I did it! I completed my first marathon on Sunday, at home in LA. When my “sister” called and asked if I wanted to run the marathon with her, I said yes, and then got really scared. Let me be the first to tell you, 26.2 miles is a long way. But the feeling of accomplishment crossing the line is incredible. I encourage anyone to try a marathon-and believe me, they are addictive. I am definitely in for more marathons. I wanted to share, though, my favorite part of the marathon with you.
Los Angeles has a large problem with childhood obesity in underprivileged communities. Specifically in East LA, fast food is cheap, the school systems are underfunded and playgrounds aren’t safe. Finding healthy food and room to run is nearly impossible for low-income families and it makes leading an active lifestyle impossible for teens.
Students Run LA is a program to get secondary school kids in shape to run the LA Marathon whose course now includes a jaunt through their neighborhoods. Running through the same streets I would normally be afraid to drive in the early morning glow made them seem cleaner, brighter, and safer. It was sort of like looking at the place through a lens of what it could be. I saw parents standing and cheering on street corners and banners hanging from balconies. I saw entire families decked out in green to support their sons and daughters. Huge bowls of cut oranges and bananas were offered to runners by bystanders who probably worked for hours to pay for them. I am still in awe of the changes I saw.
The course officials had decided that East LA deserves to be shared. Students Run LA put the kids – the future – into the spotlight. That’s passion, sweaty, blistering and tired passion, at work for the future.