lations!” That’s immediate-ly followed by the question that determines your image as a runner: “What was your time?” I said I wanted to finish the race in under 5 hours, but I wasn’t going to be too upset if that didn’t happen. Yet, as I went through miles 20-26, I kept checking my watch. I was closing in on six hours by my incoherent calculations, and I was adamant that I couldn’t go over six hours. I don’t have my official time yet, but according to my watch, I clocked in somewhere around 5 hours, 45 minutes. That sure looks good in print. Mentally, it feels good. Physically, not so much. Everything aches. From my three bruised toenails (one of which is about to fall off) to my brain. Trying to convince yourself to keep running when your thighs are screaming at you with 11 miles to go, is awfully taxing. I was cheerful and energetic from the start. I sang to “I Love L.A.” as we crossed the starting line and made conversation with other runners, and all was well for 12 miles or so. I said thanks to volunteers at every water stop (toward the end, I couldn’t muster the energy to do so – so a belated thank you to you all), was cooing at dogs along the course and chatting with my friend, Bonnie. We ran together until mile 15. That’s when my game plan unraveled. I hit the wall. I just finished running my first marathon. Actually, I think I shuffled across the LosAngeles Marathon finish line on Sunday. That would probably be more accurate. I hadn’t figured I’d be one of those runners whose shuffle was equal to the pace of some walkers. But it was a way to keep moving, and if I knew if I kept moving, I’d be all right. My goal was to finish the race, not win the prize car. When you finish, people say, “congratu- I was warned beforehand that fans who line the course – who, by the way, are the greatest – would say, “You’re almost there!” even when you’re not. A sign with that phrase showed up at mile 15. She clearly had never run a marathon. Not sure if it was a coincidence, but that’s when I hit the proverbial wall. If you’ve never heard of the wall, that’s the place where you feel you just can’t take another step. Mentally, you’ve given up. Physically, all you can think about is stopping so you can end the torture. In the 400-meter dash, it’s at 300 meters. In the marathon, I was told the wall was at mile 22. That’s why family and friends crowd the area, to offer encouragement. That’s supposed to help you dig deep to find that second wind. I started walking at mile 17. It killed me. I felt like such a loser. I was thinking about how I’d have to write this piece describing a nine-mile walk-of-shame through downtown to finish the “race.” A half-mile later, I couldn’t stand myself anymore. Another runner must’ve seen the look on my face, and he smiled and nodded. That was enough to get me going again. That’s when the shuffling started. I was scuffing the ground with my shoes like a lazy teenager who’s traveling down a high school hallway in no hurry to get to class. I was in a hurry to get to the finish line for sure, it just seemed that each mile marker came every 10 miles. Then came the text message. You bring your cellphone, by the way, so your fan club can check in with you to see where you’re at and plan to meet you at certain points. At mile 20 or so, I got a text which read: “Are you done?” Clearly, my friend had finished, and I had another sixmiles in store. I replied, “NO!” I decided to punish myself for not making it through the entire race running by running up the hill near mile 22. I’d love to say where it was – heck, I would’ve loved to check out the new course – but I think I was too delirious to know. My boyfriend, Arthur, met me at several stops along the way. He brought encouragement, ice, water, sunscreen and Pringles (hey, you need salt!). It gave me something to look forward to when the pure joy of running a marathon had dissipated. I expect that to return in a few days when I can walk again. I did a combination of walking, shuffling and running the last six miles. And after I saw the 26mile-mark, something clicked and I had a second wind. Being a former high school cross country and track athlete (which was many years and pounds ago), I knew I’d clearly done something wrong if I had a kick at the end of 26.2 miles. I’ll fix that for my next marathon. Ha! Tell me why people ever do more than one of these things! After I finished, posed for a picture and blindly hobbled around, I laid down in the middle of Flower and 3rd Street (this intersection obviously was closed for the marathon), looked up at the blue sky and, between grunts of pain, realized that I had just become a member of the 26.2-mile club. Who cares how I got there? [email protected] (818) 713-3615 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!