No One Walks in LA

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Forgive me internet, for I have sinned. It has been nearly 1200 days since my last post.

Since my last posts on here, which covered topics like the Donut Summit and a burger-eating contest, I have been exploring a different type of competitive venture in our fair city: endurance athletics.

All of my food-related exploits had me approaching the 250-pound mark, and so in mid-2012 I began the long slow journey from “Couch to 5k” using a schedule I found online. The gradual build-up aspect was definitely nice, but I soon found that being accountable only to myself for the progress kept me stalling out on week 4 or so of the 9-week schedule.

This was when a friend suggested that I sign up for the L.A.Leggers. (Full disclosure: I now serve as President on the L.A.Leggers board of directors.) My friend pointed out that the Leggers train for full marathons, with the target race being the LA Marathon. I didn’t let myself try to look too far into the future… well, until I had done a couple weeks of training runs with the Leggers, at which point I went ahead and signed up for the LA Marathon.

Since then, I’ve done four full marathons, as well as a handful of half marathons and 10k events. More recently, I’ve gotten into triathlon training – in fact, this week I will travel to Cozumel, Mexico, to complete my first full Ironman event. Three years ago I would have spit garlic aioli in your face if you would have tried telling me I’d be doing a full Ironman. Today I’ll spit Gatorade Endurance drink in your face if you try to tell me I can’t!

So what does all this have to do with LA? It’s this: in addition to the L.A.Leggers, a group I’m obviously a bit biased toward, these past couple years have exposed me to an impressive facet of our community that I had fairly easily overlooked previously. The running and triathlon networks in LA are extensive, with groups like the Leggers, Team in Training, LA Tri Club, Cal Tri (these being just the groups my close personal friends and I are involved in, and there are so many more) a person looking to develop an active lifestyle has countless opportunities to do so with support and encouragement of those who are more experienced. (In the comments, please add names of any groups you know of or train with and what part of the city they meet in!)

The title of this post actually comes from a clever but slightly ill-considered hashtag put out by the Asics LA Marathon as they opened registration this season. True, when many people think “marathon,” they think “running.” My time with the L.A.Leggers has given me an insight into the marathon community I’d never considered previously: there are many, many people who train specifically to walk 26.2 miles (or 13.1, for the halfers). Some walkers, in fact, are able to complete these 26.2 mile strolls with remarkably impressive finishing times, in fact! So, while it’s clever to promote a race with the slogan, “No One Walks in LA” to poke fun at the tired old car-culture cliche, the truth is, LA’s got runners, bikers, swimmers, and – yes – walkers, all of whom go the distance.

And, as if that weren’t enough, just this weekend the Great LA Walk took place in the Valley, showing participants a nice ~17.5 miles of the valley, from Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills, down Ventura Boulevard all the way to Lankershim in North Hollywood. Coming up in December, there’s another Ciclavia event, this time taking place in South LA. Bicycles, walkers, runners will own the streets from 9am to 3pm.

As for me, I’m looking forward to completing my Ironman this coming Sunday, so that I can hurry back to LA for In-n-Out, the Counter, Umami Burger, Stan’s Donuts, 800 Degrees pizza… Well, I’ll work on finishing out this list while I’m riding my bike 112 miles around Cozumel.

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