Thursday, May 28, 2009

My First Marathon

Oh man. I finished the marathon. Oh man. It was the best run I've done so far! (I've been telling people that it was the best run of my life, but I've realized that I'm far too young to declare anything as the best of my life.)

Here is my post to tell you, dear reader, about my day, step by step. Brace yourself! I'm going to talk about everything, including body fluids, body parts, and body functions, so it won't be the best thing to read over, say, lunch. (I promise it's not that gross.)

I woke up without an alarm, and without fatigue at 3:45AM. I know, crazy. (Crazy is a word I'll be repeating several times, FYI.) It was the nerves. I promptly tried to empty my stomach, i.e. poo. Semi-successful. It has been very important for me to go to the restroom before my runs, simply because it feels better. When 4:30 rolled around, I ate a breakfast that has worked for me this past year: Ezekiel cinnamon raisin English muffin, smeared with peanut butter, and topped with banana. Usually, I'm starving when I eat this breakfast, but I wasn't this particular morning. However, I KNEW that I would collapse without a proper breakfast, so I "forced" down the breakfast. ("Forced" in quotations, because you basically would never have to force me to eat banana and peanut butter together. Heaven in the form of food.)

My parents picked me up at 5:30AM. They have been volunteering at the LA Marathon, passing out water, for the past 3 years. This year, they were going to be at the end of the marathon, and offered to take me to the race really early. I sat in the car without saying much. I was pretty nervous. I chugged my sports drink silently ( a Japanese one that is infinitely better than Gatorade, but unfortunately named Pocari Sweat... why the Japanese include Sweat to describe a drink is beyond me), and fidgeted the entire way in the car.

We reached Downtown Los Angeles, and stopped by my dad's gym so that I could pee. Pee #1. Afterwards, we walked to 6th and Figueroa where the race started. We passed by the finish line, and my mom snapped a photo, since she wasn't going to be there when I cross it:

As we walked to the starting line, I started seeing the other participants. There were so many different types of people! Old, young, men, women, hippies, hipsters, jocks, moms, dads, etc etc. There were several older runners at least in their 60s, who proudly had "LEGACY" branded across their T-shirts. A legacy runner is someone who has been running the marathon since it started. This was the 24th LA Marathon. DaZAAM!

We reached the starting point, where only runners could enter. My dad demonstrated his parental duty, and snapped a photo of me to start the day:

Do you see the bottle of Vaseline in my hand? I was told over and over to slather myself with the stuff to avoid chaffing. That, I did. All over. However, I neglected one spot, which I later found out after the race. I neglected to smear Vaseline under my breasts, because it simply didn't occur to me that I could chafe there. However, when I was showering after the race, I felt a sting, and realized that I had little raw spots under my boobs. Who would have thought my little boy breasts had the ability to move so much to chafe?! Not me! I was actually impressed with my boobs.

I entered the starting line, and immediately felt this BUZZ. It was exhilarating! I was amongst runners, amongst people who trained as hard as I did. People were doing little light jogs up and down the street, stretching, eating bananas and bars. I will never feel that buzz again. It's a sensation that I think people only feel during their first race.

I immediately lined up to pee at the porta-potty. Pee #2. I went to the sun-block table and slathered on some XXXXX branded extreme sun-block. Then, I had to pee again. Pee #3. I waited impatiently, and also patiently for the announcer to tell us to start lining up. Impatiently, because I couldn't sit still, but patiently, because I was nervous to start running.

Suddenly it was time. The President of Honda said a few words, and then the Mayor said a little something. He blew the air horn, and we were OFF! which makes it sound like we busted into a run, but in actuality, it was a slow walk to get to the starting line. What can I say, there were 14,000+ of us!

I started running. The first part of the race was downhill, and I caught a glimpse of the SEA of people ahead of me. It was CRAZY! I didn't have my iPod on yet, and I just took everything in. People were happy, and we were all so excited to have started something we have been anticipating for so long. The bikers, who had finished their portion of the race, were cheering us on, along with the early rising spectators. Things were going great and THEN... I had to PEE. Now, people have told me how professional runners pee while running to save their time, but #1 I ain't no professional, #2 Apparently, there's a skill to peeing while running, #3 Hell to the NO. So, I ended up lining up at the porta-potty right at the end of the 1st mile. I'm not sure how long I waited, but it was worth it. After I peed for the last time, I felt infinitely better, and felt so light and strong and brisk. I had to control myself not to go so fast.

I ran the first 8ish mile without an iPod. There was no need! There were performers on some of the mile markers, and just the rhythm of the strides of everyone around me was enough. I controlled myself pretty well with the pace, literally chanting "Pace, pace, pace," to make sure I was going at the right speed. (By right speed, I mean kind of slow, but steady. I don't keep track of the real time.) We first ran through the Crenshaw District, which is a historically black (and previously Japanese) neighborhood. People had drums out, and large ass speakers blasting some Motown. It was uplifting! At that point, I wasn't tired at all, so it only just added to my mood.

Around mile 8-11, it got a little more quite, so I put on my iPod. Music does wonders. I'm always the fool that lip syncs to songs while exercising, and this marathon was no different. I was having a dance party in my head. I also ate a Luna Sport Moon, to refuel and avoid cramping.

My sister had told me that she was going to be around mile 13, so once I hit 13, I bbm-ed her that I was near. I ran past mile 14, when I heard a volunteer from work yell out my name. I turned around, waved, and when I turned back, my sister was there with her camera. I got super excited, which you can see here:
I passed her, turned another corner and saw a co-worker who had ran the LA Marathon 2 years ago. I watched her run, which was a huge part of the reason I even started running in the first place.

The race picked up from there, mentally. I was already feeling great, and seeing people I know made it almost euphoric. This is also when we started entering West Los Angeles neighborhood, and tons of neighbors were outside watching, some with food and water. I grabbed oranges, water, and sips of Gatorade (TOO SWEET), and kept on going, tackling the hills around the area. I oddly felt really strong running up hills, almost stronger than on flat asphalt. I'm not sure why, but it definitely worked to my advantage.

I passed by a few other co-workers, and other people I knew, all of them so excited to see me. This kept my momentum going until around mile 18, when it got slightly harder. However, I saw Korean letters, and got excited, because I knew the Koreatown was near, which meant it was the last leg of the race. Never have I felt more happy to see Korean!

I struggled and trucked along to get to mile 23, where I saw my parents. Their booth was passing out water and oranges, and I was holding off since around mile 15 to take advantage of it:
That orange slice in my hand was the meatiest, juiciest, sweetest thing I have ever tasted.

I left my parents, and headed towards mile 24. Mile 24 to 25 was the hardest. I knew I was going to make it, but it was just enough to make it painful. Once I saw mile 25, we started turning into Downtown LA, and I saw the finish line. I took off my iPod, and gave it all I got.

One MAJOR detail I forgot to mention: I ran this marathon as a fundraiser for my work, Little Tokyo Service Center. The Friday before the marathon, people signed my shirt with words of encouragement. That red smear above my ass is supposed to say . I wish I could show you the entire shirt, but I forgot to take a picture of it before, and now everything is smeared. Oops. (P.S. I know you're all distracted by that gigantic man running ahead of me in that picture. I am too.)

I ran and ran, and saw my roommate scream my name like a girl, jumping up and down in the crowd. (LOVE YOU P!) I made it to the finish line, seeing 4:24:50. WTF! 4:24:50!!!! I was SO HAPPY. (Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of me crossing the finish line, except for what is offered on the marathon site. Maybe later.) My goal for this marathon was simply to finish, with the sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight hope of finishing it under 5 hours. I couldn't believe my eyes.

I walked through the volunteers, got my medal, got my picture taken, and went to search for my friends. My sister spotted me, while I was on the phone with her:
I was greeted by the greatest people, and felt so happy to be in that moment. I'd done it! Not only had I done it, I'd finished and ENJOYED every moment of it! The cherry on top of it all was, when my sister told me my actual time. She had it directly texted to her, and it was 4:20:15. 4:20:15. I don't think I could ever repeat that time again. One additional thing about this particular marathon, was that the weather was PERFECT for running. Foggy, crisp, and with a slight breeze. I couldn't have asked for better weather.

I loved running the marathon. I LOVED IT! Would I do it again? I would, over and over and over again! Madre mia, I think I'm in love.

Thank you for all of your support. I sincerely appreciated it. I got your texts, your wall-posts, your emails, and your comments. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!

love, lisa

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I'm still here!  I finished the marathon!  I will have a recap for my 2 followers (broham and Carmen), and I will post as soon as people send me their pictures.  Woop!  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oh Em Gee!

So, here we are!  Tomorrow will mark the start of the 1 week countdown to the marathon, and the start of The Official Taper. 

I have been dreading this taper, more than the marathon.  It's been a REALLY LONG TIME since I've rested for an entire week, and not be active.  

I'm going to have to keep myself REAAALLLL busy before getting stir crazy. 

I'm going to focus on resting my muscles, and remind myself that it's all for the benefit of the big race.  

Let's see how The Official Taper Day 1 goes.  

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I've been telling people that I ran 21 miles today, but I just calculated and it's actually 22.71 miles.

I, however, do NOT feel ready.

Last night, I carbed up like I've never carbed up before. I'm embarrassed about the amount I ate at Souplantation, but let me just say that there were several blueberry muffins consumed, and that shit ain't no joke! I did, however, carb up on better things than last week, but I still woke up this morning feeling like a ton of brick. In addition, I woke up later than planned. Oh well, the day continued.

So, I went on my merry way with ambitions of completing my 20+ miler, with all the aspirations of running the entire way. I had my iPod loaded up with several very long podcasts from NPR (This American Life, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and several Fresh Airs) and started out alright. I was thinking in my head, "YES! Blueberry muffins ARE good for you!" as I worked my way through my regular route.

Then, I made a turn to go on a route that I had added to get the mileage, which circled around a local botanical garden. This is where things went off-course, literally. I got lost. I should have known. The area is notorious for little tiny streets and curves and turns, and I have the worse sense of directions. I grew up around here, so I thought I knew the area, but driving around the place ( this IS LA) and walking/running around the place are very separate experiences. On top of getting lost, I was getting lost amongst hills after hills after hills. This was only supposed to be the first 4th of my route, and I was getting my ass KICKED! I could have definitely used a Garmin right around then, but I work in non-profit, and am a social worker, and had to settle with a watch with the straps that came off, which only had stop-watch functions.

By some divine intervention, I some how get back on course, but that detour really through me off and I had to stop and walk almost every 4-5 miles. I must have stopped about 3 times and walked for about 10 minutes each time. I feel really shitty about that. I was convinced that I would be able to complete the whole thing without stopping, but my ass, quads, calves, feet, everything was giving out. At around mile 18, I was SO close to turning around and going home. I was thinking, "What the fuck am I doing? This is so fucking hard, I can't fucking do this.." (Excuse the expletives, but you try running that amount without profanity.)

Then, all the podcasts ended, and music started kicking in. I've been doing my long runs with podcasts, because it used to do a really good job of distracting me. I don't know what it was about these podcasts... I could be that one was discussing symptoms of schizophrenia, and another one was about the Soloist, and none were really funny and upbeat as usual. The first song on my playlist after the podcasts happened to be Janet Jackson, and suddenly, I had the energy to finish this sucker. Janet sang, "It's alll for youuuuuuuuu," and "Come on get up" and other encouraging words, and I found myself mouthing the words. I was thinking, "Yes, Janet, Ms. Jackson, cause I am literally nasty (dripping in sweat and dust and dirt), I will fucking DO THIS." I finished the last 6-7 miles running the entire way, and it turned out great. Not only did Janet do her thang, but MIA popped on, and I ran faster and faster, or at least that's how I felt. (I should see how I run the last hour, because I actually must be running like I'm wearing diapers. I feel fast, but I'm sure I'm just waddling.) I finally finished, went UPSTAIRS to my apartment, and fell to the ground with a bottle of electrolyte enhanced water.

Phew. I'm still supercalifragilisticly nervous, but there's no turning back. I've scaled down my goal of finishing under 5 hours, to just completing the marathon. I'm not going to feel guilty about having to walk. I'm going to tackle it with all I've got.

There's only a couple of weeks left, so I'm going to slowly start scaling down my mileage. OOooohh, this bitch is goin to get CRAZY!