July 16, 2012

Running Revealed: Marcos Hinojosa Talks Courses, Coyotes and More

Running Revealed: Marcos Hinojosa Talks Courses, Coyotes and More

Bronco red-shirt junior Marcos Hinojosa has spent hundreds of hours on streets and trails during his years as a competitive runner, and is familiar with the ins and outs of the running lifestyle. In the midst of another sunny summer in San Jose, the three-year veteran recapped his many years of running experience with www.santaclarabroncos.com. This fall he will welcome his brother, Adrian, to the Bronco family as the latter joins the cross country team as well. The elder Hinojosa brother shared his thoughts on the Bronco running program's future, which runner all-time he would most like to meet and a chilling story about being stalked by coyotes.

By: Vince Menon '14

SCB: Has running always been your passion, or did you take it up later as a teenager?

MH: No, I took it up my sophomore year in high school.  I was more of a basketball junkie, but one day I was guarding a kid on my team who was just too fast and simply didn't get tired.  I asked him how he got that fast and he said cross country.  I tried out the sport during the fall of my sophomore year and I have loved it ever since.

SCB: What's the biggest aspect of your running performance you'd like to improve? How are you going about doing that?

MH: I definitely would love to dip under the 25 minute barrier this year, as it is the mark of a very good cross country runner. I've been very close and I think I can do it if I just stay healthy during the season, which has been difficult these last two years.  If I do all of the little extra things like stretching more often, taking days off when I need them and keeping the mileage up consistently I think I'll be able to achieve my goal.

SCB: How good can Santa Clara running be next year? What needs to happen for the team to reach its potential and expectations?

MH: Santa Clara can be great this year, maybe even our best year yet, but a lot of things need to come together for that to happen.   We lost some of our top guys and I plan to red-shirt this year, so it leaves the team a little shorthanded as far as experience.  That being said, I think it's up to those guys who haven't been to the most competitive races to step up.  It's their time to shine and really prove to themselves and the team that they have what it takes to be consistent throughout the year and perform.  I think if they do that the team can perform at the highest level this year.

SCB: What are your eating habits like and do they differ from your in-season training ones?

MH: [Laughs]. I'd have to say my eating habits are one of my weaknesses as a runner, although I do try to eat as healthy as possible.  It's hard to change your eating habits when your mom is a great cook.  Also, just being a collegiate runner, it's difficult to find time to prepare healthy food during the day.  As runners we are either running, in class or studying, and those three activities take a lot out of us.  We burn thousands and thousands of calories in a simple run, however, so I don't mind having a soda with dinner or donut during the week.

SCB: Do you take any vitamins or special drinks to help you recover faster?

MH: I like putting chia seeds with honey in my water.  It is supposed to act like a super drink that helps you recover more quickly because of all the antioxidants they contain. I don't really know if it helps me or not, but it tastes good and doesn't hurt to try it. 

SCB: How many pairs of running shoes do you go through per summer and running season? Do you get any discounts for buying so many or for staying with a certain brand?

MH: I'll stick to one pair of shoes during the summer and go through about four to five during the year not including my racers.  I like wearing them down to the point where I can fold the shoe complete in half, because that's where my feet get to do more the work.  Shoes range anywhere from $95-$150, but luckily I work at a running store in Campbell called the Running Revolution so I get an employee discount.  Staying in a certain brand doesn't really matter, but most of us stay with the same shoes for superstitious reasons -- once that we find a shoe that works we don't like changing. 

SCB: What's the longest run you've ever done? Would you ever run a marathon?

MH: My longest run was a 20 miler with my high school buddy.  We ran in Mountain View to the top of a trail called Black Mountain.  It is really cool to reach the top because on one side you can see all of San Jose and some of San Francisco and on the other side you see the ocean; there's no other place that I know of that you can see that view.  We had to run down in the dark with headlamps which was fun as well.

I probably will run a marathon just to run one, but they don't really appeal to me.  I plan on training for an ultramarathon, which is in the 50 mile range. I've always been amazed by people who can run them.

SCB: Where is the memorable place you have run? What course or location that you've competed at during your SCU career has been your favorite?

MH: The coolest place I've ran would have to be a trail in Skyline, because it started in the woods and then opened up to green rolling hills that looked like something out of Lord of the Rings.  I also love racing at Crystal Springs in Belmont because it is such a hard course and some of the greatest runners ever have raced there.

SCB: How is the team chemistry and camaraderie? What's your funniest moment involving the team?

MH: The chemistry is great and the camaraderie is fantastic. I like telling recruits that the difference from SCU and most programs is that here you will find teammates that you'll ask to come to your wedding -- that's how close you'll become.  The funniest moment had to be when Flip [Cross Country and Track Head Coach Felipe Montoro] called out one of the guys on the team for wearing girls shorts.  The whole team went crazy and we are still cracking up about it.

SCB: If you could meet any runner, past or present, who would it be and why?

MH: It would definitely be Emile Zatopek.  Only the running community knows about him most likely, but I like to compare my running style to his, one of pure guts.  He was just a runner who loved running for the sake of pushing his body to the absolute max.  He won the 5K, 10K and marathon all in one Olympics even though he had never run the marathon before.  Additionally, one of my favorite quotes is from him, "It is at the borders of pain and suffering that men are separated from the boys."

SCB: If not running, which sport would you have played?

MH: If my dad and I had it our way I'd be racing an open-wheeled racecar in Europe right now.  We are both huge racing fans, in particular Formula 1, and I've always loved going to the track to race.  Running is the closest feeling I can get to racing.  When racing I'm in my own little world and am so focused.  It's very mentally draining and physically, however, with all the g-force putting a pounding on your body.

SCB: Have you ever had any weird, scary or funny stories while running?

MH: Well I have been yelled at, chased by deer and gotten lost, but my most interesting story involves coyotes.  Once, on a trail, I saw a coyote in front of me. It was just standing there so I started running towards it thinking it would run away, but it would simply jog in front of me always keeping the same distance.  So I stopped running and it would stop.  Then I remembered coyotes bait their prey when hunting, so I turned around and sure enough in the brush I could spot more coyotes.  It kind of freaked me out because I had never heard of coyotes stalking humans, but luckily more hikers came onto the trail and they ran away.

SCB: What is one thing you wish the SCU community knew about the Bronco running program that they might not know?

MH: That we are a really good team.  The last three seasons have been the best ever in school history, and we finished 14th in the West this last year.  Also, cross country races are just very fun to be a part of.  They are like a smaller version of the Tour de France with fans lined up besides the runners cheering in their faces.  Nothing gets us pumped up more than seeing these large crowds and showing them the excitement that is cross country. We hope to see them at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational on Saturday, October 13th!