Juan: Returning the Favor

Juan, a sophomore at Bell High School, completed his fourth Marathon with SRLA on March 18. This Marathon was extra special for Juan because he made it to the finish line with the support of the running community and was able to give back to a fellow runner.

I have run with SRLA for four years- two years at Nimitz Middle School and two years at Bell High School. The 2018 LA Marathon was my 4th LA Marathon. It was a great experience, just like every other year, but had something special.

Like the previous year, I had a goal to run sub three hours for the LA Marathon. I knew it would be a very difficult mission with less training due to injury recoveries but I gave it a shot. Everything changed at mile 21; I was going at pace and hit the wall at mile 21. I spent several minutes trying to stretch cramps in both of my quads and could not get rid of them until a SRLA leader and a random women helped me stretch. I was able to run again.

I noticed I was not going to hit my goal anymore but I kept running. At mile 23 I came across a runner that was laying down on the floor cramped up and I decided to return the favor others did for me with that person. I helped him stretch, gave him some tips, and tried my best to encourage him to keep on running. After that I felt great knowing I helped someone else out and felt like I had never felt before in a Marathon.

The last 200 meters were also one of the best parts of this Marathon. I pushed hard and ran fast to the finish. As I saw my family on the left cheering I decided to stop and give them a hug, not caring if I pulled a muscle or not, because they supported me all the way. I ended up cramping but I kept running and when I finished I was not disappointed. I got a new personal record of 4 hours and 31 minutes and achieved my goal of completing my 4th LA Marathon in a row.

Now my goal is the same for next year, to run sub three hours next year, and to prepare myself better to do so. I want to leave Bell High School proudly saying I ran with SRLA for six years and that each year they helped find someone new in me.

To support Juan and his teammates on their journey next year, make a donation today. To share your SRLA story, email Naomi at naomi@srla.org.