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Not With The Band, Running And The Wonderful Power Of Music

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In my mind, I’m a Kenyan

Energy bars, check, sunscreen, check, iPhone, check, Bib number on the t-shirt, check, gums, check, sunglasses, check,… I have run a few Los Angeles Marathons, but I always worry about forgetting something, it’s a real trip each time, 26.2 miles from the Stadium (The Dodgers stadium) to the sea! Curiously I never take my music when I run a marathon, it’s simply too long for my batteries and I prefer to enjoy the entertainment along the road. Nevertheless, I thought there were less bands than usual, and honestly how long can you stay in front of a stage when you’re running?

The Dodgers stadium is a great start, and the sunrise had never been so beautiful at 7 am, the clouds were red from the sun and the sky was starting to get a wonderful blue that lasted the whole day. What is great with this race is its scenic potential, we run through the whole city starting by Chinatown, Downtown LA, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Brentwood and Santa Monica… true we ignore the ghettos and South Central, but what can I say, people from all over the world come to run the LA marathon and you want to make the city look its best. Chinatown had its usual dragons and drums and when I arrived at Silver Lake the guy who was running next to me shouted ‘weeeed’ effectively, I could smell a strong odor of weed,… typical Silver Lake crowd, these are my people! On Hollywood boulevard I got the chance to check the upcoming shows, American Idiot coming soon at the Pantages theater and The Real Estate on Monday at the Henry Fonda theater,… interesting, although I will probably be dead on Monday night. A guy holding a sign ‘You make the Kardashians look bad’ make me laugh a bit – we are in Hollywood that’s sure – and gave me more energy,… but at this time I still have plenty. West Hollywood welcomed us with drag queens dressed up as cheerleaders, ‘Welcome to the boys’ club!’ one of them shouted at me but I was already gone.

Two things thing are sure: Michael Jackson is still hot in this town, I saw two impersonators along the way, Thriller-era, with the red jacket, the hair and the music, and I am sure the 80s will never die: ‘Eye of the Tiger’, ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made of This’? Really? These are songs that bands cover these days? But, as miles passed and energy lowered, I discovered that, whenever I was hearing music, it was giving me energy, even the oversaturated sound coming from the booth of the generally awful Power 106 did energize me at some point, even the shitty sound of some boombox playing the ‘Gangnam Style’, even a bunch of women playing some rhythms with bells and boxes – they were not bad at all actually. Any sound and rhythm were feeding my legs and making me run faster, even when I felt I couldn’t make another step, and that’s the wonderful power of music.

I don’t know why some Native Americans had a sort of mini Pow Wow (was it around Beverly Hills?) but I always loved these drumbeats and throbbing chants. However, the closer we got to the sea, the less music there was, which forced me to concentrate on my legs, feet,… and pain. Miles 18-19-20 are always the toughest of all, there’s still more than 10K and I am generally starting to fall apart… But suddenly it was mile 22, mile 23 and it was almost over, I was almost there. People shouting encouragements were so important at this point, and I want to hug everyone who did give me some strength during these last miles. During the last mile following the seashore, the sun was quite hot at this point, the temperatures were in the 80s but the sea breeze got me feel better. I crossed someone wearing a t-shirt saying ‘In my mind I am a Kenyan’, and I thought that yeah, it was all in your mind, man… however the Ethiopians beat the Kenyans this year! I was there, below the sign, at last, I am getting used to this, but I have seen people crying at the arrival, as a result of a combination of exhaustion and euphoria… I’m high for a few days and I didn’t even have any of this marijuana they were smoking in Silver Lake.

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