My goal for 2016 was to run the Los Angeles Marathon. I wanted it more than anything. One of the reasons I was increasing my distance, slowly. I also wanted to continuously challenge myself, I always want to prove to myself that I can do it. I’ve been training the entire year of 2015, and I was training for distance. I wasn’t training for time, just for distance.
I picked up my race packet Friday afternoon, I shopped, and checked out all the vendors. It was a fantastic expo, and I wished I could have stayed longer. I had a big day on Saturday and I needed to pack my things, since I was staying in a hotel for the weekend.
I checked into the hotel on Saturday afternoon, the hotel was 7 miles from the finish line. I unpacked, went to the store and grabbed everything I needed for race day. I grabbed some dinner, relaxed, I laid out what I was going to wear, packed my bag, and called it a night. After all, the big day is tomorrow, and I was very nervous.
Its Valentines Day, and the day is upon me. My first marathon, and I was feeling nervous. I left my hotel at 3:30am, arrived in Santa Monica, and parked my car at 4:25am. Thank God I prepaid parking, it was quick, cheap and easy. I got onto the shuttle, which was a very comfortable bus, that took us to Dodger Stadium (the start line). During the ride I was looking out the window, and I was feeling very, very nervous.
We arrived at Dodger Stadium, I got off the bus, and started walking into Dodger Stadium. I couldn’t believe it, this was it and I was here. No turning back now. There was some food waiting for us, I had some of a bagel, a banana and a bottle of water. I got my bib on and everything I need in my SPI Belt. I checked my bag in at the bag check, and met up with friends.
Oh my Gosh, it felt so good to meet up and see my friends. It put my soul at ease, and I felt less nervous. It was nothing but smiles, hugs, pictures, and good vibes. I needed all of their smiles, and their positive attitudes to ease my nervousness.
The time had come, time for me to get into the open corral to start this journey through Los Angeles, a whole 26.2 miles. Susy and I were off, we crossed the start line and we were on our intervals. We ran through the Dodger Stadium parking lot, down Elysian Park Blvd, onto Sunset Blvd (mile 1) headed toward Chinatown (mile 2).
I saw the Golden Dragons and it put a smile on my face, I was feeling great and then Syzko, Manny, Diana and a few other of my Rundalay Family snuck up on Susy and myself. We ran with them all the way to Olvera Street, and we lost them when we hit City Hall (mile 3). We were making excellent time, keeping our intervals and keeping our pace; 13:00 min miles. Slow and steady, we didn’t want to burn out.
We were at mile 3.5 when we both had to use the restroom. We had made a right onto S. Central Ave and I knew there was a Starbucks right there. I said “Susy. Think Starbucks will let us use their restroom?” We walked in and saw other runners using the restroom, so we used the restroom as well. Then we took off, and we were on our way to mile 4.
We had made our way onto 1st Street, and that meant we had to go up that hill which leads us up to S. Grand Ave. That hill has always, always got me. Not today, I won. I beat it. I wasn’t tired, legs felt fantastic. I felt fantastic, time to keep going.
We made our way to mile 5.5 when we noticed someone was making chili cheese dogs and cheeseburgers. It smelled great, Susy and I decided to pass and we made our way to Echo Park (mile 6). Susy and I made a left onto Sunset Blvd, and we were making our way toward Hollywood.
We were running through Silverlake when I heard “Hey! Hawaiian girl.” I turned around and saw Yaya! Susy and I invited her to join us, we are family after all. The people in the community who came out to support us are absolutely amazing and unbelievable. They had water, pretzels, gummy bears, licorice, and vaseline. It is absolutely amazing. I took off my headphones and listened to the people cheering, clapping and their energy.
That energy carried me all the way to mile 9, Barnsdall Park, we made it to Hollywood. So far, we ran through Dodger Stadium, Chinatown, Downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Silverlake, and now Hollywood. These miles flew by fast, and the next thing I know we are making a left onto Orange and headed toward Sunset Blvd, making our way into West Hollywood (mile 12).
I noticed that we were in front of the Viper Room. I remember hearing about the Viper Room because River Phoenix died out on the sidewalk of a drug overdose on Halloween night of 1993. I had just started to get one negative thought at mile 15. I was feeling fantastic physically, and mentally, where is this thought coming from? Then I saw these wonderful cheerleaders and they immediately crushed that negative thought and put a big smile on my face. It was fantastic, and I was so glad that they were out there cheering all of us on. They made a huge difference and filled my soul with positive vibes, and set my mind back into the positive. We made a left onto N. San Vicente Blvd and headed into Beverly Hills.
We made our way through Beverly Hills, and I was about to make my way onto Rodeo Drive when I saw a couple of my friends at one of the cheer stations, Team Cruda. I took some ice for my neck and face, and also some snacks. I also grabbed an orange, and made my way down Rodeo Drive (mile 17). I caught up to Susy, I was acting like a 5 year old when I said “Susy! Susy! Look, I got an orange.” She laughed a little as I was peeling my orange.
We were now on Wilshire Blvd headed toward Century City (miles 18 and 19). Once Susy and I hit mile 20 we saw The Bad News Bears Field. I could picture Walter Matthau trying to pitch, but he passes out on the pitchers mound because he’s so drunk. Valley Runners LA were there as well, and they were life savers with donuts, and Kool n’ Fit. I asked one of the girls if she shouldn’t mind spraying my legs down. She is such a life saver. One of the many things I love about the run clubs of Los Angeles, they help out all run clubs and even though we are in different parts of LA and even in Los Angeles County, we are all one family.
At mile 21, Susy and I had heard something we haven’t heard at all during the race. We hear “Beer!” Susy says “Look” and points to our right, and there it is; a beer stand. The wonderful lady, says “Would you ladies like a beer? It’ll make you feel better.” I thought she was kidding and she had Gatorade for us. Nope, it was beer. We were in Heaven! We happily grabbed a cup and listened to her tell us her experiences running the LA Marathon, and how this year she decided to support all of us runners. I loved her, she was so sweet, and nice, and I loved hearing her stories. Most of all, I know we all were so grateful for the life saving beer. Instant battery recharge, it was just what we needed.
The last 4 miles were the worst for me, especially the 2 miles through Brentwood. I swear I passed by the same tree three times. It was at this time that my blisters were horrible, the sides of my feet were in horrible pain to keep from walking on the blisters, and I wanted to give up. I was literally fighting my own inner demons, and I knew I was winning that fight for two reasons; 1) I kept going, I didn’t stop and 2) I was able to shut up the negative thoughts pretty quickly.
As I made that final left turn from San Vicente Blvd onto Ocean Ave I looked up and saw the finish line. My mind became clear and focused, and I started to run, as best as I could toward that finish line. I had stopped to walk only three times, one of those times was to attempt to take a pic of me on the big screen that was set up feet before the finish line. My phone died before I could take the photo, I went ahead and started to run toward the finish line. I saw my friend Gwen crossing the finish line, I crossed just seconds after she did, and I crossed about a couple of minutes behind Susy.
Crossing that finish line was the most emotional experience I’ve ever felt after a race. I was crying when I collected my finisher medal, I was still crying when I collected my mylar blanket, post-race refreshments, and my bag from the gear check. I sat on a bench, facing the beach, and continued to cry. I was so happy, I was also in disbelief that I actually did it, and I was so happy that I did it. It was a mixture of emotions. I was crying when I received my finisher’s medal, the young lady who handed it to me congratulated me twice. She was super sweet, and took time to talk to me for a bit. I found an empty bench, sat down, rested and cried some more.
I had collected myself, walked to obtain my finishers jacket from Students Run LA, hooked my phone up to an external, portable battery (Gwen suggested I get it, and I’m glad I did) and text messages from Susy came through, while I was walking back to my car. She wanted to make sure that I made it. I made it, and I was crying while I was texting her. I made it to my car and went back to my hotel.
I took a very warm shower, put on some comfortable clothes, and just stayed in bed. I did get up a couple of times to foam roll, answer the door for room service, etc. I was very comfortable and on a runner’s high. The next morning I woke up, my legs were perfectly fine. No soreness, no stiffness, nada. My feet were in terrible pain, but I put some Tiger Balm on my feet and that helped a lot. My feet were still in pain, but a lot better than before the Tiger Balm. My blisters on my right foot were full of liquid, I just let them drain on their own.
The best part about the entire marathon that shocked me, is that up until the last 10k of the marathon (when my blisters started to form), Susy and I had kept our pace on track and on point. We did so fantastic through out the entire marathon and we finished strong.
We ran a total of 26.52 that day, well over the 26.2 that a marathon actually is. According to my GPS, I did a 26.2 marathon in 6:40:18. I did the entire 26.52 miles in 6:58:08 according to my chip time. You know, its not about time. For me, its all about the finish.
Not only did the Los Angeles Marathon mark my very first marathon, but it was also the first time I fundraised. I managed to raise $115 for Students Run L.A., a non-profit organization that helps at risk youth with adult mentoring, goal setting, and teaches students to run the Los Angeles Marathon. I was very proud of the money I was able to raise, every little bit helps, I am also very honored to be apart of Team SRLA, and I was honored to run the LA Marathon for the entire organization (charity). Please visit Students Run LA Official Website to learn more about this fantastic organization. Its all about the kids, they are our future.
Running the LA Marathon was truly an experience, and I will never forget it. You’ll see me at next years LA Marathon.
When I came home my dad couldn’t believe I did it, and couldn’t imagine it. I showed him this video and it truly does help put the marathon into perspective. LAM Course Tour Video