What happens when a 5K turns into a 22 mile long run?

I love community runs. The feel of people coming together for a common good is such a positive. Saturday morning my family ran the Pico Rivera 5K hosted by the El Rancho High School track and field team. 500 runners and walkers joined together for an awesome event. A few things made this run a fun and memorable one.

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First and foremost was enjoying the race with my daughter. (My husband and son tag teamed together for this race.) She really is becoming an amazing runner. She listens to suggestions and is willing to make improvements. Though when she got tired at about mile two I had to use some Mama motivation to get her to run. I asked if she wanted me to sing “Shake it Off”. Quickly she replied NO. I said, “then start moving kiddo.” About 3/4 of a mile from the finish she started walking and whining so I broke into song. That was more than enough to get her going. She stepped back up into gear and finished the race strong.

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Another race highlight for me was seeing some of my current and past students at the race. In my eyes, it is nice for current students to see me out of the classroom doing something that I love. It is also great to see past students and to catch up on how they are progressing. I met up with a student who will forever be a favorite. (Yes, I just admitted that teachers have favorites.) Amanda was in my 3rd grade class my very first year teaching. It is so awesome to see the amazing young lady she has become. Her brother Adam was born the year Amanda was in my class. He truly is a gauge of how long I have been teaching! I was so proud because it turns out this was her first 5K and she totally rocked it!

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Okay back to the run. Along the course were students cheering us on the entire way. It as really motivational and inspiring to see and hear these youth. My daughter loved the cheering and was encouraged to continue. It was also awesome to see so many young runners. The local elementary schools in the district had an excellent showing.  In the end my baby girl was able to finish the race in 35 minutes.

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We took a few minutes to catch our breath and cheer on a few runners finishing the race.  Well, this is the point that 5K fun run meets a 22 mile long run. In just a few short weeks I will be taking part in the Los Angeles Marathon. The 5K was scheduled the same day as my final long distance run before the marathon. So I decided I would run the 3.1 miles for the race and then run 19 more after to meet my long run needs for the marathon training. I grabbed my hydration backpack, kissed my family good-bye and started on my way along the San Gabriel River bike trail home.

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This is the point that my personal running adventure begins. It is also the moment that I became aware of just how unaware I am concerning my surroundings. So now you have to keep reading to find out just what in the world I’m talking about.

First starting off was my normal silly me. I stop every now and then to snap a pic of things that catch my eye when I’m running. Yes I know I would be faster and would have a better race finish time if I didn’t do this BUT we all have the insane things we that enjoy and pictures along my runs is my crazy idea of fun. So here we go…

IMG_1749 Random flowers that were so vibrant they screamed to be photographed.

IMG_1750It’s also not everyday that you see a T-rex abandoned along the bike trail.

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Reflecting back now on this moment, I really should not have stopped for this picture. My feet were surrounded by freshly littered spray paint cans and I’m pretty sure the guy sitting a few 100 feet away from me as I was snapping away was the artist of the work behind me.

But in all honestly this wasn’t the point that I felt unaware. As we were driving to the 5K my husband warned me to stay aware of the homeless along the bike trail near the freeway.  I listened to his warning, but it really didn’t register until I saw the make shift homes created by the homeless. I drive this stretch of freeway almost everyday. I felt completely taken back because at that moment I became aware of just how unaware I am. Yes, I know Los Angeles county was a large population of homeless. I just was unaware the struggles were just out of my line of sight.

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This was just one of the many homes I passed a few miles along my run.

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As I continued running I kept hydrating. Well hydrating leads to a need for pit stops. Let me just say I was forever grateful for the beautiful public parks with the open public restrooms along the bike path. My bathroom stop allowed me a moment to stop and take a pic of the ducks enjoying the Saturday morning at the park in Downey.

So as a kept pressing along on my run the second surprise of my unawareness of surroundings hit me. Horses. Mile and miles of horses. I passed stable after stable that I had no idea were in the area. Okay this may sound silly but I was surprised because we live in a very urban area. Again I drive the freeway in this area everyday, even the surface streets. I had never seen a horse or a trail for them to this point. Call me silly, but this was a real surprise to me.

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I honestly didn’t expect to see a goat, rabbit, and chicken on my long run either. Plus not much less get a picture of all three together. So take a moment. Shake your head and enjoy my crazy.

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As I got closer to home the sites along the bike path became more familiar. Parks that I take my children to play at and streets that I drive on my way about the city become areas of familiarity. This is also the point I began to realize my run is more than halfway done. I am feeling good and have enough energy left in the tank to reach my goal.

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Now every long run I bring what I call runner candy to keep me going. Shot Bloks to me are the best. They give me a quick punch of energy and really help to keep me going. There are all kinds of products on the market I personally just enjoy these the most.

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I started in my run in Pico Rivera, then on to Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos, Lakewood, and finally Long Beach. When I reached Carson Street I knew I was exactly 2 miles away from my front door, but I had 7 more miles to run. At that point I was still feeling good and continued to run one of my normal morning run paths around El Dorado Park.

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The regional park near my home is a personal favorite. I gives me the sense of being out in the country when really I’m just a few miles from home. It’s kind of challenging to see from the picture, but this model plane air field in the park is awesome. I love running this area as I watch the planes fly.  I felt lucky to finish my final 7 miles in an area that I am extremely familiar with. It gave me the comfort of knowing I was almost home. So I buckled down, picked up my pace, and finished my run. In the end I was exhausted, but had the greatest sense of satisfaction. I know I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for marathon number three. Now as I taper down and try to keep my nerves under control, I just wait as the runner excitement builds. Though stay tuned… I have the Diva half marathon next week and this one will include a tiara, feather boa, and a pink tutu…

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