Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"RED VINES!" (LA Marathon)

My alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. so I jumped out of bed and threw my running clothes on. There's only one day I willingly "jump" out of bed at 4:45, RACE DAY.

Memorial Day was finally here, which meant I would get to join two of my friends, and over 15,000 others as we ran 26.2 miles through the streets of Los Angeles. Even though this would be my third marathon, the feelings of anxiousness and excitement were still incredibly strong. My two biggest fears were warm weather and my legs refusing to run a second 26.2 in a one-month span. I had never attempted anything like this, so I had no clue what to expect.

We arrived at the start line with about an hour to spare. I could tell that Phillip and Edgar were nervous. They were nervous because they had no idea what they were getting themselves into. I was nervous because I knew EXACTLY what I was getting myself into. I envied their ignorance.

Before we knew it, the race had begun and the huge crowd of 15,000+ shuffled towards the starting line. With "I love LA" blaring over the loud speaker and a nice downhill at the start, everyone was in good spirits.

I seperated from the guys pretty early on. I kicked into a comfortable pace and was feeling great, better weather than I could have ever asked for and nice gradual downhills to speed things up. The miles started to add up and I found myself feeling very comfortable at the halfway point, which is where the race turned from downhill to uphill. Around mile 14, we started our 'ascent'. My pace had slowed, which I very much expected, but I was still running strong when I passed the 20-mile marker. I could slowly feel my body begging me to put a stop to the madness, but I didn't care to listen.

With the 23-mile marker in sight, my hamstrings tightened up. Both hamstrings, cramping at the same time, so I had to stop to stretch. I had 3 more miles to go and I knew there was no way they were going to start feeling better. Time to dig deep. The four-hour milestone was on the line and I wasnt going to let my hamstrings keep me from reaching it.

In the last three miles I grabbed just about every water, gatorade, orange and pretzel I could find, trying to fuel myself to 26.2. I ran as fast as my hamstrings would let me, trying to find something to lift my spirits...then I heard it. "RED VINES!" Music to my ears. I saw a man handing out red vines, my favorite, on the side of the road. It's funny the little things that excite you when your body is pushed to its limits.

The last couple miles were tough, they always are. I turned the corner with about 3/4 of a mile left, and could see the finish line. Mobs of people crowded the sidewalks as I ran down the homestretch. My hamstrings were screaming, but I focused on the voices of the spectators, cheering me towards the finish line. I broke into a sprint and crossed the finish line at 3:56. My body was beaten up, my ipod broken and my feet blistered, but I did it.

I love L.A.

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