I’ve run in the LA Marathon 5 times since 2008 either as a full finisher or as a charity relay participant. I finished my first marathon at LA before the course went from the Stadium to Sea, the following year I crossed the finish line with Brent the Monday after we got engaged (it was on Memorial Day that year), in 2014 I qualified for Boston at LA in crazy heat, and I’ve raised money for two great causes with my running BFF at LA. I also watched my baby sister Marta cross her first marathon finish line back in 2013. I screamed like a crazy person watching her run down Ocean Avenue to finish in 3:50, about an hour faster than my first marathon time. As much as I wanted to participate this year, I knew I didn’t want to run the full marathon less than a month before Boston. I also didn’t want to bother friends and family with more fundraising. Instead I signed up to work the water station at one of the toughest miles. Mile 24.
Mile 24 can be brutal even if you were smart about not going out too fast. 24 is WELL into the marathon, but far enough to not be almost there. Before my 7:00 am shift began I ran down the empty course, thinking about the 24,000 runners that would soon take over. I ran past the finish line and thought about who would get the privilege of crossing it first.
From 7:00 am-8:45 am our big group of volunteers filled hundreds of cups of water and gatorade. Gatorade is not my friend. You can read about why here.
We were ready by 8:45 am and then waited. It was the calm before the storm. Marta ran over to bring me a latte (thank you) and shortly after 9:00 am the elites started passing. It’s unreal watching runners at mile 24 running a sub-5 minute mile pace. Their faces had such focus.
At first I was super excited when people took water from me. I felt disappointed with myself if they dropped it. Then it NON-STOP for 5 hours straight. I made it a point to look every single person in the eye and tell them they were doing a great job. I know the power of course support. I made sure not tell them they were almost there 🙂 That’s possibly the worst thing you can tell a hurting runner at 24.
They always say if you’ve lost faith in humanity, go and watch a marathon. So many runners said thank you when they got their water. I was surprised by how many people ran past us and shouted “Thank you to the volunteers” or “We couldn’t do this without you.” I was also so impressed with how many volunteers aren’t runners, have never run a marathon, and have no interest in running a marathon. They’re just good people willing to hold their arm out for 5 hours straight (and seriously there was NO BREAK) and give words of encouragement.
There was one moment that made me tear up. A runner at around the 3:30 pace stopped in front of me grabbed his calves and clearly was cramping. I asked him if he wanted water and him, being the epitome of a nice runner, said “Yes please. Thank you.” Even when in obvious pain. He looked up at me with the saddest eyes and I teared up and didn’t know what to say so I just responded with “You are so strong.” He took off hobbling, reaffirming that you can do anything you set your mind to.
The day before I had the pleasure of meeting Kara Goucher at the expo. Being Cristina I was SO awkward. I don’t really remember what I said. Something about being from Michigan. Being inspired by her. Living in Los Angeles. I’m glad Brent forced me to talk to her.
I also ran into Ed from Minnesota who I crossed the finish line with 2 years ago. The running world is so small. He ran as an elite this year and finished 4th American at 46 years old. Crazy to think we still recognize each other from 2 years ago!
I can’t let this be a one time deal. Yesterday was so incredible. I worried I’d be jealous or felt like I missed out, but I got my LA Marathon fix and really really enjoyed being out there more than I imagined I would. My arm is sore today, but I can’t complain. I didn’t race a marathon 🙂
And now back to the work week. School is craziness in the best possible way, hence the lack of blogging. It’s also peak mileage week so it’s work, run, eat, stretch, sleep, repeat. I’ve got 800 Yassos on Wednesday and a 10 tempo on Saturday morning with lots of easy mileage on deck. 1 week until taper time!