Published : Friday, March 22, 2019 | 5:35 AM
Runners from the local road racing club, the Pasadena Pacers, are preparing for Sunday’s Los Angeles Marathon. And regardless of the outcome, in this club, everyone wins.
Founded by the husband-and-wife duo of Steve and Robin Smith, who own and operate Smith Chiropractic in Pasadena, the club has been in existence for 40 years and it’s still growing.
“I was looking for a place to send my patients and there was no place,” Smith recalled about founding the club. “You could send them to a gym. But a lot of times people go to the gym and get hurt. And I was already a runner, so I thought, ‘I’m already running. I’ll just invite everybody to come run with me.’ And they showed up.”
The club grew to become so popular the Pacers blossomed into a group comprised of hundreds of running enthusiast members, not only in the founding Pasadena chapter, but also in Whittier, San Bernardino and Thousand Oaks. Smith said 200 runners from the far-reaching running club will race on Sunday.
Prepping for the marathon is a team effort in more than one way, Smith said. The Pasadena store, Run With Us, owned by Peter Van Gansen, plays a central role, Smith said.
“Run With Us is a terrific resource,” Smith said. “They’re the central hub of the running community in Pasadena. If you need shoes or if you need any kind of running-related apparel or a knee brace or anything like that, Run With Us is always available.
“Their most valuable resource is they have people who work there who are runners, but more importantly, the people who work there have worked there for a long time. Armando Crespo, he’s the guy who built the track program at PCC and he was the coach there for years.”
To get people in the marathon mentality requires a different frame of mind, said Smith.
“The first thing we do is we let them know that being reasonable is to not allowed,” he said. “Being reasonable is allowing yourself to not run when it’s cold or when it’s hot or when it’s Thanksgiving or when your relatives are in town, or when you’re tired or upset. Being ‘reasonable’ will ruin a marathon. So it’s going to take being ‘unreasonable’ to do it.”
“Be willing to be unreasonable and you’ll get outrageous results. Marathon runners tend to be unreasonable people and don’t put up with mediocrity. I think they love it because they realize that by being that way about the marathon they can approach their life that way. And it helps them get through the things that make people mediocre. They all tend to have breakthroughs because of that psychological mindset.”
Smith said for those who are thinking of starting out, joining a running club can help in several ways.
“People do things in groups they would never do on their own,” he said. “Like go and do an 18-mile run in the driving rain for four and a half hours, which we did this year. When you face adversity together some primordial thing switches on that takes you back to a time a couple of thousand years ago when people actually would have done this as part of their daily lives. It switches on all the old drive motors that said, hey I gotta get to where I’m going. No matter what I’m going to get through this and I need people around me to do it.”
Young or old, overweight or slim, beginner or expert the club is open to anyone. It fills a social void for many as well at a time when society is ever more technology dependent.
“It causes people to relate to one another in a way that is very primitive but also emotionally connected,” Smith said. ”People get close to each other when they train together like that and they look forward to those emotional connections.”
Last year among the Pacers, everybody who started the LA Marathon, finished it. And this year, Smith said there are about 20 club members who have qualified for April’s Boston Marathon.
“We have a contingent of club members going out to Boston to support the runners.”
In his 50th year of running, and at 67 years young, Smith said he will never stop. He grew up in Whittier. He and wife Robin now live in Pasadena.
It’s his 40th year in his chiropractic practice.
“I have a great clientele and a great staff, in large part because of Robin,” he said.
Robin, the Pasadena Pacers co-founder, wrapped it up succinctly.
“We started the club to raise the health and spirits of our community,” she said. “You can come in any shape and size. We take you from the couch to five miles in three months.”
For more information go to the Pasadena Pacers website.