Vanessa Bustamante never considered herself to be athletic. She says she never ran before 2005, ever. She would go to the gym to work out but never participated in sports. After one of her friend’s ran a marathon though she decided it was something she’d like to do one day too, so she added it to her bucket list.
The wife of Chris Bustamante, Captain II, Fire Station 75 in Mission Hills, with the Los Angeles Fire Department, Vanessa works part-time credentialing doctors and anesthesiologists. She finds time to run whenever she can but it’s usually very early in the morning.
Vanessa didn’t start running until she turned 35 and that same year she completed her first marathon. That was in 2005 and since then she’s completed 15 full marathons and 33 half marathons.
She’s run the L.A. Marathon the majority of the time because it’s a good route and it’s right here where we live, she says. It’s always nice to run in your own community. “I’ve run in other ones too like Las Vegas and San Diego but nothing too far away. When I ran in Las Vegas it was freezing because it was in December so it was like 30 degrees. I never knew it was that cold there.”
Vanessa usually runs with a group in Santa Monica called the L.A. Lakers and for her, marathon training begins in August or September. She says a lot of the groups start off with one-mile runs and even when not in training for a marathon, she runs at least 5 to 10 miles once per week so she waits and jumps in once the group is at that mileage. “On a weekend run I’ll do the long runs. This weekend I’ve got an 18-miler coming up. You just have to get your runs in during the week. I run three times per week but I don’t run every day.”
Vanessa took the last year off to heal her body. “One of the biggest things for me is stretching. I think it prevents injuries. There have been times where I haven’t done as much stretching as I should have and I was injured all over.”
“You have to give your body rest too. You can’t train every single day. The full marathon is really, really grueling on the body. It’s harder than doing half marathons.” She’s done more than 33 half marathons because they’re more fun, she says.
There have been other perks too. “I’ve actually made a lot of good friends through running. There’s another LAFD wife, Esmerelda Reyes, who will be running her first full marathon. I ran her first half marathon with her too.”
Vanessa has proven to be somewhat of a fundraising whiz. She was the first to surpass her fundraising goal and go above $1,000 for the 2017 L.A. Marathon. “It’s just about getting out there with either text messages, email, Facebook or whatever social media you have that also helps.”
She says she’s been emailing and texting people and her husband has also been helping her. “Chris has networked for me and reached out to his co-workers with text messages.”
Vanessa says “It’s an everyday reality that my husband can get hurt on the job. I’ve seen friends who have gotten hurt when something happened. The (charity) has always been there to help support the family so it’s a really good thing. It’s a really awesome thing to be able to support this charity. It’s a charity for the L.A. Marathon. It think it’s great.”
-Denise Schlegel, Freelance Writer