RUNNING LA: Once you reach mile 26, the rest is easy!

Can I just start out by showing off this SWEET medal…

26.2

The 26.2 totally glows in the light….

Matching the glow I had inside and out after I crossed that finish line Sunday.

Radiant with a sense of accomplishment.

But let me back up a minute… 🙂

…To the day prior, making sure I hit up the Expo. I had the pleasure of my Dad accompanying me since he would be unable to make it to the race the following day. It went full circle though because it was about 10 years ago that I remember going with him to an Expo at the Convention Center, for one of the LA Marathons he ran. I remember how fun that was. Unfortunately we didn’t have the luxury of being in doors. This year was a battle of the rains, as the Expo was held in the lots surrounding Dodger Stadium. The weather was being closely watched in preparation for the events of this weekend. That didn’t stop the festivities from going on anyway however.

Picking up race goodies is like Halloween for us big kids lol. I could feel a sense of excitement brimming from my bag as the volunteer handed it to me along with my bib number (18627!!!), followed by my race shirt. It all begins to feel so real.

Seeing where the starting line is, and the announcer booth where that gun goes off just brought home the reality of what I’m about to embark on. I couldn’t wait!!

Excitement is in the air!!

Being there with my Dad was extra special of course. He knew exactly what emotions were going through me at that point. We joked around a bit about him having second thoughts with not doing the race….they were after all, still taking registrations for the marathon that day…. But that was a no, but it made for a good laugh!

It was an emotional journey for both of us even until that day. If you may have noticed the inspirational quotes popping up around my Marathon Rationale part 1, 2 & 3, my Dad had sent me a daily encouragement (via text) everyday from 18 days out, till the race. I looked forward to it so much and loved to hear his bit of humor or inside jokes he’d add with it. Nothing like a loving father to deliver the encouragement to his daughter, when it was so needed.

He dubbed the race a MARISAthon… thought that was kind of funny.

Those crucial last few weeks of slowly unwinding the body from such rigorous bouts of training, to a minimal amount in preparation for the day of the race, for me, seemed the toughest to get through. Encouragement was very welcomed. My focus started to wander at times. Not only does life get at you:

*The end goal is in near sight
*Long runs are a thing of the past

And the short tapered runs were almost easier to want to give up on because at that point it doesn’t seem to matter so much. It was like, “come on, do I really NEED to run these 3 or 2 miles?!!” (whiny voice of course) I could do those with my eyes closed and backwards now, is it really necessary?!!

But alas my instinct and dedication got me out the door every time. I knew I shouldn’t sell myself short. I’d come too far to let it start slipping. I wouldn’t regret it.

After pre-race excitement kept me up longer than I wished the night before, it was time to head out the morning of the race! My sister Brianna and her boyfriend James were sweet enough to drive me out there at 5:30 in the AM. It was great having their support there with me, to see me off!

James, Brianna and I!!

Nothing more than sheer happiness and that head-over-heals exciting feeling, could be felt from the crowd, as I made my way through what seemed like an endless amount of people… The threatening rain storm that was presumably to dump down on us that morning, seemed more overwhelmed by the sea of intensely ready runners. Each with their own reason, motivation or vision.

A sea of runner's and dreams...

The TUTU was in full working order…

Ready ❤

I thankfully was able to start the race with my sister-in-law Jamie and her group. It seemed like FOREVER after the gun went off, before we even started. I was so unprepared for how long just that would take. We didn’t even make it into a corral. Everyone just kind of fed into the starting area slowly but surely. It was a nice relaxed start to the journey.

Jamie and I

So in going with the notion to totally take in the entire experience of my first Marathon, and that we were “Running LA,” I made sure to take photo’s along the course.

About 3 miles into it I was sure that I didn’t want to forget any of it…the sights…the sounds…the sweat….it was all part of the experience that was probably the BEST thing I have ever done.

Taking it all in.

The amount of support out on the course was truly amazing!! SO many people were out there cheering us on, live entertainment and just the positive energy felt by the runners was incredible.

There seemed to be subtle reminders everywhere, so prompt with regards to my emotions at the point that I would take in whatever the hint of inspiration was. Whether it was a message on a billboard, running past a street with the same name as the town I grew up in….

❤ Sweet reminders

Or simply a beautiful bed of flowers greeting us down Sunset Plaza… the sweet pink varieties emulated the variety of runners in determined step beside them.

I took a bit of each reminder as comfort to the journey at hand, and that with each step I committed to, there was a guidance almost outside of myself helping me towards the finish.

Stopping to smell the “roses”

Then of course there was the run through Beverly Hills and down Rodeo. A unique moment of streets who were normally lined with shoppers and their shopping bags in tote, now lined with spectators and encouraging signs.

LA through the runner's eye

And a great shot with the American flag, that I forget at which point I saw this, but it was just an awesome sight!

I know my words will not do justice to the incredible feelings that were the experience of my first marathon. It was seriously the most unbelievably enjoyable and memorable 5 hours of my life. I mean bringing my beautiful babies into the world was amazing, but running a marathon is so as much amazing in its own way!

I LOVED EVERY MINUTE!!!

(I had to high-five spiderman while I was at it TOO)

High-fives!!

I hardly noticed the pain at times, when the miles felt as though they were just running through me. The wall I think I may have hit was probably sooner than I would have expected, but I was able to pull through it and find the best of me through the last 5 miles of the race.

The five miles that I was most fearful of all along…. THE UNKNOWN!

As a first time Marathoner, you really trust that these training programs are enough to get you through.  Training up to 21 miles hardly seemed like enough, but how could I question the experts?

The surge of adrenaline when I hit 22 was awesome. Around that point, it just became an inner celebration. My inside felt accomplished by every mile, as I knew it was happening… I was going to finish soon, and I was finishing strong! You bet I took that beer shot around mile 20 too….I didn’t care if there would be repercussions to it later, I was ready to start celebrating my inner feat!

And here at mile 25, it was kind of a MINI big moment for me. You can see I look exhausted, but I’m smiling and ready for a photo to capture my spirit in its delighted anticipation of the finish.  Everyone of the miles I ran, starting at 1, I had this in my head:

“Think not about how far YOU have to go…but how far YOU HAVE COME!!” ~Dad

So happy...I was feeling my finishing moment awaiting me!

Yes my Dad was with me, at every mile, reminding me not to think too much of what was still ahead, but what was already behind me. THIS IS TRULY what got me through it. My mind was so strong with this thought. As I carried on through mile 25, it was with joy because I wouldn’t let myself struggle through 1.2 more miles. I would relish in the fact that I already had 25 behind me.

It’s amazing what the mind does to keep us going…and I kept going, with intensity!

5:05:38

I DID it!! I was glowing 🙂

And I did it in 5:05:38… not too bad for a first timer, and to have fully enjoyed every minute I am quite proud of my time! I’ll be honest that I was hoping for under 5 hours and now looking back…stopping to pee (hey it has to happen after that long!), encouraging one of the SRLA runner’s with a few words and high-five or maybe holding back on some of those photos, could have shaved off those extra 5 minutes and given me that. But honestly it might not have been so worth it.

I loved every extra minute that it took to take it all in, every minute spent encouraging others, or taking encouragement from them. Stopping for high-fives, smiling for a camera or someone shouting “YEAH, GO TUTU!” made it all worth it!

A girl asked me after the race,“So how was it running in a tutu? Did it get annoying?” All I could say was, “No, it was actually too much fun running in it!”

The tutu made the run for me. The fluff was TOTALLY uplifting… as was having my inspiration written on my jacket. Many runners congratulated me along the way on my accomplishment or wished me happy early birthday and I had more than enough supporters of the TUTU….even had a guy run past me asking me for a date haha. It was a super fun way to add enjoyment to the experience and get some extra motivating cheers! (and I made it on TV!)

Sis and I freezing!

Being greeted by 40 mph winds at the finish down in Santa Monica, was not the most pleasant but I’d take it any day over the rain. Crossing the finish line was an amazing moment. I have a really great photo that I’ll be sharing soon of it. I was able to find my sis eventually and after I had a massage of course (got to get on that for those tight muscles!) Then we were on our way!

My mom had an awesome post-race meal and little party to celebrate my accomplishment! Plus my parents’ jacuzzi tub for a soak was just what the doctor ordered!! Even my sister Jackie and her hubby Andy and the kids surprised me by coming up from San Diego to celebrate. They said they couldn’t miss it, and literally decided to come up that morning. It meant SO much to know that they made that much effort to be there for me. Even Jackie now feels inspired to run a Marathon after seeing me make it through this experience. She was so encouraging through this process as well and during my race through text. I can’t wait to be there for her when she decides to do one!

Jackie, Andy and I! Love the support...

I really can’t say enough great things about this Marathon. I’m still on a bit of the high from the accomplishment as it might seem…

I want to go so far as saying: everyone needs to run a Marathon SOMETIME in their life!!

Okay, maybe that was a bit extreme but really I think anyone could benefit from the process of struggle to triumph through what is an incredible amount of support and encouragement, you’ll feel as though the world want’s you to finish. I have no other real races to put this up against in the marathon department, but for my first I will say it has set the bar high for me, with all the supporters throughout the city itself, and volunteers helping the process. It was something I will NEVER forget, a moment of moments that will now be locked up in my vault of experiences that have changed my life forever!

26.2 motivated, inspired, ran and accomplished.

As I set out to make 26.2 the new 30, I DID for me!

I was MOTIVATED

I got INSPIRED

So I ran with DEDICATION and I ACCOMPLISHED!! Nobody ever said it would be easy….

“Once you reach mile 26, the rest is easy” ~DAD ❤

P.S. This may have been my first marathon, but I decided it’s not my last! I started out not believing I could do one and now I don’t believe how I couldn’t do another one!

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Coveting a medal… oh and about that race.

February 5, 2012

SURF CITY  MARATHON (HALF)

Have you ever wanted something SO bad, you just won’t stop until you have it? You dream about it until it’s your reality?

This little medal did that to me 🙂

“Another day, another run” is what I kept telling myself during the drive to Huntington Beach, as my dad and I embarked on our 3rd half marathon together. I still get giddy and anxious for these things even if it is a 4th half marathon under my belt. The real excitement is because this is actually part of a bigger goal for me …

MY FIRST MARATHON!!
As in 26.2 long miles.

Am I Crazy….check
Am I Dedicated….check
Am I so Motivated no one can stop me….absolutely!

Yes, you can say I have marathon fever at this point, and it’s not because of the heated runs I have experienced. It’s because I am on fire for this goal. 🙂  I will post another day about that goal, and just who was it that gave me the running bug.

On Sunday my dad and I did this Surf City half together, as part of the training program we are following for the LA marathon. A half marathon is just that, 13.1 short of a full (incase you can’t do the math). It’s a long journey of a run no matter which way you look at it. But from a stand point now after having completed an 18 mile run during my training program already, I find that I am able to look at 13 miles differently than before.

It’s not as daunting as it seemed in the past. Particularly the last half marathon that I ran which was when I vowed to never set foot in a race again because of the pure agony I was in afterward. In this photo I am barely able to stand straight and pull some semblance of a smile out… It was torture for the rest of the day, and I was positive I was on my death-bed, therefore I would not go down dying for another run EVER!!!

But alas, here I am today writing about an awesome run I had this past Sunday, smiles all around! Funny how you can forget the pain over time…kind of like childbirth lol. I really had my heart set on this race in particular, ever since last year. A neighbor of mine told me about it, but it sold out that year before I could snag my spot. Ever since I laid eyes on the awesome surf board medal though, I knew that I needed to earn one for myself!

Then I just had to get Dad in on it and that didn’t take much…

A long time runner himself, my dad is usually up for a challenge by one of his daughters and I love that about him. Here we are in the crowd (20,000 runners) soaking up the energy as we were waiting to start.

Lucky numbers…

I felt more excited than ever to run this race. I couldn’t wait for the scene, excited for the salty air, for all the training I’ve done over the past months to get put to some use, for the company, for the pure enjoyment of a run which I consider the jumping point to my crazy 26.2  goal, for the ocean and its beckoning waves at the finish, and did I mention that MEDAL?!!

So here is a shot of my dad coming in at the finish!! Super exciting, he finished with a great time at 2 hours and 23 seconds!! I was so happy for him 🙂

Dad and I in the tent checking our times after the race..

and this is my “I’m so happy I could scream” face after finding out that my time was a new ‘personal best’ for me. The fact that I was feeling so great afterward made the time results that much more rewarding… training hard+consistency= pay off!!

I don’t consider myself a fast runner but I’m definitely glad about a 9:14 minute mile! I was really feeling great afterward. My dad on the other hand….not so much. He completely needed this relief under the shower before I insisted that we make a stop at first-aid to make sure he was not dehydrated. There is a fine line you don’t want to cross when it comes to rehydrating, and anyone who has endured the agony of a not so good post race experience knows to be careful! My Dad was definitely careful but has experienced nausea with longer runs recently, so it wasn’t utter bliss for him after this run unfortunately.

 My dad is strong though and I knew he would be okay! His motto for us kids growing up was this:

“When the going gets tough, the Garcia’s get going.” 

Needless to say, there were NO EXCUSES as a kid lol.

So after a short visit to first-aid we made our way down to the water to enjoy a little celebratory splash. It was freezing water, but it’s just what the doctor ordered to take care of some sore feet and legs…an instant ice bath!

So all the pieces to this equation came together after all. I had the scene and salty air from the ocean I wanted…

…the company and enjoyment…

..and finally that darn medal!!

It just goes to show… A dream can become a reality, if you really want it, and are willing to work hard enough for it!