My marathon journey, part two
Xs and Arrows
April 16, 2022
As mentioned previously, it was impossible to recount my entire Los Angeles Marathon experience in one edition of this column, so apologies in advance for this part two. But, accomplishing something that physically and mentally challenging does not come without a lot of support.
Naturally, there were those on the home front, my "training camp" staff led by my wife Melissa, keeping things in order as I disappeared for hours at a time to finish the training schedule. She will be vital again when we start this process over in July for the upcoming New York Marathon. There were also all of you who authored emails of support, donated to the Team World Vision cause and offered encouragement along the way. I hope that will repeat itself when it comes time for the next challenge in November.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the love and support from all the "Angelinos" that came out to support the thousands of us on race day. From the humble neighborhoods of Chinatown, Downtown and Echo Park to the streets of Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills and Brentwood I saw some of the greatest people treating strangers like they were their best friends. Cheering us all on like they had some sort of personal stake in us doing well. Making signs of encouragement, humor or just sticking out their hands to give us a high-five as we passed, they embodied the real nature of Americans, contrary to the divisive narrative being played in front of us; unity does not drive ratings.
But on the streets of greater Los Angeles unity was there, support came from all levels of society, not concerned with a political cause just invested in humanity. It was something to see and certainly was not lost as I struggled through the 26.2 miles.
I shook a stranger's hand in Silver Lake and she and her neighbors came out to support us running by, I laughed out loud at by far the funniest sign I saw as I trekked through Echo Park that read, "Run like your Mom is chasing you with a chankla" the Spanish word for sandal with one crudely drawn in the top right corner. There were countless encouragements being shouted, some even saw my name written on my jersey and added the individualized touch. Believe me, in the final miles those really made a difference.
At mile 20 I was greeted by someone who I now consider to be my guiding angel. She was a member of the Team World Vision staff and when she saw me nearing the aid station, she trotted out to me and jogged along side for a few moments. She did not shout generalities about believing in me or any of that typical playbook hype, but her approach was perfect.
"How are you doing?" she asked in a calm ordinary tone although she could tell I was in rough shape. "We're getting there," I replied sounding less than confident as the pain gradually increased. "Do you need anything?" she asked. I said, "I think I am good right now, just fighting through it," She replied, "We will be here after you make the turn if you do, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you are doing great." It was not a locker room motivational speech but was an interaction with such care and intent that it proved to be a blessing when I needed it the most.
The final mile or so was especially tough given the ascent to Century City, but with the streets lined with fans behind barricades shouting our names pushing us toward that finish, it was tough not to get emotional. With a little less than half a mile to go a man came running up to a couple of us and said, "you have two more stoplights to go before you turn to the finish. You see them up there, the second one is your turn to the finish. You are almost there!" Much is said about the hearts of endurance athletes, and after that exchange I am convinced more needs to be said about the hearts of those who perform acts of kindness just like that.
Los Angeles has always been about the people, not those in charge that have let a once promising metropolis slip into disrepair, but the wonderfully diverse citizenry that deep down are the soul of that place and a frank reminder that there is still hope, not just for that city, but for the world in general.
Thank you Los Angeles, more appropriately, thank you Angelinos for your hospitality. You are shining in a city shine following some of its darkest days and you shined a light to the finish line during one of my toughest. For that, myself and my fellow competitors are forever indebted. I hope to see you again in 2023.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the Vice President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.