There I was, walking up to the starting line scrambling to take a picture before my time starts. I snap a shot of the start and then quickly stuff my phone back into the back pocket of my runner’s belt. Okay, I’ll be honest. It’s a fanny pack. So what. Fanny packs are cool now. They are coming back in fashion–trust me.
Once I crossed the starting line I knew I could not stop for another 26.2 miles of the Los Angeles Marathon. Reaching the finish line in just under 4 hours. That was my goal…well goals change, ideas pivot and new goals are established, almost always.
I cruised through the first 10 miles at a respectable pace. I was feeling great, I had pushed through Downtown, Chinatown, Echopark and now reaching Hollywood and into West Hollywood where I had crushed segments and captured KOMs on Strava the year before. Surely I’ll get through this with no problems. I spoke too soon, at mile 13, roughly around Beverly Hills I got my first signs of cramping. Holy shit that hurt so bad but I pushed through. Snagged some bananas, pretzels and Goos without stopping. Drank more water and Gatorade. It helped get over my first minor wall.
Mile 19 I came to a complete stop. Somewhere around Century City my left leg seized up terribly and I had to pull over and sit down for a minute, stretch my hams. At this point I started to wonder what I was doing and why?
The next 7 miles I was oscillating between short bursts of energy and wanting to quit. But I kept at it. When I reached the 405 I stopped to stretch my legs against the underpass and soak in the shade it provided for another minute. I also knew my friends Paul and Leah would be waiting for me in another mile at Barrington and San Vicente. So that got me going again.
When I reached my friends I knew I could make it. Feeling refreshed from familiar faces I was able to summon enough energy to push through San Vicente to Ocean blvd. But just before making the final turn onto Ocean I got the worst cramp. I couldn’t move. I cried in pain and I started to tear up. I heard someone say “You’re almost there! Don’t give up!” and I lost it. Tears flowed down my face. I don’t know if it was the pain, the thought of finally completing a marathon or just my brain shutting down into a delusion state, that broke me so completely that I had no choice but to continue on.
At this moment when I made the final turn, seeing the finish line, I gathered all my strength and sprinted towards the end. The last quarter mile showed my fastest time since mile 10. I can’t explain it.
Crossing the finish line was an amazing experience. I will never forget it.
Special thanks to my brother who met me at the finish line and drove me home.