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Going the
Distance, Part 4

Going the
Distance, Part 4


As training winds down for The Advocate's resident marathoner, he catches a second wind that pushes him closer to the finish line.

This month of training has allowed me to bounce back from my injury and fatigue. My energy levels have finally rebounded, and I don't feel depressed, as I did weeks ago. For a while, I worried I couldn't continue with my training, but now I'm confident about crossing the finish line on March 2.

My 26-mile training run on February 2 was dubbed the "Celebration Run." This time I ran with a pace group that averages 14:30 minutes per mile, but they slowed down for this run. Regardless, we ran at a faster pace than I had been running in a while, and it was a lot of fun.

Through the marathon-length route, water stops with cheering volunteers were our refuge. The National AIDS Marathon Training Program cannot possibly be successful without the dedicated volunteers and staff who run it. Both the volunteers and fundraising by the runners help support Aids Project Los Angeles (APLA) in assisting people affected by and living with HIV/AIDS. As a 22-year survivor of HIV, I can personally support these efforts with all of my heart and soul.

Matt, a handsome bear cub, serenaded us along the route. He's as cute as he can be, but I don't have a crush on him. Besides, Matt already has a partner, who is developing a musical tentatively titled Tap about Congressman Larry Craig's airport sex scandal.

This group was a major morale booster for me, after having gone through a period of being less than enthusiastic about running. I even encountered a culinary windfall by running with them: Our coach, Scott, treated us to sandwiches about midway though the route and then post-run pizza.

The most joyous part of the run was crossing the finish line, where I received a medal for finishing the Celebration Run. It reminded me of why I run: the euphoric rush of crossing the finish line and having a medal placed around my neck. I was also grateful that I didn't sustain any injuries during this run, even though I was a bit stiff and sore in my legs and hips for a couple of days.

On February 10 during the week following the 26-mile Celebration Run, I returned to Los Angeles to make the eight-mile Recovery Run. It was a much more intimate run than the previous weekend. I rejoined the pace group I ran with the week before, but there were only four of us. The route took us past Disney Studios and Warner Bros. in Burbank. Though the run was quiet and went quickly, Matt and his serenading were conspicuously absent.

The weather here in Las Vegas where I live seems to be warming up a bit. That makes it more tolerable to run outdoors -- where I prefer to be -- as opposed to running on the treadmill indoors. In the meantime I continue my work as a substitute teacher. I work mostly with autism but lately have considered a change of profession. I love subbing and working with autistic children, but after five years I am feeling compassion fatigue. I think I need a change. I am also busy working on my MBA, which takes up much of my time.

Running gives me a break from these things. When I run, I am able to escape from everything. It's quite a release. With less than a month left of training, I don't know what I will do after the marathon. There are other marathons as well as shorter runs I can do. But nothing can compare to the experience of training with the National AIDS Marathon Training Program.

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