Top 60 Year Old Runner at 2014 Big Sur Marathon Hails From Newbury Park

A good friend of mine, 60 year old David Louks, finished 42nd overall, 1st in his 60 to 65 age group and 2nd fastest age group performance of all time at the Big Sur Marathon held last Sunday, April 27th. This was Louks' 67th marathon and I'm certain it will not be his last. Big Sur is one of the most challenging, yet most beautiful marathon courses. Congrats Dave!

As for me, a few days ago I signed up for a local 5K, the 2nd Annual Run for Your Health 5K in Camarillo held this morning, along with my son. This was a small 5K, with only about 70 registrants, on a well marked course taking runners from the Camarillo Community Center, up Carmen to Las Posas to Arneill to Ponderosa and back to Carmen. Not the most exciting course in the world but with the help of local police they were able to cone off a lane for us the entire course.

Somehow I managed to win the race in 18 minutes, 22 seconds, slower than I felt I was running, but I was running all alone most of the way. This 49 year old body was followed by a 15 year old about a minute back. Fun stuff. I felt fine other than a bit of a stomach cramp that kept me from "pushing it" in mile three. My strategy with stomach cramping is to periodically breath in and blow out air quickly, though not too much (the last thing I need is to hyperventilate in a 5K). It kinda sorta worked for me, but not completely.

In any case, it was fun going out there on a whim today and my 11 year old ran a solid 22 minute race too.

It was not cool out today after week of hot temperatures but it was somewhat less hot than over the last three days, which was nice.

Pleasantly Surprised at My Time at a Last Minute 10K Race This Weekend

Last Thursday, April 3rd, I decided it would be fun to run the local Aut2Run 10K race hosted by the Autism Society of Ventura County on the campus of CSU Channel Islands.

There were a number of reasons I decided to run the race. My sciatic nerve issue that kept me out of the LA Marathon has subsided and I've been running pretty much pain-free once again. But without any type of race on the horizon, I've been running fairly aimlessly. The race is just miles from my house. And believe it or not I've never seen much of CSU Channel Islands. And of course the Autism Society is a worthy charity to support.

For the last two weeks I've run on the track Tuesday nights with my 11 year old son and some other kids that are part of the local youth track club. My goal was to teach them pacing by running with them, so they could later take that pacing with them when they run 1600/3200 meters in competition. I found it a humbling experience running with these 5th graders as a few were pulling me along with them...until I forced them to hold back a little.

The first night I ran, I was worried about my hamstring issue coming back, but somehow held it together. We were running about 6 min per mile pace, which is still within my comfort zone. Barely. It paid off for my son because he was able to pace himself to a new PR in the 3200 on Saturday and meet the "varsity" standard. His pace was 6:09 per mile.

I was running to help the kids, but on Sunday it was apparent the 400 to 800 meter track intervals I was running with the kids also benefited me as I was able to creep below 38 minutes in the 10K this Sunday in 37:56, good for 3rd place overall. This translates into about a 6:07 pace per mile for 6.2 miles. Damn! Training with these kids apparently helped me!

For no particular reason I don't run a lot of 10Ks. I generally opt for 5Ks. In fact, the last 10K I ran was on August 18, 2012 in 80 degree heat in the San Fernando Valley and before that, sometime in 2010. My 37:56 was faster than both of these. So at age 49, nearly 50, I'm running the 10K distance faster than I was running it at age 45. I guess a little speedwork can pay off...when done in moderation.

The start time of the race was 7:30am, though it was delayed until 7:39am (yes, they announced 7:39, not 7:40, not 7:45, but 7:39). The typical pre-race maneuvering took place. Though I wasn't treating the race like an Olympic Trial or something, I do like to get a decent position at the start so I don't have to worry about maneuvering around people that shouldn't be there at the VERY FRONT. I was standing next to a gal that clearly should not have been at the front of the race, but thankfully she was next to me, not in front of me. I wish everyone would use a bit of common sense at these races. But, time and time again, many do not. They think, cool, I'm at the front. Like being at the front of the grocery store line.  Not cool...unless you plan to finish near the front. Which, in this case, this particular woman finished nowhere remotely near the front of the race.

I digress. After the gun went off, I found myself in 2nd place, behind a young man who, for some reason, turned left after the first straightaway. I followed him, in my race mental zone

But several seconds later, I heard yelling, "HEY! HEYYY! OVER HEEERE! THIS WAYYY!" and sure enough, %^&* ^*%^&, 50 yards or so into the race and I've taken a wrong turn. UGGHH. Immediate mental letdown. A split second I'm thinking %^** it. I'm done. Dropping out. But another split second later I opted to ignore those lost ~8 seconds as we backtracked towards the group. I went from 2nd to around 40th but heck, this was just a fun run. Keep going. Get over it. I did.

As the fuming in my brain settled down, I was able to pick off runners like target practice. A mile into the race and I was still back in around 7th position, but I felt decent and it was actually kind of fun gradually reeling in people. I had figured that the lead runner would be out of range, but I could still clearly see him. He was not extending his lead.

If I had any "beef" with this course, I could not recall seeing a single mile marker on the course. Whether or not there were any, Near the 15 minute mark I had pulled back into 2nd place overall, within seconds of the lead runner. But at this point I felt unsure of how much to push this old body, not knowing how it would hold up. So for the next few miles I traded spots with one other runner, until roughly the 4.5 to 5 mile mark of the race.

As I pulled up next to the markedly taller (than me) runner, I said, "We can catch him." He didn't say anything back. I put the gas on a little, but the guy in front had a pretty significant gap on us. I was slowly narrowing it, clearly in 2nd place, but not quite knowing how much further we had to run. This knowledge gap is a problem when you're trying to compete.

Before I know it, an even TALLER guy passes me by, looking strong. It was a DIFFERENT really tall guy, even taller then the other really tall guy. At that point I was not able to respond. I was still pushing the pace, but I didn't trust my body to trail this guy. In hindsight, perhaps I should have tried. But without knowing how much further we were running, and with no recent 10Ks under my belt, I just kept my pace as the gap between us grew.

Minutes later I crossed the finish, feeling fine, about 20 seconds behind the winner, and 19 seconds behind Really Tall Guy. I am about 8 years short of equaling these guys' combined ages, so I felt pretty good keeping them company.

The day before, I volunteered to work the long jump pit at my son's track meet. I tweaked my lower back being one of the sand raker guys. So I gave that up and became one of the measurer guys. Little did I ponder at the time that bending down 200 times to measure long jump distances would make my quads sore the next day. That soreness was there with me on Sunday, but the Advil I popped in that morning seemed to take the edge off. My advice: THINK about what you're doing the day before a race or suffer the consequences.

I'm a happy camper that I can run a sub-38 10K race with the type of low key training I've been doing.

On that note, the Autism Society of VC did an outstanding job, had an amazing turnout, handed out outstanding looking medals and shirts to all, and raised $100,000. Very impressive. All while sharing useful information about autism. To learn more about the race and the organization, visit and

Results From 29th Annual Great Race of Agoura Hills on March 22, 2014

The 29th Annual Great Race of Agoura Hills took place on Saturday, March 22rd. Once again I could not personally attend because my son has track meets on Saturdays this time of year. But since this is the largest and oldest race in the area, I have to at least check out the race stats!

Overall stats:

  • Equinox 5K: 1154 finishers (497 male, 657 female) vs 1,456 finishers (652 male, 804 female) in 2013 and 1,409 finishers in 2012
  • Old Agoura 10K: 1317 finishers (469 male, 848 female) vs 1,319 finishers (493 male, 826 female) in 2013 and 1,639 finishers in 2012
  • Pacific Half Marathon: 524 finishers (234 male, 290 female) vs 441 finishers (203 male, 238 female) in 2013 and 549 finishers in 2012
  • Cheseboro Half Marathon:1037 finishers (520 male, 517 female) vs 913 finishers (478 male, 435 female) in 2013 and 1,034 finishers in 2012
  • Kids' One Mile: 296 finishers (168 male, 128 female) vs 381 finishers (205 male, 176 female) in 2013 and 443 finishers in 2012

In total, there were 4,328 2014 finishers, down 4% from 4,510 finishers in 2013 (which in turn was down 11% from 2012).  Half marathon participation grew 15% this year, while there was a significant drop (21%) in 5K participants.

Here are the 5 finishers from each race! Visit for more details.

Cheseboro Half Marathon (Men):

  1. Scott Hambly 1:20:54
  2. Chris Price 1:22:37
  3. Kit Mock 1:23:12
  4. Adam Brosh 1:23:23
  5. George Eyles 1:23:29

Cheseboro Half Marathon (Women):

  1. Jessica Stern 1:30:47
  2. Anissa Faulkner 1:31:29
  3. Elaine Woodward 1:31:51
  4. Stacia Watson 1:35:33
  5. Kaitlin Reed 1:35:36

Pacific Half Marathon (Men)

  1. Jose Lastre 1:25:01
  2. Geoff Burns 1:26:07
  3. Ian Clampett 1:28:15
  4. Martin Muoto 1:28:49
  5. Gilbert Lemieux 1:28:58

Pacific Half Marathon (Women)

  1. Vi Hau 1:25:19
  2. Carly Johann 1:34:08
  3. Gina Johnson 1:34:10
  4. Elizabeth Lluch 1:34:57
  5. Montana Martinez 1:36:02

Old Agoura 10K (Men)

  1. Daniel Haim 37:38
  2. Nick Ungermann 37:42
  3. Bryce Wendel 37:57
  4. Jonathan Lee 38:28
  5. Steve Monke 38:59

Old Agoura 10K (Women)

  1. Heather Worden 40:55
  2. Caitlin Jacobsen 43:08
  3. Sara Sadraie 43:16
  4. MaryAnn Carraher 43:25
  5. Lupita Medina 43:32

Equinox 5K (Men)

  1. Chandler Ross 17:00
  2. Ravi Guha 17:43
  3. Brandon Severson 17:50
  4. Phillip Wright 18:27
  5. Ryan Harris 19:02

Equinox 5K (Women)

  1. Liz Camy 17:09
  2. Carol Montgomery 18:16
  3. Sarah Shulze 19:13
  4. Michelle Ip 19:35
  5. Susan Dorrough 21:07

Kids 1 Mile (Boys)

  1. Griffin Archer 6:07
  2. Jack Gilbert 6:39
  3. Tanner Wolfe 6:44
  4. Connor Najdowski 6:48
  5. Spencer Driggs 6:55

Kids 1 Mile (Girls)

  1. Hadley Barber 7:28
  2. Nicki Langford 7:30
  3. Kassandra Cummings 7:36
  4. Reese Wolfe 7:36
  5. Livia Shore 7:37

Sciatic Nerve Back to Normal Three Days After the Marathon I Didn't Run

The Channel Islands seen from Newbury Park the night of the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon.

After bailing out of running the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon due to a lingering sciatic nerve issue in my right hamstring, I thought about driving downtown to pick up my number as a momento, as well as to pick up my t-shirt and goodie bag and scope out the vendors.  I really wanted to go, but it was a Saturday, and between the several hour round-trip drive and dealing with traffic and crowds, I decided to ditch the idea and spend the day with the kids.

From an economist's standpoint the $170 entry fee was a sunk cost since the entry was non-refundable. Some would argue, how can you NOT pick up your t-shirt and goodie bag!? You PAID for it! Sure, I would have loved to get my 2014 LA Marathon t-shirt. But the cost of retrieving that t-shirt would be about $20 in cash, wear and tear on the car and about half a day's time. And my kids didn't want to go. I passed.

On Sunday, marathon morning, March 9th, I ran for about an hour. Though I was still impeded by the injury, it wasn't quite as bad that day.

I turned the TV coverage of the marathon on and, as usual, was disappointed.  There was way too little coverage of the race, tons of commercials and lots of fluff. I may not be in the majority on this, but in the rare times that a full marathon is televised, I want to see the top runners, both the elite athletes and the faster amateur runners. I'm a purist. I want to see runners and running when watching a televised marathon. There are other shows for human interest stories.

But watching the marathoners in the heat made me a bit thankful for my injury, as I would not have enjoyed running in the 80+ degree heat the runners experienced. My injury was a convenient excuse to kick back and relax that day and to steer clear of the unseasonable heat.

Three days later, on Wednesday, March 12th, I awoke, laced up my shoes, headed out the door, my annoying pain in my right hamstring. I ran cautiously down the street, thinking the respite was only temporary. But lo and behold, the pain was gone.

By the following weekend, I felt like I could run a fast marathon, but there were no other marathons to run and I had other plans. The injury gave me an extra week of taper. All rested up and nowhere to run.  This week I'm not quite 100% as the loss of an hour's sleep due to DST my body is still revolting against. But for the most part I'm running injury-free.

Time to start pondering when and where to use my current level of fitness. Or at least maintain it.

The 559 local Ventura County area runners who completed this year's L.A. Marathon is at THIS LINK.

Optimism Following a Decent Performance at Yesterday's Ventura Habitat Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran my first half marathon in about 15 months, the Ventura Habitat Half Marathon. My last half was the Marla Runyan Half Marathon in October 2012.

The course is run almost entirely on the Ventura River Trail from Ventura to Foster Park and back. My target was a time in the 1:27 range, a time that equates to a 3:03, or 7 minute per mile pace marathon. I managed to achieve a better than expected time of 1:24:12, good for 5th place overall and 1st master. I was particularly happy just to finish solidly, without any hamstring issues. Using my 2.1 rule of thumb (2.1 x half marathon time = projected marathon time), this time indicates potential for a 2:57 marathon...if I can get one or two 18 to 20 milers done in the next few weeks.

As with most races in recent years, I didn't take this one particularly seriously. But I did do one thing. I didn't run the day before. Yes, a mini taper. I take that back, slightly. I did run/jog/walk with the dog for 3 miles, but nothing intense.

The race started at 8 am. I set my alarm for 6 am and snoozed a bit more until 6:15. After readying myself for the cold I did a little warm up jog to help empty my system. I hopped in the car, stopped by the local donut shop for a warm blueberry muffin and cup of coffee. I figured a blueberry muffin is a step above a donut.

Josh Spiker of Vendurance Sports does a really nice job in his local races focusing on the things that really impact runners. He starts his races on time. His courses clearly marked, with clear mile markers. And he has plenty of porta-johns at the start of the race. As a highly competitive runner himself, he knows oh so well the things that really matter the most on race day. And it is well appreciated by folks like me that want to focus on running and not get sidetracked with logistics issues.

One thing Josh mentioned before the start of the race is that the 2nd half of the race should be roughly 20 seconds per mile faster than the 1st half, given the gentle climb to the halfway point. I took off at a pace that felt decent to me, which was roughly a 6:40 or so pace. It was cold out and I had gloves and a long sleeve shirt on, but after a mile I pulled off the gloves and later rolled up the sleeves on the shirt. And after scooting by a couple folks about a mile in, I ran alone the entire remainder of the race.

The beauty of an out and back course is that you get a better view of those in front of you and in back of you. It's a good way to measure how much distance you have on your competitors. I felt pretty confident at the halfway point that my placing in the race would be challenged, not that that would really matter, leaving me free to focus on how my body felt.

There was a song clearly in my head that kept me on pace the entire race. But a day later I can't remember it. It was an 80s song that I believe they were playing on the loudspeaker before the race. I felt my right lower shin twinge every now and then and I was afraid my right hamstring, problematic in recent years, would give out. That beat in my head kept me moving through my doubts.

I didn't track my splits during the race but the math in my head indicated I was somewhere in between 6 and 7 minute pace, well below 7 minute pace in fact, which gave me confidence that I was on track for a decent performance. It wasn't until mile 10, when my watch showed 1:05, clearly a 6:30 pace, that I felt clearly confident that, barring a sudden problem, I was having a good day.

In fact, the final 5K of the race I ran at a 6:12 pace and it didn't even feel that fast. I was starting to hurt while pushing it a bit over the last 2 miles, but with plenty of targets ahead (walkers start the race an hour before runners), I had something else to focus on.

Today is Monday I'm quite sore. Hoping with a bit of luck that my body will recover for a slow 20 miler this coming weekend, four weeks out from the LA Marathon.

Congratulations to overall winner, 30 year old Matthew Russell, who finished over 3 minutes before anyone else in 1:13:50. Yes, I could run that time at age 30. But not at age 50 :) Russell runs for Sketchers Go Run team and boy, he knows how to run. He actually wrote about the race himself at According to his profile, Matt is one of the top American athletes at the half ironman/Ironman distance. In 2011 he competed in his first Ironman World Championships as the third overall American in a time of 8:43. Six weeks later he competed at Ironman Arizona finishing as the first American in a personal best of 8:29 (subsequently improved to 8:19 in 2013).

The overall female was 42 year old Anissa Faulkner, who was right on my tail at 1:26:06.

Ran Half of the Camarillo Marathon This Past Sunday at a Training Run

On December 28th I ran one of my longest training runs of the year, at 14 miles. Then, having not partied on New Year's Eve, decided to do a 2 hour run up to Boney Peak and back.

The next few days my quads and calves were sore, but that didn't stop me from looking at the CVG Upcoming Races listing and thinking, why not sign up for the Camarillo Marathon this Sunday and use it as a training run. So, I signed up Thursday night and picked up my bib number on Saturday. My legs were still sore on Saturday.

Some local runners have bad memories from the well-publicized issues at the inaugural Camarillo Marathon in 2010, when there were issues with course logistics. I'm very pleased to say that the race was very well organized on Sunday. The race started at 7am and is a double-loop course now, with plenty of water/Gatorade stops and a reasonable number of porta-johns along the course. They did a nice job and I would recommend this course as a flat, very low key alternative to the larger courses. The beauty of race like this is that you can wake up not so early, drive over, park, run, finish and be home shortly thereafter.

In any case, I opted not to run two loops on Sunday. The legs were still a bit shot so I decided to run a just over 7 minute pace to not overexert myself. It was yet another day of sun and wind. It didn't get overly hot (mid to high 60s, maybe low 70s later on), but the Santa Anas were out in force and it was quite dry. It was one of those days where I drank at every single water stop but there was no sweat on my shirt to speak of as the wind immediately dried it up.

Had my only issue been sore legs, I might have continued to run the full 26.2. But of all things, my stomach wasn't feeling up to the task on Sunday. My fate was decided at a pit stop around mile 11, when I said to myself "it ain't worth it." Adding to my discomfort was the beginnings of chafing in the back armpit area (I wore a sleeved shirt, not a singlet, and the wind was wreaking some havoc). Having signed up not to race, but to train, I opted to keep it positive at the halfway point, bail out and head back home to hang with the kids. I paced myself to a 1:32ish 13.1 miles. Slow for me, but purposeful. I'm still a bit sore today.

The overall winner was 27 year old Amanda Phillips of Roseburg (I'm assuing Oregon), who blew away the entire field, women and men alike, in 2 hours, 52 minutes. I saw her on the first lap turnaround and she looked really smooth. The 2nd and 3rd place finishers were men who came in around 3:06 and 3:07. The race had only 122 finishers but I would run it again.

Ran the Conejo Valley YMCA Turkey Day Dash Today in Thousand Oaks

Conejo Valley Guide helped get the word out about today's 9th Annual Conejo Valley YMCA Turkey Day Dash 5K and Kids Fun Run today and I heard the race had a PR of over 2,600 registrants. So as has been typical for me I chose to run the 5K today along with my son without having done any particular training for it. This is becoming the norm for me but it was fun.

On Veterans Day, November 11th, I decided to change up my 20 minute gym routine and work out in the morning instead of my normal early evening workout. Well, my lower back didn't agree with the change and decided to complain with a spasm. That spasm threw my back out for the entire week. With the help of my chiropractor, I was able to run again by the 16th.

The week prior to that I was fighting a head cold that led me to pull out of the Calabasas Classic 5K on the 10th.  Today I had no excuse of a head cold or back spasm but I certainly wasn't in great shape for a 5K. I gave it my best, labored effort and used my only gear...slow. With labored effort, I wheezed to an 18:17, good enough for 20th overall and 2nd in age.

Thanks to the Conejo Valley Y for making such a nice event happen on Thanksgiving Day each year. They really do a great job and I highly recommend this family-friendly event. 15 year old Logan Beteta of Newbury Park High School took the overall honors in 16:08. Nicely done, Logan! The top female was 20 year old Logan McNally of Simi Valley in 18:40, good for 25th overall.

Maybe, just maybe, one of these days, I'll be prepared for a 5K. But regardless, I had a great Thanksgiving Day and I hope all three of you reading this did too!

Beautiful Day For the 5th Annual Malibu Marathon Today That I Didn't Run

Today was a perfect day for running a marathon, or any race or a run of any type today. Yet another sunny, yet not overly hot November day in Southern California.

While I wasn't at today's Malibu Marathon as I was last year, photographer Suzy Demeter was and she captured this colorful wave of half marathoners running on PCH between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.


Today a course record was set by 34 year old George Kitonga in 2:35:10. A web search for Kitonga turns up he is originally from Kenya and has a marathon best time of 2:21:23 in winning the 2006 Memphis Marathon. The top 3 was rounded out by Ricardo Ramirez-Pacheco (age 42) in 2:37:01 and Shaun Maguire (age 27) in 2:37:50.

Jessica Stern (age 24) topped the women's field in 3:02:03, followed by Tammara Francis (age 31) in 3:11:00 and Stephanie Wurtz (age 31) in 3:12:29.

As for me, I've been battling a head cold that finally migrated to my chest, just in time for today's Calabasas Classic 5K that I signed up for like 10 months ago. While I actually feel fine, there's stuff in my chest that told me to back off 1 mile into the race. I was struggling to breathe so it just wasn't worth pushing through.

However, I didn't mind, as my son was running his 3rd 5K and I backed off my pace to see him run the final mile at a blistering pace to win his age group and set a personal best. My best race in the last 10 years!

Results From the 2nd Annual Marla Runyan Half Marathon on Sunday, October 20th

The 2nd Annual Marla Runyan Half Marathon took place on Sunday, October 20th. I ran the inaugural race last year and would have loved to run it again this year had my kids' activities not precluded me from doing so.

There were 243 finished in this year's event and top placing male finishers were Bradley Jones (36) of Camarillo in 1:19:45, Jose Lastre (29) of Oxnard in 1:23:46 and Greg Wondra (35) of Camarillo in 1:26:05. My 1:23:51 in last year's race got me 4th place last year but would theoretically have landed me one place higher in the 2nd annual event.

Top women finishers were Schatzi Sovich (46) of Ventura in 1:36:58, Rikako Takei (51) of Gardena in 1:37:31 and Jenny Loppnow (43) of Camarillo in 1:38:24. Wow, impressive showing by masters' runners in the women's race!

The oldest finisher in the half marathon was Ted Price Sr of Oxnard, who crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 39 seconds. Nice job, Ted!

There was also a 5K event, where 37 year old Jesus Perez took top honors in 17:18. Not far behind was top femal finisher, Melissa Hernandez of Oxnard in 18:42 - that time got her 4th place overall in the race. A total of 220 runners and walkers completed the 5K.

Not a bad showing for this 2nd annual event, which benefits the Boy & Girls Club of Camarillo at Hopefully we'll see a 3rd annual Marla Runyan Half Marathon in 2014 at

Ran a Decent Race, Meeting Expectations at Inaugural Ventura Marathon

In marathon running and other aspects of life, sometimes the most important thing is setting realistic expectations. Somehow I managed to set my mental expectations at today's Ventura Marathon in perfect alignment with my level of training. Worked like a charm.

One of the coolest marathon medals ever! A bottle opener! How cool is that!?Having done zero long runs on the roads the entire year, my expectations were set at "have fun and enjoy the race." You may ask, don't you usually enjoy your races? Well, to be honest, when I'm pushing my body to its limit in an "all out" race, I'm generally not enjoying it until after the race.

The race started at 7 a.m. at planned. Actually, I didn't even look at my watch, so it may not have been exactly 7 a.m., but there were no delays. Big plus! The weather was pretty much perfect! Overcast the entire race for me and temps around 65 to 70 degrees. There was just a very slight wind, which was perfect. And the course was extremely flat, without a lot of turns. The race was very well organized, there was police coverage at every major intersection, and the water stops were reasonably staffed on this out and back course. KUDOS to race organizer Josh Spiker! I think it was very well done!

Having a sore hamstring for months, my training has consisted of running, 35 to 45 miles per week, nothing speedy, nothing long, other than a 5K on July 20th and the Bulldog 25K on August 24th. No long runs the entire year and very little mileage on the roads. I cruised through today's marathon in 3 hours, 8 minutes, good for 2nd in my age group. If I hadn't taken a 1 minute porta-john stop

I went out fairly easy but still a bit too fast, with a 6:38 opening mile. There were both marathoners and half marathoners at the start, so it was hard to tell who you were running with. But my goal was to run at "keep a smile on your face" speed the entire race, so I ignored what people were doing around me. I was passed by dozens of runners over the first half of the race...faces that I got to see again later in the race.

My watch showed 34:02 at mile 5. I wasn't looking at my mile splits but a solid look female runner scooted by me and asked me. That's a about a 6:48 pace. Too fast. Then at mile 9 I realized I needed to make a pit stop. That's when I screwed up my watch timer but I think I had maintained that pace. But pit stops always seem to take a bit of wind out of my sails for a bit so I must have slowed, not to mention I lost about a minute of time. But I kept the smile on my face.

The turnaround was near the Hueneme Pier, where we ran in a large circular turnabout, then headed back to Ventura. This gave the runners the chance to see who was behind you, as well as ahead of you. My legs didn't feel particularly strong after the turnaround, but I slogged along, attempting to maintain a consistent pace.

Something clicked around mile 15 or so and I felt a sudden burst of smoothness in my stride. I believe it may have been some of the GU packets kicking in. I was just plodding along at a consistent pace, and so many familiar faces from the first 9 miles of the race appeared again. At the 20 mile mark there was no "Wall" this race. In fact, I was able to look at the 20 mile mark as the start of a 10K.

It worked. The stride was maintained without the soreness and death march feeling I anticipated, having run nowhere near this mileage on pavement all year. But I didn't start sprinting; I maintained and just gradually kicked it up a small notch. It wasn't until mile 23 that I felt comfortable kicking it up a few more notches, as targets appeared left and right.

The final half mile stretch of the race was along the Ventura beach path, which got a little crowded with pedestrians, but I managed to push myself through the final mile after passing my last duo of younger runners. The quads did begin freezing up this last stretch but I was close enough to the finish to push myself through the pain.

And...I finished. 3 hours, 8 minutes, 29 seconds. Exceeding my lowered expectations. And with a smile on my face.