My name is Elissa Alcala, I’m 27 years old and I have been cancer free since September 2016. I was diagnosed last April 2016 with B Cell Lymphoma stage 4. I had no symptoms so the diagnosis came as a shock to me and my family. But with overwhelming support and love from family and friends, I took on cancer with a positive attitude and welcomed the challenges it gave to me.
I have been a runner since 2013, which is when my sister, Kristin, and I started signing up for 5ks and slowly worked our way up to a half marathon. We started running together as a way to stay in shape. After our first half, both of us swore off ever running one again. I have now run 6 halfs, 1 full and numerous 5 and 10ks. We plan on running many more in our future together!
The Mountains 2 Beach half is an opportunity for both my sister and I to PR. Before I was diagnosed with cancer I almost broke the 2 hour mark, with my best time being at 2 hours and 1 minute. I have been trying to get under ever since, but because of the chemotherapy I have had to slow my pace down significantly because my body is still recovering. So, for me this race is about finally achieving the goal of breaking the 2 hour barrier!
I’m the better sprinter and am usually pretty good at pacing myself but sometimes lack the motivation to do my long runs. So, Kristin will have more training for the long runs and is the one who will be pushing me forward. Though both her and I have gotten pretty good at running half. I’m not sure either of us are ready to run a full right now. Both of us work in the TV/ Movie industry and work long hours so training can be tough during the week and then when the weekend rolls around we have to try and get our long runs in as well as complete all of our other adulting (laundry, grocery shopping etc.).
Follow Elissa on Instagram @27crossroads
Who's the "better" runner?
Elissa is faster. Kristin has more distance training. So, it really depends on the time and the race. Right now we are about the same.
When and why did you start running?
We decided to make a New Years Resolution of becoming healthier and doing new things. So training for a Half Marathon was on our list! Since then we haven't turned back. We have both run a 1 full marathon.
Why are you running the half marathon?
I want to run this half marathon because it was where I ran my first ever full. I did Mountains 2 Beach in May 2015. I was considering doing the full marathon again this year but we decided together we wanted to crush our Half Marathon times instead. Last year we had signed up for the half marathon and I had to cancel last minute due to my sister being diagnosed with cancer. This year it will be a comeback. We will run it together and crush it together. It has been a long journey this year and this will kind of be the icing on the cake.
How are you training for Mountains 2 Beach?
I have been running with Team In Training. The season is over and I decided to try and do the LA Marathon. I have been doing higher mileage for that. I am still on the fence as to whether I will actually do it. If I don't, I figure it good training for me to crush my half marathon time! I am also a part of Orange Theory Fitness. They have helped me a ton with my speed.
What is your PR?
In November I did the Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland and finished in 2:10. I did a run walk and could have finished faster. If I cut down my walks to 30 seconds instead of 1 min, that will cut off a few minutes. And then just run a bit faster! Easy peasy! Boom, under 2!
What motivates/drives you to run the half marathon?
I just like the feeling of accomplishment when I am done. And obviously for health reasons. Running helps me stay fit!
Do you have any tips for training and race day?
Training- just get out there and run. Even if you are slower- mileage is mileage! Race day- get sleep, eat what you are used to- do not try new things! Bring a trash bag to stay warm in, and go early - porta potties have long lines! And being rushed is the worst way to start a race!