Learn : Marathon Story  

Running Background:

marathon photoI consider myself a beginner runner and I run because it's my passion. A friend dared me to run the first Los Angeles Marathon with him in 1986. Neither one of us had run a marathon before. I had only run on the beach along Long Beach for 8 years and alone. We started training just after Thanksgiving 1985, for the March 1986, marathon. My longest run prior to the LA marathon was 18 miles two weeks before the marathon. It was also my only run beyond 15 miles.

On the morning of the marathon my friend did not show up. It was kind of scary to run the first time with others -- 13,000 strangers.

My biggest challenge in training was to learn to run in running shoes after running for 8 years barefooted on the crest of the beach. All I had on in training were cutoff jeans. I felt that I needed to wear something else, so I wore a netted singlet and karate pants (lightweight and baggy). No one said anything to me about before, during, or after the marathon. This is LA.


I started running in 1978 and ran my first marathon in 1986. I knew nothing at all about training or what to wear. I wore only cutoff jeans and a smile on the beach along Long Beach, CA, for 8 years and I always ran alone.

I did not keep track of mileage. I ran whatever I felt like that morning before work. My fellow employees thought I was out of my mind. It was 1986 and I was 38 years old.

Race Day:

The 1986 Los Angeles Marathon was worse than expected. My goal was to run it under 4:30, which I thought would be twice as long or more than the first place runners time. Going in I knew nothing at all on how to run a marathon. I did not know anyone who had run a marathon, trained for a marathon, or anything about any of the running books. I just ran on the beach in cutoff jeans before going to work in the shipyards. None of the others in my office even walked around the block. Running is something crazy people did, which I was considered by them.

I ran at the rate that felt good to me. As the miles went by I found myself slowing down as I did in training. Does this not happen to everyone? By mile 18 I hit the wall. I felt like I had heavy lead boots on. For the next 4+ miles it was all I could do to keep going. I had promised myself to never give up. I was going to finish no matter what I felt like.

Well, it worked. The final few miles felt much better to me. It was like the lead boots disappeared sometime after mile 22. My legs still hurt, but I was able to run again. It was slow but at least the boots were gone.

When I finished, I was all alone as I was all day long. No one talked to me at any time and I talked to no one else. It was another long run by myself with 13,000 strangers running the same course for some reason.

Although alone at the finish. I felt very proud of myself and could not wait to tell my dog, Shep, all about it. I was not very out going then. I did not talk about it at work the next day. Someone finally asked me about it and got me to bring my medal in the next day. For me it was enough to have pride in myself and try to the kind of person Shep thought I was.


My recovery was terrible. I did nothing at all for six weeks, after watching a newscast that recommended taking six weeks off after a marathon. Six weeks off was a mistake, but I did not know that. I thought all smart runners took at least six weeks off from running. It was tough for me to do, but it was the right thing, was it not.

Tips/Words of Encouragement:

Take your first marathon slow and enjoy it. Walk the aid stations. The more you walk the less you will feel like a cripple the next day. On your second marathon start taking things more seriously. The thinking being that if you feel terrible after the first one, you'll never finish a second one.

Plans to Run Another:

Since I was nearly 8 minutes beyond my goal, I did not want to stop running marathons on a sour note. I decided to run the 2nd Los Angeles Marathon the next year, 1987.

I still did not know much about how to run the marathon during my 2nd marathon in 1987. I just did what I felt like in terms of running. I did change from karate pants to a pair of running shorts, but I wore the same shoes, even though they were about to fall off my feet.

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