Residence: Westchester Occupation: retired; former Boeing test lab supervisor Number of L.A. Marathons run: 22 (Briones is a "legacy runner," having run all prior 22 marathons.) Best race: In the 10th L.A. Marathon, I ran my personal best of 3:10. I had been training with weights and had hired a coach who had put me on a diet -- I lost five or six pounds. It made a huge difference. It was also misting the entire race, which was ideal for a fast run. I really pushed it and I felt comfortable, like I was flying. Worst race: It was the 15th L.A. Marathon. That year, the marathon committee decided to do something special for the legacy runners and let us start in the front behind the elite runners. We appreciated the effort, but we had to get there extra early. There was torrential rain, and we were huddled in storefronts trying to stay warm and dry. It was horrible -- we were freezing cold and drenched. I also made the mistake of wearing a complete rain suit with pants and a jacket with a hood. It seemed to help a little in the beginning, but once the race started, the material stuck to my legs and hampered my running. Then I started sweating, so I was overheating on the inside and cold on the outside. It was a slosh-fest. Strategy this year: My goal is to run 3:30. The first mile and a half is pretty steep, and last year I probably ran it too quickly. It's a rookie mistake, but you're feeling good, and Randy Newman is singing "I Love L.A.," and everybody's excited, and the adrenaline's flowing like crazy, and it's hard to stick to a pace. I also ran fast downhill last year, and I'm going to try not to do that. I'm going to try to hold an eight-minute pace as much as I can. If it's a warm day, I'll forget about the 3:30 and concentrate on breaking four hours again. I'll wait until I get to mile 20, and if I have any energy I'll try to pick it up a little. Advice for newbies: I take a small, 8-ounce bottle of energy drink with me to the starting corral. I get there very early so I don't have to fight through the crush of people, and find the spot where I want to be. Then I try to relax, stretch, talk to people. About 10 or 15 minutes before the race, I'll start drinking it, and have it in my hand when the race starts. Then I can run right past that first water station, which gets very crowded. Pre-race ritual: I try to visualize the race. I pre-run the race in my head -- it's like programming yourself to do something, so by race day you feel like you've done it. There are no surprises. I go through it step by step in my mind, what my pace is going to be on a particular part of the course.
Ringo H.W. Chiu / For the Times
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