By Alex Medina

Boyle Heights Beat

Ready, set, go. Once again, I was in the same position as last year, but I was much more prepared this time. As soon as I crossed that starting line, I knew that I was about to embark on a wonderful journey.

Of course, I’m talking about the 2016 Los Angeles Marathon. It was a good experience overall, worth every single moment. As I ran, I got to see many of Los Angeles’ famous sites. The start itself took place at Dodger Stadium. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, which I find to be a beautiful work of art, was alongside the course. And I got to run through Hollywood, one of the most famous places in Los Angeles and a place that I love to explore on my own time.

It was nice to see all the people who were there to support the thousands of runners today. People were passing out food and water to the runners. Many held clever signs with that made me laugh or held words of encouragement that inspired me. The funniest sign was one with Steve Harvey saying “You’ve just ran 26.2 miles” at mile 7. One that really got to me said: “You’re ahead of everyone behind you”. That sign helped me appreciate myself, something I normally have a hard time doing.

All the supporters spread throughout the course helped me to push on through the whole run. There were runners from all backgrounds and we all shared the same goal,  yet everyone ran for a particular reason. I saw people running for lost loved ones and others running to aid people with illnesses. Others just wanted to prove to themselves that they could achieve such a grand feat. And me? I was running to improve not only as a runner, but also as a person. I was running to learn to acknowledge the things that I can do, so that I can love the person that I am.

I was running as part of Students Run Los Angeles (SRLA), a great program that allows students from all across Los Angeles to train and prepare to run the marathon. Under the program, I was able to train during many great runs. So many miles went into preparing for the marathon, and when the time came to run it, I knew that it would all be paying off.

As the miles progressed, I felt so great about what I was doing. As time was passing, I knew that I would reach my goal time and maybe even surpass the finishing time I was expecting to achieve.

For the first 20 miles, I felt great and experienced no pain at all. Around the 20th mile, I began to experience some foot pain, but I kept going. I continued to run and the miles began to seem much longer. Once I reached the 25th mile, I began to run even faster as I knew that I was so close to the finish. With a small sprint at the end, I had just ran 26.2 miles.

As I looked at my finishing time, 4 hours with 11 minutes, I saw that I had just ran over an hour faster than I had the previous year. I felt simply amazing. Soon enough I was rewarded with a beautiful finisher’s medal, an amazing SRLA marathon finisher sweater, plenty of food and water, the smiles of friends who had just gone through the same experience as myself, and a happy family who was proud of what I had just done.

Running a marathon really says a lot about you. As a 15 year-old nearing the age of 16, I am working hard to stay healthy and active. I want to accomplish things early on in my life that many people never get to do throughout their whole lifetime. It makes me feel like an accomplished individual, which helps me acknowledge who I am so that I can love that person. I want to live like nobody else.

What a truly great way to send this year’s Valentine’s Day!

Alex Medina is a runner and a student journalist with Boyle Heights Beat.

Photo above: Alex at the finish line of the 2016 LA Marathon. Photo courtesy of Alex Medina.

Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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