What would it take for you to run 23 miles in three days? Would you do it for money, fame, bragging rights, or for some cool gear?
Well, there is more than that in running a marathon for Leia Guillermo, a counselor in the Student Services department at Coleman University. In January, she completed her 38th marathon in Anaheim at the Disneyland® Star Wars™ Three Day Marathon. She ran the 5K, 10K, and the half marathon for a total of 23 miles, which is truly impressive! We interviewed Leia about her passion for running and her experience in the marathon community.
How long have you been running in total?
“I started in 2013, so this March will be 4 years.”
What got you started? Do you just love running?
“Well no, actually I hate running! What happened was, when I was 13, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. I had to have surgery to correct it, but before then I was super active and afterwards I was super discouraged. I turned in a lazy bum. Then, one day my friend asked me to join her for a run and I agreed to go, but I kept putting it off. The first 5K that I actually signed up for was an ’80s-them run. I just decided to do it and not care about how fast I could finish it.
Then, I just started joining more and more races. I joined a half marathon on a whim. My first half marathon was for UC San Diego Health. I don’t know how I got addicted to it. I hate running, and you have to get up so early in the morning! But, I think it’s the people I meet that keep me going back. Everyone has an interesting story.”
What is one of your favorite medals that you have ever won?
“Definitely the Star Wars ones. The one from last year was the Kessel Run and the medal was one of the coolest I have seen.”
What is something that you have learned about yourself in becoming a runner?
“You go beyond your own expectations or self-doubts. I discovered I could go beyond what I thought were my limits.”
So, are you a member of any running clubs in San Diego? How do you hear about all of these races?
“I meet people in the community who tell me about races they are planning to run, and I am currently a race ambassador, so I promote different races in San Diego. Through that, I also meet other ambassadors who tell me about races they are working for. This year, I am a race ambassador for the Hot Chocolate run on March 26th in San Diego. It’s a 5K and a 15K.”
Does the theme of these marathon help motivate you to keep going?
“Yeah, it has to be themed. The entry fee for the Disneyland ones are very expensive, but others, like the Rock ‘n’ Roll one in San Diego, are less expensive and still a lot of fun. I like big races; the smaller ones without a theme are not as much fun to me. The first half marathon I ever did was in San Diego and I run it every year because it was my first. It is the only one I run that doesn’t have a theme.”
Do you dress up for these themed runs?
I usually don’t dress up because I just want to get out there and start running. But, this year was the first time I ever dressed up for a race. I wore a Ren costume for the Star Wars Half Marathon. It was hard to run in costume! I am so impressed by all of the costumes I see because I know it’s hard to run wearing extra stuff, so I don’t think I will dress up again.”
So what’s next for you?
“Well, in 3 weeks I am actually going to Disney World® to do the Princess Half Marathon, which is a Beauty and the Beast theme.”
Will you see any celebrities there?
“You do see some celebrities regularly at Disneyland marathons. I see Joey Fatone from NSYNC a lot. Sean Aston (Lord of the Rings) is at almost all of the Disney runs. I also see celebrities from the running community, as well.”
Are there any marathons on your Bucket List?
“Yeah, there’s a marathon at Disneyland Paris. I also want to do to the Boston Marathon®, but you need to qualify for it, so it will have to wait.”
What advice do you have for anyone looking to get into marathon running?
“Sign up for a run you think will be really fun. Once you have made that commitment, it will be more important for you to go and finish it.”
If you are interested in the Hot Chocolate run in San Diego, visit https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/sandiego. Enter SDSWAG2 at checkout for a free visor with your registration.
Coleman encourages all staff and students to engage in health and wellness habits like Leia’s. If there are any marathons you have run and would like to share your success story, send an email to email@example.com.