Griffin Survives, Finishes Marathon Just Before Nightfall

“Sometimes you just feel tired; you feel weak, and when you
feel weak you feel like you wanna just give up, but you gotta search within
you, you gotta find that inner strength, and get that motivation to not give up and not be a quitter, no matter how bad
you wanna just fall flat on your face.”       

Those are the wise words of the great rapper and perhaps potential marathon-motivational speaker,
Eminem. Listening to Eminem while running the LA Marathon March 15, all I could
think was, “I’m trying!”

Despite all the pain, I’m really glad that I had the experience of running
my first marathon. Even though running is a very individual sport, training for the marathon with a group of Claremont McKenna students made it
that much more fun. I’ve always
enjoyed opportunities to push myself, but supporting a cause
that benefited others made it even more rewarding.

I was
really impressed with every CMC’er who ran the marathon, including Ben Tillotson
CM ’15, who qualified for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3:01:17, and
Johanna Carmany CM ’18, who beasted it with a time of 3:32. A huge
shout-out also goes out to CMC’s Director of Leadership Giving Josh Walter, who was
an incredible supporter of the whole initiative and helped set up a vital pre-race pasta dinner at Buca di Beppo.

When I
first started calling alumni to request support, I was nervous that they might
be annoyed at another person asking them for money, but almost everyone I
called was extremely supportive. In the end, we raised over $90,000 for the
Student Imperative. All 27 students who participated, as well as Professor
Taylor, Walter and President Chodosh, finished the race.

After never
having run more than 10.22 miles while training, I may have been one of the
most unprepared runners in the race. So, as I probably should have suspected, I
started riding the struggle bus around mile 10, which was particularly
unfortunate since I really didn’t feel like taking another step, but I still had
to run farther than I’d ever run in my entire life.

But the
thing about running a marathon is you really have no choice but to keep
going. Even if I had decided to sit down
in the middle of the street or crawl off to the side, I would still be in the
middle of L.A. with no way to get anywhere unless they sent in a rescue
helicopter to pick me up. So really, running was the only way to end the pain. I
got to a point where it even hurt to walk, so I figured I may as well keep
running to get it over with more quickly.

While
running 26.2 miles was an undoubtedly daunting task, the L.A. Marathon was probably
one of the most pleasant ways to do it. We started at Dodger Stadium at the crack of dawn, which made the beginning of the race feel pretty epic. With the exception of a few hills scattered
throughout the course, it was mostly downhill. Being surrounded by hordes of
other runners also delivered a cool sense of camaraderie as we pushed through the course together. 

But, the most important part of the race was all the sideline support. Even though I spent most of the race waddling
through the streets of L.A. with a pained expression on my face, everyone on the
sideline was cheering so hard I felt like a hero returning from victory in battle. There was a steady stream of supporters throughout the entire
26.2 miles, and everyone had an earnest look on their face as though they cared
about these random strangers’ plights. A
good number came bearing gifts of water, bananas, oranges and even some beer.
But they all seemed to really care and acted as if they wanted to cheer us on
through sheer force of will.

The most
clutch crew of all was the CMC squad who posted up around mile 22, right while
I was in downtown Strug City. Having a
group of CMC’ers who had traveled to L.A. just to cheer us on gave me an extra burst of energy. Not once throughout the
race did I feel like I was in it alone. Instead, I felt like I couldn’t let down the expectations of everyone who
had come out to the race.

After
spending what felt like forever running through various streets and cursing
six-months-ago-Griffin for not training harder when he had the chance, I don’t
think I’ve ever been more excited to see a giant orange inflatable arch in my
life, especially one emblazoned with the word “Finish.” 

The sight of this glorious inflatable, after barely
being able to avoid walking for most of the final couple miles of the race, gave me a tiny boost for
the annoyingly long final stretch of pavement we had to traverse. After spending a little less than five hours gritting my teeth and hoping my legs
weren’t about to fall off, I was impressed by how powerful our minds can
be.

Honestly, I believe that anybody can run a marathon. Whenever I give my own stabs at
delivering (mostly uncalled for) motivational speeches, I’m liable to point to
my head and declare that it’s all in here. I think what running the marathon is
really all about is pushing yourself past what you previously thought you were
capable of, and I think that can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

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