“I wanted to give up plenty of times.”


Dulce just after finishing the marathon.

Dulce Zenteno, 14 years old, was in the SRLA program for two years in seventh and eighth grade. She ran the marathon in 2020.  

 SRLA was tough for Dulce, but she didn’t let that stop her. She shares her experiences and some of the hardships she had to overcome. 

When Covid-19 hit, Dulce wasn’t able to run her second marathon because of the risk of lots of people getting infected. There were also lots or restrictions and certain rules they had to follow during races as opposed to before Covid.   

SRLA helped Dulce grow not only as a person but it helped her have a more open mindset. 

Dulce talks about her SRLA experience and tells us the great memories she made with both her teammates and teachers. 



Dulce Zenteno: Hi my name’s Dulce, I’m 14 years old and I am Dayana’s sister.
Dayana Zenteno: Okay well, why did you want to join SRLA?
Dulce Z: I wanted to join SRLA because I thought it was a good way to interact with  new people and a good way to make new friends.
Dayana Z: How was your experience during SRLA?
Dulce Z: I had a good experience in SRLA. It was fun and challenging for me to force myself and do new things I haven’t done.
Dayana Z: So this puts you out of your comfort zone? 
Dulce Z: Yeah it kinda did put me out of my comfort zone.
Dayana Z: Were there any challenges in SRLA?
Dulce Z: One of those challenges were sometimes I used to get tired and  I felt like giving up but I always had  my friends and teachers to support me, to give me motivation to always keep pushing myself and not to give you up.  
Dayana Z: So your peers and teachers helped you overcome this?
Dulce Z: Yes.
Dayana Z: Were there any other challenges?
Dulce Z: No that I remember.
Dayana Z: Did you ever want to give up or quit?
Dulce Z: If I’m being honest, yes, I wanted to give up plenty of times. But then I remembered that I know I could do this and I always kept pushing myself and the teachers would give me motivation not  to give up and that I could do this. 
Dayana Z: So your team was your motivation?
Dulce Z: Yeah my team was my motivation to not give up and always keep trying. 
Dayana Z: Would you say that if like they weren’t there you wouldn’t have been able to do what you did?
Dulce Z: Yes it was mostly their help that made me overcome that challenge of finishing the races and the marathon.  
Dayana Z: How did your practice races feel, like what were you feeling when you did your races?
Dulce Z: When it was a new practice race  it would be kinda hard, but once you get used to it  I knew I could do it and I always had my friends to talk to if I got lonely or bored. I always had someone to talk to while running and to always keep running, to not stop.
Dayana Z: How did you train for the marathon?
Dulce Z:  We practiced, if I recall good every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays that we had our practice races. So we would go to different places like Little Caesar’s run, Echo park, the cemetery run and others runs. That would help us build up to more miles, so  that we could finish the marathon. 
Dayana Z: So you guys basically just ran a lot?
Dulce Z: Yeah we just ran a lot.
Dayana Z: How long did it take you, like the practices/training?
Dulce Z: Probably more than six months to do that.
Dayana Z: To be able to do the marathon?
Dulce Z: Yeah.
Dayana Z: Damn that’s a long time. You did complete the marathon right?
Dulce Z: Yeah I finished the marathon.
Dayana Z: After you completed it , how did you feel?
Dulce Z: I felt really good about myself, I was tried but  felt good about myself that I completed the marathon. Something that not most people do, so I felt really good about myself, everything paid off. You know all my practicing and all my effort and everything paid off.    
Dayana Z: While doing the marathon did you want to quit, like halfway or something?
Dulce Z: No, I got really tired. I was about to give up in like mile 22 or 23 but there was some teachers right there like Ms.Tovmasyan, Ms. Iglesias and I forgot this one other teacher right there in a stand with Gatorades and snacks. We stopped there to have a little break, so we  could rest for a little while like 2 minutes or 1 minute. And after that Ms. Tovmasyan ran with us until we finished, with a bottle of freezing something and she put it on our knee caps because we were mostly all tired from running so it was sore. She would put it every two to three minutes so that it could freeze up and we wouldn’t feel so much pain and yeah  I think she helped us a lot. 
Dayana Z: Do you think that if  the teachers weren’t there at the matron with the Gatorade and you said Ms.Tovmasyan was putting spray on you, do u think that if like they weren’t there would you still have been able to finish the marathon?
Dulce Z: I think I would have been able to finish the marathon just that my pace would have slowed down and my teammates too and we would have finished really really tired.  
Dayana Z: So it would have been much harder without them?
Dulce Z: Yeah it would have been way much harder without them and their support.
Dayana Z: How long did the marathon take you?
Dulce Z: I think it was six and a half or seven hours.  
Dayana Z: But this was like 26.2 miles no?
Dulce Z: Yeah.
Dayana Z: That’s a lot.
Dulce Z: Yeah we had to wake up at three in the morning to get to school.
Dayana Z: 3 a.m? 
Dulce Z: 3 a.m.
Dayana Z: So you guys finished like at daytime right?
Dulce Z: Daytime like around three or four.
Dayana Z: The day after the marathon how were you feeling?
Dulce Z: I was feeling really tired, sore, and didn’t want to do anything. Just wanted to be in my bed laying down, sleeping.  But with the like happiness  that I achieved a goal that I set myself to do, to finish the marathon. I was really happy about myself that I actually finished it. 
Dayana Z: The next day did you have to go to school?
Dulce Z: Yes.
Dayana Z: So you were really tired right?
Dulce Z:Yeah I was really tired but what they let us do was take chanclas. They let us take chanclas to school and they didn’t tell us anything.
Dayana Z: Would you train for the marathon again?  
Dulce Z: Yes I would like to do  the marathon again. I had the chance to do it this year but I don’t know if i’m gonna do it this year. I’m probably gonna do it next year.     
Dayana Z:Nice, you’re trying to get some rest.        
Dulce Z: Yeah some rest because right now with the whole Covid thing, its like I’m not sure if there gonna close down because last year when I was in the SRLA team we really didn’t get to do the marathon, so what we had to do was 18 mile thing which was like the culmination of like you could technically say you did the marathon. It wasn’t the best experience because you couldn’t go out with your friends, out with your teachers, go out and run like how it was when I was in seventh grade. It was much better in seventh grade.  
Dayana Z: So in eighth grade because of Covid you weren’t able to run the marathon?
Dulce Z: Yeah.
Dayana Z: Oh damn.
Dulce Z: Because there were a lot of people like more than 2,000 people doing the marathon thing. So at least one of them could have been contagious and then infected a lot of us. And they wanted to take precautions.
Dayana Z: Because you weren’t able to run the marathon how were you feeling when they told you “oh sorry you can’t run the marathon because of Covid”? 
Dulce Z: I was feeling a little sad and kinda down because the marathon thing was  a really good thing for me. I enjoyed being in that sport.
Dayana Z: Why?
Dulce Z: Because I had my friends and my teachers to talk to, to go out and run. Going out to run used to be one of my favorite things to do.
Dayana Z: Really, do you find running fun?
Dulce Z: Yeah I find running fun. I also liked it because it helped me get in good shape, I felt really good about my body and it’s really healthy for your heart.
Dayana Z: Were there any restrictions you had because you were training, like where there any things you couldn’t do?
Dulce Z: Yeah one thing we couldn’t do was never run alone. You always had to run  with your partner or like in a group of four or three. Never run alone because you never know what could happen when you’re out on the streets running. Like if you get ran over you can have your partner help you and call 911. And if you’re alone, who’s gonna help you out you know?
Dayana Z: True true you might get hurt.
Dulce Z: Or you could get kidnapped.You never know.
Dayana Z: True. What about eating, were there certain things that you couldn’t eat like chips or like Monsters?
Dulce Z: Regular races it was your decision, like when we had practice races it was like your decision just know that when you’re running don’t eat chips before because it hurts your stomach. It’s gonna growl and it’s gonna burn your stomach inside. And energy drinks I don’t recommend you guys drinking energy drinks because it’s not good for you. Yeah it’s just not good for you to be drinking energy drinks. Like Monster, Red Bull, it’s not good for your body. Just that a week before the marathon Mr. Lo gave us a big zip blog bag. It had water bottles, snacks, nuts, M&Ms, cheese, and bananas, depending on the fruits. Like proteins so that our body had proteins a week before we did the marathon. We had to finish the whole little packet/zip-up bag of food everyday. So he gave it to us in the morning in his class and in the  afternoon when we finished it we had to give him the bag back so that he could refill it everyday. And yeah just like that for the whole week so that our body could have/build up protein.
Dayana Z: So like the week of the marathon you guys had to eat certain foods?
Dulce Z: Yeah we had to eat it during the whole day and we could have eaten it during class time. The teachers let us eat it because they knew we were in the SRLA team, they gave us permission but not all the teachers, some of them. As long as we weren’t sharing because Mr. Lo wanted us to eat it all.
Dayana Z: Yeah so that your body could be strong.
Dulce Z:Yeah.
Dayana Z:That’s actually pretty cool. You guys did receive medals after each race and the marathon right?
Dulce Z: Yeah we received, uh I believe I’m not sure I think it was about less than 10 medals we received or a little more, but I think it was less than 10 medals. We got one for each race.
Dayana Z: Oh that’s cool, are the medals you’ve received important to you?
Dulce Z: Of course they are really important to me. They’re like a way of showing my hard work because in every race I would put all my effort and all my practice into it, doing the races.  So those medals are actually really important to me. I actually have them hanging up in my room, so every time I wake up I just be seeing them and I’m like, “Damn I really did the marathon.” Sometimes I can’t even believe that I did it because not a lot of people do it.
Dayana Z: So they like remind you of what you have accomplished?
Dulce Z: Yeah and good memories, how much it took me to get each medal.
Dayana Z:What were some of your favorite things about SRLA?
Dulce Z: Some of my favorite things about SRLA were having a good time with my teachers and friends and good memories I built with them. Those were one of the best memories I have.
Dayana Z: What were some of those memories?
Dulce Z: One of those memories were doing burpees and things like exercise for going late to the class when Mr.Lo would give us a time.  Like he would say “I want you back at 3:40 and sometimes I would be getting there at 3:45 and he would be like “just because you got here five minutes late you’re gonna have to do five burpees.” Yeah that was one of the best times and sometimes I would purposely go late and other times I actually went late either way I still had to do burpees or wall push ups/sit ups.
Dayana Z: Nice, were there any other fun memories you vividly remember?
Dulce Z: Oh this ones kinda funny, I think I was the first student ever in SRLA to get a time out.
Dayana Z: Why, what did you do?
Dulce Z: So I was with my friend, we got to this one place where we were running and we were playing around. There was a car and we were running around the car and out of nowhere the car started beeping, the alarm. Then Mr.Lo, we all got scared because it started beeping out of nowhere and then I got in trouble. I think I was the only one that got timeout and then my friends were laughing  at me because I was sitting alone, he sent me somewhere alone. I was just right there eating my snack alone laughing, that was a really good memory.
Dayana Z: That does sound funny. Were there some things you didn’t like about SRLA or running?
Dulce Z: One was  waking up Saturdays around 6/7 in the morning to get ready and start running and in the morning it’s cold. We also had to go in leggings or shorts and It would be cold in the morning , running like that and we had to do exercise. Warming up before starting to run to stretch out our muscles because if we didn’t stretch out we could have actually hurt a muscle.
Dayana Z: Did you ever get injured?
Dulce Z: No I don’t think I did.
Dayana Z:That’s good. Did SRLA have an impact on your life?
Dulce Z: Yeah it had an impact on my life because before  SRLA I had a mindset that if I couldn’t do it I would never be able to do it. And after SRLA if I wanted to do something I just had to put my mind to it and put effort so I could accomplish it like the marathon. I put effort, time, and a lot of things into it  and I finished it. That impacted my life so if I want to do anything  I know I’m capable of doing it if I put my mind to it and I just put effort and keep trying. If I don’t get it the first time I could get it the second time. 
Dayana Z: So you’re saying that before you did SRLA you had a closed mindset?
Dulce Z: Yup.
Dayana Z: Do you have any advice or tips for new SRLA students?
Dulce Z: Yeah, one important thing is to have fun, make new friends , don’t be a shy person. Talk to new people if you don’t know them, go up to them and say “hey”, be friends . Just try to listen, don’t be playing around too much, try not to be the second person to get a time out because I’m trying to be the first and only. But yeah just out there have fun, never give up and always keep pushing yourself.
Dayana Z: Alright I think that’s it, thank you thank you.
Dulce Z: You’re welcome.