Sometimes you just have to marvel at people like 2016 Monte Vista High School graduate Brooke Starn.
As a Mustang, she was an accomplished student and athlete. On the track Starn set school records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters that still easily stand today.
In the classroom she excelled as well, getting accepted to Harvard following her graduation from Monte Vista.
Once at Harvard, Starn ran track for three years, all the while taking on the academic rigors and earning a degree from Harvard. After the Ivy League, Starn came back west for post-graduate work at UC Davis and competed on the Aggies' track team as well.
Next up academically, Starn headed back east on July 29 to begin medical school at NYU. But don't for one minute think the running shoes have been put away as the academic side of life continues to get tougher.
Seemingly to make that a point, on July 24 Starn went out and ran in her first marathon, taking on the hilly San Francisco Marathon for her first try at the distance.
She did a little more than just compete -- she won the women's race and finished ninth overall, crossing the finish line with a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes, 38 seconds. That's an average of 6:18 per mile over the 26.2-mile course.
"I was really surprised by the time," Starn said of what she thought as the race ended. "I was happy to have my celebration moment."
Starn's inspiration to take on a marathon was her mother Mandee, who has run 14 marathons and is a running partner for her daughter on some days.
Mandee's first marathon was also the San Francisco Marathon, 30 years earlier.
"My mom has run marathons, so I knew I wanted to do one after college," said the 24-year-old Starn. "I knew medical school was going to be hectic, so I wanted to run one before."
Starn put the San Francisco event on the calendar and then worked back for her training regimen to get ready for the race.
The timeframe was only six weeks but given that she had been training for distance runs for some time, it was that much of a change.
"I still was running 55 miles a week," Starn explained. "The biggest change was my long run. I went to 22 miles instead of 15 miles. I like the feeling of pushing myself."
As the race drew closer, Starn set some goals and that required developing a strategy.
"I had stalked the results of the race for quite a bit of time," Starn said. "I knew the course was hilly for a marathon, so I set my goals knowing that."
The first goal was to break three hours.
"That was a big barrier," she said. "A really solid time would be 2:55, and an incredible time would be 2:50. I did have some place goals, but I knew if I hit time goals, it would be a top three finish."
Then came race day.
"You never know who is going to show up on race day," Starn said. "It turned out to be a really good field."
Which in turn played right into her strategy.
"I ran the first six miles with the top women and had a chance to talk with them about the course," Starn explained. "My overall plan was to go out conservatively like 6:30-6:35 a mile. Once I got through six miles, then go with what felt favorable."
Things were going well enough that she started thinking about what she might be able to do.
"At the 20th mile I started doing the math where I could finish," Starn said. "With six miles left, I was feeling good and figured out that if I went sub-6 minutes, I could get under the time I wanted to run."
By that point she had distanced herself from the other contending women.
"I was running with some of the men," Starn said. "But the last three or so miles I had no one to run with."
It didn't matter as Starn crossed the line over four minutes ahead of the second-place woman, and like mentioned above, ninth overall in the race.
So, what's next?
"I plan to run a half-marathon in the fall," Starn said. "The next couple of years I still want to compete. (Running) helps with school -- it's a release for me."
And future marathons? After going to college in the Boston area and now medical school in New York, there appears to be a logical choice of a couple races.
"I want to run the New York and Boston marathons," Starn said. "That's a long-term goal. My mom ran Boston three times."
Tri-Valley Babe Ruth 14s headed to World Series
The Tri-Valley Babe Ruth 14 team took the Pacific Southwest Regionals with a 6-5 win over the team from Hawaii in the finals.
Next up for the local team is a date in the Babe Ruth 14 World Series, Aug. 11-21, in Williston, N.D. Look for a preview of the team next week in this space!
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.