Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tales From Hollywood

Yesterday, we did our team’s Hollywood Cemetery run – always a lot of fun, combining exercise, scenery, history, and (this time of year) the beauty of flowers. Two US Presidents (Monroe and Tyler) and one Confederate President (Jefferson Davis) are buried there. Every time I do the TNT route through the cemetery, I can’t help but remember our 2006 Spring Team’s sojourn through the azaleas and dogwoods.

It was my second TNT season, and my first as a mentor. I mentored several women on the walk team as I trained for the San Diego Marathon. I was the only person training to walk the full marathon, and so did most of my training by myself because of the distances involved. But on the last day of training, I cut it short a bit to train with Allison and Vaunda, my two San Diego Half Marathon mentees. And my mentee Mary Nell, now a veteran of the Country Music Half Marathon the prior month in Nashville, came back out to do a final walk with the team. Three great gals and me walking through the cemetery – what could go wrong? None of the three of them had ever been in there before.

As we entered the cemetery, Vaunda got a little nervous. “This place gives me the creeps! There is no way I’d go in here by myself.” Allison on the other hand, was fascinated and kind of liked it. “If I were homeless,” she said, “I’d come sleep in here. It would be quiet and peaceful, no one to bother you.” Vaunda was horrified. “Sleep in here? No way!” The run team passed us coming down the hill maybe three fourths of a mile ahead of us and we all yelled “Go Team!” Then we headed up the steep hill.

We paused to admire the great river and city views from the chapel along the crest of the hill, talk of living in cemeteries left behind for a bit. But as we moved along, we saw some worms that had come out on the pavement. They were going to bake in the sun, so I picked up a few large ones. Mary Nell looked a little alarmed, and then I tossed them on a grassy area. “I thought you were going to throw them at me, Art,” she said. “No, I have not done anything like that maybe ever, but if so it would have been in grade school. I’m just trying to save them,” I said.

By now, we were a bit lost. It was hard to follow the instructions because they didn’t always mention streets. We could always retrace out route to get out, but were trying to follow the exact route to stick to our training regimen. We fumbled around for a while, looking at the instructions over and over, trying to figure which of the streets we should go down. Finally, we just headed along one of the streets that we thought was right.

Suddenly, like an old ghostly Confederate soldier, this apparition appeared on the rise directly above us. Okay, he was not really an apparition, but a real guy. He had a long unkempt beard, a floppy hat, and some kind of a walking stick. Or was it a club? We all greeted him, but he just stared at us and said not a word as we walked by. He became the latest topic of conversation among the ladies and I. “Boy, he was creepy,” Vaunda said. Allison added “Oh, maybe I wouldn’t really want to hang out here if I were homeless.” Mary Nell said “I’m glad that you were with us to protect us, Art!” I jokingly replied “Protect you? I was thinking the same thing about you three being here to protect me.” We all laughed, but a couple of them glanced over their shoulders now and again. And they all vowed there was no way they would come back in here alone.

Ultimately, we got back on track, went past the big pyramid and the iron dog (see yesterday’s photos), and headed back through the city. But now the three of them were Hollywood veterans, and I always think of these three wonderful women whenever I train in there. And I almost always get a little lost each time as well, maybe for old time’s sake. Hurrah for Hollywood!

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