1/4/15, Sunday Afternoon
Matt: “Hey Josh, did you want to do Solvang this year?” [100 mile bike ride]
Me: “Ehh.. I don’t think so. I was barely capable of the San Diego Ride last year..”
Matt: “Hey, how about the LA Marathon?”
Me: “Hmm.. okay!”
Matt: “Hey Stu, want to do the marathon? Josh is!”
That was exactly 10 weeks before the marathon. Matt had already begun training, he had nothing to worry about. Stu and I on the other hand.. we had to whip ourselves into shape, fast. We set our regiment out; jogging to get into or stay in shape during the week and weekends were reserved for long runs. I’ll spare you the details and leave you with the fact that I ran a total of 171 miles during the training process. Whether that was enough or too little, I’ll leave for you, the reader, to decide, but it would have to do. It had to. As you could imagine, with only 10 weeks, we weren’t really training for speed, but rather training to be able to finish. At least, that was the case for me.
Let me remind you that I’m not a runner. At best I’m a sprinter for playing football in high school. I never did cross country or track. I am not athletic, I am a nerd.. remember?
So 10 weeks flew by and the three of us stood at the start line at Dodger’s Stadium at the crack of dawn. Nervous, jittery, pumped, unprepared… there were a lot of adjectives to describe how we felt.
Let me tell you about the first 13 miles. So Easy. Granted, I fell behind Matt and Stu at the 3 mile mark, but that was because I got water every chance I could and stopped for the bathroom early on. And then the sun broke through the clouds and heavy heat permeated the land. I slowed down to a walking pace by the 15 mile mark. With the sun in effect, I wouldn’t allow myself to jog if I felt the least bit thirsty or light-headed, for I didn’t want to faint.
Demoralized, I walked along the course. When suddenly I heard my name being yelled from a group of girls. I look to my left to see the Mars. Auntie Pat even pulled me aside to snap a picture with them.
Rejuvenated and recharged from seeing familiar faces, I began to run again. Even though I would run slower than I did for the first 13 miles, I was able to keep going for the next 5 miles. Moral would decline again as the course had no shade and sparsely supplied aid stations. Right before I gave into walking again, I came across another set of familiar faces, Kara and Charissa.
The last 6 miles were ridiculous. The longest I had run before that day was 18 miles, so any amount after that was already new territory. With the sun high in the sky, I found myself walking a lot. I wasn’t even tired. I had plenty of energy, but the bottoms of my feet were already sore. Each step was like walking on Legos. At one point I pulled over to the side to sit on the grass cause I needed to get off my feet. I was hoping that giving my feet a 15 second break would help but it didn’t. I was frustrated with myself. My heart was strong but my body was weak.
At mile 23, the last stretch was shaded and slightly downhill, which empowered me to run again. A lot of volunteers on the sidelines kept saying things like “you’re almost there” or “only a mile more!”. I would come to find that that information was false. I saw a banner in the distance, only to find that it was the 25 mile mark. Determined to not stop, I ran all the way to the end of the finish line, where I received the medal I coveted so much. Honestly, that was the thing that kept me going. I knew if I quit or didn’t finish, I wouldn’t get one.
It truly was an experience, it’s hard to describe. It was really cool to be in a giant pack of people the whole time. At no point was I alone (unlike the San Diego bike ride I did a year prior). I saw a lot of characters while running. There was, and not limited to, a Batman, a Gumby, some Elvis’s, a police women in full uniform, a fireman in full uniform, a man dragging a tire, a man carrying a cross and a luchador all running the full marathon. I learned to really appreciate the volunteers along the sides of the road. Sometimes all it took was reading a funny sign to get myself going again. Among other things along the way, the live music was entertaining, 60 year old grown men dressed as cheerleaders were a sight to see and seeing old dancing Asian men was funny. Power walkers are the most deceiving thing. They walk as fast as you jog, making you question your speed. I would being to walk thinking my jogging pace was super slow any way, only to have the take off as I switched. It was super hot. I think if it weren’t so hot, all the non-elite runners would have easily shaved an hour off their time.
It took me just under 7 hours, but hey, at least I finished.
The hot dog was necessary
If I can do it.. so can you!
Would I do it again? Eh, we’ll see.