#TheFastestNarvaez – LA Marathon 2014

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Last Sunday, I officially ran and completed my fourth marathon!  Right off the bat I’ll say–I loved this race.  And while the day did not work out as I had hoped or planned, it is race I would be more than happy to do again.  Big thanks to my brother Adrian for paying for my registration as very early birthday present.  My best yet!

Marathon weekend started out early Saturday morning when my friend Alex and I drove up from San Diego to my childhood home in Irvine.  My mom, brother, Alex, and I all got breakfast before dropping my mom off at home for us to head to LA for the expo and day’s activities.  First stop was to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where a blessing of the running shoes and participants was taking place.  Alex and I both really wanted to go to this event, and I loved that this even existed.  It’s not often where people find a way to incorporate faith and thanksgiving into a marathon event and this was special.  Father prayed that we would stay healthy and safe and most importantly, asked God to make our bodies fit for every good work.


blessing of the running shoes and participants at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Following the blessing, my brother, Alex, and I headed to the Nutribullet Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our bibs, shirts, and explore the expo.  Alex got some really sweet deals on shirts (5 shirts for I believe about $80?), while I ventured throughout the booths, bought some Nuun, chatted with people about upcoming races, and met up with a couple of friends who were also running the marathon.

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top: that’s me!      bottom: Alex, Carrie, and me at the expo

With the time change due to daylight savings, let’s just say that we had a pretty early wake up call the following morning.  I went to bed at 8 PM and had an alarm set for 12:45 AM (I know, I know).  We time traveled at 2 AM and made it to Santa Monica to grab our shuttle to the start at Dodger Stadium.  After a couple of attempts to nap, bag check, and bathroom starts, the race started at 7:25 AM and we were off!

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Starting line photos are my favorite.  Doesn’t this look ridiculous!

I mentioned before the race that I was keeping my goals to myself this time around, but here’s what I had had planned:

     A. Maintain a 10 minute pace for a 4:22 finish

     B. Sub 4:30

     C. PR (Sub 4:35:09)

Let’s just say that neither of those happened.  I know, let’s all cry together right now.

This is what went down.  I started off the race strong and confident, maintaining a fast pace and even creating a time bank for myself.  I had this plan in mind, especially knowing that warm weather and the beating sun would eventually make its way to drain us.  At mile 10, I was 4 minutes ahead of my 4:22 A goal, and of course, I knew I would have to make a bathroom stop.  Once I stepped out of the porta potty, I was only 45 seconds ahead of the 4:22 goal.  Oh well, I still felt strong and I headed out.  Somewhere around mile 12 or 13 I started to feel a really uncomfortable … feeling in my chest.  I wouldn’t say it was painful, but it was definitely awkward.  It almost felt as if I was going to vomit, but not exactly–kind of reminded me of some random feelings I’ve had after eating.  But it definitely took me aback, almost making it  difficult for me to breathe.  I still cannot even pinpoint what it was, and I had to remind myself that I couldn’t wait for the feeling to go away to run fast, and that I had to push through.

At mile 17 let’s say, the real struggle began.  My legs were exhausted and it was only mile 17! I was dumbfounded, knowing that I had trained for this marathon, and it was looking as if my goals weren’t going to be achieved.  Also at mile 17, one of the Asics Support Your Marathoner boards was there, and of course–this was the board in which this awesome video of my best friend Lacey and her parents showed up on the screen, cheering me on.  I think you can imagine what happened (waterworks #1).  Somehow those cheers always comes at the right time, and it always gets to me when I see Lacey’s support as I run.  Waterworks #2 came about a while later when I was feeling exhausted and a woman was holding a sign that said “when your legs are tired, run with your heart” and cheered me on by name.  Totally got to me because let’s face it–I was so tired!

On, and on .. my pace slowed down.  I watched as my goals slipped away from me, knowing that today was not going to a PR.  Honestly, I cannot pinpoint what it is.  I know many people struggled throughout the course due to high temperatures, many people had to receive aid from the USC medical tents (read a bit about it here), but it felt as if it was my first marathon! How much of the results attributed to the heat?  Did I not train enough?  Did I not train correctly?  

At mile 25, I noticed a familiar shirt in front me of me, and I realized it was my brother.  After 25 miles, I caught up to him, and we talked about how much of a struggle this marathon was for us.  Whatever contributed to it–heat, training, whatever–we both crossed the finish line with a time of 4:55 (ew), with me finishing 4 seconds faster than my brother.  I joked around with my brother and our friends after the race that I always have another secret goal–finish before my brother (AKA where “the fastest Narvaez” comes from).  So on Sunday, that goal was accomplished! Four seconds before him–I’ll take it ;)  After crossing the finish line, I grabbed my gear and saw some awesome text message support from my friends Josh and Ali, which put a huge smile to my face, then headed off to celebrate!

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My friend Ali saw me finish!  She caught this picture of my brother and me as we “sped” off to the finish line

Now my overall thoughts on this marathon are truly high.  What a great race.  I may have not have had a great finish time, but the course is fantastic as we ran through LA and saw some really amazing sites.  But most importantly, the Los Angeles community knows how to come out and support.  Out of all of the races I’ve done, this has got to be the race with the best spectators and best crowd I have ever experienced.  Volunteers were fantastic–huge thanks to them for standing outside in the heat for hours to help us all out and doing it with a smile on their faces.  But truly, the spectators on the sidelines were incredibly helpful. Whether it was cheering us all on by name, bringing their own water, electrolytes, energy, oranges, pretzels, candy–they did it and I could not have been more grateful.  Even stores provided their own water tables for runners–all on their own.  It warmed my heart (as did the heat).

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top: my cousins Rael, Michelle, and friends Anne-Marie and Danilo came to the finish line in Santa Monica to see my brother and me!

bottom: Tony, my brother, me, and Jose all finished!

A huge hug to all of my friends and family who came out to support, whether it was physically at the race or virtually.  It truly means the world to me.  Regardless of the results, I had an amazing time and I will definitely be back next year!  If there’s one thing last Sunday taught me, it’s to love every run.  On to the next race!



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