March 18, 2012: A day I’ve been counting down to for months, finally came and I ran my first marathon!
The “Stadium to the Sea” course of the LA Marathon was an excellent first 26.2 miles to do. The course is relatively flat and gives the runners SUCH a great tour of Los Angeles, starting on the east side at Dodger Stadium and (slowly) winding through Chinatown, downtown, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Hollywood (oh hey, Pantages, Capitol Records, Walk of Fame, and Grauman’s!), West Hollywood, Beverly Hills (right down Rodeo Drive!), Westwood, Brentwood, and finishing basically on the beach in Santa Monica. Whew.
My dad and step mother were in town to see me
die race, so the night before they cooked up a delicious, carb-licious dinner of spaghetti, homemade sauce, garlic bread, and grape, walnut and arugula salad. Yum! My LA Family partook in the carb-o-loading alongside me, and also met me along the route: Roommate #1 just up the street from our house at a Sunset and Fountain water stop (where, 12 miles into the race, I demanded chapstick from my race pack he graciously carried up for me) with my spectating parents; Roommate #2 at the mile 16 water stop with his Disney Volunt-ears (who are all training for an October triathlon…crazies!); and the whole group at the finish line!
With this being my first marathon, this is also my first marathon race recap, so…apologies on how disjointed it seems :). The first 5k flew by, as did the second, and I didn’t start really feeling my muscles working until around mile 10 or 11 because of the adrenaline coursing through me. I took advantage of almost every water stop as well as some of the Vaseline boards that a few of the THOUSANDS of spectators were holding out (much appreciated!). At my first ‘Team LBK’ spot, a little after mile 12, I got some much-needed encouragement from my parents and Roommate #1, as my calves were really starting to feel it. Pushing forward, the slight incline up Sunset gave me a little energy boost, and before I knew it I was sailing down Rodeo Drive in the fancy Beverly Hills neighborhood. Cheer Alley helped jumpstart my adrenaline levels on our way onto Santa Monica Blvd., and from there…things went downhill. I took my first walking break around mile 19 as we entered Westwood, and started a one-per-mile trend of walks…each getting a little longer. I was really feeling the fact that my longest training run had been 18.6 miles (I had a pretty miserable cold the weekend that was supposed to be 21 miles, so it never happened), and had a few moments of, “Oh my gosh…am I going to finish this??” Luckily for me, just after mile 23, The Fonz provided some comic relief that powered me through those last (BRUTAL) miles. Henry Winkler is an (active) Emerson alum, as well as LA resident, and had been out supporting the marathoners all morning. Upon seeing him up ahead on the route, I pulled out my earbuds and huffed, “I’m an Emerson alum!” as I approached him. His response was the best possible thing I could have heard: “YES! Run for the Lions!” he screamed and high-fived me. I was beaming, and from there on out had two mantras running through my head: 1. You have to finish to get a medal. (what I’ve ended up repeating to myself at the end of ALL races) and 2. You have to finish so you can tell everyone what The Fonz said!
Using those motivators, I pulled out the after burners and found my way to the ocean. Turning the bend onto Ocean Avenue as the crowds started to get denser and louder was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had. At that point I could see the finish line banner and knew it was actually going to happen. Fighting back emotions (running is harder if you’re crying, fun fact!), all I could think was, “Get. There.” and as soon as I saw my sneakers pass over the finish line, I exhaled and started beaming. I’m pretty sure that stupid grin didn’t leave my face for the rest of the day. Finding my way through the medal, blanket, and water collection spots, I met up with Team LBK where we all sat on the pavement, took (sweaty) finishing pictures, and laughed about the 26.2 miles of things I had seen, thought about, and said.