Catalina Marathon Report: Part 1 Crazy Diamonds

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Catalina Race Report
Part 1: Shine On Crazy Diamonds

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.”

– Sir Roger Bannister, first sub 4 minute mile

Catalina 2006 was a dream come true for me. But it didn’t start that way.

The evening before, was packing my bag to late in the evening. Fuelbelt, camera, way too many books, trying to make up for the yoga studies I’m behind in, vitamins, Ultra, batteries, sets of clothing, music, PowerBook Pro. As typical, I left all that to the last second, and I was stressed out. I had tried to make the boat over the evening before to meet my parents who had a boat over in Avalon, and all stressed out, running around LA doing errands, I couldn’t make the 5:00 p.m boat.

I made the 6:00 a.m. boat out of Long Beach with my overweight duffel bag. As we left the harbor, I sat writing yoga notes into my computer…

You are what your deep driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.

Brihadaranyaka iv.5 The Upanishads

Then I looked up to see the my first bit of beauty. The sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. I was listening to Pink Floyd’s “Shine on Crazy Diamond” and I had one of those moments when everything seemed so perfect–the sun on the water, the music, my Desikachar’s quote.

You see, Catalina had been a driving desire of mine for some time. In 2003, I planned to do the marathon two weeks after Los Angeles. Yet two weeks after my PR at the time (3:49), my legs were still aching. So I called it off. The weather intimidated my father from going over with his boat also.

The year after the weather turned us away again. 2004 is still famous among Catalina marathoners for just getting dumped on.

So this was to be the year. I chose to not do the LA marathon to focus my efforts on Catalina. In addition, after teaching six college classes in the fall, I got a little beat down from work, tired and unmotivated to run. Plus some other things going on my life that became those little hobgoblins giving me reasons too not run.

New Years day, like many of us, I made a fitness resolution to run Catalina. Even if I finished over 5 hours, walking, taking pictures, taking notes some long race report, I’d finish it.

My runs began short. 3-4 milers twice in the week. Then I began doing some long runs on the weekend. I wasn’t even counting miles. I train on the trails on the back side of Palos Verdes, and I had a point in my mind like the top of Del Cerro hill, and I’d run up there. I ran sporadically with my old running partner, Bob, but he was traveling up to Washington to visit a new girlfriend seemingly every weekend.

Did some group trail runs with the www.socalrunning.com community. But mostly I did some long runs by myself. I coach to not listen to music when you run, yet I really needed some tunes. I don’t care, sometimes you need company even if it is Kirk Franklin on a long run.

Before long I was running for two hours, two and a half hours, three hours on trails and hills. I figuered I should build up to a four hour trail run in preparation. I think it is important to look at the terrain for a marathon, and try to replicate it as much as possible in your training. The ideal is to actually run the course before. Of the 26 miles, something like 18 of them are uphill at Catalina. With the steepest hill at mile 18. So my big training run was 22 miles around Palos Verdes, and I made sure my largest hill was at about 3/4 of the way into the run. That run went great. And I powered the hill.

I practice and teach ChiRunning. And I tried to practice my running form with every run. Especially conserving energy going uphill. My speed downhill is still Bode Miller like, mainly because ChiRunning has taught me to move my legs faster than other runners.

After my long run, I didn’t run for a week. Then I did a couple of short runs. I so believe in rest. Most runners injure themselves because they simply do not rest after hard run. The Wednesday before the marathon I ran the switchbacks with my partner Bob. He always smokes me uphill, as he runs with long strides compared to the baby steps I use with ChiRunning. But this time, I leaned big into the hill, and used my arms to take me up the 3 mile hill of Palos Verdes Drive East. I practiced full yoga breathing. I didn’t look back.

And I got to the top of the hill before he did. First time ever. I was ready.

I had also began intensive yoga study this winter. My yoga teacher, Rosie Good, offered her teacher training which began in February. She is an amazing teacher and person. An effulgent light for many of us in San Pedro. Every Friday evening I chanted and studied the sutras of Patanjali for two hours. Then five hours of yoga Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure how Yoga is changing my life but, I am changing. Of course I’m more flexible, but it goes deeper than that. Things are opening up inside of me. Creative energies. Infinite possiblities. Positive thoughts. Visions of angels. I guess this website is a channel for me to share some of these thoughts and visions.

And that morning all these memories, my life, was coming back to me with the sun coming up. All these crazy diamonds, Bob, Rosie, Chad, Witze, the Beach Runners, Steve Mackel, Danny Dreyer, Jason Smith, my father, all these people that play a role in keeping you fit and healthy, feeling strong when you feel weak, inspired when you feel demoralized, valuable when you feel worthless, I sent a prayer of thanks to everyone that helped me prepare for this marathon. Because the more my heart chakra opens in life, the more I realize that I get my strength from them and God. Without those crazy diamonds in my life, running marathons is not possible.

Shine On!

Namaste
Gary
Part 2 (Rainbows from Heaven) coming soon.

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