2014 L.A. Marathon

“Use your arms to get up this hill! You don’t want your legs to be the only sore muscles tomorrow,” exhorted Chris Cavanaugh, the 3:15 pacer, circa mile 22 of the L.A. Marathon. Up to that point, I had stayed ahead of the group, but the onslaught of heat, hills, and lack of training eventually slowed me to a cramped shuffle. To my surprise, I had been on track to qualify as a 40-year-old for the 2015 Boston Marathon, but had lost hope by the time the 3:15 pack overtook me. Nevertheless, I gave myself a pep talk, popped an Energy Surge, and attempted a final Hail Mary to get back on pace.

I quietly fell in behind the four-runner group and coaxed my legs back into a 3:15 canter. To my astonishment, I wasn’t immediately felled by hamstring cramps and kept stride with them over the next two miles. Chris, who was probably oblivious to my presence, said all the right things to keep us focused, instilling us with the belief that we could reach the finish line in Boston qualifying time. His words of encouragement were simple, yet somehow so powerful, I had to consciously force myself to keep my eyes dry. Without his support and the presence of my fellow runners, I would have surely fallen off pace.

About two miles from the finish, I felt confident enough to begin pulling away from the pace group. The distance slowly increased until I could no longer hear Chris’ voice, though his words rang in my head until the end. These last two miles were my fastest splits all day. I crossed the finish line in 3:13:25 — good enough for Boston.

The L.A. Marathon was wonderful for many reasons: superb weather, excellent aid stations, a beach finish, the USC cheerleaders, and most importantly, because I was reminded of the power of the human spirit. Without the company and support of the other runners, I would not have achieved my little dream for 2015.

20140309_LAMarathon02Forced to walk at mile 20 due to cramps.

20130309_LAMarathon01Finish line and Boston qualifying time in sight.