Last weekend, I was minding my own business doing a long run along a bike path in the southern reaches of San Jose, California. After going out seven or eight miles and up into the foothills, I retraced my steps on the bike path. Along the way back, I began to pass clumps of much slower runners who were, as I later learned, part, of a marathon training group. Oddly enough, they were all wearing race numbers.

There were even aid stations on the bike path and, as I approached one, a couple of young volunteers shouted at me: “You’re the first runner! Woo hoo. You look great.”

Really? Me, look great? That was interesting. I wasn’t cheating—pulling a Rosie Ruiz—but inadvertently somehow I found myself in the lead of this weird, little race. Maybe it was a time trial—I simply didn’t know—but it was an unusual position for me to be in, one that hadn’t happened since…well, forever. (I won a few races in high school but that was 100 years ago and no longer counts.)


Nevertheless, a lead in any race of any kind—even one I wasn’t actually in—felt surreal. But I soldiered on, mainly because there was no other way back to my car, other than the bike path. Nevertheless, with the responsibility of a race leader thrust on me, I attempted to look like a respectable race leader.

I’ve seen enough races to know what that looks like; I’ve just never been in that position. Instead of slogging out the final miles, I immediately picked up my long-run pace and envisioned what it would be like to really lead a race. Usually, those gifted enough to be in that position of being a race leader have done it often enough that they have it down pat. I tried to mimic that smooth flow that a race leader has, unconcerned with any threats from behind and relaxed enough to nonchalantly offer a royal wave or two to the spectators who were disguised as trees.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any spectators but I was able to master the casual wave of an uncontested victor whenever I passed a subsequent aid station. At the last one, I grabbed a water and just tossed it down ever so casually, like leading this race was no big deal. I wasn’t sure how much longer the race was, but I tried to pick up the pace again, trying to make it look as effortless as possible.

Obviously, I was a fraud and wasn’t leading anything but it felt good to pretend. Finally, as I entered a park, I spotted a finish line and clock and knew the jig was up. It had been great fun while it lasted, but it ended with a whimper as I merely turned around and headed back to my car.

At least now when I dream about leading a race, it won’t be a complete fantasy.


O The 2014 Austin Marathon has a new overall winner. Kipkoech Ruto, who ran 2:14:45 at last year’s Austin, has been declared the winner and will collect $4000, including a $1000 bonus. Joseph Mutinda, a 40-year-old Kenyan who has lived and trained in Santa Fe, had the fastest time in ’14 race but has been DQ’ed. Mutinda, who ran 2:14:16 in that race has admitted using and tested positive for various banned performance-enhancing substances. He tested positive after the Austin Marathon and has accepted a three-year ban from competition.

O More Mutinda. According to Austin Marathon race director John Conley, Mutinda was never paid any prize money from Austin. Said Conley, “It is our policy to not release prize money until the results of USADA doping comes back in 6-8 weeks. In Mutinda’s case, we were informed he had a positive result and we withheld his prize money while his appeal dragged on.” Mutinda’s name has been removed from the official results.

O The Livestrong Foundation announced on Wednesday that Chandini Portteus will be its new CEO as of April 6th. Portteus, 36, comes to Austin with 10 years on her resume as an executive with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She replaces Doug Ulman, who had been Livestrong’s top exec for 14 years but left in January.

O The Texas Relays distance events at Mike Myers Stadium are tonight, beginning about 7 p.m. Admission is free. Several Rogue AC runners will be prominent tonight, including Nicky Akande and Chris Gowell in the 800 (Leo Manzano is also running the 800), Cate Barrett in the 1500, Mary Goldkamp in the steeple (she’s also running the Austin 10/20 on Sunday) and Leslie Boozer, Austin Bussing and Ethan Doherty are running the 5000. Gowell will also be running the 1500 on Saturday.

O Our friend Kevin Rowe, who is in the Naval Reserve, has been deployed to Djibouti. A group of his friends from Gilbert’s Gazelles toasted Kevin, who is a firefighter with AFD, at NXNW before his deployment. He will be missed.

O Natasha Van Der Merwe hoped to kick off her tri season with a big race at the IM in Melbourne, Australia, but was forced to drop out 20 miles into the bike. Natasha had been experiencing glute and lower back tightness leading up to Melbourne and even though she had it worked on, her back locked up and she was unable to continue.

O Cate Barrett made her first half marathon a noteworthy one. Barrett, who ran at Baylor, was fourth overall (and first woman) in last weekend’s Bearathon Half in Waco. She ran 1:21:32, just behind Mike McGinn of Georgetown who was third in 1:20:57. Brad Miles of Grapevine was the overall winner in 1:15:09. Greg Thomas was fifth in 1:28:06 and the first masters guy. Ellen Tucker of Austin was the second woman masters in 1:39:54.

O Up in Dallas, Sean Welleck of Austin finished 10th in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in 1:13:14. Scott Brenneman was the second fastest Austinite (1:33:13) and Michael Fairbanks was third in 1:39:08. Kacie Walsh was the fastest Austin-based woman in 1:49:31.

O In San Antonio last weekend, the Galvan family had a big day. Patriarch Ariel Galvan was the overall winner of the Alamo 13.1 in 1:16:15, while his wife Liza Hunter-Galvan won the women’s division (and was second overall) in 1:18:51. Andrea Duke was second in 1:19:07. Another Galvan—daughter Amber—was sixth in the women’s division in 1:51:46. Liza is running the Austin 10/20 this weekend.

O After last week’s column about how the snow may (or may not) impact the Boston Marathon, I received a few photos from various friends’ backyards that are still piled up with snow. The major concern remains the starting area and Athletes Village in Hopkinton where there’s still a ton of it. This week volunteers from a sport turf company began spreading a type of green sand around the Hopkinton school fields (where everyone hangs out before the marathon). The sand immediately began melting all the snow which should—hopefully–be mostly gone by Patriots’ Day.

O Bill Schroeder reports from WillCo that the Cedar Ridge High School Raider Paint Run is this Saturday (March 28) in Round Rock. The race starts at 10 at the Old Settlers Park Lake View Pavilion, right by Dell Diamond. Before starting the 3-mile or 1 1/2-mile untimed run you get your face plastered with some kind of colored powder. Following the races, there will be bands, BBQ and other festivities. The race proceeds the Cedar Ridge HS Project Graduation—an all-night, lock-in party. Packet pick up and registration is on Friday at the Fleet Feet Sports up there (3750 Gattis School Rd, next to the HEB at Red Bud and Gattis School Road. You can also register a the Lake View Pavilion on race morning, starting at 8:45.

O What I’m listening to this morning: “5” by the late (great) J.J. Cale.

Have any news for me? Send it along to

The weekly “Heard Around the Lake” is brought to you by Albert Saenz and The Cadenza Group – an Austin-based real estate company involved in the running community, serving your home buying, selling and leasing needs!

Want to receive each article via email? Subscribe at