Silicon Valley Half Spotlight: Iraj Zarrinnaal

The Silicon Valley Half, 10K & 5K presented by Excite Credit Union is Friday, September 18 – Sunday, September 27. Run Local is spotlighting a couple of its runners and partners throughout the week. Visit to learn more and register today.

“The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction was indescribable, and I was ecstatic to have helped.” – Iraj on pacing the 2019 Silicon Valley Half Marathon

How do you describe yourself?

I consider myself a friendly family man, but find it easier to be more easy going with friends than family! That applies to decisions, planning, training, traveling, eating, almost everything. 

I was born and raised in Iran, and a couple of years after high school, migrated to California in 1982.  I went to Ohlone College in Fremont, and did my undergraduate and graduate studies at UC Santa Barbara. I have been living in South Bay Area since my first career job in 1989.

Where are your favorite places to run?

I like running in Monterey and Santa Cruz the best. I used to frequent those locations for group runs. But with COVID-19, I have stayed with local routes at Almaden Lake Park, Evergreen area and Santa Teresa County Park trails.

Where do you take friends and family when they visit you?

I like taking visitors to walk around and enjoy the shops and restaurants in Willow Glen and Los Gatos downtown areas. Santana Row is another favorite for window shopping and people watching, but everything seems to be over my budget there!

How have you stayed resilient in 2020 and how has running supported you?

I started year 2020 with runs at SF Hot Chocolate (Jan), Taji100 (Feb) and Napa Half Marathon (Mar). Then, the pandemic hit. Lucky for me, I work from home, and my running activity kept me in touch socially. I am a volunteer coach for TeamInTraining who switched everything from in-person to virtual.

Also, my Too Legit Fitness family did a great job of keeping accountability by sharing runs, rides, hikes and track workouts that we could do individually or in small groups while social distancing.

Training for virtual events like Run Local CA Coast 500 has given me the opportunity to get in 40-50 miles/week and I am running a half marathon every other weekend. My body weight is down 8% from pre-pandemic era!

So, thumbs up for now, but I am looking forward to when we return to normal.

What or who got you started running and who supports you now?

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training got me into long distance running. After my first season (San Diego Rock’n’Roll) in 2013, I stayed on as a volunteer training captain, and in 2016, I joined their coaching staff.

Running new races every year brought me to SV Half in 2018 where I trained with Too Legit group and was so impressed with their comradery and enthusiasm for training that I have been with them ever since.

What is one running memory that you think back on to keep you motivated day-in-day-out?

I have not one, but multiple memories that I recall in every long run that keep me motivated. Each memory is triggered depending on the experience, whether I am running in a group, with a buddy, a specific route, or an event. But the most compelling is the memory of running buddies that cannot run any longer reminding me to cherish every step.

You’ve taken part in both editions of the SV Half. What’s your favorite aspect of the race and memory from those first two years?

Firstly, I appreciate the fact that SV Half put me in touch with 2L2Q. The team and Coach B helped me run a Half Marathon PR at that race in 2018. Secondly, I like the tour of the local roads, shops, schools and businesses, and finally, I was fortunate to be the 2-hour pacer for 2019 SV Half where many finishers became emotional after crossing the finish line with their own PR’s. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction was indescribable, and I was ecstatic to have helped.

What else do you want to tell the Run Local community?

The challenge to train for more miles and hours on my feet has also provided me with better experiences. For example, I rarely ever run alone and can always count on my buddies to join me. My rest days are short hikes with my wife, and my recovery runs help me space out the hard workouts and avoid overtraining. My tempo runs with my son have instilled a new love of (speed) training in him that was not there before. So, I enjoy running because it keeps me actively connected to friends and family.