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


Embert said...

Congrats, Lisa. That's an awesome accomplishment!

leelu said...

congratulations my dear!!! you are so amazing! :-) i am impressed!

omg, pocari sweat. i didn't know it was japanese. it's all over korea too. i agree, so much better than gatorade.

for the record, i am impressed with your boobs too, but still... ouch!

when i ran x-country in high school i always ran the hills better in races than the flat parts too. i think it is the psychological and visual input of having something to work on, or rather work up. running on flat gets boring after a while!

congrats again! i wish i could have been there to cheer you on. you rock girlie!

LouieO said...




Jenni said...

wow, lisa, you are amazing. and you are a fantastic writer. i enjoyed reading your marathon journal... through your description, we can be a fly on the wall.