Going the Distance, Part 5

After months of training for the Los Angeles marathon, Shawnn Slaughter crosses the finish line and realizes a new level of self-appreciation.



Shortly before I
hit mile 1, three running Elvises passed me, just
like the King imitators I encountered during the Las Vegas
Half Marathon in December. Coming out of the San
Fernando Valley and into Hollywood, my group waited in
line for 10 minutes for a for a restroom break. I called
my friend John in New Orleans as I turned onto Hollywood
Boulevard. He was found it amusing that I would make a
phone call in the middle of a marathon.

Somewhere around
mile 7, I became separated from my group. One member of
my group, Mel, was a short distance in front of me, and then
I lost her. I looked back and no longer saw the rest
of my group. I was then completely on my own. This
didn't bother me too much, as I had done the majority
of my training alone. The crowd along the course had to be
the most enthusiastic that I have ever seen. Outside
of the official water stops, there were a number of
generous people along the route giving out water,
Gatorade, oranges, bananas, and even marzipan! Several fire
hydrants were open along the route spraying the runners. I
mainly noticed the hot firemen working the hydrants a
few Los Angeles sheriffs dotting the route.

At mile 13, I
passed a cheering section made up of people from the
National AIDS Marathon and APLA. They were a reminder that I
was running this marathon to raise money for people
affected by and living with HIV. My motivation through
the entire marathon was how fortunate I was to be a
22-year survivor. Around mile 14, I passed the Los Angeles
Coliseum, conjuring memories of the time I had run the
Nike Remix Run from there in 2006. I also saw Coach
Jack, who was my coach for the San Francisco marathon
in 2006. I realized how much fun I was really having. Before
I knew it, I was at mile 20.

Tags: Sports