Legger's cheering section. I followed this girl who was going a little
faster than me, when I saw it. Pure joy. A woman bolts into the street and runs toward the girl
with a look on her face that defined love. They hugged and overheard her mother's words of
encouragement and support. Then a man ran over and grabbed the girls free hand and they ran along
as a family, each of them crying. I was a fly on the wall. A tourist caught in the wake of this
beautiful stream of joy. Man did that help move me forward. Two more miles and I'd get to feel
that for myself. At mile 22 I saw the Legger's chearing section. Running up to it, I scan all
the faces, but don't see Mom. Shit, should I stop and go back? Sorry Mom, I could only think
about the warning about people who just stopping in front of you. I couldn't do that to me or
anyone else. Besides, at mile 22, I could have stopped for good. I settled into the pain again.
4.2 miles left. Feet pounding and stomache growling I push forward to the sounds of Oasis. The
rock is on. Cruising down Olympic, the LA skyline hung like an oasis. Or, was it mirage? Stupid
left brain activity. The crowd was pretty thin around here. I remember a Christian rock band
playing way to loud as I passed under the 110 freeway and made my way toward the Staple Center.
When I saw the Staples Center, I knew I was home free. Turn left on Flower and it's a straight
shot, 3/4 of a mile, up hill.
I've been to a lot of big events where large audiences cheered adoringly for their favorite player
or rock star. I'd always been on the cheering side of that exchange. Nothing in my life could
have prepared me for what I saw when I turned up Flower. Both sides of the street, filled 6 to 7
people deep, cheering for us. I had some loud rock music banging off my ear drums, but this crowd
was too big. That view I had at the beginning of the race just switched and I was running up a
hill looking at all the runners and huge crowd. I could see people all the way up to the finish
line. Baring a sniper shot from a book depository, I was going to finish this damn marathon.
Even at the end, you think, just for a second about not finishing. Then, the crowd wills you on.
I pass under the 26 mile banner and see a tower and people with binoculars. They're reading
runner's bib numbers and calling out the names. As I pass the tower I hear, "And, there's William
Brown." I raised my hands and said to myself, "Fucking A right it is."
I cross the finish line and don't know what to think. I was told I would cry. No tears. I was
told I'd be happier than I had ever been, awash with my sense of accomplishment. I wasn't.
Don't get me wrong, I felt good. But I wasn't having a Universal moment. Some man pointed for me
to move over and get the timing chip off my left shoe. Another extremely helpful person did that
for me. I turn around and someone put a medal around my neck. It's beautiful. But, I'm still a
little dizzy. Another person hands me an aluminum sheet to wrap around me and keep in my body
heat. I do this and see water. I'd drunk a ton of water that day and still didn't have to pee.
My nipples burned an I saw the blood stains again. I thought how odd humans were. Just then I
turn around and there is Kendall Nix, my mentor from the Leggers. He came in just after me. He
had a good run that day too. He was the fist person I focused on and it was perfect. I told him
thank you, that everything he and the Leggers taught me came to bare today and I couldn't have
done it with out him. I felt fortunate to have had that moment, Universal or not. I found out
that Jacob, my pace leader during the race finished after me as did the original pace leader
Steve. I don't know about Susan yet, but Danny and Israel bonked and did an over 5 hour run. It
doesn't matter cause Team Green rules!
I made my way back to the Omni hotel and the Legger's HQ in the big ballroom. I wafted up the
special route of escalators (avoiding all hills and stairs) shown to me the night before by some
damn Leggers. Crossing the street I realized I was going to get my moment of joy. My Mom was
waiting at the ballroom. The set of stairs I had to descend to get to the ballroom's floor
revealed a symptom that would raise it's ugly head later. But, I turn a corner and there's Mom
with hugs, smiles, flowers and a cell phone. It's my sister, Kelli with congratulation. There's
lots of congratulations, given and taken after that. Then it starts to creep in. That sense of
accomplishment. No tears, but satisfaction and well being. Happy to just hang with Mom and tell
her about my morning.
If you've ever had the inclination to run a Marathon, do it. Anyone can. I'm now qualified to
say that. I'd also say, "Yo, looking strong, you can make it!" I'll remind you that when you
think you are by yourself, you're never alone. I'll teach my favorite mantras, "I never met a
hill I didn't like. Or, pain is temporary, finishing a Marathon last your whole life." I tell
you that you have a personal definition for will and determination. I'll help you like you helped
me. Thanks again for all the love and support. Oh man, they finally hit me, tears.
P S If it matter's, I did the 20th running of the Los Angeles Marathon in 4:42:44.65.