Runner of the Month: Fernando Gonzalez

By Michelle Ren

Congratulations to Runner of the Month Fernando Gonzalez! 

How long have you been running?

I’d say 14 years. While I ran a bit for fun in high school and college, I set out to run a marathon distance in 2006, so I signed up for the Pacific Shoreline race (now Surf City).

What are your best runner tips?

  1. Run relaxed: Sometimes we obsess too much over pace and can’t stop looking at the Garmin during training or races.
  2. Be flexible: Everyone has good and bad days. We come up to a race with a plan, but things don’t always go the way we want. What’s important is that we can assess every situation and handle the things within our control and adjust to the things we can’t change.
  3. Just do it: Nike’s got it right; any distance, any pace – the important thing is that we run and feel good about it.

Do you have any favorite races or race distance?

The marathon distance is a fantastic challenge. It is something that can’t be improvised, so I feel that you must do your homework before you show up at the start line.

Fernando after a 100 km race

What is your favorite running memory, race, or experience?

Well, I have several races that I have enjoyed very much, and it’d be hard to single out only one. An alpine marathon in Switzerland, the cobblestone streets at the Rome marathon, or a hot and humid Singapore marathon at midnight come to mind.

Is there a particular individual that inspired you to start running?

Not so much to start running, but to keep on doing it. All of you fellow runners; you train and play hard, pushing yourselves to do better, to overcome injuries, and support each other. It is this running community that inspires me to do it.

Fernando with friends after a race in Singapore

What are your other hobbies and/or interests?

I enjoy going destination races where I get the excuse to travel and discover places, cultures, food.

What is your favorite post-run treat?

Will run for a banana – or a beer- or both!  

Catalina 50K

By Alanna Brown

I’d been considering running an ultra for a while and started seriously considering options in mid- 2019. I’d done a little research and had my heart set on running Chuckanut in Vancouver in March 2020. A large work project date change made that impossible, so I decided on pushing up the date to early January. Catalina was a natural choice for me as it holds a special place in my heart. Growing up my parents had a sailboat and we went there often when I was little and hiked, swam, fished. It’s a magical place that I have continued to be drawn to as a grownup.

Alanna as a child with her dad and sister in Catalina

Training was hard of course, long miles, back to back long days and lots of hills to prepare, but I managed to stick to my training plan only missing 1-2 workouts in the 3 months leading up to the race despite having a strained neck muscle that left me in a lot of pain and seriously grouchy for several weeks.

The day before the race I was super nervous, hoping I had packed everything I needed and doubting myself. Was I ready? I had never ran more than 26.2 miles, never more than 22 miles on trail, and nothing so hilly. Self-doubt was creeping in and I was feeling very anxious but I decided in my mind that I would treat it like a hike and not a race, and that time didn’t matter, I just wanted to see if I could make the distance. Once I made that shift in my mind, I felt much calmer and actually slept well the night before.

Alanna ready to go before the start of the race

Race day morning was perfect, it was cool but not freezing and looked like it was going to be perfect race day conditions. I started out with my gloves and jacket on and of course within 1 mile was too hot and had to stop to take them off and stash them in my pack. That was right about when the course started uphill.

I didn’t know anyone but I took my cue from everyone else and just walked the huge inclines to save my legs conserve my energy and just ran when I was able to. The first 4 miles were mostly uphill but the view of the sun rising over the mainland were amazing. The next several miles after were rolling hills and a gradual uphill so I just settled into a comfortable slow pace that I could maintain.

Starting up a big hill

I was a little worried that at only about 10 miles in that my legs felt pretty beat up already. There was a large uphill section up to the airport but after that there were several miles of nice, not too steep downhill. I cruised down to Shark Bay and stopped at the rest area. Nutrition was an unknown for me. I popped a cold potato into my mouth expecting it to be cold but cooked as the previous aid station. This one, however, was raw and it was probably the grossest thing I’ve eaten, it was bitter and crunchy and disgusting. They must have forgotten to cook them!

The next section was largely a gradual climb back up to traverse back across the island. I knew Mike was out on his bike and started anticipating when I would see him. He finally met up with me about mile 20, and I was super excited to see a friendly face and hear some encouragement! At the next aid station I learned that the course was actually almost 33 miles and that I still had almost a half marathon to go. My spirit was crushed. I thought I had about 10 miles to go at this point and started questioning my math conversion skills from kilometers to miles…isn’t 50K = 31 miles?

View of the island from the top of a hill

I also learned that ultra aid stations seem to be much different than other races (Fireball, Beer, Viagra?!) I focused on trying to just keep running even though I was starting to get tired and was hurting. With about 5 miles to go the leader of the 50 miler passed me as if I was standing still!  I could see Avalon again at this point though so I knew I was getting close.

The last 3-4 miles were a pretty steep downhill and two gals went flying past me, even though it should have felt easy, the downhill was super painful and my knees were on fire! Thankfully Mike was nice enough to run up the hill to meet me and ran me down the last 2 miles. I don’t think I said much to him except everything hurts but just having him next to me running kept me moving. As I made a last left before Front Street where the finish line was, I had to run right past our hotel. I contemplated just stopping at the hotel so I didn’t have to walk back up the hill to it after!

Everyone was so excited at the finish, I felt very emotional when I crossed it. I took my shoes off and walked into the ocean off the beach. The icy water felt so good on my feet, knees, and quads which all felt like they were on fire! I was so relieved to be done. Looking back now it may be my favorite race experience to date. The place is magical, the weather was perfect, the people on course were awesome, the amazing support I have from my loved ones, and attempting a new challenge was exciting.

Alanna with her partner Mike Sellers

My First Marathon

By Jacklyn Chen

  • What? California International Marathon (aka CIM)
  • When? December 8, 2019
  • Where? Sacramento, California
  • Time? 3:58:35 (half splits 1:59:07 & 1:59:28)


  1. Sub-4
  2. Finish

Training Plan: a heavily edited version of Hal Higdon Novice II

Jackie with her medals after the race


My plan was to walk through aid stations and stick with the four-hour pacers for at least 23 miles.  I figured if I still felt okay by then, I should be safe from hitting the wall. And if I wasn’t feeling well, I hoped that I could feed off the group’s energy.

I lined up as close to the four-hour marathon pacers as I was able and tried not to get lost in the crowd.  I shouldn’t have worried, because there was a large group the whole time.  That was a bit of a double-edged sword, as it sometimes felt crowded, especially at the aid stations.  I accidentally left my gels in my drop bag, so I was completely dependent! 

Kevin cheered me on around the halfway point, where he had just finished his portion of the relay with team SCRRewballs.  Around mile 20, I suddenly felt emotional and started tearing up.  I had no idea what was happening until I saw a fake brick wall that was constructed to represent “hitting the wall”.  Realizing what was going on helped me snap out of it.  I left the pace group around mile 23 as planned, but by mile 26 my legs felt heavy and I slowed down.  I didn’t think I could find the energy to finish strong until a girl tried to pass me.  That did the trick and I raced it in, passing a few others along the way!

Jackie with her husband Kevin after the race

After the race:

The timing worked out perfectly where I got to relax and indulge over the holidays.  Now I’m training for a 50K at Leona Divide in April. 

I had a better first marathon experience than I anticipated, and attribute that to planning, a good course, and running with the South Coast Roadrunners!  Thanks to everyone for all the encouragement, advice, and company on runs! 

Surf City Marathon

By Jennifer Walt

I am a 20+ year SCRR member, but until recently, my involvement in the club has been few and far between. Now, faced with some personal life changes and an empty nest looming in the next few years, SCRR is a great and welcoming place to come home to.

A little bit about my running background: I’m 55 years old, with 35 marathons under my belt. I am an active streaker, having run at least a mile a day for over 8 years. In fact, I will reach 3000 days in less than 2 months! I also am an avid follower of the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. This means that for my long runs I incorporate 1 minute walks into the mix, with my most usual plan being 9 minute run, 1 minute walk. I do this from the beginning! This is very important. I don’t start walking 10 miles in, but I start 9 minutes into a long run! (And for all you streaker purists out there, I do get a full consecutive mile in, sometimes in the beginning or sometimes at end.)

I run 1-2 marathons per year, and while I train for them, usually my training is to complete the distance, not necessarily to run a certain time. When folks ask me what I am training for, my first answer is always, “I am training for life.” While that is and will always be true, there is no reason we can’t train for life and train for speed, too, right?

Jen running the Suft City Marathon

I run the Surf City marathon or half marathon every year. In fact, I am now a 14 Legacy Longboard member. Because it is early in the year, Surf City always sneaks up on me, and this year was no different. Suddenly it was October, and I thought, “Oh shoot, I have to start getting my long runs in for Surf City.” My long run plan was simple: 6 long runs, 2 weeks apart, beginning with 12 miles and working my way up to 22, with a 2 week taper at the end. Luckily, I had a good base going into this plan with several months of 30-35 miles per week. I do run every day, but I take a couple 1 mile rest days every week.

Because I felt healthy and relatively pain free going into my long run training, I decided to add some consistent fartlek to the mix. I chose 1 day each week to incorporate 2-3 miles of pick-ups. This wasn’t a set day; it was usually based on how I felt. In other words, I don’t do fartlek if I’m feeling aches and pains.  A typical “speed” session would be:
              60 seconds faster pace, 30 seconds easy
              80 seconds fast, 40 easy
              100 fast, 50 easy, etc, all the way up to
              160 fast, 80 easy, and then back down again to
              60 seconds faster pace, 30 seconds easy
This is approximate. I never did more than 3 miles of this. Also, I don’t like being a slave to my watch, so I count steps to do these type of intervals—60 steps on, 30 steps off.  I think it’s important to find what works for you and that you can easily incorporate into your run. Also, I don’t like “speed workouts” where I’m required to run a certain distance at a certain pace. I like to go by feel. As long as I am running faster than my normal pace, I’m good.  I even incorporated this fartlek workout to the end of some of my long runs. It was hard, but doing some moderate “speed” at the end of a long run could help me finish strong in a marathon.

The next change to my usual marathon training was running with faster people. In other words, I had less junk miles. I was able to incorporate at least one run a week, where my pace was faster than it would be on my own. This didn’t have to be anything super long—maybe just 5 miles, but enough to get my legs moving a bit faster and my heart rate up. This is where SCRR is such a great resource—there are always faster people to run with!

Finally, races. Incorporating a monthly road race into marathon training is a pretty easy way to get some additional speed work in, but I’d never done this before. I found that on my non-long-run weekends, a race or a SCRR tempo run, was better than a slow 10 miler. But again, I didn’t overthink it. I didn’t beat myself up over what time I ran. The important thing was just to run faster than I would on my own.

So, to sum it up: long runs, quality over quantity, rest, and keep it simple. If your plan is complicated, chances are you won’t do it. Also, for me, rest is critical. My weekly mileage was rarely over 40 miles.

Jen running the marathon next to the beach

The race.  Did I have a game plan? Not entirely. I hoped to run about 4 hours (a 9:09) pace, and I wanted to do negative splits. This would guarantee me a Boston Qualifier (4:05 for my age group). Race day conditions were almost perfect—cool and densely overcast. Doesn’t get much better than that! I spent the first half trying to stick to 9:09, but even with my walk breaks, it was hard to go that slow. Additionally, I had various aches and pains, a hip, a quad, a calf, etc. but the pains seemed to move every couple of miles.

I was 1:58 through the first half, which made me a bit nervous. Had I gone out too fast? Nevertheless, I felt committed; it was too late to back down. We faced a pretty significant headwind for miles 12-16, but I stuck to a low 9 min pace. I was actually looking forward to the turnaround at mile 16, because I knew the wind would be working with us for a while. And it did.

Suddenly my miles were in the low 8:50s. Was this too fast too soon? Would I hit the wall at 20 and then have the headwind to contend with on top of that? The running gods were with me. The wind eased a bit, there was no wall in site, so I was able to cruise the last 10k in under 53 minutes, averaging under an 8:30 pace (and I still did walk breaks). My final time was 3:51:57–my fastest marathon in over 10 years! I guess I was really slacking the last 10 years!

Monthly Club Race: Irvine Half Marathon & 5K

By Amy Katz

January’s club race, the Irvine Half Marathon & 5K had a slightly smaller turnout than previous races, but some super fast times.

Sherri Ellerby was the high scorer and the only person to break 900 with a score of 939 for running 19:44 in the 5K. But several people scored in the 800s including Grand Prix leader Sue Zihlmann, Mike Connors, Steve Ireland, Mike Friedl, Luke Friedl, Ken Atterholt, and Bob Morris.

Things are getting really exciting after 7 races. At this point the competition for the top 20 is still wide open, but it’s starting to look clear who the potential winners may be!

Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Sherri and Ryan racing in the Irvine Half Marathon 5K

Treasurer’s Report

By David Paul

Total Cash Balance, Beginning  4735.44
Cash Inflows 1712.94
Cash Outflows-First Thursday 304.85
Cash Outflows-RRCA Insurance
Cash Outflows-Banquet
Cash Outflows-Uniforms
Cash Outflows-Social Gatherings 1334.04
Cash Outflows-Other
Net Change in Cash   74.05
Total Cash Balance, Ending 4809.49

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