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They Did It! San Fernando Students Start And Finish Los Angeles Marathon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry, Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 22 March 2012 04:39


Road runners -- The San Fernando High senior who ran in the March 18 Los Angeles Marathon, proudly flash the medals they received for finishing the 26.2-mile course.

It's true. Running a marathon is about pain, suffering, accomplishment…and food.

All these elements were part of the efforts of 10 San Fernando High seniors who were among the estimated 23,000 runners participating in Honda L.A. Marathon held last weekend.

All 10 seniors – Marco Acuña, Thomas Berumen, Jessica Blair, Agustin Angel Flores, Javier Garcia, Robert Jimenez, Maria Maycotte, Cecilia Reyes, Elizabeth Rico and Maria Vidal – can now say they ran and finished the 26.2-mile course, which stretched from Dodger Stadium near downtown Los Angeles to the Santa Monica pier.

Their times averaged between five to six-and-a-half hours, but that didn't matter. All they cared about was completing the race.

"It's still kind of shocking," said Jimenez, 17. "I can't believe I ran from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica. That sounds insane. When I look at the mountains, then the beach, I think 'wow, I ran all that.'"

The San Fernando High seniors were part of the 3,000- plus middle school and high school kids that were sponsored by the nonprofit organization Students Run LA (SRLA) to run the marathon. An estimated 600 were from Valley area schools.

The students brought their medals to school on Monday to show friends and teachers. Most of them were walking gingerly or limping slightly. Although it did not rain on the course as it did last year, strong breezes, sometimes becoming blustery winds, provided as much challenge as the hills and unforgiving asphalt streets that took runners through sections of Echo Park, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

"I'm super sore today," said Vidal, 18, who was in her first marathon. "It was like nothing I expected. I've never done anything so difficult in my life. It's harder than the SATs. It takes a lot of perseverance, body strength, mind strength. I thought I'd trained pretty hard."

More than one student said they hit the fabled "runner's wall," a point usually within the last 5-6 miles where fatigue and pain challenges the will and the spirit.

"Right on Mile 19 I felt like I couldn't run anymore," said Acuña, 17. "But I thought I'd gotten this far, so why stop there? There were people around me, encouraging me. The people giving out the water said 'keep on going.'"

Acuña wasn't the only one who struggled at times.

Rico, 17, and Reyes, 18 were battling colds and Reyes had also injured her right foot a week before the race.

Jimenez said his legs "were exploding" at Mile 23.

Berumen also wanted to quit at Mile 23. "I was thinking 'I don't want to do this anymore, I'm tired,'" said Berumen, 17. "It was a lot harder than I expected."

Garcia, 18, had kept a steady pace from Mile 1 to Mile 13, but would soon start battling leg cramps.

Vidal was so spent physically and emotionally at Mile 20, she said she began weeping.

"Towards Mile 20 I really started feeling it," she said. "I started crying because my body was telling me 'I'm tired, I'm tired.' I started crying again at Mile 23, thinking 'this is so hard, I still can't see the finish line.'"

Somehow, someway, they pulled the strength to continue.

Jimenez said he was energized when he spotted actor Henry Winkler, best known from the television series "Happy Days," after Mile 23. He stopped for a moment to slap palms.

Garcia would walk the final six miles but he would not stop. Berumen was driven by the fact his mother had run the marathon years before. Friends surrounded Vidal to encourage her. And she didn't want to be the one who did not complete the course.

"I thought, 'I've got to finish or I've done 23 miles for nothing,'" she said. "Besides everybody wanted to finish, it was our goal."

Blair could tell the others about the frustration in not finishing. Last year's race was held in a driving rain, and a hailstorm. At Mile 18, Blair was battling hypothermia and was pulled off the course by paramedics.

Nothing was going to keep her from the finish line this year, which she crossed in 6:42.

"Crossing the finish line there was definitely a sense of redemption from the year before," said Blair, 17, who added she did not want to disappoint an aunt and cousin who came down from Tacoma, Washington to watch her run.

Acuña, who had started walking, said he got "a second wind" at Mile 24. "I started walking faster," he said. "And once I could see the finish line, I ran to it. I was in pain, but I didn't care."

Along with their medals, the other reward was food.

Berumen dove into his backpack for a bag of Gummy Bears.

He and his family also went for pizza. Jimenez and his family went to a seafood restaurant, where he loaded up on shrimp.

Most of the other students gorged themselves at the SRLA race booth where heaping plates of spaghetti and other types of pasta were available at no cost, along with cookies and fruit.

"I piled as much as I could on one plate," Blair said. "I didn't want to have to get up and get more."

Besides aching muscles and tired feet, there was plenty of satisfaction.

"It was a great experience," Reyes said. "I had run it before, but this felt different. It was good for me. I don't know how, but it did. It's not the best one I've done, but one of the best. It took about six hours. That's about what I expected since I was sick."

"I ran a marathon; now I can die happy," Vidal said.

There was also an appreciation. "I can say one thing; I really underestimated the marathon," Acuña said. "I knew it was 26 miles, but to get out and actually do it…I see the elite runners and the times they have. I've got a lot of respect for them."

Last Updated on Friday, 23 March 2012 00:15