Coach excels in L.A.

Carista Strickland first started running marathons when she turned 40.

Good luck getting her to stop now. The times keep getting faster for Strickland, now 47 and an assistant track coach at Laguna Beach High.

She finished this year's Los Angeles Marathon in a time of three hours, 14 minutes and seven seconds, which was first in the women's 45-49 age division.

Overall, it was the 209th fastest time out of more than 10,000 runners. Strickland, an Aliso Viejo resident who works as a personal trainer in Laguna Beach, was also the 18th fastest woman overall.

"I was very happy with it," Strickland said. "The race was good. Last year, my time was 3:21. I did more intense workouts at Soka University this time."

Strickland will now be taking a break until October, when she'll run a marathon in Huntington Beach. She said her goal next year is to go to the prestigious Boston Marathon.

It's also inspiring to her daughters, both integral members of the cross country and track programs at Laguna Beach High. Kativa will be a senior in the fall, while Natasha will be a sophomore.

"Her achievements really help me to be a better runner," Natasha Strickland said. "When she keeps on running, it makes me want to improve more."

But is it tough to have your mom as one of your coaches at school?

"In some ways harder, in some ways easier," Natasha said. "I understand the sport better, but she also pushes me harder."

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