Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My First Marathon: From the Stadium to the Sea with SRLA

My goal for the year was to run my first marathon with my middle school's Students Run LA team. Ever since I heard about this program, I knew the only way I would ever run a marathon was if I was training with kids. So, when our school got the grant to start a team this year, I was off and running.

All summer I worked to trim time off my 5K and 10K paces. But in January, just as the runs started getting longer, and after a brutal cold/flu hit the Nakada-Gantt household, my speed started to taper and I plateaued.

This, along with longer distances, probably contributed to the development of hip pain that started out as post-run soreness, but quickly became an injury I worried would keep me from running/finishing my first attempt at 26.2 miles.

I rested for the last couple of weeks before the race, and my massage-therapist-sister worked on my IT band, quad and knee, on the days leading up to the big day, so I felt like I could make a go of it.

With these kids pushing me, and David leading the way, I started running away from Dodger Stadium. At first, I didn't feel too bad. As we made our way out of downtown, however, I started to look forward to those downhill stretches a little too much.

By Hollywood, I was in considerable pain with each step and suffered through each mile even as I tried to enjoy it. Seeing friends and family along the route definitely helped propel me down the road and the spirit of our diverse city reminded me that I love LA! Mile 21, though? Yeah, that whole mile sucked.

But I finished. I ran slower than I wanted, (my goal was 4:20, which was the time it took Kathrine Switzer when she was the first woman to run Boston 50 years ago) and this pace definitely took a toll on my body. But with my Students Run LA team chasing me, I had to keep going.

At 5:10, I crossed the finish line, and I clearly need to learn to run more efficiently, because my running app clocked me at over 27 miles! 

I think our SRLA team is all going to run it again next year, so here's to running faster. Maybe next year I will make that time goal.

Thanks for all of the support through this long grind: family, friends, and everyone who came out to the race to support. But mostly, thanks to SRLA. This organization is changing lives. If you are looking for a great non-profit to support, head over to Students Run LA and consider a donation. Maybe you'll help some lucky kid find a coach like Mr. Tarula who will inspire you with a mid-marathon speech about marathon running as an allegory for life.

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