Aaron Gillen

Aaron_Vickys_2009This month we feature Aaron Gillen, local running phenom. Aaron actually gave me the info for his Profile over a year ago, but his temporary break from running due to injury and other complications delayed his being featured- but here he is.

I caught up (figuratively, I assure you) with him right after the 2004 Orchard to Ocean 10K, which Aaron won. I noted to him that the first time I heard his name was in 2001, when there was a buzz in the running community about “some incredibly fast new guy named Aaron who won Orchard to Ocean”. Aaron won the SB Half Marathon in 2002, then put back to back Orchard to Ocean and Chardonnay wins on the books in 2003. Obviously, we will be seeing lots more of Aaron gathering winner’s hardware at our local races.

Aaron notes with modesty (and let you tell you, this is one modest guy) his involvement with the San Marcos High School track team. I recently spoke with the parent of a freshman member of the San Marcos team. His son was new to running and not quite sure about his commitment until he meets this “awesome guy who is coaching us. He has amazing running credentials – citing a couple of Aaron’s times – and the guy actually runs with us!!” Obviously, Aaron is sharing both his enthusiasm and his talents with the kids at San Marcos. [Editor’s note: Runs behind the kids, kind of sheepdog-like, but making sure even the slowest feel included. So typical.]

Name: Aaron Gillen
Age: 26 (2004)
Employment: I work at El Puente School (a community continuation high school) as an instructional assistant in special education. Work part time at the Zoo on Sundays. Either work in the Lorikeet aviary with 21 lorikeets flying around (closed due to the West Nile Virus until further notice), or in the Zoo’s kitchen preparing diets for all of the parrots (macaws), the three gorillas, five giraffes, the many meerkats and the rock hyraxes (a strange looking rodent). I also am involved with the San Marcos track team, assisting the distance and mid-distance squads.
Family: I live with my mom Karen who works at Pueblo Radiology as an x-ray and ultrasound technician.

Other sports, hobbies, interests, etc.: Love to surf when I can find time to but also enjoy road biking or mountain biking or a nice long hike. (I’d rather run it though.) I did my first triathlon a couple of summers ago, playing around with that idea. Not the best swimmer over ? mile! I’ve always been interested in birds. Through college I worked with the Arizona Forest Service studying the Northern Goshawk (forest hawk) and their population dynamics. Find them very entertaining to watch and their behaviors.
My friends describe me as: Down to earth, mellow, a little weird sometimes, but still nice. Ha!
My trademark expression is: “out of sight, out of mind”
If money were not a consideration, I would love to: be a runner and surfing bum and just surf when it’s good and have fun when it’s not.
In the next 5 years, I hope to: go back to school and receive my teaching certificate, also run my first marathon
In the next 10 years, I hope to: I hope I can still afford living in wonderful Santa Barbara.
Accomplishments: I am really proud of the fact that . . . I chose to attend Indiana University for five years and experience that part of the nation. Without running I would probably never have ventured outside of California. Running has taken me to places I never had envisioned.

Favorite Distance and PR: It’s a toss-up between the 1500m and 5,000m (P.R.s: 3:46:46 and 14:01:07). Road race – anything above a 10K.
Best Race and Why: 1999 Indoor Track Big Ten Championships in Wisconsin. I was part of the winning D.M.R. team (distant medley relay). Ran the mile leg in 4:05:07. It was day one of big 10s and to see my relay team so fired up and the energy it carried to the rest of the team and into day two of competition. Good vibes!
Worst Race and Why: 2001 Outdoor Track Big Ten Championships at Bloomington, IN (home). I was certain I would win the 5,000m for Indiana. I was fit and had some good speed under my belt. A foursome of Hoosier runners took the pace out. We broke away from the field and everything was going to plan. Until about ? mile to go the humidity had taken its toll on me. It was like a monkey had jumped on my back. I ended up with a 9th place finish in 14:29:3, a heartbreaker. My senior (5th) year too in front of the home crowd, just wanted to dig a hole and disappear. Yuck!
Average Weekly Mileage (last 12 months): 35 miles/week. High: 60 miles; low: 0 miles
Favorite Local Race: SBAA/SB News-Press Half-Marathon and Chuck’s Beach Run . . . it’s a toss up.
Most Memorable Running Experience:

Favorite Place to Run:
Glory Days PR:
Realistic Running Goals for this Year: To complete my first marathon and feel good about it. To have consistent weekly mileage. I’d be happy to hold 40-55 miles/wk. Can it be done working three jobs?
Before I die, I hope to: Still be running!

Why I run: Out of all my hobbies, running is the only one where I get a sense of accomplishment. I love competing and the rush running brings every time I lace my shoes. Running is a religion and I go crazy when I can’t run. Running just makes me feel complete I guess.
Local Running Hero & Why: Jim Kornell because he is an animal. A running machine baby!
Personal Training Tips: “When you have a streak, don’t x#!@ with the streak!” college coach Robert Chapman. Do what feels right to you, everyone responds differently.

I love runners who: get fired up about races, their progress (goals) and who just understand other runners.
I hate runners who: whine about running! Then don’t run if you hate it.
Suggestions for local races: We need races that have some purses, I mean this is Santa Barbara!
Suggestions for SBAA: Nothing, it’s great.
My view on: don’t let the little things get under your skin; it’s not worth the worry.
Favorite Quote: Essence of Survival: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Last thought: Since I moved to Santa Barbara, in October of 2001 from Indiana, I have had an awesome time. The running community kicks butt and I am glad to be a part. My grandparents (Lyle and Eleanor Reynolds) have enjoyed hearing about my races. They live on the mesa. My grandpa ran at Berkeley and was also on the ’32 Olympic team, an alternate for the 880 yards.

by Joe Howell


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