Run, Sacramento

News and observations for recreational and competitive runners in Northern California.

November 30, 2009
Everybody Talks About The Weather, But ...



... nobody except Portland marathoner Pete Danko (pictured), who's running in Sunday's CIM, has created a whole blog about it. Apparently, the weather is "trending toward wet," and I'm trending toward insanity.

OK, folks, here  it is. Obsess away.  

November 30, 2009
One Woman's CIM Manifesto



Sac marathoner Amy Thoma (pictured), who is going nuts during the taper just like the rest of us, provides a reminder of why we're all running the CIM on Sunday.

It's in a blog post on the new lifestyle site,

And, no, it's not just because the Uggs her mom bought her as an incentive.  

November 30, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 20-22



Photo courtesy of

Tim Twietmeyer's mile-by-mile CIM description keeps chugging along, easily climbing the H Street Bridge "hill" ...


MILE 20-21

Fair Oaks Boulevard to Howe Avenue
Topography: Flat
Tim's Tips: "Here you've got the (last) relay exchange, then "The Wall" (at Loehmann's Plaza) and an aid station. All that energy helps you. Usually, there's a couple of live bands going. That's really the last big energy intersection until you get close to the finish line."
Sights: The Wall, a large drapery, painted to look like a brick wall, hanging over Fair Oaks Boulevard.

MILE 21-22

Fair Oaks Boulevard over the H Street Bridge, veer left onto J Street to Carlson
Topography: flat until a short but jarring rise at the bridge, followed by a gentle downhill.
Tim's Tips: "This is when you're really tired and a little pop like getting onto this bridge can feel monumental. People go sideways at this point. It can waste you when you're on your tachometer's over in the red zone. You just have to think, 'When I get that little downhill on the other side, I can jump start the engine a little bit.'"
Sights: Sacramento State campus


November 30, 2009
With just six days to go before CIM, it's time to start thinking about carbs. In fact, some people are already thinking and doing something about it, if they subscribe to the deplete-and-load method. That would have them starving themselves of carbs and loading up on protein instead right about now, then loading the carbs in the final three days of this week.

Not me. This year I will be trying a method endorsed by Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong's coach and author of "Eat Right to Train Right," a book I have enjoyed, not least because of the nice section of athlete-friendly recipes in the back. I hadn't focused on Carmichael's carbo loading advice until a friend who has used the method recommended it to me.

The best thing about the method is that it involves only one day, the day before the race.

First thing in the morning you go out and do a short run, with about 2 to 3 minutes "ultra-hard," which my friend says is basically as fast as you can run, or say 1-mile or 5K pace.

Then you load. Carmichael recommends 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, or 850 grams for a 170-pound person. For me, that comes out to about 700 grams.

He also suggests that you take in these carbs as 90 percent of your caloric intake that day, which could be kind of tough. He and my friend recommend meal replacement shakes, but the ones I normally use as recovery drinks are a lot less than 90 percent carbs. Yet you have to do something along those lines because, Carmichael notes, you would have to eat 50 slices of bread to make it to 850 grams.

I will probably go with some oatmeal and toast first thing, a banana or two, a few Ensure vanilla shakes, a couple of yams, and pasta for lunch and dinner, then oatmeal again in the morning before the race. I might fall a few carbs short of 700 grams, but I don't want to gorge myself. On the other hand, I don't want a repeat of two years ago, when I decided to eat my "dinner" in mid-afternoon in hopes of moving up my digestive calendar the next morning. Big mistake. I woke up in the middle of the night with hunger pangs. Not the feeling you want a few hours before you start a marathon.

What will you be doing?

November 30, 2009
Uh, Maybe No Rain, After All...



As the folk poet and meteorologist Bob Dylan once croaked, "A change in the weather is known to be extreme..."

Yesterday, weather Web sites were telling me that rain was in the offing for race day on Sunday. But I checked the, ahem, official government site today and it says "partly cloudy with a high between 58 and 52."  

I always trust the government.

Seriously, I've got to stop obsessing about the weather. The forecast is likely to change four times before Sunday.

November 29, 2009
Looks like rain, folks

Weather update for Dec. 6: Rain! High: 57. Low: 37.

I saw nothing on Web sites about wind, though. I ran a marathon last May in a light rain. It was lovely. See, I'm trying to think positively. 

November 28, 2009
Another obsessive weather check

 Although still a week out, the Weather Channel Web site has this forecast for Dec. 6:


  • Sunny
  • 59 degrees
  • ZERO percent chance of precipitation
  • 5 mph winds from the northeast


November 28, 2009
It's windy out there



It sure is windy out there as captured by photographer Jose Luis Villegas at Saturday's downtown Sacramento Santa Parade. Leaves going horizontal doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, unless you get a piece in your eye.

Josh Clark writes on the Cool Running Web site how wind at your back can help you run faster. But a 10 mph tailwind will only make you about 5 percent faster while a 10 mph headwind slows you down 8 percent.

The moral of the story is the marathon is just eight days away. If you're going into the wind, lean forward to decrease resistance, stay relaxed, and enjoy these short maintenance runs.


November 27, 2009
I slept through the marathon!



I stretched my arms above my head in one of those mmm-that-was-a-restful-night's-sleep manner. I climbed out of bed casually, taking my time. Then the horror struck - I SLEPT THROUGH THE CIM!

I raced through my dreams trying to catch up with the pack. Still I was hours behind and no matter how fast I ran, I never neared the other runners.

It was an anxiety dream of course. And when I'm nervous, there's one solution - get as prepared as can be. Here are the 10 things I'm doing to make sure I'm ready Dec. 6.


1. Trying to get in all the maintenance runs. I have a 4-mile run tonight, a 10 miler on Sunday and then they are simple 3-mile runs after that.

2. I have figured out my race day outfit, including what I am running in and the layers I plan to peel off and toss at the beginning of the marathon. (Yay for Thrift Town and $10.85).

3. I have a food plan in mind including a bagel when I awake at 4 a.m. on race day, and a peanut butter and banana sandwich I'm going to carry with me and eat before the start. It's GU Energy gels, Jelly Belly sports beans and salted potatoes during the race.

4. Although I plan on setting two alarms the morning of the race, the running fairy has agreed to call me when she wakes up that day.

5. The running fairy has also said she would drive me to the bus pick-up at 5 a.m. Yay for running fairies!

6. I have made tentative plans for dinner on the Friday before the race. It's going to be take-out on Saturday, because I want to be in bed by 8 p.m. Carbs will be a part of both dinners.

7. The running fairy had a good idea to study Tim Twietmeyer's suggestions for non-official bathrooms along the racecourse. This may pay off against the generally five-deep lines at the portable toilets.

8. A water bottle is my most constant accessory these last few weeks.

9. The running fairy 2.0 made an Excel spreadsheet that estimates I will be at Kenneth Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard around 10 a.m.; Hawthorne and Fair Oaks just after 11 a.m.; and 33rd and J streets at about noon. Did I mention I'm going to be running FOREVER?

10. I am still figuring out the bag of dry clothes that will meet me at the finish line. Will I want UGGs or flip flops? Hmmmm.


November 27, 2009
Obsessing About The Weather, Part II


OK, it may be raining, with some wind, right now in Sacramento. But the 10-day forecast on and calls for sun and some clouds on race day (Dec. 6). Accuweather says a high of 48; 56 degrees.

And, yes, I'm fully aware how futile it is to look at weather forecasts this far out.

But it's my taper and I'll do what I want to ...

November 27, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 18-20


You've been reading Tim Twietmeyer's mile-by-mile CIM tips for more than a week now. So, we figured, to give you a little video of Tim. Here he is (video above) doing a sound bite about pacing groups with KCRA's Deirdre Fitzpatrick. 

MILE 18-19

Fair Oaks Boulevard to the Arden Town Center shopping center, just before Watt Avenue
Topography: Flat with a slight rise heading into Watt.
Tim's Tips: "Somewhere in here they have a good street party with danishes and blenders out. You feel like stopping. This is where you start to pick off the miles in your mind."
Sights: Trees.

MILE 19-20

Fair Oaks Boulevard past Watt and Fulton avenues to Hawthorn Road
Topography: Flat.
Tim's Tips: "In this stretch, the leaves will be changing colors and dropping on the road and it almost seems like you're going out of town, like you're leaving the congested part. It's hard to believe you'll hit more congestion later on. You're really looking forward to Howe (Avenue)."
Sights: Arden Town Center

COMING MONDAY: Miles 20-22

November 27, 2009
A Good Time But Not Great Times at Hungry Run





41 minutes.

2 hours (see photo)

Those were my times from Thursday's glorious 30,000-strong Run to Feed the Hungry.

The 41-and-change was my 10K time. So much for my plan with Coach Kushman to run 7-minute miles throughout. Rick, who was supposed to be pacing me so I wouldn't go crazy 10 days before the marathon, tried his best. But we still managed a 6:40 per mile pace. Oops. Rick and I knew we were in trouble when we looked down at our watches at the Mile 1 mark and saw 6:14.

We did a progression run in reverse (regression?) after that -- slower each mile. Coach K wasn't too upset with me for breaking my vow to stay at 7 minutes. I felt pretty good throughout and didn't raise my heart rate above 155, tempo pace.

Now, as for that 2-hour time.

That was how long it took me to leave the parking lot. The Fam and I decided to linger after the race, and by the time we got to the car the entire Sac State campus was a parking lot. (See photo I took with my iPhone while bored out of my mind waiting.)

Except for the post-race traffic jam -- a RTFTH tradition -- it was another fine day. Kudos to race director Rich Hanna for changing the 10K course this year. Most people I talked to liked this one better.

November 27, 2009
Giving thanks for a great morning and a great race
I can't think of any better way to tune up for CIM than by running a smooth 10K along with 30,000 other runners through the streets of East Sacramento on Thanksgiving morning, raising money to feed the hungry. That's what I did Thursday, and had a blast. I was going to run at tempo pace but decided instead to pace a friend who was running a little slower, hoping to break 39 minutes. That was the first time I had paced someone else in a race, and I loved it. The experience took my mind off my own aches and pains and worries and let me focus on her race instead. Even though we were still going at a pretty good clip, I was chatting with spectators, thanking volunteers and urging my friend to stick with it when things got tough toward the end. Also: enjoying the fantastic weather and the beautiful fall colors all along the route.

Alas, we were fooled by our technology again, as our Garmins told us we were running a sub 6:15 pace that would put us comfortably under 39 minutes. But either the Garmins were wrong or the course was long, and by the time I saw the clock at the finish line, it was reading 38:54. A final sprint to the finish mat put me over the line 38:59, according to my chip time. But while my friend crossed at the exact same time, her chip time showed 39 flat. Still a PR, but a slight disappointment that she didn't break the 39-minute barrier. 

What a great day, though. I think it was the most fun I have ever had in a race. It left me feeling happy and excited about the real event to come, on Dec. 6.

November 26, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 16-18



Happy Thanksgiving and happy reading of Tim Twietmeyer's latest installment of his mile-by-mile CIM breakdown.

MILE 16-17

Fair Oaks Boulevard past Arden Way to Menlo Avenue
Topography: Slight rolling hills
Tim's Tips: "It starts getting a lot more serious. You'll be out of the headwinds for a little while here. Even a 5-10 mph breeze will be noticeable when you've put 17 miles under your belt. It's the difference of running an 8:12 and 8:20 pace. Back into the trees, you get a little protection."
Sights: Burger King, Raley's.

MILE 17-18

Fair Oaks Boulevard to just before Eastern Avenue
Topography: Slight rolling hills
Tim's Tips: "When you get into this more serene road section, you start looking for that Watt-Fulton-Howe combination that tells you you're into the final throes of the race."
Sights: Trees, Arden Hills Resort and Spa.



November 25, 2009
Tips for race day

As you're tapping your fingers during this tapering time, start planning race day. I went to a what-to-expect-on-marathon-day session at Fleet Feet last week and while it really overwhelmed me (you figuratively and physically run through a wall at mile 20!), it also offered some really good tips on going in prepared. Is it too early to carbo-load? Happy Turkey day.

A worksheet to plan fueling.

A worksheet on planning goals.

A bunch of tips.


November 25, 2009
Early Race Day Weather Forecast

Dan, in his entertaining and spot-on blog post on "tapernoia," sent me running for search engines when he mentioned that the early forecast for Dec. 6 called for a possibility of rain and wind.

Well, for what it's worth, I was only able to find two weather Web sites that post 15-day forecasts, and neither says rain is in the offing for Dec. 6. says: 64-degree high; 43 low with "sun and areas of high clouds." Sounds great! says: 55-degree high; 35 low and "partly cloudy." I'll take that.

This early, though, it's pretty useless to speculate on the weather. Though, since it's taper time, we've got some free time on our hands.    

November 25, 2009
Saving Me From Myself


We're supposed to give thanks on Thanksgiving, right? Well, it's a day early, but I'd like to send out and thanks-in-advance to my Bee colleague, columnist Rick Kushman.

Rick, one of those speedy Masters cross country guys who routinely leave me in the dust, has agreed to run with me tomorrow at the must-attend (see photo of mass of humanity) Run to Feed the Hungry in East Sac. (Here's Rick being interviewed on KCRA this morning.)

See, I can't trust myself to just do the 10K as a taper workout for the CIM. Put me in any 10K and I'm out there to do a sub-40 minute. But I know that's not wise this close to the marathon, and that's where Rick comes in. Running next to me, he has vowed to slap me in the face and if I start surging under 7:00-7:15 minute-per-mile pace.

Heck, knowing Rick, he might just slap me around for the fun of it, anyway.

But it's important to remember that it's the CIM I should be focusing on now. There will be plenty of 10Ks to run this spring.     

November 25, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 14-16



Just keep grinding out the miles, our mile-by-mile CIM guide Tim Twietmeyer says about this stretch. Soon, you'll get out of the commercial district and back into the pretty tree-lined streets.

MILE 14-15

Fair Oaks Boulevard to just beyond Kenneth Avenue
Topography: Flat, slight rise before mile marker
Tim's Tips: "This is probably the stretch of the course everyone dislikes the most because you're in this giant commercial area. There aren't necessarily a lot of people and it's not pretty. The only good part about this stretch is, if you have to make an emergency pit stop, there's plenty of options to choose from."
Sights: Julie's Donuts, Waffle Barn.

MILE 15-16

Fair Oaks Boulevard to Homewood Way
Topography: Road veers right, then left, with slight rises.
Tim's Tips: "If the weather's (bad), you're bucking right into the wind. There's nothing to block it. It's a four lane road, pretty wide. Put your head down and just grind."
Sights: Strip malls turning into tree-lined streets.


November 25, 2009

With no more quality workouts (except the Run to Feed the Hungry) to worry about, I am quickly building a list of things to obsess upon as the countdown begins:

Swine flu. This is the big one, of course. I am not worrying about dying from it, just being weakened to the point that all my prep for CIM becomes worthless. The flu is everywhere, and if you get it now you are pretty much done as far as CIM goes. You'll be out of action for a week and still not back to strength by race day. On Monday I took a business trip to Southern California. How many people on that plane were carrying the bug? Then the guy who picked me up at the airport announced that he had missed the past week of work because he had "the flu." I didn't have to ask which flu. But I was thinking about it for the rest of the day. He wasn't infectious, but still...

That bad cold. If not the flu, the good old fashioned common cold, or that bad chest thing that is going around, will surely fell me. My younger son got home late last night from college in Santa Barbara and brought the death rattle with him. He was hacking all night. I need both lungs healthy on Dec. 6. I would rather not be coughing up one of them in the meantime.

My weight. It's very hard to control your appetite after eating everything in sight for months. I have already gained two pounds and we haven't even set the Thanksgiving table yet. Geez.

The knot in my calf. I tweaked something in my calf on my last long marathon pace run on Sunday. Yes, it is is getting better. But I can still feel it lurking in there. I don't need any nagging injuries troubling me at the starting line, let alone at mile 20, when they could turn from irritating to disabling.

The weather. Even if I dodge the flu and the cold and my calf gets better and I avoid ballooning up this weekend, what if we get a big storm on race day? The early forecast suggests we might be in line for some subtropical moisture next week, and high winds. In other words: a Monsoon! 

Mile 20. At my first marathon in 2007 I was cruising along at just ahead of my goal pace through about 18 or 19 miles. And while I made it to mile 20 at the pace I was hoping for, by then I knew i was done. I could feel the legs getting heavier and harder to move. I wasn't going to make it. Who knows if this time will be different? The doubt will hang over me at least until I hit J Street, and maybe all the way to Alhambra Blvd.

Have I missed something?


November 24, 2009
We have numbers!

The numbers of registered runners are on the CIM Web site. I'm 3337. Sam is 4291. And Dan is 7106. Rumor has it the chips can be tracked online as well.

Only six more training runs before race day. The countdown is here!

November 24, 2009
My trip to Thrift Town

I think the response to my Lululemon foray for a race-day outfit is funny. You guys are clearly ALL DUDES. There's something about feeling good on the outside that makes you feel good all around. And maybe that is CLEARLY because I'm a girl.

After my 14-mile run Sunday, I went to the other end of the shopping spectrum and found myself at Thrift Town on Stockton Boulevard. The goal of this shopping excursion was warm clothes that could be shed along the racecourse.

I bought a giant men's coat for $3.98; a pair of windbreaker-type pants that can be pulled on over my shoes for $2.98; and a hoodie for $2.98. None of it is cute, trust me. But I figure it was a $10.85 investment in warmth right up to the gun.

My plan is to take the 5 a.m. bus to Folsom. That leaves two hours of sitting in the dark freezing cold before the race begins. While there is a coat check, that will be done at least a half hour before the race begins. I figure the outerwear can be shed as the gun goes off. The hoodie will probably stay on for a mile or two.

Race management will sweep the course and pick up everything after the race. Marathon veterans tell me the difficult part is not picking up some cute item shed by a faster runner.



November 24, 2009
Chew on this: Meal ideas to fuel a good run
grains2.jpgFood is constantly on my mind.

What does this have to do with running? For me, everything.

I started running as part of my weight loss regime more than a year ago. Training and running a half-marathon helped me lose more than 45 pounds, get into the best shape of my life and become a healthy role model for my children.

Now, I average about 16 to 18 miles per week and continue to love running. It's also a necessity since I enjoy cooking (and eating) and am a food writer for The Bee.

Looming ahead for me is the Run to the Feed the Hungry (the 10K) and a 7-mile segment of the CIM I'm running as a relay with my husband and two friends.

But like my pace, the right fuel to eat before a big run or race continues to be a work in progress.

Pasta with a little olive oil, salt and pepper? Good run. Pasta with marinara? Not so much.

This eating thing can be rather tricky.

I recently sought some advice from The Bee's nutrition expert, Teri Watson, on what runners should be eating. Here's what she said:

"Those involved in endurance sports such as marathons and half marathons need about 60 percent of their diet from carbohydrates, about 15 percent protein and about 25 percent fat.

If the runner multiplies their weight by 3.2, they'll get the number of grams of carbohydrates they should eat a day.

To get the number of grams of protein they need a day, they multiply their weight by 0.6.

Carbohydrates are easy to digest, therefore the most efficient source of energy. The body stores carbohydrates as muscle glycogen. Muscle glycogen is the preferred fuel for an endurance athlete. But stores of muscle glycogen can be depleted during endurance sports, so it's important to consume a large amount of complex carbohydrates (starchy carbs such as whole grains, legumes, fruits vegetables), not simple carbohydrates (sweet carbs such as sugar, honey, jelly, regular sodas) before a long race. This will help prevent early fatigue.

The athlete will want to eat high carb the night before a race. They'll also want to drink plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and caffeine. It's recommended to eat a high carb meal 2 to 4 hours before the race to top off muscle glycogen stores.

Example: 2 eggs, 3 pieces whole grain toast, 2 bananas, 3 cups bran cereal, 1 cup lowfat milk, 2 cups fruit juice. This could be eaten over 2 to 3 hours, it doesn't have to all be eaten in one sitting.

Some dinner ideas, heavy in: whole grain pasta, beans and brown rice, artisan-style whole/multi-grain bread, corn tortillas, whole wheat pita, couscous, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, lightly steamed veggies, fresh fruit."

Follow this link to check out a recipe for a spaghetti frittata on
November 24, 2009
This Guy Finished the CIM Course in 6 Minutes, 39 Seconds


Quite a performance by runner Greg Chance, who shared the link to his YouTube video on The Bee's running forum.

He recently drove the CIM course and, using the wonders of editing, condensed the 26.2-mile trip to 6 minutes, 39 seconds. (Warning: Those who get motion sickness might want to look away.) 

November 24, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 12-14



We are halfway home in Tim Twietmeyer's mile-by-mile course rundown of the CIM. This stretch, Tim says, is one of the least visually pleasing parts of the course. Strip-mall City! 

MILE 12-13
Fair Oaks Boulevard between California and Manzanita avenues before the left-hand turn
Topography: Road flattens out into a heavy commercial area.
Tim's Tips: "You're thinking about your (half-marathon, 13.1-mile time) split now. Make sure you're within a half minute of your pace, one way or the other. The second half you always have to think, 'I've got 13 miles under my belt, the chances of me ripping off a faster mile than my pace time is probably not that high.'"
Sights: Boulevard Coffee Co. and Fat Cat Tattoo parlor.

MILE 13-14

Fair Oaks Boulevard to just beyond Carmichael Park
Topography: Flat.
Tim's Tips: "There's a lot going on when you make that turn with the relay exchange and aid station. This is one of the places where you can pick up some gels on the course, which isn't a bad idea in case you start to crater along the way. The longer you can keep the engine at full capacity the better."
Sights: Jimboys Tacos, McDonalds, Burger King



November 23, 2009
CIM Is Boston Qualifier... for 2011!

So, I was talking to a very running-literate Bee colleague the other day and just happened to mention that the 2010 Boston Marathon reached its 25,000 limit and closed its entry registration the earliest it ever has (early November). He hadn't heard and was shocked.

"That means," he said, "runners using the CIM to qualify for Boston are going to have to wait until 2011? There will be some (ticked) off runners when they find out." 

Indeed. I contacted Boston Marathon spokesman Jack Fleming, who confirmed that all fall of 2009 marathons, including the CIM, will count towards 2011 entry to Boston. Entry submissions for the 2011 Boston Marathon will be open in September; it would be wise to sign up soon after that to assure entry.

Usually, this isn't an issue. When I qualified for Boston by running the CIM in 2005, I dithered for a week or two in December before registering.

Why the sudden jump in Boston attention?

Theories on running blogs and threads abound. Some lament what they call the "lax" time requirements and say they need to tightened the qualifying times. Others say the race allows "too many charity runners" (who don't have to qualify, provided they raise a certain amount of money for charity). Others say race organizers need to increase the field beyond the current 25,000 runners, maybe start a third wave for the charity runners.

My view: Don't change the race at all. Just be patient and wait until 2011.    

November 23, 2009
What Causes That Calf Cramping at Mile 22?

In case you missed it in the print edition of The Bee, here's a story that ran on Sunday looking at muscle cramping late in marathons.

Sorry, but new research suggests it's got nothing to do with dehydration or electrolyte imbalances.

Simply, crampers, you just haven't trained enough to run at that fast a pace for that duration. So, if you cramp, it may be time to re-evaluate your pacing goals.

November 23, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 10-12



Today, on Tim Twietmeyer's tour through the CIM course, he leads us beyond the quaint coolness Old Town Fair Oaks and then into those rolling "San Juan Hills" before the half-marathon mark.

MILE 10-11

Fair Oaks Village to .1-mile before Bannister Road.
Topography: Downhill and sharp right turn leaving Old Town Fair Oaks, significant uphill just past Sunrise for .3-mile, slight downhill to Mile 11.
Tim's Tips: "This little pop (at Sunrise) might be the steepest pitch in the race. You're gaining almost 100 feet at a little less than half a mile. You'll get a third of the way up the hill and everything will get quiet. Guys are focusing."
Sights: Valero gas station if you need a potty break.

MILE 11-12

Fair Oaks through the "San Juan Hills" to just after Sumner Lane
Topography: A series of gentle rises, flattening out just beyond Sumner Lane.
Tim's Tips: "This is where you can really roll and look forward to that halfway mark. Those doughnut shop fumes are good. You're actually through most of the hills nearing Mile 12, but there's still a rolling section and you start to feel the effects."
Sights: Family Donuts and Deli


November 23, 2009
A soft landing
After last weekend's disappointing long run, I was in need of a confidence builder going into my CIM taper. This close to the race I could not do another super long run, but I could do an extended distance at marathon pace. So that's what I did. I planned a workout of 14 miles on the American River trail, with 10 at my marathon goal pace of 6:28 to 6:30.

It went well. Sunday was a beautiful morning with overnight clouds keeping the temperature at a very comfortable 50 degrees. We can only hope Dec. 6 dawns the same way. My legs felt fresher from the outset than they did last week, and once I shifted to my goal pace after a 1.5 mile warm-up, I felt as if I were holding holding back to keep from running too fast.  There was a slight breeze and it was one of those days on the trail where it feels like the wind is always in your face, even when you turn around and head back, but it didn't bother me too much. The only irritant was a bothersome, low-level ache in my right calf, which I hadn't felt before and was supplying me with the one thing I needed to obsess about on an otherwise fine day.

As I finished my planned 10 at marathon pace I decided to tack on another mile rather than cruise all the way back to my starting point. And I managed to do the final mile at faster than goal pace with a heart rate below where it was on mile 11 at Clarksburg two weeks before.

So I got what I needed: A confidence builder heading into my taper. I still don't know how my body will react after 20 miles, but do we ever? I wish I had more miles under my belt, but it is way too late to worry about that now. The plan for this week is an easy run on Tuesday and then the 10K at the Run to Feed the Hungry. I will do that one at tempo pace.

Here is hoping you all have a happy, injury-free and germ-free Thanksgiving as we count down the days to the marathon. It's almost close enough to start watching the long-term weather forecast.

November 20, 2009
Lululemon on race day



I think there may be a theme through my blogs. I just can't wrap myself around spending a lot of money on stuff I'm going to run in. No matter how cute my clothes are, I'm still red-faced and sweaty. I mean, who orders those race photos anyway?

But my girlfriends kept saying I needed to get a special outfit for the CIM. They said I needed to go to Lululemon, the yoga clothier, and try on their clothes.

"I always get compliments on my butt when I wear those pants," one insisted.

"You have worked so hard. You should feel good on the outside during the run," another urged.

"You deserve this," another said.

You money-spending devils! Could I really rationalize $90 for a pair of pants and $60 for a top? In the end, I didn't have to. A little box came in the mail recently with a giftcard from my very best girlfriends. Go get yourself some girlfriends, they are priceless.

On my way back from San Francisco earlier this week, I popped into the Lululemon in Berkeley. There was something weirdly satisfying about picking out a race outfit. After 15 weeks of training, maybe I do deserve an outfit I'm excited to pull on at 4:30 a.m. on race day.

The trial test for the outfit is the 14-mile run planned for Sunday. My fingers are crossed against chafing...



November 20, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 8-10



Hill difficulty gets broken up by a fun roll through old town Fair Oaks in this segment. Here's Tim Twietmeyer's advice on how to run this stretch.

MILE 8-9
Fair Oaks Boulevard and Sunset Avenue.
Topography: Rolling hills as Fair Oaks winds right then left.
Tim's Tips: "You just need to put your head down and grind if the weather's not cooperating. This is when you take advantage of some of the time you picked up earlier in the race (on Oak Avenue). Don't get too worried yet if you're not right on the pace."
Sights: Fleet Feet Sports hosts an excellent aid station at Madison. Crest of hill at the New Life Community Church, where parishioners cheer.

MILE 9-10

Fair Oaks veers right briefly to become Winding Road, returns to Fair Oaks with quick left-right-left turns into 10-mile mark in Old Town Fair Oaks.
Topography: Rolling hills, mostly uphill into Old Town.
Tim's Tips: "It's not until you get to 9 1/2 where you start to see the nice general flow down into Fair Oaks, where you can relax and glide out a little. You start to zig zag here, but it's actually easy running. You can gather some momentum. Downtown Fair Oaks is a blast. It's a place to reenergize, plug yourself into the wall for a minute, and when they spit you back out, you're crossing Sunrise (mile 10) and back into the rolling hills again. There's a little uphill through town but you won't be noticing it because you'll be watching all the people. It's like getting one free hill."
Sights: Bands, cheerleaders, poultry and breakfast diners cheer you on.

COMING MONDAY: Miles 10-12

November 19, 2009
Garmin Forerunner 205: R.I.P.



My beloved Garmin Forerunner 205 (above) has died. I thought it was just the recharger that malfunctioned but, nope, the watch is shot. I've used that entry-level GPS unit since the summer of 2006, and it's logged plenty of miles. I'm feeling kinda wistful about it.

Just wondering: What's been your experience with Garmin GPS watches? How long do they last before they go kaput? Did mine meet a premature death?

Anyway, I broke down and bought a new Garmin 305. (Sorry, I can't afford either the 405 or 305XT for $350; too steep, because the family needs to eat, you know).

I'll miss the old watch, though. Audible sigh.

November 19, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 6-8



This is the point of the CIM course where things start to get serious, as ultra-runner extraordinaire Tim Twietmeyer tells us in his mile-by-mile analysis of the course:

MILE 6-7
Fair Oaks Boulevard to just before Greenback.
Topography: Two significant uphills, interrupted by a short descent.
Tim's Tips: "Some of these hills have a pretty good grade to them compared to Oak. You're almost a third of the way through the event. You're asking, 'Have I used a third of my energy?'

Sights: Tempo Park

MILE 7-8
Fair Oaks Boulevard to just before Madison.
Topography: First significant hill, reaching crest a 7.5-mile mark, rolling hills to Madison.
Tim's Tips: "This particular stretch is slower. I ran my PR on this course almost 20 years ago, and my slowest miles were 7 to 8, 8 to 9 and the first half of Mile 9. You've got to make the effort to stay on pace. Otherwise, you're going to be 30 seconds behind by Mile 10. In here, you'll have an aid station (during) a hill. So, you'll slow down for the aid and then you'll have a hill, which will slow you down even more. Don't get too worked up whether you've got the mile (pace) right on the nose, because there are obstacles to work through. Just make sure at certain milestones, you're back on track."
Sights: Strip malls.


November 19, 2009
Josh Cox and His Abs Will Run the CIM

Another hill-repeat workout logged this morning without incident, so it's time to celebrate with  Video Thursday.

This one goes out to the ladies, who'll no doubt be interested in oggling 2:13 marathoner Josh Cox, who will be one of the favorites to win the CIM. Cox trains up in Mammoth with the likes of NYC Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall. This video is shot by Meb and features a shirtless Cox icing his legs in a stream after a hard run.



November 18, 2009
I drank the juice and love my shoes



I'm always a bit on the skeptical side. It's part of the job description of being a journalist. And I find the world of running a bit overwhelming with all the products, gear and stuff. Haven't people been running perfectly well for centuries?

I spent a day at Fleet Feet earlier in the year being fitting for shoes. You run up and down the store and the clerk tells you what type of runner you are. I'm "neutral," meaning I run with normal pronation. I tried on a number of shoes that fit my running style but I couldn't bring myself to buy a pair - why do they have slash designs all over them? Why do they have to be white? Why do they cost so much money?

So I jammed on down to Marshall's and bought a pair of New Balance for $40. But then my left foot started hurting. After training and running the Shamrock'n half marathon this year, I figured I probably needed a new pair of shoes.

I bought another pair of New Balance for $40. But a few months into this marathon training, the foot pain came back. I started stretching my left calf better and the pain was largely alleviated. But then my foot started hurting, AGAIN. Do I need ANOTHER new pair of shoes?

They say running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles depending on your weight. But the pairs I've been getting seem to be wearing out even faster.

I decided to try the Nike outlet in Folsom. I tried on every single pair of the $40 shoes and they all seemed the same. Then the clerk brought over a pair of men's shoes, two sizes smaller than my women's size. They are horribly ugly and are the Vomero +4.

"Just try them on," he urged.

Wow. There was a noticeable difference. They are in the super-cushioned category (Controversial as some people are moving to barefoot and sock running). And I loved them, aesthetically unpleasing and all.

After running in them for a few weeks, there is not a flicker of pain. So, fine. I've drunk the juice and will pay triple digits for my shoes.


November 18, 2009
Running and ibuprofen

I tend to formulate strong opinions on things I don't necessarily know much about. But I'm always willing to stand corrected. And I've been corrected!

I'm not sure where I got this take-two-ibuprofen-the-night-before-a-long-run ritual. Did someone tell me to do this? Did I make this up? When did I decide it was a good idea? It seemed to make sense -- prevent inflammation before it starts! Brilliant!

The first clue it might not be the best idea was when I mentioned it to my doctor during a routine visit.

"How often are you doing this?"

"Oh, once a week."

"That doesn't worry me. I'd be worried if it was three or four times a week."

Oh great! Wait, three or four times a week? Don't some people regularly take Advil three or four times a week not because of marathon training but simply because they're living?

I asked my personal physician about this (my sister), and she said Advil is more harmful to people putting their bodies through extreme physical exertion, like running marathons. What? You can take ibuprofen if you're not doing anything, but not if you are?

I called Dr. Meredith Bean, a sports medicine doctor at Kaiser Permanente, which will be staffing the 18 aid stations and medical tent during the CIM. This is how she explained it.

When you're running long distances, you're getting less blood flow through your kidneys. Ibuprofen also decreases blood flow to the kidneys, and so extreme exercising and ibuprofen is like a double-whammy shock to your poor little kidneys.

Taking Advil after a run is OK, Bean said. But mostly she recommends icing.

"I don't like people on [chronic] ibuprofen but sometimes a medical condition means the benefits outweigh the risks," she said. "But a healthy person running a marathon - you don't want to take a bunch of ibuprofen and kill your kidneys because you want to prevent a little knee pain."

And as for the benefits of taking the ibuprofen before bed, the night before of a long run?

"Zero," Bean said.

Ibuprofen only lasts six to eight hours anyway, so it was not doing a damn thing. Oops. I guess that's why there's an M.D. after her name, and not mine.


November 18, 2009
Taper Paranoia, Revisited


pamspray.jpgYesterday's post about the irrational fears one deals with during the maddening taper stage of marathon training took a new turn for me last night.

I was cooking dinner and reached up to a cupboard to grab the Pam cooking spray. It slipped out of my hand and landed directly on the inside arch of my left foot. (I was barefoot at the time.) It wasn't so much that it hurt but rather that the area of impact swelled almost immediately.

Being a journalist, I tend to think in headlines, so my first thought was the absurd: "Runner Felled By Rogue Cooking Spray!" I put ice on the area for 10 minutes, then went back to making dinner. There still was some tenderness when I went to bed last night. But this morning, it felt fine during an 8.3-mile progression run.

So ... catastrophe averted.

Until the next one.

BTW, regarding my first taper paranoia: My wife is still hacking up a lung, and I've felt the beginnings of a cough myself. Didn't affect the run today. We'll see. Really, folks, in normal times, I'm not a hypochondriac. I swear.  

November 18, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 4-6



Here it is, another installment of long-distance running superstar Tim Twietmeyer's mile-by-mile CIM breakdown. We're finally getting off Oak Avenue....

MILE 4-5
Along Oak Avenue to Old Ranch Road
Topography: small rolling hills with a slight .2-mile climb before the five-mile mark. Asphalt is bumpy and cracked near the five-mile mark.
Tim's Tips: "By this point in the race, you're really looking forward to this left-hand turn (on Fair Oaks Boulevard) by the relay exchange. That's the first place you have a ton of people out yelling."
Sights: "Welcome to Citrus Heights" sign.

MILE 5-6
Oak Avenue Parkway, left on Fair Oaks Boulevard to just Copperwood Drive.
Topography: .2-mile rise at mid-mile.
Tim's Tips: "If it's a stormy day, you've now gone from a cross wind to a head wind, because the weather usually comes from the South-West. Just put your head down and deal with it. I tell people I'm pacing, 'If you're struggling a while, get right in behind me and try to rest for minute.' Look at the studies they did at the Tour de France. It's a 10-15 percent easier effort (cutting the wind by drafting)."
Sights: condos and apartments.

COMING TOMORROW: Miles 6-8, where some steeper hills challenge you, according to Tim.


November 17, 2009
It's all downhill from here



Beija Flor ran 22.5 miles on Sunday, And that means I did too. But everyone loves to comment on how amazing it is a dog can run that far. All I can think of is, I only have two legs and I DID IT TOO! She did get an extra scoop of food for her efforts, and maybe a few gummy bears as well.

Sunday was ROUGH. I started a little earlier than my Fleet Feet training group because I had to be in San Francisco that afternoon. I felt good in the morning as I set off counter-clockwise around Lake Natoma (we ran around the lake twice, first counter-clockwise and then clockwise). The steam coming off the water was gorgeous, the colors were amazing, and there were several deer that cheered me on in their sweet but silent way.

Others in the group started catching up with me by mile 3 (Wow, I am a really slow runner!) But it was nice to say hello to the other runners in the group as they passed me. I usually never actually see them since I tend to start in the back of the pack and end there too.

Halfway through the run, when I finished the counter-clockwise loop, there was an aid station set up with pretzels and gummy bears. Thanks Fleet Feet! They may have been the best pretzels and gummy bears I have eaten in my life.

The pain began about mile 18. It wasn't a specific pain, more of a whose-idea-was-this-anyway pain. I started checking my Garmin and noticing whenever a tenth of a mile would go by. Then it was mile 19. Maybe I'll walk up this little hill and I'll be all refreshed for the last two miles. Ok, maybe I'll walk a little further. Then it was mile 20. Oh good, I'll walk while Beija takes a potty break. And while I'm walking, I might as well put some more Glide under my arms.

Then it was mile 21. Wow, I remember it being a little hilly when I started out, but these seem more like mountains. Then it was mile 22. Wait, wasn't this only supposed to be a 22-mile run? Where is that aid station? Um, it must be around the next bend. Uh, HELLO? Aid station, please? When it appeared, at the top of a hill, I could hear the angels singing.

It turned out to be 22.5 miles, according to my Garmin. And clearly, the last four miles were incredibly difficult. Will I have another four in me beyond that on race day? The lesson here may be that I have to really control my pace at the beginning. Go even slower than slow for the first three or four miles on race day so there's enough steam to finish the race strong.

I recently asked someone what a split is, and in runners speak, it means divide the mileage in half. If the time for the first half is about the same as the time for the second half, it's an even split. The goal is a negative split, meaning the second half is run faster than the first half.

Confusing, I know. But having the end be as least painful as possible sounds like a great goal to me.


November 17, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 2-4


mile 3.jpg

Photo Courtesy of


Few runners know the CIM course as thoroughly as ultra-running superstar Tim Twietmeyer. Tim is one of the few elites (he recently qualified for the World Ironman Triathlon championships in his first time out at age 50, by the way) who can relate to middle-of-the-packers, and he'll be leading the 3:35 pace group at the CIM.

Recently, we drove the 26.2-mile course with Twietmeyer riding shotgun and providing mile-by-mile tips on what to expect, what to avoid and how to deal with the challenge.

Today, it's miles 2-4:

MILE 2-3

Along Oak Avenue Parkway to Casa Roble High School
Topography: A slightly more challenging uphill roll at the 2.5-mile mark, but it flattens out before the high school.
Tim's Tips: "What's cool about this part of the race is that you've got a lot of neighbors who come out early to watch the run. So enjoy that. They've got their cowbells going and coffee to stay warm."
Sights: Cheerleaders at Casa Roble High

MILE 3-4

Along Oak Avenue Parkway, crossing Hazel Avenue to around Beech Avenue
Topography: Flat until a decent rolling rise at Hazel for .2 of a mile.
Tim's Tips: "This terrain until Fair Oaks (Boulevard) is easier, so you might want to put a few seconds in the bank. You'll give it back in middle part of this next segment. If you don't you're going to have to really push to maintain pace in difficult terrain. It may not kill you there. But at Mile 20, you'll know you left a little too much back behind you."

Sights: Park on the left and horse stables on the right.


November 17, 2009
Let the CIM Taper Paranoia Begin



I am such a selfish bastard husband. My poor wife is home sick, coughing and sneezing with a nasty virus, and all I can think about is me. Yes, it's all about ME.

How will it affect my CIM taper if I get sick now, less than three weeks before the marathon? Already, I'm feeling my chest tighten a little. Am I just psyching myself into an illness before the race? Has the madness of tapering -- that period before a race when you reduce the number of miles run in preparation for the race -- struck?

Last year, before the CIM, I wrote a story about the mental strain tapering has on a runner. The best quote I've read comes from elite running coach Jack Daniels, who said that during the taper "you start questioning every facet of your training, lifestyle, sanity and reasons for getting up in the morning."

Dr. Tim Noakes, in his seminal book "The Lore of Running," tells the story of one of his colleagues, an ultramarathoner who gets ultra-paranoid before a race:

"(He) now refuses to work for the last seven days before the race. When not running during this period, he dons a surgical mask, takes leave of his family, cloisters  himself in a sterile environment, and finds solace in reading books from his large library of Eastern philosophers. At such times, only those who are known to be free of 'marathon-destroying germs' have access to him."

I haven't gone so far as to buy a surgical mask ... yet.

November 16, 2009
City of Folsom Needs CIM Volunteers



Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee

Between 9,000-10,000 runners will descend on Folsom Auburn Road starting about 5 a.m. on Dec. 6 and, judging by past races, these anxious souls will have about 10,000 questions. (I always ask about the sweat-check area, first thing!).

So the city of Folsom today put out word that it needs 100 volunteers to do the grunt work have the fabulous opportunity to help the marathoners before the race's start.

This year, the 90 buses will dump off runners at the newly-opened Folsom Lake Crossing, and somebody's got to be there to herd them to the right areas. Among the jobs for a start-line volunteer, according to a Folsom press release: "bus greeters, drop-off runner hosts, traffic control, start line set up/take down and event management."  Oh, and you need to start work at 4:45 a.m. But, hey, you're done by 7:45 a.m.

What's in it for the volunteers?

A free technical T-shirt and, to quote the release, "a wonderful satisfaction knowing you are part of an army of over 2,000 volunteers that help over 9,000 runners achieve their fitness goals ..."

Seriously, folks: We couldn't have a race without volunteers. I thank them at every aid station -- if I'm still able to talk late in a race!

Here's an idea: If your spouse or mom or dad is running, volunteer at the start line and see them off, then after 7:45, you can still make it to the Capitol to cheer them at the finish.

To register to volunteer, click here or call (916) 355-7304. 


November 16, 2009
Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 0-2


CIM map.jpg


Few runners know the CIM course as thoroughly as ultra-running superstar Tim Twietmeyer. Tim is one of the few elites (he recently qualified for the World Ironman Triathlon championships in his first time out at age 50, by the way) who can relate to middle-of-the-packers, and he'll be leading the 3:35 pace group at the CIM.

Recently, we drove the 26.2-mile course with Twietmeyer riding shotgun and providing mile-by-mile tips on what to expect, what to avoid and how to deal with the challenge.

Today, it's miles 0-2...

MILE 0-1
Auburn-Folsom Road, right on Oak Avenue Parkway to the crest of the first hill.
Topography: Flat for the first .3 of a mile, downhill for the next half mile, a .2-mile uphill after turning onto Oak.
Tim's tips: "If you're in the middle of the pack, you've got to find a nice, comfortable spot where you don't have to wade through hideous amounts of traffic but you're at the right pace. People will be throwing clothes off and you'll be dodging piles of stuff in the road. But in general, it's a fast first mile...You don't want to get too carried away, though. If you know what you're doing, you can put a few seconds in the bank, because it is an easy mile compared to others on the course. There's a lot of excitement in this first mile. Then you turn to go up the hill and it gets real quiet right away."
Sights: Horses, ranch houses.

MILE 1-2

Along Oak Avenue Parkway to just beyond Santa Juanita Drive.
Topography: Four small, rolling hills, none lasting more than .1 of a mile, leading to the first aid station.
Tim's Tips: "If you can't make these hills here, you're in trouble. You better move back to 4-hour pace. You're only talking 50 to 100 feet at a time over a decent distance. Most people can handle this. It's really important to try to stay topped off early in the event. But some of these early (aid stations) are logjams, so you don't want to spend too much time wield your way through people to find two ounces of fluid. You could probably take a water bottle at the start and ditch it at the relay exchange (mile 5-6)."
Sights: Lots of rural-looking homes


November 16, 2009
Last Long Run ... Or a Longer Run?

So I'm celebrating completing my last long training run before the CIM by visiting my sadomasochist chiropractor Dr. Ron Rudometkin to get my back cracked.

Hey, we all have our ways of celebrating.

Sunday's 20-mile run through lovely rural Dixon and back to Davis went well. I hit all my time marks, doing the last 12 miles at slightly (like, 3 seconds) below marathon pace (7:33 per mile).

I felt so good, in fact, that I had a choice to make near the 19-mile mark: I could keep going straight and add another two miles to the run, making it 22, or turn right and head back for a 20-miler, as planned. I was all set to keep going, but in a brief moment of clarity while sucking down some Cytomax, I thought better of it.

What, at this point, could another two miles possibly do to help me? I've already logged more miles in this training cycle than before any other marathon. I did six 20-plus runs, including a 23.5 effort about a month ago. So I chose to cruise on in, content with the 20.

Now, I begin a three-week taper. But, really, it's more like two weeks, because I'm still planning to log 45 miles this week before really ratcheting it down the week of Nov. 22-28.

One note: If we have any Dixon readers, what's up with your cows? It's a Sunday morning and they are all lying down, not grazing. Those are some lazy bovine!  

One last note: Stay tuned; The first installment of Tim Twietmeyer's mile-by-mile CIM course breakdown is coming later this morning.   

November 15, 2009
Staggering to the finish
My final long run before CIM was not encouraging. It was somewhere between a wake-up call and a huge blow to my confidence.

My first mistake was not sticking to my plan. I was going to run 20 miles with about 8 at marathon pace, but I let a friend talk me into doing 24 miles instead. That would have been the second longest run of my life, with only my first marathon being longer.

The plan was going to be 8-8-8, with the first 8 easy, the second 8 about 30 seconds faster, and the final 8 at MP. This can be a great training run to get you ready for the rigors of running fast when you're tired and beat up. It certainly did show me how hard that could be.

The first eight felt great. The second eight miles got tougher but I didn't sense impending doom. I did notice as we ramped up to marathon pace that I was having trouble getting into gear. Part of this is that I seem to have a hard time changing pace during runs. If I want to run fast I need to start fast. That was certainly the case today.

I was trying to do 8 miles at sub 6:30 but these were my splits:


then it got ugly: 6:48, 7:08, and 8:16. That's eight, but somehow we were still a mile from the finish, and I was done. I walked back to my car from there.

I am not sure what to do now. All my training partners are telling me to shake it off and stick with my goal of breaking 2:50, which translates to a 6:29 pace. I am hearing a lot of stories about terrible late-season training runs people have had, then gone on to run their best marathons ever.  I will probably make the call at the starting line. If not, my body will make it for me a couple of hours later.

Let the taper begin.

November 13, 2009
Hooked on speed
The great thing about running is that everyone has their own theories about the best way to train. I run regularly with several people who have been running for decades and testing different approaches along the way. I regularly consult them all, then either pick what sounds best for me or develop my own blend from what they advise.

For my final three weeks before CIM, I am relying largely on the advice of my friend Mary, a top-notch masters runner who has already qualified for the 2012 Olympic marathon trials. And unlike a lot of people I know, Mary counsels to keep some speed in your training plan right up to the end.

This week, she suggested I do 4 x 1200 meters at my 5K pace. And that's what I did, sort of. I did the four intervals at something between my 5K and 10K race pace. I thought that was OK, given that this was the first time I had run faster than tempo in a couple of months, and I did the speed work just a few days after running 18.6 miles at marathon pace at Clarksburg.

This weekend I will do my final long run, probably about 20 miles with 10 or 12 at marathon pace. Then one day next week my training run will be three one-mile repeats at 5K pace. The following Saturday, I'm looking at a long tempo run, of 8 to 10 miles. The week after that is the Run to Feed the Hungry, and I will be doing the 10K.

What the logic behind this approach? The same as it is when you are not training for a marathon. The threshold runs are designed to improve the efficiency of the lactate buffering system, to push your lactate threshold to a higher pace. The runs should also stimulate, recruit and train fast twitch muscle fibers and improve the body's ability to extract oxygen from blood. Finally, running fast improves your biomechanic efficiency.

Some will say if I haven't done all that by now, it is too late to do much good. But this is only my second marathon, so i don't have any habits or traditions to fall back on. So I will go with Mary's counsel. What works for one person won't work for everyone. Among other things, she is a high mileage runner and I am not. But I like her logic and I love her results. I'll give it a shot.

November 13, 2009
Big News: Twiet and Tweet






So as we sloooowly wind down to the California International Marathon (just 23 more days!), we've got some business to take care of here on the blog.


First, a head's up for you Twitter users. When you tweet, why not use the #CIM hash tag to be included in The Bee's Twitter feed on race day? Yes, we expect you to run 26.2 miles, then Tweet 140 characters about your experience. You can also post comments on our forum as part of The Bee's running page .


Meanwhile, back here on the blog, we've got a special feature that will start on Monday and continue through Dec. 3.


Each weekday, we will post ultra-running superstar Tim Twietmeyer's analysis of the course, mile-by-mile, every rise and fall, bump and viewing sight. We'll highlight two miles of the course each day, and be sure to look for the print version, with all 26 entries collected, in Thursday, Dec. 3's newspaper.


Twietmeyer, of course, is the five-time winner of the famed 100-mile Western States Endurance Run. But he also has run all 26 CIMs and will be out there again this year as leader of the 3:35 pace group.


As for me? I'm gearing up for Sunday's long run, my last 20+ miler before beginning the tapering phase. Don't know about you, but the taper for a marathon always is anxiety-inducing. More on that next week in a post. I'm just hoping to emerge injury-free on Monday.

November 13, 2009
Equipment failure



Oh vacation how I love thee. But contrary to what images the words "Mexico" and "vacation" conjure up, there was no pool, no tan and no umbrella-topped drinks. (Sorry Sam!) This trip was to Mexico City, the lovely Distrito Federal.

There were several challenges for training runs while there. There's the 7,349 feet of elevation. There's the dodging of people and cars. And then there was all that mescal to drink. In preparation, I did almost my entire week's worth of runs before I left, which I'm not sure was the smartest thing to do. Still, my goal was to simply get in two longish runs while there.

As it turns out, there was one run. After mapping it from my computer here due to Garmin failure, I now see it was 12.5 miles. Then there may have been a bit of yarfing (Vomiting? Barfing? Why is there no lady-like word for this?). And then there may have been a bit of a Mexican bug (OK, so it's possible I brushed my teeth in the shower sans bottled water).

The intent was excellent. The running shoes were on, purified water in the hydration belt and a GU smacked down. But my Garmin Forerunner 305 could not find its satellites. What is up with that? A friend was internationally text flirting from her cell phone and the Garmin can't find a satellite from Mexico?

I decided to run for what I estimated to be two hours around the Alameda Central, a park made famous by a Diego Rivera mural. The fun part of going around and around the same park was that I kept passing the same vendors and the same police officers who began cheering me on and counting my laps ("Siete Chinita!" "Ocho!" "Vas y vas!" "Doce! Trece!"). I love Mexico.

Fifteen laps around and I decided I'd had enough of being the strange foreigner who runs for recreation. I felt good, didn't seem bothered by the altitude and headed on to a day of sailing along the canals of Xochimilco and sipping tequila. But it all caught up to me that night. Ah well.

It turns out the break may have done me good. I did a four mile training run this morning and felt strong. We'll see how good it treats me on Sunday's 22 mile run. Wish me suerte.



November 12, 2009
Marathon 'Tips' Video ... Or, How To Drink Water at Aid Stations


I'm continuing my new habit of celebrating enduring another Thursday hill-repeat workout by sharing a running video with you. There's a funny one circulating on YouTube, featuring top masters runner Pete Magill, concerning tips for marathon race day.

A lot of it is just silly, but he does impart some serious info to help. (Example: Wearing easily discarded plastic bags to stay warm before the race.)

In the video, Magill and former elite marathoner David Olds go against conventional wisdom on fueling during races. They kind of snub their noses at eating before the race and don't look too kindly the use of GU during the race. I do both, bythe way. I eat a banana an hour before and take 3 to 4 GUs during the race.

But I can relate to their point that, for decades, marathoners did just fine without sucking down gel packets every five miles. When I ran my first marathon, the 1985 San Francisco Marathon, I somehow managed to log a 3:27 time without taking any GU (the stuff wasn't around) or food on the course. In fact, I think I just drank plain old water at aid stations. 

Speaking of which, at about the 7-minute mark in the video, they go over the proper way to grab and drink from cups at aid stations without stopping. The key, as you'll learn in the video, is to pinch the upper sides of the cup and tilt and sip it. They make it look easier than it actually is.



November 11, 2009
The Iceman Cometh ... But Only For 10 Minutes


ice bag.jpg

Part of my post-run ritual is to ice areas that have been trouble spots in the past and maybe even, pre-emptively, throw some ice onto a spot where I felt slight twinges during the workout.

So, this morning, it was an iced gel pack affixed to my left gluteus and lower back (for any lingering sacroiliac issue) and a smaller one to my left hip flexor muscles, which had been a touch irritated.

As I'm sure you know, ice is used to lessen the movement of blood to an inflamed area or injury site. When body tissue is cooled, it constricts blood vessels to inhibit flow.

But here's where I go against most medical advice: I only ice for eight minutes, 10 max.

The National Athletic Trainers Association recommends that ice be used for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. But then I read a medical piece by Brussels cryotherapy expert Dr. Romain Meeusen.

The researcher has shown that if the temperature of a cooled area continues to drop, blood vessel reopen and flood the area even though ice is still applied. So his research shows that 10 minutes should be the maximum duration for ice use. He found that, even though the temperature of the skin rises immediately after removal of ice, the underlying muscles stay cool for a few more minutes because fat serves as "insulation."

Meeusen recently told the journal Sports Injury Bulletin that "it's better to ice the damaged region for 10 minutes immediately after the injury, remove the ice for about 30 minutes, and then reapply it for 10 additional minutes. Repeat this cycle of about two 10-minute icings per hour as often as possible during the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury. Then, use the same technique about three to five times a day until the injury resolves itself."

November 10, 2009
Swimming Toward Long-Run Recovery


Sunday night, after having concluded the Clarksburg 20-Miler about eight hours earlier, I really didn't feel like doing my standard post-long-run swim.

My legs didn't feel bad at all. Why not skip it this time? Besides, when we returned to our humble Davis abode after dinner, we discovered that two of our kids' bikes had been stolen from the front porch. So that meant having the police come out so we could file a report, yadda yadda.

The point is, I wanted to ditch my routine of doing an easy 800-to-1,200 yards of freestyle in the pool about eight hours after a long run. I shamed myself into going, though. And, lo and behold, I pulled myself out of the pool after 20 minutes with nearly all the tightness gone from my legs and hips.

During this heavy (for me, at least) period of weekly mileage in the high 50s, I've cut down on my cross training. No more cycling; I'm paranoid it'll aggravate my $^&*@# sacroiliac problem. But I have continued to swim -- only three days a week, not five or six, as I had in spring and summer while training for sprint triathlons.

I've really become a convert to swimming as cross training for running. For years -- nay, decades -- I snubbed my nose at the mere mention of cross training. I liked to run. Just run. But, as I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the break my joints get during "active rest."

I'm a terrible swimmer, by the way. (I did take a class and improved my stroke, but still...) That's not the point. The point is to gain and maintain fitness and adding volume by other means without beating up your body.

And, as marathoner and author Matt Fitzgerald points out in his 2004 book, "Runner's World Guide to Cross Training" (Rodale, $15.95, 244 pages), cross training helps alleviate any muscle imbalances runners might harbor.

Fitzgerald gives plenty of examples of runners who have incorporated cross training into their training: Alberto Salazar swam freestyle to supplement his miles; Joan Benoit swam after knee surgery before the 1984 Olympic Trials; Paula Radcliffe does cross-country skiing as a recovery workout; Deena Kastor does Pilates and plyometrics; and Meb Keflezighi does two-hour bike rides combined with running.

What's your idea of cross-training during marathon training?

Or do you just stick to running?

Come on. Share what works for you.

P.S.: The only problem I've had with swimming is that it's making my hair look like this:

green hair.jpg       

November 9, 2009
Gee, Wonder How Gina's Altitude Training Is Going?

Gina Kim, the third member of our blogging crew, is vacationing in Mexico City and, of course, spending every waking moment  working on her CIM training at the 7,200-foot elevation.

In fact, we have two photos Gina sent us of her recent grueling Mexico City regimen.



Seriously, though, running at an altitude can be a killer if you aren't acclimated. (I recall gasping during runs a few years back in Flagstaff, Arizona, and in Denver.)

But, hey, after running a week in Mexico City, Gina should return stronger than ever -- if she can cough out all of that smog.

Here's a chart about altitude sickness to check out.


November 9, 2009
Oh, The Things You See On Race Day

You see some unusual things at any big or medium-sized race. I'm not talking about the runners who dress up in wacky costumes or, in the case of the Bay to Breakers, no clothes at all.

I mean the serious runners who outfit themselves with all types of what they hope are performance-enhancing gizmos. I'm guilty as charged, by the way. My family ribs me to no end about the visor I bought with built-in holders for gel packets.



And don't get my kids started on my Camelbak hydration vest -- essentially a singlet with a built-in fluid pouch. (Hey, I hate to carry water bottles, don't like fuel belts and always spill cups of water given at aid stations, so this is a viable option; I can control my own hydration schedule this way, too.)



So at Sunday's Clarksburg Run, I was heartened to see others with unusual get ups. DIY running aids date back to the dawn of running, but I have noticed that, in these recessionary times, more people are forgoing the expensive running doo-dads.

As I was nearing the starting line for the 20-miler, I approached a 50-something runner from behind. He was wearing a Buffalo Chips Running Club singlet, so I knew he had to be hard-core. But I noticed something affixed to one of his hamstrings. Could that be ... duct tape?




Curious, I asked the guy that very question: "Is that duct tape?"

"Yup," he said. "I've got some on my back, too."

"Do you use that instead of kinesio tape?" I asked

"Yes. It works."

 "Much cheaper, too," I added.

Then, huddled near the start, I saw two runners wearing tube socks (with the toes scissored off) stretching from wrist to shoulder. Brilliant, I thought. They bought a pair of $5 socks at Target instead of spending $25 to $30 on fancy arm warmers. That way, in the early miles of a cold race, you can stay warm and then won't feel bad about shedding them on the roadside once you warm up.


tube socks.jpg


arm warmers.jpg

But enough about you. What about me? Thanks so much for asking. My recovery run this morning went well. I actually felt pretty decent, so I'm hoping there are no ill effects from running 15 seconds per mile faster than I'd planned in Sunday's "training run" at Clarksburg.     

November 8, 2009
Clarksburg tune-up
The Clarksburg Country Run is a strange race. Or races. The traditional race is a 20-miler, but that's an unusual distance that relatively few people want to run. There is also a 30K, which is a Pacific Association-sanctioned race and draws top competitors from throughout Northern California. On the same course at the same time there is also a half-marathon. And then there is a 5K, but that one is run when everyone else is out running long miles. The effect of all of this is that you have a lot of people running at different distances and different speeds over the same roads, with multiple mile markers showing up seemingly every few hundred yards. It can be a little chaotic.

But it's also a fun race. It's run through beautiful farm country, mostly vineyards. Part of the race traverses a levee road along a creek that is isolated and picturesque, though the road is in poor condition and has an exaggerated camber that bothers most runner. And while the course is almost entirely flat, it is almost always windy, and the wind can act like a hill. Today the winds were relatively light but still an issue at times on the course.

I ran the 30K as a dress rehearsal for CIM. My plan was to run as close as possible to my CIM goal pace of 6:29, which would allow me to break 2:50 in the marathon, if only by a few seconds. And I did that. After a quick 6:21 start, every mile but one was within 3 seconds of 6:29, and the one that wasn't was just four seconds off, at 6:33. My final pace, according to my Garmin, was 6:28. So I passed the test, right?

Not entirely. Unlike Sam, I did not finish the race feeling as if I still had "several miles" in me. I didn't even have a cool down in me, opting instead to head straight home and cool down with a cold bath. My heart rate also drifted upward throughout the race. That's normal, but it drifted into the high 160s, which is too high for me. Some of that might have been the wind, some of it might have been the fact that I wasn't tapered and trained normally through the week leading up to the race. But it's still a concern. I know I could not have run another 8 miles at that pace today. But today was not Dec. 6.

I was pondering backing off my goal pace by a few seconds per mile when I did the math on my final time and the pace behind it. My time was 1:59:45. That comes to a pace of 6:25. My Garmin had the course short, and thus said my pace was slower. But if the course was indeed 30K, or 18.6 miles, then my pace was three seconds per mile faster than I intended and four seconds per mile faster than my CIM goal pace. So maybe I don't need to back off my marathon goal pace. I just need to stick to it and not run faster, on purpose or by accident.

. .
November 8, 2009
Oops... I Ran Too Fast, After All

Yeah, so I ran Clarksburg faster than I had planned. But not crazy fast, so I'm not beating myself up about it.

The plan was to run the 20-mile race as a safe and sane training run -- about 7:40 pace.

So what did I run? A 2:27, at around 7:25 pace.

But I felt strong throughout and ran an even split. I just kept motoring and felt I still had miles in me when I crossed the finish line.

None of my past injury "issues" flared. But let's see how my recovery goes the next two days.

I've got to keep perspective. Given my debilitating sacroiliac injury over the summer, I'm just pleased to be training for the CIM at all.

November 6, 2009
30 Days Until the CIM! Are You Ready?



A month remains until the 27th running of the California International Marathon, and in a week or two, most runners will start tapering. But there's still plenty of training left to go.

This afternoon, I drove the entire CIM course with ultra-running superstar Tim Twietmeyer, who has run all 26 CIMs and once again will serve as a pacer this year. (Twietmeyer, pictured with his son, will pace the 3:35 group.)

 I handed Twietmeyer a tape recorder and he gave a mile-by-mile rundown on what to expect, each rise and dip in the road, wind speed and all sorts of strategy.

His rundown will appear in the print edition of The Bee closer to race day. But Twietmeyer did pass along this tip.

"A lot of the guys who are emailing me asking about the course and advice?" he says. "I tell them to make sure to run a lot of rolling hills on your long runs, even in the last month. The early part of the course has a lot of those, especially miles 7 to 9. You need to be able to deal with those early and get some time in the bank for later in the race."

Below is the CIM course, via the Map My Run Web tool. (See you at Sunday's Clarksburg run; I'll be doing the 20-miler at, I hope, mostly marathon pace.):



November 6, 2009
Thursday tempo
Thursday morning I got back to my favorite run: tempo pace for 4 or 5 miles starting from the zero mark on the American River trail and going out and back.

This week it was 4 miles, for a total of 12 counting the warm up and cool down from my house. I probably ran it a little faster than my true tempo pace. All four miles were sub-6:00 and three of the four were under 5:55. By the end my heart rate was above 175, which is probably too high. But I have been doing a lot of these runs at slower than my tempo pace and below my threshold heart rate, so it felt good to push it past the limit a bit. I was spurred on by trailing some faster runners on the way out and then pacing a friend on the way back who is usually far faster than me but is recovering from an injury and working himself back into shape. I was not, in the end, feeling like I would puke, which is what one of my running partners warns is most definitely not the object of a tempo run. I actually felt OK and I felt strong on my cool down, when typically I feel terrible while running slow after a quality workout. So all in all good news. And a good prelude
to Clarksburg.

I will be running the 30K on Sunday and I now hope to do the entire thing at marathon pace, which I am hoping will be 6:28 to 6:30. If I do that and it feels decent, I will plan to stick with that for the rest of my training and at CIM.

BTW, here is another source for finding your tempo pace based on recent race performances.
November 6, 2009
My drinking problem
Slide128.jpgI hate drinking while I run. One reason I came to running as a form of exercise is that it requires almost no coordination. My hands and eyes (and feet) do not play well together. I am a first-class klutz. I am a road runner and almost never run on trails for this reason. Almost every time I do, I turn an ankle or do a face-plant. It is an ugly thing to observe.

These issues extend even to drinking while I run on the road. Sure, I can take a gulp from a water bottle and (usually) remain upright. But I'd rather not. Half the time I end up choking on the fluid or blowing it out my nose. When it comes to picking up cups from a table or a volunteer, downing the fluid and then dispensing of the cup, things can get very messy. Most of the drink ends up on my shirt, and moving in and out of the table traffic I am a danger to myself and others.

My past two half-marathons I have not had anything to drink or eat for the entire race, and I have not seemed to suffer. But I don't think the same tactic makes sense for a marathon.

At my first marathon two years ago I had a plan to have a support person meet me at spots along the course and give me a bike bottle with fluids which i would then drink, and hand the bottle back. This worked well enough except that after the race I realized I was not drinking nearly as much at these personal aid stations as I intended. That might have had something to do with my pace falling apart during the final six miles.

This time I am thinking of drinking my fluids out of those little 4-oz GU bottles. I will have a friend hand them to me and then I will carry them to the next stop, forcing myself to drink all that is in them. That way I will know for sure that I am getting the fluids I need. My goal is to drink about 20 ounces during the race, half water, half EFS, my replacement fluid of choice.

Does anyone else have a drinking problem like this? Any suggestions for how to overcome it? I have already taken the first step by acknowledging I have a problem. What's next?

November 5, 2009
Top 10 Thoughts During the CIM

This week's video offering features New York City Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi reading David Letterman's top 10 list. The category was "Top 10 Thoughts While Running the NYC Marathon."


This got me to thinking our our own top 10 Thoughts While Running the CIM. Here are mine. Your offerings are undoubtedly funnier and more original. Please feel free to share.

10. Is that guy sprinting to the starting line wearing an orange Folsom Prison jump suit or the new Nike compression tights?

9. Boy, Orangevale sure looks prettier when it's fogged in.

8. Did I blink and miss Citrus Heights?

7. Which oak is fair on this boulevard?

6. Stop the clock. I need to pop into Bella Bru for a double espresso.

5. Is it too late to switch to the relay?

4. When did the H Street Bridge turn into a mountain pass?

3. Are you sure L is a one-way street?

2. More GU, stat!

1. No, I'm fine. I always throw up when I see the state capitol building.

November 4, 2009
Finding my pace (cont.)
I am still trying to dial in my optimum pace for this year's CIM. Based on my most recent half marathon, Greg McMillan's calculator suggests a pace of 6:24 per mile. But that's even faster than my most optimistic goal, which is to break 2:50 (my bottom line goal is to break 3 hours for the first time). A 2:50 marathon means a pace of 6:29. And most days, even that seems fast to me. After last weekend's long run, I was toying with the idea of backing off and aiming for, say, a 2:55. Or at least doing the first half at that pace and then trying to negative split the race if I felt good.

But one of my training partners who I thought was in the same ballpark threw me a curve on Tuesday. He told me his goal pace was 6:15. What? We had been training and racing at compatible paces for months and suddenly he is going to run a sub 2:45 marathon? This news really had me confused. Yes, he runs twice the weekly mileage I do, but still.

We were planning to do a marathon pace run (10 miles at pace) Tuesday and there was no way I was going to go that fast. Unless I could do it and consider it a tempo pace run instead.

As it happened, after a 2.5 mile warm up, we did the first five and while he ran at 6:15 I trailed behind him at about 6:20. This was too slow for tempo and still too fast for a marathon. After a brief break, we did another five, and this time my partner slowed to the low 6:20s, and I led the way back by repeating my 6:20 pace from the first half of the run. In the end, he concluded that his plan for a 6:15 pace was unrealistic, and I became more convinced than ever that 6:29 is the absolute fastest I am going to run at CIM. Those ten miles at 6:20 were doable but I could not imagine running another 16 at that pace. My heart rate peaked in the low 160s, which is where it should be for a marathon, but it got there too soon and would no doubt go higher if I were running farther at that pace.

Both of us plan to run Clarksburg Sunday at marathon pace (me: 6:29, him: ???) and then figure it out from there.

November 4, 2009
The Wonders of a Rest Day



So three days after I was feeling a bit sluggish during my long run, I went out this morning for an 11.5-miler and felt the best I have in weeks -- heck, in months. I had to hold myself back from going way too fast. As it was, I was eight seconds below marathon pace for the whole run, 12 seconds the last five miles. 

What gives?

All I can think is that I took a rest day on Tuesday.

By rest day, I mean that I did nothing. No cross training via swimming or cycling. No core exercises, even. I found myself sitting on my gluteus most of the day at work on Tuesday, as well.  

Normally, on the two days a week I don't run, I do significant cross training to keep the muscles loose and add some fitness. (I've found swimming about a mile in the pool a great off-day activity; I even swim on the nights after medium to long runs to loosen up.) But yesterday, I vegged out. Maybe I sensed I was pushing my 49-year-old legs with these mileage weeks in the upper 50s.

Whatever the cause, I thoroughly enjoyed today's run. The stiffness in the Monday recovery run was gone, as was the sluggishness.

But enough about me. Read this blog entry in Running Times magazine by Sally Meyerhoff (U.S. 25K champion) about rest.   

November 3, 2009
Love your toenails
I keep my toenails so short the ladies at the nail salon always twitter about it when I come in for a pedicure. I'm convinced this is why they've been saved from runners' toe.  But I did overhear a good tip to prevent the blackened variety.

One veteran marathoner during training on Sunday was poking at a nail threatening to fall off. Another veteran marathoner told her to cut them short and then file not only the edges, but the top of the edges. This prevents the nail from catching on the sock, over and over and over again, with every step she runs. 

Try it and let me know if it works! BTW, I broke down and bought real running shoes. I'll let you know if it's truly different than the $40 variety. I'm off on vacation, running in Mexico City.
November 3, 2009
Cheating at the CIM? Really!?!



I was surprised to read the other day about just how many people (71 in 2008) were disqualified for failing to run all 26.2 miles in the New York City Marathon.

What in the name of Rosie Ruiz  is going on there in the Big Apple? Buncha cheaters! Running poseurs! Cut the course, hitch a ride on the subway, re-enter at Central Park? Weak.

Certainly, no one would do such a thing at the CIM. We're all above-board, upstanding running citizens who earn our times with blood, sweat and Cytomax.

But, just in case, I checked with CIM race director John Mansoor to find out if even one misguided soul has ever been caught cutting the course. It can't happen here, right John?

"It absolutely does happen," Mansoor says.

While my illusions were being squashed like a bug underneath my Nike trainers, Mansoor continued.

"By the way, we don't use the word cheating because that implies intent," Mansoor says. "What we have are athletes who don't complete the entire course and still cross the finish line. Every year at CIM, we have 20 to 25 of those that we disqualify."

All I can say is, shame on you, cheaters "athletes who don't complete the entire course but still cross the finish line."

Since the use of chip timing - sensors applied to the shoes that record time when runners pass over electronic mats at strategically placed points on the course - several years ago, cheating has become more difficult.

But not impossible.

In pre-chip days, Mansoor says, "We used to have to watch hours of tape and then try to identify somebody. Chip timing makes it easier. We read the (figures) on various parts of the course and see if anyone missed it. The next stage is, we have race photographers who take pictures of everyone in the race. Then we go through the photos to see if the people who missed the mats actually run. We also talk to the runners. We ask them, do you have any explanation why we're missing data on you? Generally, a good half readily admit they didn't run it. A quarter will never respond at all. A quarter will give us some explanation that we'll try to track down. It takes a week to go through it all."

Clearly sensing I was crestfallen, my faith in runners forever altered, Mansoor tried to reassure me that cheaters "athletes who don't complete the entire course and still cross the finish line" do not prosper, at least not in Sacramento.

"The typical thing we get is people who don't start at the start line and jump in along the way. A lot of these people are trying to get Boston times and they think, 'Oh, I'm way back here, no one's going to care.' Well, we care. Many of the races across the country aren't as diligent as we are. We feel the integrity of the race is important."

Just out of curiosity, I asked Mansoor what his advice would be if he were a nefarious runner and wanted to go over to the dark side and cut the CIM course.

"The only way to do it successfully, if you're going to try to get aay with it, is to know where all the chip-mat reads are, know where all the course photographers are. If you're missing in any of those places, then you've got a problem."


November 2, 2009
Question for Runners...


white truck.jpg

Occasionally, while running facing traffic on a road with very little paved shoulder, runners can encounter motorists who won't budge and, in fact, seem to swerve just a little in a successful lame attempt to scare us.

It's happened to me twice in the past week on semi-rural roads.

Both times, the culprit drove a white pick-up truck with big a-- tires. Now, the big-rig tomato trucks are always nice about giving me some room. Pick-up trucks, not so much.

What type of vehicles most hassle you when you're out on runs: Hummers, Priuses, Range Rovers, Minivans?

Personally, I've found Northern Califonira drivers to be pretty darn tolerant of runners, compared to other parts of the country. What's been your experience? 

November 2, 2009
Too Late to Enter the CIM? Well, Maybe Not



The California International Marathon on Dec. 6 reached its 7,000-entrant limit by the deadline on Sunday.

So you runners who -- do'h -- forgot to actually fill out the online form and fork over the entry fee are plum out of luck, right?

Not so fast.

Race director John Mansoor (pictured) says the CIM board meets tonight and is likely to approve at least 200 additional spots for tardy runners. To be put on the waiting list, email pronto. There will be a price to pay for tardiness, though: Mansoor says the entry fee will be raised to $200 (from $100, plus bus fare). The "penalty fee" will be donated to charity, Mansoor says.

UPDATE 11/3: The CIM announced today it will accept 250 additional entries, with half of the $200 fee going to charity. Details here

"We capped out a 6,000 last year and then we got a lot of people just desperate to get in," Mansoor says. "I can't believe this, but it's happening again. I've heard from people who are coming from Canada who already bought their airline tickets, already made their hotel reservation but didn't enter. It doesn't make sense.

"Last year, we did 200 additional entries for charity. We donated that money to the improvement of the American River running trail. We'll probably do at least 200 charity entries again this year, if not more."


Marathon relay entries also closed at 850 and Mansoor says that the relay will not be expanded. 


More than 7,000 runners in the marathon field is impressive, but Mansoor says the race has become so popular that it could swell to as many as 10,000. But such an expansion, he says, would mean some changes in the race.


For instance, there would have to be "wave" starts every 15 minutes, the faster runners going first. That would mean keeping the race course open a half an hour longer than the current six hour time limit, but Mansoor says community officials are open to the idea. 


The other change would be to ban personal vehicles from parking anywhere near the starting line in Folsom and having all runners take buses to the start line. That's a  practice nearly all big and medium marathons already employ, but it would without a doubt  lead to some grumbling from bus-averse runners. 


To encourage runners to take the bus, the CIM will route the shuttles around the car traffic and designate an "express route" on the newly opened Folsom Lake crossing bridge. 


"We're also going to stop personal vehicles a little further away from the start line and force them to get out of their cars and shuttle them in that last way," Mansoor says.



November 2, 2009
The Loneliness of the Long-Dist... blah, blah, blah



Have you ever had one of those long runs during which you just can't find the groove?

You may be hitting your time splits OK, but something's not quite right. A vague fatigue, maybe. Not enough to slow your pace, but enough to make you feel the effort you're putting in.

That was me Sunday on my 18-miler. I should've felt great, buoyed in spirit because I was running in daylight for once, soaking up all that enriching Vitamin D. But when I hit the halfway point and began to pick up the pace for the significant negative split I wanted to accomplish, my legs felt kind of sluggish, my mind wandered and couldn't focus on the task at hand.

It didn't help that I was out in the boondocks again, in that no-man's-land between Davis, Dixon and Winters. When I made the turn onto Putah Creek Road headed back to Davis at about mile 11, I felt I was plodding.

That's when inspiration came in the form of a gaggle of runners I could see coming towards me in the distance. Now, I'll admit to being vain enough that I'll pick up my pace a smidgen when others pass. I mean, you don't want to look like you feel when a fellow runner passes.

As the group neared, I was in for a bonus. It was about a dozen women cruising along, looking good and running well, too. (Please refrain from sending flaming email about my objectification of women; I mean, can't a guy enjoy the view?)

That little mental boost carried me through the last seven miles at a pace significantly below marathon-goal pace.

Thanks, ladies.

This got me thinking afterward about the advantages and pitfalls of running by yourself, which I do exclusively. The advantage is that you can dictate your pace without worrying about the other guy and those competitive juices don't kick in. The disadvantage is that you can get lonely out there. (I don't run with an iPod or listen to any music; I don't mind people who do, but I don't.)

That's why I'm looking forward to doing my long run next Sunday at the Clarksburg race. I've just got to remember it's still a training run for me, not a race. Gotta keep Dec. 6 in mind.

November 1, 2009
I deserve a massage
Marathon pace. Average pace. Tempo pace. I don't really know what it all means but I do know I ran 20 miles Sunday with my Fleet Feet training group. Yup, all 20 miles. And I did it in four hours and some change, a time that included three pit stops (apparently I was hydrating well), two pooch poop stops (I always pick it up), an osprey observation moment, and a coyote fleeing stint.

After a lovely blintz lunch and a short nap, I woke up to WHOA. Two ibuprofen weren't going to stave off this muscle mutiny. There was only one solution - a massage. I skedaddled on over to my favorite massage spot, Foot Reflexology Expert, 5942 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento.

It's not the most zen massage shop I've ever been to. It's located in a strip mall next to a 99 Cent Only Store in Little Saigon, and plays recordings of running water and chirping birds over and over again. But inside are the hands of wizards. Let me give you the lowdown on foot reflexology: It's based on an ancient Chinese belief that the foot is connected to the rest of the body. Foot reflexologists essentially press points on the foot and it's supposed to give the corresponding organs a jolt, kind of like caffeine in the morning.

I don't know about all that but I do know that I walk in, stick my achy feet in some hot steeping tea, and then I get a full-body massage from my earlobes to my toes for $20. For one hour. I usually tip from $10 to 20, so it does get pricier. But it's open until 10 p.m. everyday including Sunday. And that means I can go on a Sunday night after running 20 miles, eating, napping, and reading three newspapers cover to cover.

Find out more about foot reflexology in a story I wrote about three shops along the Stockton Boulevard and 65th Street corridor. Happy Day Spa has another spot in Folsom. Foot Reflexology Expert is opening a spot in Elk Grove next month and plans a midtown Sacramento location next year.

November 1, 2009
Sunday long run
After thinking better of it, I decided to forgo a tough but intriguing run on Saturday that some friends were doing: 4 miles warm up, 4 miles at marathon pace, 4 by 1 mile at tempo pace, 4 miles at marathon pace and a 4 mile cooldown. I decided 21 miles at a steady pace would fit better into my CIM training.

I did the run with the Buffalo Chips Running Club, of which I am a member. We met at the Aquatic Center at Lake Natoma and split into two groups. Some people did a loop of the lake, which is about 11 miles. My group went out and up to Beales Point, passed the campground, along the levee and down a dirt road, and then back, which turned out to be about 21 miles.

I did this same run two years ago just before my one and only marathon. It was tough then, and it was tough today. I managed to hold my steady pace well enough but it sure did hurt. My only solace was that everyone else in my group seemed to be hurting, too. Maybe it was the time change: too much sleep?

Anyway, the workout didn't tell me much about my chances of holding a 6:29 pace at CIM. Everything I need to know about that I hope to learn next weekend when I run the Clarksburg 30K. There, I will probably go out comfortably hard for about three miles, then attempt to do the final 15 at marathon pace.