RaceMob Rewind: How This Latin Star Overcame a Drug Addiction With Running with Leo Rosales

RaceMob Rewind: How This Latin Star Overcame a Drug Addiction With Running with Leo Rosales


Hey there, RaceMob crew. We're celebrating Latinx heritage month with some incredible guests. So stay tuned for some amazing stories over the next few weeks. But we'd be remiss to kick off the month if we didn't bring back one of our favorite episodes from this last year and one of the most popular from all of you.



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Podcast Transcription

The following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.

[00:00:00] Leo Rosales:
And then feeling that feeling of despair and of sadness that I had let, not only myself down, but my family, my kids. And then years later after my will in my life, over to the care of God, as I understood it there, I was standing at the Archway of the 2014 Boston marathon. And I was like, man, miracles do happen.

[00:00:21] Kevin Chang:
Hello and welcome to the RaceMob podcast. This is episode number 69. I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd. And I'm joined by the head coach of RaceMob and master motivator, the incomparable Bertrand Newson.

Hey there RaceMob crew. We're celebrating Latinx Heritage Month with some incredible guests. So stay tuned for some amazing stories over the next few weeks, but we'd be remissed to kick off the month. If we didn't bring back one of our favorite episodes from this last year, and one of the most popular from all of you.

When Bertrand met Leo over 20 years ago, he had no idea that this unassuming handyman was dealing with a crippling back condition and a debilitating drug addiction. Nor could he imagine Leo's backstory a former Latin rock star and the percussionist for the group Malo at the age of 18, Leo was being whisked away via limo and private jet to famous venues like Carnegie hall, American Bandstands, Rolling on the River, and much more.

Leo's life is so fascinating that it was even documented in an ESPN Deportes feature. From the highest of highs to being so broken, he could barely function. It got so bad. His family staged an intervention and forced Leo into rehab. But it was here and shortly after at Skyline College, where Leo began to rekindle his passion for running. A passion. He almost completely threw away due to his addiction.

But was now ready to embrace. Leo and his wife, Virginia joined the Dolphins South End Running Club. And today have logged over 17,000 miles, attended hundreds of races, become Brazen Streakers, qualified for Boston and have been sober for over 16 years. But most importantly, Leo and Virginia have now become pillars of the running community.

Spreading their love and positive message to everyone they meet, especially those who are struggling with addiction.

And they've even become running coaches, inspiring the next generation of runners. Best of all, Leo never lost his passion for music and is performing with his new band Momo Tombo, and they are killing it.

You're going to love this story from the heartache, the perseverance and the triumphs. So here we go.

[00:02:37] Bertrand Newsen:
Welcome to the race mob podcast. And we're very fortunate today to have Mr. Leo Rosale is accomplished marathoner. Boston marathon, or that is, someone who discovered renting later in life. And his story is incredibly profound. We'll take a journey through his life, through his eyes, the ups and downs of life, much like a marathon.

There's always points of adversity. And we get to that emotional crossroads, whether it's to go to stop, to put one foot in front of the other and Leo's stories incredibly compelling. And he'll share with us Leo. So. Fortunate to have you with us. Welcome.

[00:03:16] Leo Rosales:
Nice to see both of you again,

[00:03:18] Kevin Chang:
Welcome to the podcast.

[00:03:19] Leo Rosales:
Yeah, thanks.

[00:03:20] Kevin Chang:
Before we even started here, we were listening to some music, some fantastic music. Tell us about this. I mean, accomplished musician that should have been in the intro, accomplished musician as well

[00:03:30] Leo Rosales:
Before I got into running many, many, many years ago, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a group called Malo back in 1971,72, as we were growing up, we're starting to pick up instruments, we're starting to learn how to play.

And everybody started getting interested in , different instruments, because at that point in time, the summer of love was around the corner, you know, around 68, So we were watching all of this unfold. And so we all started getting interested in playing music and eventually I developed the ability to play percussion drums, conga as invalid.

And, um, there was a group in the Bay area called the Malibu's, who were playing at this club down off of silver Avenue in San Bruno, in San Francisco. And, uh, we used to go down there and a friend of mine, a brother wanted to expose us to some different kinds of music. Well, actually we would go there every weekend.

You know, we get a fake ID, you know, getting through the door. And then he would introduce us to the band members and say, Hey, can these guys play a song with you? And at first they were hesitant because, you know, they have their own thing going, but eventually because of he persuaded them, you know, please just give this guy a chance.

You know, he's young, he's from the Bay area. So they'd allow me to come up on stage and play.

So I learned some tricks up there and eventually that group went on to. Get a recording contract. A friend of a friend got ahold of this producer who brought in a person from Warner brothers. They came in and saw the band and loved the band and signed them to a five year contract. . They went on to record. And while they were in the studio, then you had some personnel changes.

The singer are Sileo Garcia, who just a couple of weeks ago, passed away. You know, after keeping the name all going for over 50 years, he gave me a call and said, Hey, everybody likes the way you play. You know, you've come down to the club and participated. He goes, how about coming over and auditioning with us?

We've got a record contract. We'll get ready to go out on the road. We've got a hit single coming out on the radio. And I was, you know, intimidated by all that. So I said, well, I think I want to make it on my own. I got my own band. And, uh, you know, we're gonna, you know, we're writing music. We want to go and he goes, but you know, we already got all that.

I'm saving you a lot of work. You can come into our band. We already got a contract. We're going out on the road. We got hit single, you know, it's going to be fantastic.

So I went down there, audition for the band. And, uh, got the gig. And from there on all of a sudden I was driving around hearing the Malo band of the radio stations that were , famous at that time, like AMK Y a K FRC, uh, K DIA K Sol, and then on FM KSAN.

But all of a sudden I was like super popular, still a senior in high school at Balbo high school. And all of a sudden I'm getting picked up in front of the school and a big old stretch Cadillac, you know, and , starting to get treated. In a special way, you know, taking the music stores, buying instruments, you know, rehearsing every, every day and then preparing to go out on the road.

So I spent a year and a half out on the road and it was an amazing one experience. We did the last days. It's the Fillmore album with bill Graham. We played at winter land with Tito, with black Oak Arkansas with, uh, black Sabbath with, uh, all these heavy hitters, 10 years after Quicksilver and playing in Carnegie hall.

We headlined Carnegie hall. We played central park. You open up for, I continue to Turner at the long beach arena, you know, uh, we were being whisked off in Lear jets from San Francisco to LA and I was only like 18 years old. All of this fame and fortune was just kind of spinning, uh, not out of control yet, but it was spinning pretty fast.

And so that's where my music career started, started very young. I kept staying in the music circles and you know, just like if, if you really have a desire for something special in your life and you have a dream, you got to follow the dream, following the roads that leads to it, you know?

By putting yourself with the right people in the right place at the right time and making all the sacrifices of playing as much as you can, wherever you can. And eventually you make connections here and there, and it takes a little bit of time, but I managed to follow my heart and follow the dream. And I managed to hook up with Malo and had a nice career with them for a year and a half.

And then, you know, life started taking it. Turns. And I started making choices that led me down different pathways. So I hope that conveys what my journey was in music. So I'm still playing now. They're still playing now, you know, years later, unfortunately under this COVID-19 semi sheltering in place that's going on right now.

We had 15 shows lined up in 2020, and unfortunately each and every one of them got canceled due to this situation that we find ourselves in. That's my little story of my musical journey,

[00:08:22] Bertrand Newsen:
A little story regarding the musical journey and being, let's look at your life as a, as a marathon and your love for music and the exposure you had, the life experience, it had, how the trajectory had put you on.

Let's look at it as a. A race of life and you got to an aid station and maybe start it out a little quick, you know, and needed to kind of catch your breath and kind of transition from that point. You know, Leo young man with some very talented musician towards the world, popular band, then you find yourself away from the group and doing your own thing and then kind of the, the life's adversities and where your pace started to.

Change a bit. And you're looking to find your rhythm,

[00:09:02] Leo Rosales:
speak to that. How do we get to the running is the beauty of the whole story. How running turns out to be like a spiritual advocate for you. You know, so during that period of time in Malo, when I was playing, I didn't have mentors. That were spiritual leaders that could guide an 18 year old through all of this fame and fortune through all of this, you know, this money and adulation and being on television and being on the radio and seeing your poster of your
record at tower of records, you know, and it's just a lot to take in.

And, um, without somebody guiding you through those experiences, You can have the tendency to connect with the wrong people, start making wrong choices, which will derail you from the path that you've been set upon life. Set me on this extra or this extra ordinary, uh, gift of music. And, um, you know, when I first I started to take off or to give, I really was trying to be positive and to be grateful for the opportunity that was given to me.

Playing it all these great places playing with these great musicians and, you know, so along that journey, you know, all of the other accesses that are available to you, like alcohol, drugs, uh, you know, uh, relationships with different people and which in the beginning, when you think that that's all good and all cool, you know, there are some people that can survive that, you know, they go through a lot of turmoil.

In their journey because you know, maybe they're still young and they got a lot of oats to show still. So they begin to, you know, really go off the rails and those, some of those people survive. They can wake up one morning and say, man, you know, I'm good with it. You know, I don't want to do that anymore.

You know, I'm going to get married. I'm going to have kids, you know, I'm going to put this money in the bank, I'm going to buy a house and I'm going to put my kids in college. There are those. Very select group that can do that. Unfortunately, I was in the group that I got consumed with the excesses, um, the line light, you know, the ability to smoke a little more weed, you know, snort a little bit more cocaine, drink a little bit more scotch and couldn't put all those things in the right cupboards, you know, so eventually.

Those became accesses. And unfortunately they started to consume my thinking. I started to become, uh, instead of being obsessed and compelled to practice the drums and to play music and to surround me, myself with people that would help me. To be a better musician and set me on a course, . So by the time I was into the music for a couple of years, that obsession, that compulsion started to become negative. And I found myself becoming consumed and obsessed with wanting to drink more.

Wanting to party more. And before I knew it, that became the most important thing. . And then that is what caused me to leave the band because I was so insecure about my behavior that I tried to find some redemption. And that scared me into going to another extreme route. And then I got involved in religion and I got involved in a situation with them group that ended up as far as I'm concerned, became a cult, you know, because it was a very.

Close minded, fanatic, indoctrinated, Bible teaching organization, that it was, you know, very, you know, and time apocalyptic thinking and preparing. I hung in that for 10 years. And in that period of time, I was, as I say, In the rooms of alcoholics anonymous, white knuckling, it, you know, , you're just like , you're keeping yourself from doing it.

You still have that obsession with it, but you have, you managed to have a little bit of strength to fight it off. and all of a sudden I found myself in this place and I wasn't happy there.

And then eventually that turned sour, you know, we were preparing for the end times and, you know, moving up into the mountains and preparing food and this, that, and the other. And before. For, I knew it. I was like completely disillusioned and left that all behind came back into trying to live a normal life, getting a normal job, but the music was always resounding in the back of my mind.

Cause that's what my true love was my first true love. Right. So when I came back into the scene, I had been out of it for 10 years and I tried to get back into where I had left off. And it was just impossible because everybody in 10 years. A new generation of musicians had grown and they had gone to college.

They had gone through degrees, they got their PhDs, they were in the recording studios. They were traveling the world. And that was this guy who had left the music scene, tried to get back into it. And all the doors were closed. Everybody had graduated into the college realm and I was still, I felt like I was still in elementary school, you know, so I tried to get an edge on it.

And I went back to those ideas that I thought were were helpful, which was. Negative behavior, which is, you know, what to the old places hooked up with the old friends and got back to the old behaviors. And before I knew it, I was full fledged back into doing drugs again. And that lasted for over 20 years.

And it escalated from, you know, smoking weed to hanging out with people that I knew had cocaine. So then I was doing that and before I knew it, I was completely crushed. Got divorced. My family moved. I was all alone. And you went into relationships that weren't working. And finally, you know, thank God I found the right person.

And, you know, just to say, we've been together now for over 34 years, but that journey until, so the running became something paramount in my life. Uh, there was a lot of, um, a lot of sadness, a lot of despair because that dream that I had brewing in my heart was crushed by all of my decisions in life that I had made.

[00:14:55] Kevin Chang:
Talk about running. Let's talk about how'd you get into running

[00:14:58] Leo Rosales:
I got into recovery. I ended up at skyline college and in that place, because I had had a great experience prior to that running the beta breakers.

So I remembered. That running was very fulfilling and that I really had a sense of accomplishment just for seven and a half miles.

[00:15:15] Kevin Chang:
When did you run the beta breakers?

[00:15:17] Leo Rosales:
I would say maybe the first time I did, it was maybe 19, maybe 1990. Yeah. Around 1990, exactly. Somewhere around there. I ran that one race.

And then I didn't run again. It's all about 2005, but what happens at with skyline college? I met a gentleman, uh, the teacher and, um, we signed up for the class because I remembered that I really enjoyed running. So by this time I'm in recovery and I'm clean and sober and my mind is clear and I have set goals.

So he told me that the class wasn't big enough. So we had to cancel the class. But we're going to do weight training, but you can still go out and run. So I did that. It followed her suggestion. And then I went online and I signed up for the next day of beta breakers. And I ran that. after that was such a great experience.

All the people, you know, sober and feeling like, wow, this is amazing. You know, uh, you know, the starting line and running and, and just, you know, being competitive with people that are out there and you're trying to, you know, do your best. And, you know, you got this attitude of not giving up and running your best.

So after that was over, I went home and I told my wife, I said, Hey, I want to do another race. I said, I heard of this thing called a marathon. I'd like to try it. And she goes, well, do you know how many miles that is? I said, no. I said, I could do it. She goes, well, it's 26.2 miles. I said, she goes, that's what a marathon is.

She goes, you just ran seven and a half miles. I said, no, I can do it. I think I can do it. She goes, don't you want to do like a half first? I said, no, because when I'm finished, there'll still be people running and I'll feel like I'm losing out somehow. So crazy. I signed up for the San Francisco marathon and.

I trained, I think for like maybe eight weeks, you know, I knew nothing about it. I didn't know any rules. I just put on my shoes. I lived in Pacifica and I just started running around Pacifica, you know, and I thought it was a big deal that I ran three miles, you know, four miles and five miles. And I tried to increase the mileage and eventually.

You know, I ran the San Francisco marathon and I did it in my first attempt. I did it in four hours in 25 minutes.

[00:17:20] Bertrand Newsen:

[00:17:21] Kevin Chang:
Why don't we back up a little bit, because I think we glossed over the whole subject of you getting clean and that whole process. You know, you found your old friends, you went back to a old place.

You did the beta breakers. I'm assuming somewhere in that period of time,

[00:17:36] Leo Rosales:
what happened was I was using so much that I just was starting to feel out of control. So I thought I could do it on my own. So I stopped. I stopped hanging out and I stopped going places and I started to, um, try to get healthy. And then I read somewhere that there's this race coming to San Francisco and they have it every year.

And I had seen it when I worked at the hotel, you know, that the beta breakers was coming. So I decided to do it. So I signed up for it and I started training around South city running and, you know, it was short distance. So I really felt empowered by it and I, and it, and the preparation for it. And then showing up at the race was just an incredible sense of community.

And. I felt like I was really involved with something that was super powerful and positive. Everybody was friendly. Everybody seemed like they had, we had one goal in mind is to run this race and I read up on it. So I ran the race during the race. As I was coming to the finish line, I made a reservation in my mind that I was going to celebrate this accomplishment and what I did instead of going and doing something healthy, I went and celebrated by.

Visiting the drug dealer, you know, I thought that I could go there and celebrate, you know, just one night of celebrating. But as I say, I was the first to get to the party and the last one to leave while that was a wonderful experience that seared in my heart as something. Powerful to do the waking up the
gorilla in the cage again, by going and starting up with the drugs.

Again, me and from that from after running the beta breakers on Saturday or on Sunday that night I went okay and celebrated by consuming drugs again. And that stayed with me for over 20 years. That's how powerful the power of addiction is. Once you opened the door to it again, once you've closed it. Or you think you've closed it, uh, unless you have the proper experience, it's hard to shake it off.

So that lasted for 20 years until I ended up in covering at a facility in Oakland and they helped me by when I left there, I relapsed. And during that time of relapse, my mother passed away. I was at the crossroads, all the tools that I had learned at as a recovery facility, I put it in my spiritual tool bag and was encouraged to always know that that was there.

Even if I relapsed and found myself in a dark place. So after my mom passed away and I went back to work, I found myself there in that dark place and, uh, utilize the tools that they gave me. A spiritual tools of how to ask for help as spiritually first. So that's what I did. And I reached out to my higher power and I asked him to, you know, to relieve me of this obsession compulsion to use.

And that's what I did. And from that day forward, it's been, that was December 8th. And it's been 16 years that I've been clean and sober and free from all substance, very proud of that accomplishment 16 years ago. And in that process of being, you know, uh, in the meetings, people would tell me, you'll find out what you're going to do next.

Just keep going to the meetings. You know, don't use in between, sit in the front row, wait for the miracles happen. And that's what happened. I went to a meeting and a woman shared her extraordinary experience down through the life of addiction. And then she said how she went back to school because of the rooms of narcotics anonymous and the support that she received that is.

The message that I received. And from there, I started to go back to college. I went to skyline college that's where I met Sonny Diaz, who was the teacher for track and field. And, and he's the one that said, even if we don't have a running class, I want you to run.

You go out to that track and you run all your, you want you to just sign in, do a little bit of cardio, go outside. And then from there, there is the running. I started feeling empowered. Like I could do this, you know, running was something that felt innate in me that it was this little DNA. They needed to be turned on, you know, that it was there, but I didn't know it, you know, cause I enjoy, I enjoyed running in high school.

I never ran on the tracking cause we were all playing music. I remember getting on the track and running around and feeling like, man, this is cool. You know, I like this, you know, so I had running experiences throughout my life and then that beta breakers that I ran and then relapsed for 20 years. The power of running the power of that experience, seared in my brain and in my heart.

So one of the first things that I went through when I got sober and clean is I said, I want to run again. I want to run again, even if it's just like college, you know, joined the team there. And before, you know, it running became a saving grace for me because all of a sudden I was involved with running groups.

The DSC was dolphin, South end running group. That's been around since 1964 in San Francisco. And then somebody there told me about brazen racing, which was trail running, you know, five K, 10, K, half marathons, and all of a sudden, all of these things that were just all this positive, reinforcing and empowerment.

We're being like a gift. Like you can run with the GFC, you can run with brazen racing, you know, the Boston marathon. I was like, Oh my God, this is great. I substituted addictive behavior and negative behavior for positive behavior. And people say, Oh, you're addicted to running now. I said, no, you don't. I don't like to use that word addicted.

It's kind of like a negative connotation. You know, I substituted bad behavior for good behavior. You know, I've been running now for 16 years. I've done over 50 marathons. I've done probably the excess of over a hundred half marathons. I've run the San Francisco marathon. 13 times I've run the Boston marathon four times.

I've run ultra marathons, 12 hour endurance running. .

You know, I became a coach. So running. Has been like my best pal.

[00:23:26] Kevin Chang:
If you like our podcast and sign up for our newsletter, where we give you weekly tips on how to run your best race and have fun in the process, just go to RaceMob dot com and sign up today.

[00:23:38] Bertrand Newsen:
Let me interject here. Our listeners don't know that I've known you for 24 years. We are all in life or we're on our own race. And sometimes on the course, our paths cross our paths cross in 95, 96.

And I knew you as a kind. Individual. We worked together in the hotel business at San Francisco. Um, but I knew that you were in pain and at the time I thought it was just a physical pain because you were having some significant back issues. And in some cases we're taking you out of work for extended periods of time.

As life went on, I, I eventually left that hotel and stayed in the business. We stayed in contact, um, but more just in passing, we had common friends, relatives. We both know, but years later, much, like I met Kevin through my love of running our paths crossed again on a race course of all places. I knew the face, the person at his core hitch, there had been a metamorphosis and emotional and physical metamorphosis.

And then to learn your story, because at the time when I knew you back in the nineties, I didn't know you were an accomplished musician. I learned that later in life. But our common love for running and how it's afforded you so many new experiences and a greater circle of positivity. And then the impact that you have had on the community from a running perspective is profound.

An ambassador of the sport, both you and Virginia. Loved by so many and your accomplishments as a very young and thriving 60 plus year old individual, a gentleman who on the San Jose rock and roll half marathon in the let's. See, 2013, 14, thereabouts. You're outrunning. Roger Craig, the super bowl, winning pro bowl, running back for the 40 Niners who should be in the hall of fame of my dad.

[00:25:31] Leo Rosales:
Yeah, absolutely.

[00:25:33] Bertrand Newsen:
Get this dude. I mean, fantastic. And again, the parallels of art, the journey of life, the race that we're all on there, parts even in actual races, when you just can, if you can just stop and be present. And realize that somebody else has their own story, their own journey. It may not be going to Boston, but it may be this getting to that finish line and the adversity.

And they've had to navigate through to get to that point. We can all relate to a certain degree. So I just wanted to share that, you know, I've had a firsthand seat at parts of your journey of life and it was just. Simply remarkable to where you are at right

[00:26:10] Leo Rosales:
now. Thank you for those kind kind words. I love you.

And I cherish our relationship and I appreciate your kindness. Running is a spiritual experience. You know, I've learned in the program, you teach by example, you know, you can't become a Sergeant at arms, you know, and try to get everybody to, you know, do things that you think is better, whatever it is that you think is better, you live it.

And you, you live that. That way so that they could see you and when there's consistency, and then that changes the perspective of what others have. You know, like now I have, my daughters are like, finally, dad, you know, you got us running. We've been trying for 15 years to get him to run. All right. One day they'll come around.

And all of a sudden it's like, Oh, my daughter signed me up for the chocolate run and hugging her and saying, look, who's here. She's running with this. Now we've been trying for years to get them to run and they see, you know, how that's changed our lives and the positivity that it's brought. You know, that's why I'm grateful every day to have legs, to have arms, to, to, you know, to be able to go.

Even I've torn my planters. I popped my planters. I had back surgery, osteoarthritis, and one hip, but man, If I can, I'll still go out there and I'll try it. You know, I may not be able to go as far, but I'll stop, regroup and keep on moving. I figured if I could overcome 16 years of substance abuse, cause I was very, very sick running.

You know, it's just like it's life, you know, you start out at the starting gate and there's many times along that race where you just want to call it a day. You know, like when we did that, Santa Rosa, you and me

[00:27:50] Bertrand Newsen:

[00:27:51] Leo Rosales:
Oh my

[00:27:52] Bertrand Newsen:
God. No, we're running in a Hill for a moment when it was the one country, but it was hot as, you know, what burning up,

[00:28:00] Leo Rosales:
catch him.

And we'd be together for a little bit. And then I just like fall and then he would just take off. And I see him in the distance later on. I catch up to him again and I'd leave him and I go on the distance , and it was just like that cat and mouse the whole way. I mean, I would have finished the race regardless, but I think because of.

His tenacity and his just like running like a soldier, man. He was just like, boom, boom, boom. And I just would draft behind him and just try to stay in that space that he was in . He was like a mentor out on the course. Like, don't give up, dude, you could do this. You know, I mean, that's what running is.

there's so much that goes on so much mental chatter in your head that is like, Oh, I'm
so tired. I want to quit. And they have those little moments where the chemicals the dopamines the serotonins, you know, all are pouring in , and then you're back.

It's an amazing, amazing sport. I met so many tremendous people along the way, and you know, running the Boston marathon, running the San Francisco marathon,

[00:28:54] Kevin Chang:
let's not gloss over the Boston marathon. I mean, you're wearing that jacket right now. That 20, 20 Boston marathon jacket.

[00:29:02] Bertrand Newsen:
Yeah. Leo's not getting out there. Just participating to be clear, to be clear, everybody listeners he's out there with the purpose. Yes. He's a man in the community, you know, I'm that artists at heart. But he is a Savage on the course. He is looking to run you down. And as much as he says, we're playing cat and mouse. Usually I was all the time chasing him down and I couldn't could not rotate the brazen races, multiple age group winner, placing on a consistent basis, multiple time, Boston marathon participant.

I remember seeing your journey. Via social media in your, when you've very first qualified for Boston. So take us back to chasing down that dream and then being in Boston, you know,

[00:29:47] Leo Rosales:
briefly, you know, after being in the running circle, you start hearing about all these tremendous races around the world, the big six, you know, the Boston, the San Francisco and this and that.



heard. Yeah. If you want to do Boston, you have to qualify for it. So a couple of years into running, I made the attempt and I would just, you know, I fall short by five minutes, 10 minutes, you know how to make a bathroom stop and that killed the time. And so, but somebody said, just keep trying. You'll get there.

You'll get there. And then finally, someone when I was 59 years old, said , if you can beat three 55, be 60 years old on race day, you can do it at 59. You understand what I mean? the qualifying time for 60 to 64 year olds. It's three hours and 55 minutes. You can qualify for that time being 59, if you are 60 on race day. So I said, okay, so that gives me another five minutes on the clock. So brazen racing has a race called Western Pacific. It's totally flat. It's in Fremont. Cory lakes, Cory lakes, it's got gravel, asphalt, gravel, asphalt, or 26.2 months.

It's not running in the street a little easier on your legs, but still it's a little harder because you have all that loose gravel on the road. So I ran that race with my heart in mind that I wanted to qualify for Boston because it was a Boston qualifier. So I got in front of the three 55 finisher. No in the middle of the three 50 and the three 55 pacer.

And I set myself in between them. I ran the race like that and, uh, we got to the turnaround. I was feeling strong and I was maintaining that position. Then when we went out all the way to like mile, I think it was like mile 20, 23, 24, where there was a turnaround, the three 50 pacer. Was right on my tail.

And he had seen that I was, you know, keeping that pace. So when I made the turn and I was heading back to the finish line with three miles to go, he passed me and he says, I'm catching up on you. He says, you better step on it just cause we'll make the turn. We're going to be right on your table. So that pushed me.

And I remember thinking. I was already packing my bags to go to Boston in my mind, you know? And I said, no, no, no, don't go there. And I started to get emotional. I started to feel this emotion wanting to, to cry out of, you know, out of joy. And I said, calm down, dude. I said, keep it calm, bright. When you cross that finish line, keep it together.

You got another three and a half miles. And after doing 23 miles, Three miles seems like, Oh my God, legs are burning. Lungs are burning. It's hot outside. So I just say, stay focused, stay focused, stay focused. So I went over, uh, he was behind me and I could hear them. I could hear their footsteps. So I was just like, you know, giving it all that I got.

And then when I saw the finish line, You know, I stepped on it and, uh, across the fence with the three 53. So I managed to qualify for it, Boston. And I was like, beside myself, mad, I couldn't believe it. Did I accomplish that? Which year was this? This was in 2013. Cause I call it for the 2014 Boston marathon.

As soon as I told my wife she's on the phone making reservations and I said, wait a minute, they haven't approved of it yet. She goes, yeah, but they're going to, so, you know, airplane and you know, hotel. And then I, I sent the time in and then I got. The qualification saying you've been accepted into the 2014 Boston marathon.

So that was a big deal.

[00:33:10] Kevin Chang:
And this is basically 10 years into getting into running. It's the hard work. It's the perseverance over those 10 years. Tell us, what was your time when you first got into running? How did that time change and what were those emotions?

[00:33:24] Leo Rosales:
I was doing a lot of running. I was running with DSE, so that those were a case basically.

Sometimes 10 Ks once every six months it would do I half marathon at like were said, but the meat of DSC was five Ks, fast, five case every Sunday, 52 weeks of the year, minus the beta breakers, the San Francisco marathon. The bridge to bridge, you know, but so 48 weeks of the year was DSE running. Every Sunday you show up and there was always competitive.

You're always has, you know, you stretch. And I used to sneak up to the front of the line and then these guys would take off and I'd be like up in the back. so every Sunday was speed work. And then with DFC, I mean, with brazen racing, that was trail running. So this is going up and going down and going across and over the water and over the bridge.

And. You know, 13 miles of hardcore running. And this was a little more exciting because it was age group here, you know? So if you were, you know, 60 to 64, that was your race with those other competitors, you know, the women had their side and the men had theirs. So when I started, you know, first place, second place, age group, that motivated me that every time I ran, I had that competitive spirit in me, you know, a healthy competitiveness.

To try to, you know, always get in first place. So that running took place. And then Virginia got us involved with coastal trail running. And this was like, you know, 50 Ks, you know, running 30 miles. So we started doing that. So all of a sudden, you know, we're running, we're running Thursday, we're running Friday, we're doing races on Saturday.

We're doing DSE on Sunday. So the more I ran, the more I started to pick up speed. So. My best marathon time was California international marathon CIM. And I did that one in my best time, three hours, 45 minutes and 10 seconds. And that was perfect day, the perfect day of running. And I would go to the track and do it.

Speed work, you know, intervals, you know, part. You know, 800 meters splits and I would work with, um, Andy Chan, who is the track and field coach at sacred heart in San Francisco. He's trained Olympians, he's trained, qualified wires to go to the Olympics. So he's a great motivator and great trainer. And we would meet at keys, our stadium and do it.

You know, six, 800 meters splits, you know, and I saw that by doing those splits, those 800 meters that might try and just start getting faster and faster. And there was, you know, there's been experiences running where I felt like I was flying. This is just terrible feeling, you know? And it's not there all the time.

Most of the time it's work. That's how, at that time, where there was a lot of running going on and that served as good training for picking up speed, 10 years of running and finally Boston qualifying. What was that? Boston experience? Ordering the jacket and then having the jacket and then getting on the airplane, wearing a Boston marathon jacket.

Oh, I go to the Boston marathon, right? Yeah. People like noticing, Oh, you're busting runner. Yeah, it's just my first time. All cool man. Right on, you know, so, and then getting to Boston and, and saying, man, I made it or thinking of all the adversities that you've overcome and to find yourself at the grand Prix of running the super bowl of running to walk down the street and everybody's wearing a jacket and everybody's training and running.

And you're like, wow, man. I mean, this is a big deal though. I'm here, you know, and then, you know, get to get to the expo mega expo. Oh my God. It's just like, Just enormous building consumed with running every company that sells shoes, every company that sells jackets, every company that sells who gels and sports drinks and this and that, and this to make you a better runner, this can make you a handsome runner.

This can make you this rather, and then meeting the Kenyan runners, these like shaking hands with these runners that can do the marathon in like two hours and 15 minutes. You know what I mean? All of that. And then. The dinner before the race, walking down the street where the race is taking place and seeing the finished sign on the ground and boil should Ave and Boston commons, just like this energy in the air was wonderful.

And then the bombing had taken place the year before 2013. So there was that air of community in the air of love and, you know, healing. And, uh, were women from around the country had knitted scarves for all of the Boston runners that were going to be running. So you walked down the street and there would be the lady there with a hand or an arm filled with beautiful and knitted scarves.

And she said, are you run the Boston marathon? And he said, yes, well, this is for you. And she went to me and there would be the signature of the ladies that. You know, we're from Kentucky and we made this for you for good luck at the run, you know,
a piece and blah, blah, blah. And it was like, and then we went to one of the churches on Sunday morning and the pastor of the church had all runners stand up and said his beautiful prayer blessing, all the runners from around the world.

And I was like, wow, man, this is just incredible because I'd reflect like we're lukewarm what as years ago, and look where I am now. Because life gave me a second chance and I grabbed a hold of it. Right? When I went on race day. First of all, Saturday, you have a fun 5k that you do to Virginia. And I have done the 5k, you know, 14, 15, 16, and 19 together at 10,000 runners come up for that.

And it's just, it's really exciting, you know, and I run with her and we have a wonderful experience. You know, you get shirts and metals. And then you go to the expo and you walk a Boylston Avenue and all the hooplah that's going on. And then on race day, that was, I had all my clothes laid out. Yeah. You know, taking pictures of it, you know, FaceTiming and all this and that.

And then when I got there, you know, when we get to the, just as welcome to Hopkinton to the 2014 Boston marathon and there's jets flying over. And because this is after the bombing, so you have army. Standing there with their, with their weapons along the line. There's helicopters flying over their snipers on roofs.

And it's like, you know, but they're all really kind, you know, the, the police special forces, everybody that was there to protect the runners were very. Compassionate and very loving and very kind to all the runners. I took a picture with 12 policemen. I asked the one guy, can I take a picture with you guys?

He goes, well, you can ask them. I'll be glad to say, Hey fellows, you know, you guys might, and these guys are like six foot tall and I'm like five foot. And I got a great picture of me standing with, with the Boston police department, you know, so standing at the Archway of the race reminded me of the Archway that I stood at when I went first, went into recovery.

I first went into recovery. It was like a new bridge and it was owned by William Randall, the owner of the Chronicle. This was one of his mentioned, and he donated the mansion to the city who turned it into a recovery facility. So that's where I was. And there was the arch that said, you know, new bridge, you know, new life, new start.

And I'm like, you know, had a drink and maybe 20 hours or something. And then feeling that feeling of despair and of sadness that I had let, not only myself down, but my family, my kids. And then years later after my will in my life, over to the care of God, as I understood it there, I was standing at the Archway of the 2014 Boston marathon.

And I was like, man, miracles do happen. We'll get to look where I am. I'm turning around. There's 30,000 runners. There's all of this excitement and I'm fortunate enough to be standing there with all of those runners. And then when that, when the guy says, all right, know, here we go, boom, ready? Three, two, one.

And we're on. And we're going. It was like, wow, this is a dream I'm dreaming right here. And I'm seeing the finish line coming up the street and then make it, I forget the name of that street, but there's a left turn onto Boylston and you can see the finish line in the distance and it looks really tiny.

And I just remember like all in the cheering, people cheering and high five, and then, you know, it's like, wow, this is really living right here. And each experience to the Boston marathon was just, was just like that. You're running down. If people have high five and you, you stop and you're high five, a little kid, and you could see their excitement, you know, like some great, you know, Greek athletes just shook my hand.

You know, it's a pretty life changing experience. And then to cross that finish line and get that Boston metal, you're like, Oh my God, you know, you just want to get on your knees and say, thank you for giving me a second chance. You know, and running has been a tremendous part of our recovery. You know, every time we go to a different town, we look up where the meetings are, you know, go to New York, go to the meetings.

To always remember the newcomer poor soul who is fresh and recovery. He hasn't done drugs in one day. He's hurting spiritually, mentally, and physically. So you go to give support the runners, you know, I've never met a runner. That's been mean to me. You know, he'll say, how are you doing, you know, run by me.

Cause I feel feels, Oh man, falling apart. Cause you can do it. Come on. If that aid station water in you finishing, you know, do it, come on now, you know, stick with me, Dean Karnazes, doing a Napa marathon, trying to qualify for Boston on that one. And he was there and he's running and he comes up next to me. Um, well, D man, I do.

And he goes, how are you doing? I said, okay. He goes, I said, I'm trying to qualify for the Boston magnets. He goes, you could do it. Just keep it up, keep it up. Don't worry about it. You got this. So, and then he disappeared and then I was running, running, running, and then I started falling apart around mile 18.

And then he comes again. He goes, how are you doing? I said, I don't know, man. I don't know if I can get this done. He says, it's okay. He says, there's always other times he says, but don't quit. Just keep it going. Get to that finish line. Just try your best. Give it the best that you got. That's all you got.

Don't worry about it. And then he took off again. So he was like a little guardian, the mentor three times he came up on me to check up on me and I saw that he was doing that throughout the race. It was going up to people and seeing how they were doing. It's been an incredible journey, uh, running, you know, I took this time that we've had to be in the sheltering in place and it put up all our medals, you know, strategically our shadow boxes and thousands of metals on the wall when we walked down the hall and I'll turn around and stop and look at it and I'll say, damn, look at all those medals men.

And so Virginia and I estimated that we've probably we'd done over 17,000 miles in our 16 years of running. Wow. So running for me is a gift from heaven, you know, from the universe disability to move my legs one in front of the other one day at a time, one step at a time, you know, initial line is there.

If you keep moving, if you stop, the finish line is not there. Now we'll pop the course and call a cab. You got to get it done. Even if, even if they close everything down, you got to cross it regardless, you know, but don't, don't quit. And , I safe to say that I've never DNF. Not that, that, not that if that happens, that there's something wrong with that because there isn't, because if you DNF is because something came up that you just couldn't deal with, but I've tried to avoid that situation by, you know, preparing properly for a race and , doing what need needs to be done.

To get to finish the race.

[00:44:47] Bertrand Newsen:
So profound.

[00:44:49] Leo Rosales:
Thank you.

[00:44:50] Bertrand Newsen:
Life parallels, you know, I'm one foot in front of the other. We all are gonna deal with our fair share of adversity. Sometimes it's going to come at the most inopportune time. We were all living in the pandemic right now, and they're dealing with varying levels of anxiety and wondering will we ever be able to get out and about like we have before in the past.

And maybe not live racing, but we can still get out and enjoy a good run, taken our beautiful area and just appreciate the ability to take in a full breath in and exhale out where so many people who have been close to us might not have that opportunity and just have a greater appreciation for where we're at right now and keep on pushing

[00:45:27] Leo Rosales:
with the fire.

Thank God I got a treadmill so I can run on that. You know, it gets a little stuffy because they don't have fresh oxygen, but it's just the point of. That movement. And now if I don't run and I don't move starts affecting my head, start feeling like something's wrong, you know? And then I talked to other runners and it seems like, yeah, I get that too.

So, okay. I'm not alone. No, not at all.

[00:45:48] Bertrand Newsen:
In fact, don't you have a race coming up in the next week or so?

[00:45:53] Leo Rosales:
Yes, I do

[00:45:54] Bertrand Newsen:
talk about that real quick. I know we want to respect your time, but let's, let's share about that race. Do you have on there?

[00:46:00] Leo Rosales:
Well, luckily. It's the, it's the Boston marathon virtual race.

And they're giving you six hours to get it done. It's not a qualifier. Uh, but if you get it done at your own pace, within six hours, you get your metal, you get a shirt and you get your certificate, you know, and you get a bit of. Just the regular stuff you would get if you went to Boston. But unfortunately I haven't been able to train as much as I would like, but speaking with Virginia, she goes, look, you've got six hours.

You can get it done. You know, just find a nice pace and I'll support you on the bike. You know, we'll, I'll create a little aid station for you and, you know, just go do it. And I said, okay, you're the bus, the trainers do it. Yeah, so, uh, that's coming up and, uh, I'm excited about it.

[00:46:48] Bertrand Newsen:
Let's listeners again, an idea of where they can listen to some of your musical accomplishments, and we know the pandemic has curtailed your touring, but how else can people find out your musical prowess?

[00:47:02] Leo Rosales:
If you want to hear Malo music, you can go to iTunes and press them all over and you'll see the albums. Of the band and you can listen to them through iTunes, or you can go to YouTube and put Malo and click on different songs. And some people may,
you know, the older, the older generation are probably more familiar with it.

And if the older generation played a lot of our music when their kids were little, the younger generation are probably remember some of these tunes as well. So that's, if you want to hear Malo, my group is called Momo tumble and that's M O M O. T O M B O Momo, Tombo S f.com. That's our website. And you can click on that and, uh, watch some performances, little snapshots of some of the gigs that we've been doing.

And you can see, you know, a gallery and see what we all look like. You know, older generation of players, but we still kill it whenever we go out and play, you know, we may be 66 and 65, but we, we rock and roll

[00:48:01] Bertrand Newsen:
still bad with bad, in a good way. Right.

[00:48:03] Leo Rosales:
And we're blessed with tremendous players from the Bay area when we kicked off that June.

You better look out, cause the volcanoes are gonna explode on you.

That's what mama Dumbo is. It's a volcano in Nicaragua. So that's why we named it that. So we got music, we got running, we got kids, we have grandkids. You know, what more can the person asks for and good behavior? 16 years of sobriety,

[00:48:27] Bertrand Newsen:
fantastic men.

[00:48:30] Kevin Chang:
So much for being on our podcast. Leo. I mean, the story is incredible, but the person.

Is even more, more so, and thank you so much for the time. Can't wait to see you out on the trails when BLI racing is back on. I'm sure we will see you out on brazen trails and other races. And so fantastic. So thank you so much,

[00:48:52] Leo Rosales:
and I wish you guys all the success in the world, and I know that you will be successful in your lives and what you're doing for the community and, uh, sending blessings out to your families.

Your mother's, your father's sisters brothers. That they all be blessed and they all be protected at this perilous times that we're faced with, you know, what love conquers all, you know, just as powerful as Patriots violence is a powerful force. Love, kindness, compassion, tenderness, meekness, forgiveness. Is just as powerful or more powerful.

So that's what we have to focus on. This is send thoughts of love out to the world. So that cause level overcome, it'll overcome and things will get back. Cause I know we all have kids and grandkids and we want the best for them. So God bless you guys. Thanks again. Thank you.

[00:49:41] Bertrand Newsen:
Thank you, Leo.

[00:49:42] Kevin Chang:
Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the RaceMob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy online at RaceMob dot com. Please subscribe to us on apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time. Keep on moving.