In this month’s issue, we hear from Justin Tolentino about his virtual Boston Marathon, Judy Sweet about her 100-mile challenge, and many SCRR runners about the latest monthly club race.

Virtual Boston Marathon By Justin Tolentino

I had never been a fan of virtual races. I never saw anything special about running by myself, on my regular running routes, then having someone mail me a medal.

And then COVID-19 came, and all races were canceled, including the Boston Marathon for which I had worked so hard to qualify. 

When the virtual Boston Marathon was first offered, I had no intention to run it–but then I wanted that jacket, and I decided that I needed to earn it by actually running the Boston Marathon, virtual or not, so I registered for my first virtual race.

Justin with his bicycle crew at the race start

Preparing for the race, my goal was not to PR, but really just to make sure that I had enough in me to cross the finish line. I planned my course, starting in Santa Ana and ending in Long Beach, and after showing a friend, she graciously offered to support me on her bicycle. Later, my sister told me she would be at my finish line to support me. 

At this point, I started to get excited, as I had never had anyone come out to cheer me on at any of my marathons other than my husband. I wanted to make the finish line a little more special, so I printed out and assembled the break tape provided in the Boston Virtual Packet just to make the finish line a little more interesting.

Friends cheering at mile 8

The morning of the race, I had a support crew of five following me down the riverbed and along the beach, and I didn’t feel alone. I passed several other Boston Virtual Runners, and I felt like I was a part of a community.

Along the way, it was wonderful to see some friendly faces from the South Coast Road Runners, at miles 8, 11, 13.5, 17-20 and 23, and though it wasn’t the anonymous crowd of thousands that lined the streets into Boston, the support came from people who were important to me, and I felt stronger. (My bicycle photographers didn’t get to capture everyone.)

Victor, Barbara, and Michael cheering for Justin along the bike path

Finally, at the finish line, I had family and friends show up with much more than the little paper tape that I had printed, and they gave me the most exciting finish I’ve ever had.

In the end, I completed my fifth marathon in 3 hours and 12 minutes, and it was a time I was happy about, buit made me rethink why we race. I have always been competitive, and the idea of going out there and not performing at my best was different.

Justin running with another runners and cyclists on the beach bike path

And I thought, why do we race? I realize a race is our way of celebrating, whether we celebrate our ability to win or set a PR, to celebrate our hard work, or even just to celebrate our ability to be out there running.

This wasn’t the Boston Marathon that I had looked forward to back when I first qualified over a year ago, but with the help of friends and family, they made this more than just a virtual race for me. It was a true celebration, and one that will remain one of my most memorable races.

Justin crossing the finish line

ERACE Racism 100 Mile Challenge By Judy Sweet

I was recently blessed with the wonderful opportunity to participate in a virtual 100 mile event in support of ending racism hosted by the Black Girls Run Foundation. I hold this effort close to my heart. I feel my life has been enriched and gifted with moments in time through friendships and family who happen to be of other ethnic backgrounds.

These experiences are one of the major appeals which, after discovering my love of running, inspired me to keep participating in races, especially international marathons. I love the feeling of oneness with everyone from the starting line to the finish line.

Photos of Judy and Kimberly

Runners from all over the Country and world with a common goal: The wonderful running community putting one foot in front of the other despite adversity, challenging ourselves to push through fatigue and pain, never giving up. To keep moving forward while encouraging others along the way to continue on and cross that beautiful finish line that awaits us all with the rewarding feeling of accomplishment and overcoming strife. Not to mention the great medals and t-shirts!

For me, meeting kindred spirits with ethnic differences has always been so uplifting and fun. Personally, I feel when such moments are absent in one’s life, there is a loss and missed opportunities of experiencing all of the rewards that this world’s unique differences have to offer.

I was so thrilled to meet the Black Girls Run LA Chapter at a SCRR club race a few years ago. I knew I had to connect and said to myself, an opportunity for a blessing in life has appeared!

When I discovered that Black Girls Run had put together the ERACE Racism Challenge, a nationwide event, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Participants were to be in teams of two, and teaming up with  a fellow runner of a different race was encouraged.

When Kimberly, from North Carolina, asked me to be her teammate, I was so happy! After conversing through Messenger, we hit it off and both registered and requested to be each other’s teammate.

And then we chose our virtual race course location and distance. We shared 100 miles from Washington D.C. to Richmond, Virginia.

Collage of highlights from the challenge

Since that time we have truly become friends and enjoyed watching our progress on the event site as we logged our miles and sent pictures back and forth of our adventures. I have found another kindred spirit.

Kimberly is also in a bike club besides her running club, and her mother made her a most beautiful blanket using a lot of her race t-shirts. I think it would be fantastic if when Kimberly visits California that she joins us for a club run and pizza night. I also look forward to joining the Black Girls Run LA chapter on a club run in the future.

September Club Grand Prix Race “Steve’s 5K” By Barbara Eckes

This September’s Grand Prix Race was a socially distanced 5K created by Steve Ireland and the Grand Prix Commission. The race started at the Los Olivos Community Center. It was an out and back on the “relatively flat” bike trail.

SCRR members at the race

For many it was an opportunity to complete the Virtual Carlsbad 5000 race. I was very fortunate to get a first hand commentary from several of our club members who participated in the race. Here is what they had to say.

Sara Song

This is my first 5K race with SCRR. While I know I am a slow runner comparing with many other team members, I know I can still run the race without fear or feeling awkward. The members at SCRR are always encouraging and accepting. No matter if you are fast or slow, no matter your skin color or your goal of running, as long as you want to try and you want to overcome.

The route was marked and thoroughly explained. Runners started every 30 seconds to ensure social distance. Actually during the run, you may not see anyone hundreds of yards away. But in our hearts we knew they were there, and we were cheering for each other. Occasionally I met people on their back turn. They would give me a thumb up, or a shout out “good job!”, or a give a simple nod. This made my heavy feet lighter for it reminded me that I am not running alone.

Sara Song running

On couple of major turns, our club photographer [Gary Hefner] was there to capture the memories. There were also club members waving to me and cheering for me. Since I was the very, very last one, about the last 300 meters, while I could not see anyone and could not see the sign, I was once wondering “oh others may already left, and I won’t know where is the ending…” I was not paying much attention to the sign at the starting point anyway.

But sure enough, after a turn I saw a group of people from a far distance. They were all there, waving, cheering, resting and chatting. That’s the most beautiful sign to me.

Mike Friedl

I was happy to time, spectate and support the stars that ran well on Saturday, but my own run was not so spectacular. After missing but one day in 7+ years, I had taken 30 days off to rehab my balky left knee.

The 5K was my first run since August. And the time off showed. I ran a PW [personal worst] by an enormous margin. And I was gassed at the finish. At least my knee held up, and it gave me a benchmark for my comeback.

Mike Friedl crossing the finish line

Overall, Luke and I liked the course and the highlight for us was seeing our fellow Roadrunners in our natural habitat. We are both looking forward to the next race!

Nicole Herold

When I was getting fitted for my first pair of running shoes, I overheard a woman tell her fit specialist that she ran 49 miles a week. To a 25-mile-a-week novice runner that sounded like a crazy number.

It was less crazy when I decided to run my first marathon and my plan maxed out at 40 miles a week. However, once I decided I wanted to qualify for Boston, and I saw the stats on the average weekly mileage for a female qualifier, I realized it wasn’t enough.

Oh, how my perspective had changed, along with my endurance, and 2017, when I got my first BQ, proved to me that a bigger base was key. Unfortunately, my overuse injury in 2018 also showed me that running alone would be my downfall.

2020 was going to be my year. I had hopes and dreams of increasing my 2021 BQ cushion to over 10 minutes, a mere 23 seconds more than the qualifying time I got at CIM in December 2019. I was dedicated to training 50-55 miles a week for the entire 18-week cycle.

Well, Covid came and working at home meant running on gravel shoulders along hilly canyon roads and pot-holed asphalt up steep mountain trails. Staying mainly trapped within my 4 walls meant lots of time to work on strength, balance, and core, not to mention run form, through videos, group coaching, and training plans.

My OCD definitely kicked into high gear. Then marathon #1 was cancelled, and I chose an alternate race and started my 18 week training plan from the beginning. As the weeks crept by, I watched my daily easy runs get faster.

Nicole running

Without SCRR group runs, however, I didn’t realize how much faster I was getting. Thanks to the brilliance of our Grand Prix committee we got the opportunity to race again.

Socially distanced reduced the anxiety of weaving and bobbing around hundreds of people at the start of a traditional race. Running on the Irvine trails that I know like the back of my hand gave me a home field advantage. Being surrounded by friends cheering was uplifting. These race conditions really allowed me to be relaxed and enjoy myself. All together they made for perfect conditions to get a PR. Hurray!

My first PR was at our June race (5K 22:05). I sliced off 19 seconds from Carlsbad 2019 which was a shock since I wasn’t really going to race and had run 16 miles the previous day. Then I beat that time by 23 seconds (21:42) at our September race (aka 2020 Carlsbad 5000 Virtual). This second PR was even more surprising than the first because I’d cut back my mileage to high-40s in mid-August when marathon #2 got cancelled.

In between, at our August Mile race, I pulled off a 27 second PR (hello knee drive!) from the 2019 mile race. Although this year did not give me the opportunity to PR in the marathon, it’s been a banner racing season so far.

I’ll take the PRs I got and be thankful that everyone is safe and healthy. We’ll all get to race again, hopefully soon, and, when I toe the starting line, I can bring a stronger mental game with me knowing what I can really accomplish.

Micah Whitson

I really enjoyed this club race, it was fun to finally race again. I thought the race went well, I think that I ran around 35 seconds faster than the last Grand Prix race in June and beat my goal time of 21:40. It was one of the races where everything comes together as you planned. I am glad we are doing races again, it motivates me to stay consistent with my training.

Micah running

Luke Friedl

[Reported by Mike Friedl]
Luke ran a solid race. His streak is still alive, approaching 700 days but with the cancellation of spring track, fall cross country and all road races, he hasn’t done much speed work. But 20:45 is within 30 seconds of his PR and he was satisfied.

Luke running

Sherri Ellerby

Out of all the years I have done the South Coast Roadrunner Grand Prix, this is hands down the year I have most appreciated it. And doing the Carlsbad 5000 virtually added to the experience for me. That will always be my favorite 5K race.

I really wasn’t that familiar with the Los Olivos trails we ran on. I noticed it seemed to be part of the Lake Forest Extension run that always stressed me out because I never really knew where I was going.

So I showed up extra early on race morning to get in a solid warm-up and to familiarize myself with the race course. I ran with my phone so I could make sure I was on the course. Okay. I see how it’s all laid out. Hey! This is a really nice race course! I think it’s my favorite of the SCRR Covid-19 courses so far.

Once it was race time, I learned I was the second runner to start. What?? That can’t be right. Why is Mike Dietz behind me?

Sherri running

Steve Ireland was first. At times I closed the gap a little, but then he stretched it out some more as my positive splits became a reality. My new life as a distance learning teacher has taken its toll on me since school began on August 17. Much longer work hours and my training hours cut in half.

I was hoping my summer fitness would carry me through. If only I had people around me to work off of. That’s the key racing element I miss the most. It really does help. I was pretty far off of my predicted 19:45 race time, finishing in 20:09, but I got to see my SCRR friends, so it’s all good.

Special thanks go to Mike Bertram and Amy Dayao for their guidance at the critical turns. Without them many of us would have gone far astray. As always the race photos taken by Gary Hefner were spectacular.

Treasurer’s Report By Victor Gambone

Total Cash Balance, Beginning  September 1, 20202,734.36
Cash Inflows 138.54
Cash Outflows-First Thursday
Cash Outflows-RRCA Insurance
Cash Outflows-Banquet
Cash Outflows-Uniforms + Caps/Visors
Cash Outflows-Social Gatherings
Cash Outflows-Other 173.50
Net Change in Cash   (34.96)
Total Cash Balance, Ending September 30, 20202,699.40

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