Tri-City Medical Center had the opportunity to interview Izzak Mireles, an elite runner, Carlsbad Marathon Winner, UC Irvine Graduate, and an overall inspiration to all.
Izzak is 24 years old and is from Irvine, CA. Izzak started running about 16 years ago in the 6th grade. “Running has been a part of my life for many years now and has helped me through ups and downs,” said Izzak. What amazed many was the 2020 Carlsbad Marathon was Izzak’s very 1st marathon and he took home first place running the 26.2 miles in 2 Hours and 32 minutes.
Need the motivation to keep running? Keep reading Izzak’s story and be inspired…
What are some of your other proudest athletic achievements?
I competed for 5 years with the University of California, Irvine Division 1 Cross Country and Track and Field team. While I ran some pretty quick times during my career there, I would say my proudest moment would be the training and mentality that lead up to being a walk-on for the team. My high school running personal best times were not fast enough to get me any type of scholarship to run collegiately, let alone run at a D-1 level. Coming from a small town in the Central Valley (Livingston, CA) opportunities are limited and facilities are inaccessible, quite frankly I really shouldn’t have made it to that level. Walking on to the UC Irvine Cross Country team was not just a moment for myself but for my community to see that these goals can be achieved.
Why did you choose the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon for your first race?
I choose the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon as my first marathon race because it is near the home of my partner, Keely Boyd. Keely grew up in the area and ran for La Costa Canyon and UC Irvine, so it was only right to begin my journey of marathons there. In addition to the hometown feel of the race, the course itself is absolutely beautiful. The scenery makes each step feel just a bit easier.
The first place is an amazing accomplishment. Did you think you were going to win? How did you prepare?
I went into the race with no real expectation except to have fun. I knew I could have a shot at a top-three finish if I had a perfect race. I did most of my runs before work and asked my UC Irvine teammate and friend, Nolan Del Valle, for workouts. He wrote most of my workouts and prepared with a system of low-quality mileage. Overall, I think the workouts did the trick. For the majority of the race, I was in second place and was about one minute and thirty seconds away from first place at the halfway point. It was encouraging to hear after every couple of miles the total time separation was decreasing. When I heard I was only twenty seconds away from him I made a strong surge at mile 23 to catch the leader. I was able to hold him off at the end for the win.
What were some of the things running through your mind as you entered the home stretch?
When I entered the home stretch, I was under the impression that my crew was using the tracking system provided by the marathon and they knew I was the leader. To my surprise, they did not use the tracking so the reaction when they saw me was priceless. As you can imagine, I was speechless when I broke the tape at the finish line.
You had family and/or friends with you at the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon. How important is that support when you compete?
My partner’s family and good friends were there in support of my race. They were spread out throughout the course and gave me words of encouragement and direction in terms of how close other runners were. They were influential in me knowing the time separation between the leader and when to make the move. I am very thankful for Kirk and Kim for their support throughout the race. Having the right team that understands running and what you need at a specific point in the race can make or break a win.
What are your future goals (in sports, career, education, etc)?
The next marathon on my radar will be the Big Sur International Marathon on April 26th. My goal is to reach the Olympic Marathon Trials come 2024. In terms of career goals, I am currently an urban planner in Orange County. My primary focus is finding solutions to build more housing and create livable spaces for traditionally marginalized communities. I am a huge advocate for affordable housing and solving our homelessness crisis.
If you could give young athletes any piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell athletes sometimes it’s ok to walk away from a sport you’ve done your whole life. After graduating from grad school at UC Irvine, I took two years off. I was burnt out from running and the sport itself was not fun anymore. It took me some time to refocus and learn to love the sport again. Sometimes it’s ok to start slow in order to get faster.