“I just started really basic. I would do a mile or two-mile run,” said Chris Gilbert, who finished the LA marathon on Sunday. “Then I upped the mileage. Then I would add implements like hills. Then I would just run as far as I could, then run back.”
The training history of marathon runners varies. While several prefer completing five-kilometer of 10-kilomter runs before tackling the big one, others prefer to skip all that.
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Like Chris Gilbert.
“I think the most I had run was four miles at once,” he said on Tuesday, donning his bright orange runner’s shirt and gleaming medal. “It was quite a big jump.”
Gilbert, 23, started training in September 2010, honing his breathing and recovery techniques. Then came the real challenge: building endurance.
“All I had running were the clothes on my back and a cell phone. I would just pick certain locations,” he said.
One of those milestones was the KHTS office, where Gilbert works as board operator for on-air programs. Throughout this training, Gilbert would frequently burst though the doors, drenched in sweat and panting as if the police were on his tail.
“Two weeks before the marathon, I would just run from my house in Shadow Pines to KHTS and run back,” he said. “Sometimes I would run to KHTS and then go to Sierra Highway, run up Sierra Highway, up and over Sand Canyon and then down Sand Canyon back to my house.”
As is typical of all runners in training, Gilbert incorporated hills and windy roads into his training, but the track conditions over the weekend were beyond his preparation.
On Sunday, runners were repeatedly blasted with winds up to 45 miles per hour, hail and flooded roads. Simply put, if you were outside, it was only because you were running or watching the race.
“At times I had to stop because of the weather. When you stop, it just hits you like a tons of bricks, so the recovery training helps.”
Gilbert finished the marathon, his first, with a time of 5 hours 29 minutes and 30 seconds.
That’s a long time to be doing anything, let alone running. But he had company.
“Some of them were very sociable. I was running through Hollywood and this South African guy and I were discussing vacation trips in Europe,” he said.
Several, he said, kept to themselves. Others, however, used the race as their outdoor runway, dressing up as a giant lobster or Superman.
“On Rodeo Drive, there was a man, he literally took a trash can and cut arm holes out and leg holes. He’s running with a trash can and with a trash can lid for a hat, so I kind of took shelter behind him at a couple points during the marathon.”
The 26.2-mile race stretched from Dodger Stadium to Ocean Avenue and California Avenue in Santa Monica. Of the 23,500 entrants, 19,900 finished.
“Making that last left turn from San Vicente to Ocean Avenue, I could see that finish line and not just me, but all the runners around me, our eyes just lit up with joy,” he said. “When I got into my dad’s car drenching wet, cold – pretty much all my appendages frozen – I just sat there and looked at the medal.”