Los Angeles Half Marathon Project

I visited Los Angeles, California from March 22-25 to run in the Rock the Oceanfront Half Marathon in Long Beach, CA while my dad and brother watched. In Los Angeles, I also got to go to a Lakers basketball game and saw one of my sports idols, LeBron James, play against the Brooklyn Nets. During the rest of our time there, we took a guided tour of LA (seeing the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, and ate at in the famous LA Farmers Market), visited the Santa Monica Pier, ate dinner in Malibu on the Pacific Ocean, and took a Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

Me by the Hollywood sign!


While completing my STEP Signature Project, I noticed a huge change in myself and how I perceived my running career. When I was growing up I was always quick to quit something when things got hard. I stopped playing basketball in 8th grade because I was worried I’d get cut from the team. My sophomore year of high school during cross country training, I claimed to have a stress fracture in my leg because the workouts were getting hard. These are just a few of the long list of examples I could give. While the training process for this race was littered with injury, fatigue, and hardship, I made sure to not fall victim to my excuses of the past. Completing the half marathon showed me that if I put my mind and heart into something I’m truly passionate about, I can accomplish anything.

My original STEP project was to run the Boston Marathon. This required me to run a 3:05:00 marathon time, at a qualifying race. Since the qualifying race was going to be my first marathon, I decided to run it in my home city, Cincinnati, at the Flying Pig. I started training in October 2017, at the same time as my STEP classes were going on. This gave me 26 weeks of preparation for the race. The training session went extremely well. My high school cross country coach, Tom Rapp, worked closely with me during this time. He gave me advice on how to train, what I should eat during the race, and what I should be doing outside of running to prepare. I was able to do two long runs of 20 miles and run a warm-up half marathon in a personal record time of 1:17:10. These events made me very confident going into the Flying Pig.

This picture is of my family (minus my brother) and me after the Flying Pig Marathon.


I ended up running the Flying Pig Marathon in 3:03:50. This was bitter-sweet because I knew I would be cutting it close on if I would get accepted into the Boston Marathon. In the end I felt very accomplished because I went in with a goal of running under 3:05:00 and I did it. Unfortunately, this time was not good enough. My application was denied because they only took runners with a time of under 3:00:08 this year. Due to this, I decided to change my STEP project in an effort to re-qualify for the race. I want to run as many prestigious races as possible so this made the Los Angeles Marathon an easy choice for my next race.

Again, I started my training in October (2018) but something didn’t feel right this time around. I took most of the summer off from running because of the heavy toll the Flying Pig took on my body. Below my right knee cap had been giving me pain for several months of training for LA so I decided to shut it down and see a doctor. She diagnosed me with tibial tubercle apophysitis (Osgood-Schlatter’s disease). Due to the disease, I was unable to train for several months. STEP allowed me to change my project one final time and let me run a half marathon in the Los Angeles area.

The weekend spent in Los Angeles was one of the greatest weekends of my life. Flying there was the first time I had ever stepped foot on an airplane. My dad flew with me from CVG to LAX and my brother met up with us in LA. Hanging out with my two best friends in a city I have never explored was something I will never forget. While every part of the weekend was amazing, my favorite non-running memory was going to the Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. Basketball was a huge part of my life growing up and I am an avid fan, especially of LeBron James. Getting to see him do his thing on the court really brought a child-like sense of joy in me.

My brother, dad, and me at the Lakers game!


My project changed from a story of triumph, to not quite good enough, to finally, a resurgence of my running career. I ran the Rock the Oceanfront Half Marathon in 1:37:38. This not only showed me that injury and failure weren’t going to define my running career, but it re-sparked the passion I had when I first started running in 7th grade. Currently, I’m training for the Flying Pig Half Marathon to pace my friend through his first half marathon. Then I plan to run the Columbus Marathon in the Fall 2019 in an attempt to qualify for Boston. This project really helped me to realize that I’m truly passionate about running and it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life. To quote the best marathon runner of all time, Eluid Kipchoge, “No human is limited.” Knowing that I am without limits, I fully expect to run the Boston Marathon in the near future.

This picture was after the Rock the Oceanfront Half Marathon with my Dad and my brother.


Finally, I want to thank Ohio State’s STEP program for giving me the resources to experience a weekend I will never forget and one that reignited my passion for running. I’d also like to thank my STEP faculty adviser Joseph Ottobre, Toni Greenslade-Smith who helped me with changing my project, my high school coach Tom Rapp, my family, and God.

One thought on “Los Angeles Half Marathon Project

  1. Matt, it was a pleasure to read your STEP reflection. Running has so many life lessons to teach, and endurance through setbacks is one of the biggest, I think. Your times are really impressive and I’m excited for you as the Columbus marathon approaches!

    I hope as you continue to run, you can also continue to look for those life lessons that running has to offer. One of my friends says running taught him to never make any decisions about quitting while you’re running up hill. I think that idea got him through grad school. 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing your experience Matt and best of luck to you on future races.

    Take Care,

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