Marathon Man

By Marya Jones Barlow

Tom Schmidhauser

Tom Schmidhauser often tells his biology students that studying for final exams is like running the last leg of a long distance race.

“I tell them to stay focused and ignore the pain,” Schmidhauser said.

The man knows what he’s talking about. At 57, Schmidhauser has completed 10 marathons, including the Boston Marathon in April and Ventura Marathon in September. A distance runner since junior high, he still logs 40 miles a week, while also volunteering as an assistant coach for Adolfo Camarillo High School’s distance running programs and joining the Vendurance Running Tribe on weekly runs. He won first place in his age group in last year’s Santa Barbara Chardonnay 10-Miler and in the 2009 Malibu Marathon. Representing CI in the Ventura Corporate Games in April, he took fourth place in the 5K for men 50-59. In 2013, he took third place in the same race.

“Running is my passion,” he said. “In my youth, it was more about competition, but now the enjoyment comes from running for health reasons, socializing with friends, and enjoying an exercise the human body is uniquely designed for.”

In his other passion—teaching biology—Schmidhauser engages students by introducing current events and applying real-world context to classroom and lab exercises. In his recent BIOL 318 Medical Mycology class, for example, students discussed endemic fungus problems plaguing California prisons and brought in environmental samples to look for common fungi in the environment.

Schmidhauser gained an early appreciation for the academic life, thanks to a father who taught Political Science at the University of Iowa and University of Southern California. His first high school biology course illuminated his interest in the subject, leading him to pursue a B.S. in Biology at University of Southern California, a Ph.D. at University of California, San Diego, and postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. After working as teaching and research faculty at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale School of Medicine and University of Louisiana at Lafayette, he returned to Southern California in 2002 to help develop courses for CI’s Biology Program and raise his two sons near family. His son James is at CSU Fullerton and son Scott starts at San Diego State University this fall.

In April, Schmidhauser fulfilled a lifelong dream of running in the Boston Marathon, although he admits the results fell short of his expectations. Beset by severe leg cramps that forced him to walk in the final miles, he completed the 26-mile course in a respectable 3 hours, 45 minutes and 52 seconds, placing him 14,159 out of 36,000 entrants and 704th in his division of men ages 55-59.

“I would have liked to run smarter, but I went out too fast and burned myself out,” he said.

Still, Schmidhauser shows no signs of slowing down. He plans to continue competing in half-marathons and represent CI in future Ventura Corporate Games.

“My real challenge is to try to limit the effects of age as strength and flexibility go,” he said. “I’m actually looking forward to running in the 60-69 age group at the Corporate Games in three years!”

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© Spring 2014 / Volume 18 / Number 1
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