Finishing a marathon is something I’ve always wanted to check off my bucket list and FINALLY after multiple attempts, I can say that on Valentine’s Day 2016 I accomplished this dream.
I’d run 3 half marathons before – one in Hong Kong while I was doing a study abroad in undergrad, another one in San Francisco with my brother, and the last one was the Rock N’Roll in Los Angeles with my friend Hannah.
I was so nervous because of the different things I had heard leading up to this event. I’d heard that people’s toenails turned black and/or fell off because 26.2 miles was not a natural distance for people to be running. So naturally I worried about my toes! But I moved forward anyways.
Training with the LA Leggers, a non-profit group based in Santa Monica was priceless. The long distance runs with an amazing team of people was incredible. We’d meet every Saturday morning on Ocean Avenue by the beach and run with mentors.
As the race day approached I couldn’t decide whether or not I should run on my own or run with my group. My natural tendency is to do things on my own but I decided the theme of this year was going to be community and teamwork. And also, the LA Leggers’ motto is “No Legger Left Behind”. Pictured above is “Sarge” who showed up early with extra supplies to help tape runners and provide overall support and medical supplies. It’s really inspiring to see people helping others so selflessly.
On the race day, the LA Leggers rent the ballroom of the DoubleTree Hotel in Santa Monica where runners can check in, in the morning and grab a quick breakfast before getting shuttled to Dodger Stadium where the race begins.
Here are a few photos at the beginning of the race. Gloria, my running mentor, showed up with a balloon so that we could find her if we got separated from the group. And this was a good thing! I almost lost them a few times but always spotted the balloon…
Mayor Eric Garcetti was there to cheer the runners and there were 25,000 people who showed up to participate. It was truly a phenomenal experience. Below is a map of the Stadium to the Sea course.
Beginning at Dodger stadium, we ran through the Twin Dragon Towers Gateway in Chinatown where there were Chinese drummers cheering on the crowd before we ran by Olvera Street and past the iconic Disney Concert Hall. Further along, we began turning the corner approaching Echo Park Lake, where there were vendors giving away free hot dogs (with chili!) to runners. We passed through Thai Town, then along Hollywood Boulevard past the landmark Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We ran through West Hollywood on the infamous Sunset Strip, past the Chateau Marmont and various other venues. Next was my hometown of Beverly Hills before the final leg of the race which was in Santa Monica aka my training grounds. It was nice to be back in familiar territory when I was so tired. The last part just became a matter of implementing the training leading up to the race and putting one foot in front of the other…until before you know it you see the FINISH LINE!!!
After the race, runners can return to the LA Leggers’ home base at the DoubleTree Hotel to receive complimentary massages from LA Sports Massage and treatment from the Paulseth & Associates Physical Therapy group. It felt amazing afterwards to know that it was finished and a goal was successfully accomplished. Pictured above is my mentor Gloria who I could not have finished the race without her! And I reached my goal of finishing in under 6 hours – 5:39. A personal record. And a first.