FRANK ULRICH, 35, nursing student, Burbank
What's your motivation? I was with a friend in Little Tokyo last summer, and she was talking about how we should do the L.A. Marathon. She mentioned how there was a new course this year, and that definitely made it sound good. Then I paid the non-refundable fee, and she said, ‘Oh, I don't think I can do it.' She got so busy, she never got around to training. I was left with this non-refundable fee, and I thought, I've still got to do it.... I thought, ‘It's now or never.' I still have a competitive edge, and I thought, ‘If I do this, I'll still have it over her.' "
There are definitely days, like last Monday, that are great runs. On a day like that I'll say, ‘I love running.' On another day, I can't stand it and I never want to run again. I do see myself continuing to run.
Now my motivation is that I look forward to having accomplished this for the sake of itself, not to beat someone else.
What will get you through the worst moments? I'll start cutting up the distances and making mini-goals, like getting to the next intersection. That helps me.... There's so much biofeedback going on when you're running. Your whole body is sending messages to get you to stop and asking why are we running so long. You're constantly having to override everything.
Training program: I used a website called MapMyRun.com (it offers training programs as well as route mapping).
Expected time: I'd like to do it in about 4:45. I want to get to the finish line while they're still handing out medals.
Do you plan to do another marathon? No. Everyone keeps telling me I will, but I don't think so, just because of the commitment.
CAROL SERRANO, 49, office manager, Simi Valley
What's your motivation? The movie ‘The Bucket List' really hit home with me. Life is getting shorter, and I need to conquer what I want to do. I'm going to have a milestone birthday of 50 this year, and since college I've always wanted to do a marathon, but I never had the time. When I was in college, I volunteered at a marathon and I saw all these people of different ages walking and running, and I thought, I want to do this someday. My kids are a little older, so I have time to train.
It's to go out there and say you've actually done something. I would love my obituary to say, ‘She conquered the marathon.'
I like to set up challenges for myself. That's totally me. I always have to strive for something. I never thought I had a competitive side, I've never been into sports, but now with my running, even though I'm just trying to finish, I want to go faster.
I think running is healthy for my mental state. What I'm striving for in my life now is being happier. I've never done anything for myself, and these past couple of years I've started doing things for myself. I've never been in such great shape.
What will get you through the worst moments? I hear that the crowd really keeps you going, and I think running with other people around me might keep me going. When I see older people running, that makes me think, ‘If they can do it, I can do it.'
Training program: I went on the Internet and printed out some beginners' training schedules.
Expected time: I'm pacing myself for five hours, but I'm hoping for four-something.
Do you plan to do another marathon? After this, I'll probably do a triathlon, mix it up a little more.
PHILIPPE GUILLAUD, 44, in charge of technology for a credit card company, Los Angeles
What's your motivation? When I was 40, I went to see my doctor and he told me I needed to do something about my health. I was in OK health, but I was not that physically active. When I was younger, I did lots of sports, like windsurfing, squash and tennis, so it was a surprise for me when he said I was out of shape.
I also have twin sons who just turned 14, and I wanted them to realize that you should take nothing for granted and that things don't come easy. So I'm trying every year to find some kind of challenge and have a goal, which is also good for them. They realize their dad is not old and that it takes patience and time to get prepared. I'm trying to set a good example.
I climbed to the top of Mt. Whitney last year, and I ran to train for that. When I started to think about the next challenge, I thought the marathon would be good.
My sons have been swimming since they were 4, and they've been doing some competitions. Before they didn't really care, but now they realize they need to practice. They're committed.
What will get you through the worst moments? My kids will be at the race along with my wife, and they'll see me every six miles or so, so it's going to be very difficult for me to quit.
Training program: I looked on the Internet at what people were doing, but I decided to do it myself.
Expected time: I think 4:30 is achievable.