SMCA Student Finishes LA Marathon

Written by Norma Garcia, 8th Grader at SMCA


Norma, 2nd from the right, ran and finished the 2016 LA Marathon on February 14th.

My name is Norma Garcia. I am 13 years old and currently an eighth-grade student enrolled at Stella Middle Charter Academy (SMCA). I participated in Students Run LA (SRLA), a group dedicated to training over 3,000 students for the annual LA marathon. I am proud to say I have recently trained for and completed the 2016 LA Marathon in February.  While this is not my first time running the LA marathon, this is the first time that I completed the race. I participated in the 2015 LA marathon, but unfortunately did not finish due to an injury.

This year, however, was different. After five months of training, the day had arrived. The day for which I had been training. The day of the 2016 LA Marathon. I was surprisingly not as nervous as I had anticipated, but still needed to do my best to remain calm. The clichés were in full effect – my heart was beating hard and my palms became sweaty as my group and I reached the ´start´ line. I was thinking about every mile marker and how my body would become more exhausted with each passing. That said, an image that remained vague was the finish line, given that I had not reached it the previous year.

Eventually my watch read 7:00 a.m., meaning the race had begun. But my group would not begin until 7:20 a.m. because of the amount of participants. When I had finally started to run, my body went into autopilot. I ran and did not think about being tired or sore, but rather of being confident and strong. As any other runner, I grew fatigued with every mile, but that did not preclude me from continuing.


Passing through the streets of Los Angeles was almost like being in a parade because there were crowds of people on either side holding up signs and distributing water. I had seen my friends and family at miles 18 and 20, which, as you would imagine, motivated me to continue going. With .2 of a mile left, I could see the finish line a few blocks away, and I felt relief. As I came closer and closer, I thought of every practice and previous race I had attended. The second I had finished, I had the best feeling. My face was joyful and astounded, my body loosened up, and I had forgotten how tired I was.

A kind woman placed the medal on my neck and congratulated me. At that moment, I felt as if I could accomplish anything. I phoned my family, sharing with them that I had finished, and all I could hear were cheers and laughs on the other end.

This year, I have improved tremendously both physically and mentally. Experiencing this journey alongside my best friends has been one of the best parts of my year and an amazing life experience. February 14, 2016 was one of the best days of my life, and I would do it all over again.

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  • Congrats, Norma! I am inspired by your grit and determination: you didn’t let an injury hold you back, and you relied on your peers for that extra push! You’ll get the same feeling when you graduate college. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Donna says:

    Congratulations Norma! It is such an amazing thing to finish a marathon. Be proud because you did not give up and decided to try the second time around. Always look at life in this manner, first time around may not have been the best, but there are many more times to do better.

  • Delma Rosales says:

    Congrats….. One of the many accomplishments you will have through out your life.

  • Lois Levy says:

    I am so impressed – congratulations on your huge accomplishment!!! I have to push myself to run 4 miles; I can’t even imagine all of the strength you have developed in order to complete the marathon. Thank you for sharing your amazing accomplishment with us.
    Warm regards,
    Lois Levy
    Member of The Board of Directors of Bright Star Schools

  • Pam Horowitz says:

    Congratulations Norma. Yours is an achievement which shows dedication, resolve , and splendid conditioning. I hope you take great pride in your having completed the race.
    Pam and Andy Horowitz
    Former Co-Lead Partners with LASVP at Bright Star Academy

  • Mr. Garris says:

    Congratulations, Norma! With your focus, dedication, and perseverance, anything is possible. Keep up the great work!