Run, Sacramento

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

December 31, 2009
Injury-free Running in 2010

You may recall that, a few days ago, I revealed my super secret running resolution for 2010: Try to go the whole year injury-free.

But, really, that's a goal everyone should shoot for, whether you're pushing 50, like me, or still a coltish 20-something.

To that end, I'm excerpting a blog item about injury-free running from Pete Magill, recently named the USATF Masters long distance 45-49 age-group runner of the year. Magill hosts the edifying Younger Legs for Older Runners Web site.

This is the most important gift of all - the gift of injury-free running. Well, okay, there is no such thing as "injury-free running." Heck, I spent a good part of this past year with nasty hip pain. But I also assumed I'd eventually beat it if I just kept doing everything I could - every day, every week, every month. And eventually I did beat it. I figured out it was nothing more than IT Band Syndrome and did a 60 second stretch ... end of hip problem.

And that's the point: we older runners can't afford a single mistake in our training. We can't run too hard one day because we feel "good" - just an fyi, "feeling good" is the goal of training; it's not a green light to train like an idiot. We can't skip icing a sore spot because we're too tired or rushed that day. We can't skip our post-run stretching or exercises - ever. And we certainly can't afford to sit around waiting for our bodies to figure out how to heal chronic injuries. We have to be constantly vigilant, proactive, and reactive.

I remember back in the days before I was a parent. I used to look at babies and toddlers, and I'd think, "Man, it seems like you'd have to keep an eye on those kids every second of every day or they'd kill themselves!" But of course I knew that couldn't be true. No one could spend every second of every minute of every day watching their kid! ... Then I became a parent. And this is what I discovered: you have to watch your kid every second of every minute of every day or your kid will kill himself!

Welcome to training as an "older" runner. This is a No Mistake zone, folks.

Good luck, and here's hoping that 2010 is our best year yet - every one of us!


December 29, 2009
News Flash to Masters Runners: It's Hot in Sac in July


FL_WATER_JULIAN.JPGOver at the Web site,, runners are freaking out about the possibility of blistering hot temperatures when the 2010 U.S. Masters Track and Field Championships will be held at Sacramento State July 22-25.

It's always amusing to read people's whining and near indignation about our mid-summer ritual of hovering near 100 degrees. One commenter fell back on the inevitable cliche, "but it's a dry heat!"

But many of the masters runners do have a point. USATF should schedule the distance races in the evening or early morning and sprints during the heat of the day.  

December 28, 2009
New Year's Running Resolutions

My favorite snarky Internet message board,, has a topical thread going about running resolutions for 2010.

Here are 10 resolutions from the site, some really running-geeky, some funny, some contradictory:

  • "Drink only water"
  • "Spend more time with my family. And run more."
  • "3,000 miles"
  • "Keep my hemoglobin and iron up"
  • "Stretch more"
  • "Stretch less"
  • "Lose 10 pounds" 
  • "Gain five pounds of muscle"
  • "Eat no rubbish"
  • "Quit sleeping with all my friends' wives when they are out of town."

On a more serious note, I do have one running resolution as I inch ever closer to the big 5-0:

I want to go an entire calendar year without getting hurt. I've never done it. It's always been something over the course of my running life: hamstring, sacroiliac, piriformis, groin, shin splints ...

I came to this resolution after opening this gift from my wife:


The Quadballer now has a prominent place in my room right next to my two foam rollers, Flex Power cream, compression recovery sleeves, etc...  

 All right, time for you to cough up your 2010 running resolution.

December 24, 2009
Davis' "Shoe Guy" Columnist Hangs 'Em Up


Well, this is kind of a Christmas Eve bummer.

When I received the latest Running Times magazine in the mail today, I immediately turned to near the back to read the "Shoe Guy" column by JD Denton, who just happens to own the Fleet Feet store in Davis. (That's JD crouched in the photo.)

And, yeah, there was JD's page, as always. But the headline said it all: "Swan Song: Shoe Guy Says Good-Bye."

Yup, it was JD's last column. In 15 years, he wrote 150 columns about the running shoe business. And he did it with wit, humor (often self-deprecating) and above all honesty. Even though JD sells running shoes for a living, he never backed down from saying what he felt about certain overpriced, overhyped brands and trends.

Full disclosure: JD did a thorough shoe fit for me, which I wrote about a couple of years ago. He found all of my structural and mechanical flaws just by looking at my feet and watching me run up and down the sidewalk. The guy knows his stuff.

The good news is, he's still running the Davis Fleet Feet. But I'll miss his philosophic shoe musings in Running Times.   


December 21, 2009
The Running Gift That Makes You Feel Guilty


This being the holiday season, runners are being hounded by email entreaties, TV commercials and pop-up ads for running products ranging from compression socks to Human Growth Hormone dietary supplements. 

Lately, it seems like every ad I see is for Road ID.

Yes, yes. I know. As a runner who does many a long training run out in the middle of rural Yolo County, I might be wise to have my name and contact information on my person in case some maniac in a white pickup truck picks me off.

But the constant barrage that I absolutely, positively no-doubt-about-it need Road ID is off-putting. It popped up again in my email today. I saw it recently when I signed up online for a race. Saturday, while watching the recap of the Hawaii Iroman Championships on NBC, triathletes were pushing Road ID. Today, in his Runner's World blog, ultra dude Dean Karnazes puts it on his must-have Christmas gifts. 

So, why haven't I purchased a Road ID? 

I don't want to wear the thing around my wrist while I run. Too distracting.

It's ridiculous, I know. I'm a guy who wears a bulky Garmin Forerunner GPS watch on one wrist and, on long runs, a hydration pack on my back. So what's the big deal with a light-weight Road ID on the other wrist?

Hey, I never said I was rational.

Looking deeper into my twisted psyche, I think it may be a case of massive denial. If I don't think about getting run over on the road, it won't happen to me. If I wear a Road ID, I'm giving in to fear and admitting that I could get in an accident on the road. (I have had a couple close calls -- not my fault -- over the years.)

Maybe I'll make Road ID a New Year's Running Resolution, but I don't count on it.

Anecdotally, I haven't seen a lot of runners donning Road IDs. Maybe that's just the heedless runners I hang with.

Anyway, do you use Road ID -- or at least carry some form of identification on you during a run? 'Fess up.   

December 18, 2009
Preview of Saturday's Hawaii Ironman TV Coverage

OK, yeah, so the World Ironman Championships took place in October and it took NBC all this time to put together and air a 1 1/2-hour highlights show. But it's still worth watching. The show airs tomorrow at 1:30, local time.

We had a local contingent in the race, though none of the real speedy ones. (But the second place finisher, Chris Lieto, is from the Bay Area; does that count?). Next year, friend-of-the-blog and ultra-running icon Tim Twietmeyer will be competing in the Hawaii Ironman. He qualified this past summer in Madison, Wisc.

Below is NBC's YouTube preview video. Thankfully, the overwrought announcer Al Trautwig is not a part of the preview.


December 18, 2009
Now This Is a Guy With Motivation

Guess I should stop whining about running in the dark (see previous post). Here's a 71-year-old Connecticut man who averages 60 races a year and has surpassed the 2,000 total. He's quite a character, as evidenced by this excerpt:

Zuleger has a collection of 900 of his favorite race T-shirts (he's given some away). He keeps each on a hanger and groups them according to the month of the race.

"Right now I'm wearing the long-sleeve ones from October," he told me.

If you're wondering, he lives alone.

Check out the full story in The Day here.   

December 18, 2009
Running in a Dark Time



Monday will be the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year.

Frankly, it can't come fast enough for me. Once Monday comes around, the days slowly but inexorably get longer. More sunlight. A slighty earlier dawn. More time to run in daylight.

For those of us who hold down jobs, this has been a dark time.

I can't remember the last weekday I ran without wearing my Petzl headlamp and reflective vest. Early October, maybe? Nearly all my marathon training was in the dark, but the December goal race was what inspired me to get up before 5 a.m. and hit the dark, deserted streets of Davis.

Now, during recovery, motivation is harder to come by. It took every fiber in my being, and a tremendous force of will, to leave the house at 5:03 (according to my trusty Garmin) this morning for a 6-mile threshold run. Normally, I don't mind running in the fog, because that means no wind. And I hate the wind with a passion I normally reserve for rattlesnakes and opponents to health-care reform.

 But the fog was so heavy and such a soupy mess this morning that I actually felt a little scared putting one foot in front of the other. I ran a well-trod route with a camber I'm accustomed to, but still each stride was like stepping off a cliff. It actually was nice when the few cars I past approached, because the lights helped me orient to the road.

Now, I know what you're saying: Dude, why don't you run during the day, say, at lunch? Not an option for me in my current job.

So darkness it is. But, come Monday, we will have turned the corner on the out-and-back calendar and start slowly heading toward the light.

Please remind me in August, when I'm whining about the heat, that at least it's not dark and cold and miserable.    

December 16, 2009
For The Runner Who Has Everything ...


Runners are being bombarded with all sorts of luxurious gadgets and gizmos this holiday season.

Compression socks?

Oh, that's sooooo 2008.

Garmin Forerunner GPS watch?

Hey, that's not a luxury. A Garmin is a necessity for many runners.

An ad for the latest, tres chic expensive running toy arrived in my inbox mere moments ago as part of Fleet Feet Sacramento's latest newsletter.

Get this: It's a home electronic stimulation kit from the folks at Compex. For the low, low price of $429 to $999, you, too, can pretend to be a physical therapist and attach the sticky pads to your aching hamstrings and zap it with juice. (Of course, PTs went to school to learn just wher and how and for what duration to use the device, but you, the runner, can't concern yourself with such trivialities.)

I love the health and performance claims the ad makes, especially how it will improve your VO2 Max. Uh-huh, sure. More info.

That said ...

Memo to Santa: I want one!   


December 16, 2009
Two More Holiday Runs


first 5k.gif

Two more upcoming races for your consideration ...

You can break up that Christmas morning orgy of present opening by participating in the inaugural Cool Yule Jingle Jog (5K and 10K) on the Bear River Canal Scenic Greenway at Meadow Vista Park. The race, which begins at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 25, costs $30 and benefits the Placer Trails Conservancy. About half of the 10K is said to be on "very scenic unpaved road and trail."

No Web site was listed on the race form I received, but you can call 530-878-1901 for details.

The other new race is the My First 5K at the State Capitol on Sunday, Jan. 3 at 8:30 a.m.. Details here.  

December 15, 2009
Ring Out The Old And In The New With Runs

 Are you bummed that downtown Sacramento's annual New Year's Eve run was canceled?

Fret not.

If you're willing to go to Stockton (and, really, who isn't?), you can participate in that city's annual New Year's Eve race, The Pajama Run. Details here.

Then, the next day, rouse yourself and head up to Auburn for the annual Resolution Run, a 5K, 10K and 10-Mile trail race. Blessedly, it starts at 1 p.m.Details here.  

The alternative is to sleep off that hangover and lounge around watching football all day. Now, who'd want to do that?    

December 14, 2009
National XC Club Championship Results

A bevy of local runners competed in Kentucky last weekend in the USATF Masters cross country club championships, and two women shined above the rest. (complete results here)

UC Davis runner Kim Conley, 23, finished second overall in the open division 6K at 20:26. Her team, Asics Aggies, finished third. 

Cool runner Mo Bartley, 54, was part of the Impala Racing Team, which won first place in the women's 50-59 team category. Impala, comprised of Northern California runners, edged Club Northwest (Oregon, Washington) by 2 seconds for the title. Bartley finished 10th in her age group and 43rd overall, covering the 6K course in 26:02.

Three area men competed in the 10K masters championships. Asics Aggie, which includes Michael Livingston (34:38) and Robert Grove (36:25) of Folsom and Roger Dix (38:30) of Sacramento, finished 10th in the 40-49 division.

In the men's open division, the River City Rebels, finished 29th, led by Sacramento's Alan Jackson.   

December 14, 2009
Final CIM Numbers

The wind whipped. The temperatures were cold. And all the CIM finishers are still grumbling about it.

The weather from last Sunday, (wow, it feels like months ago already), made me wonder if fewer people made it to the starting and finish lines than in previous years.

The answer is "no," according to race director John Mansoor.

"That cold weather was great for the runners," he said. "We whine about it in California, but around the country, cold is a lot colder than that."

In fact, the number of people who needed medical attention was lower than in years in which the temperatures were warmer, he said.

Here are the final numbers. All very normal for a run where people must register months before the run, he said.


Entrants: 7,500

Starters: 6040

Finishers: 5848


December 14, 2009
Sign Up For The Way Too Cool 50K Lottery



As ultramarathons go, the Way Too Cool 50K (that's 31 miles) has become way too popular. In recent years, registration closed within days, even hours. So, this year, race director Julie Fingar (pictured) has turned to a lottery to determine the 575 entrants.

The lottery, which can be accessed here, opened last weekend and will remain open through Saturday. As of this writing, nearly 500 have already "put their name in the hat." Note: You must register an account (free) at the Web site Ultra Signup to join the liottery entrants.

Names will be drawn on Sunday.

For more information on the Way Too Cool 50K, click here.      

December 11, 2009
Upcoming Races



Yeah, we know you're heavily into holiday shopping and, for some of us, post-marathon recovery. But you still might want to consider some fun shorter races coming up:

  • Tomorrow (Dec. 12), the Rancho Cordova Police Acitvities League will hold a 5K and 10K race at Village Green Park. Organizers also are asking for unwrapped gifts for a toy drive. Details here.
  • Next Sunday (Dec. 20), Fleet Feet Sacramento will host its annual free run (yes, FREE) at 9 a.m. at Sutters Landing Park on 28th and A streets in midtown. Details here.  Runners are strongly encouraged to donate unwrapped toys for the Salvation Army Family Toy Drive.
December 9, 2009
New Year's Eve Run Canceled

Now this is no way to end 2009...

The annual New Year's Eve run in Sacramento, sponsored by Fleet Feet, has been canceled this year because of construction of the river front promenade.

Read race director's Kim Parrino's note here.  

In happier news, Fleet Feet has opened registration for the March 14 Shamrock'n Half Marathon and soon will hold a meeting about those wanting to train for it with their coaches. Details here.

Also, Fleet Feet Davis is training half marathoners for the Feb. 7 Davis Stampede Half Marathon. Details here.

December 8, 2009
Western States 100 Lottery Winners Drawn

That storied ultramarathon event, the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, has become so popular that organizers hold a drawing each winter to pick the lucky few who gain entrance (along with the two-time losers, meaning those who've failed twice to get picked, and invited elite entrants) to the June trail trek from the Tahoe area to Auburn.

UPDATE: The complete list of entrants, including the usual local ultra suspects such as Eric Skaden, John Blue, Mark Lantz, etc.) can be found here.

There were 270 lottery winners, but only 16 from the Sacramento area. They are:

Lanie Callahan-Matoon -- Lincoln

Leslie Carboni -- Sacramento

Don Duffy -- Pollack Pines

Julie Fingar -- Granite Bay

Stephen Itano -- Fairfield

Matt Keyes -- Auburn

Lee McKinley -- Granite Bay

Brian Medley -- Elk Grove

Tony Overbay -- Lincoln

Ken Press -- Sacramento

Ronald Rogawski -- Rocklin

Ray Sanchez -- Sacramento

Eric Schranz -- Sacramento

Joseph Sellner -- Sacramento

Derek Semanski -- Rocklin

Donn Zea -- Grass Valley.

And the local "Two Time Losers" who'll run in June:

Anita Bagley -- Sacramento

Eric Chitwood -- Galt

John Feeney -- West Sacramento

Karyn Hoffman -- Folsom

Bill Lecar -- Folsom

Timothy Meyer -- Folsom

Debra Moss -- Sacramento

James Yee -- Fair Oaks  

December 8, 2009
I'm a marathoner!

It's official and so surreal. After all those months of training, I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 5:02:23, or an average pace of 11 minutes, 27 seconds. (I did the math, so correct me if I'm wrong). I believe I finished the first half in 2:27, so the second half was 2:35.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. on marathon day thinking, "Wow, I've stayed up later than this!" I was also exhausted since I had run about 20 marathons in my dreams that night.

Still, I was out in the freezing cold, bundled in my thrift-store purchases. I crossed the start line about 3 minutes after the gun went off and enjoyed seeing the carpet of runners filling the streets to the clangs of cow bells. I never felt my toes during the race - they were numb from the cold in the beginning and then the exertion by the end.

I felt solid until mile 17 when everything became a push. After stopping at Watt to use the bathroom at the AM/PM there, getting back into the running groove brought tears to my eyes. Every muscle in my legs had seized up.

"Just eight more miles and you never have to run again. Just five more miles and you never have to run again. Just three more miles and you never have to run again," I kept reciting to myself, ticking off the remaining miles.

This is when public support really made a difference. It's amazing how many people came out to blast music, sing cheers and encourage runners to the finish. When a friend appeared next to me during mile 23 to run the rest of the way, it was all I could do to not cry. A mile later, my sister and brother-in-law were running with me too. Then there were two friends on bikes. Then two more friends joined the running entourage. One of my Fleet Feet coaches ran with her arm around me for part of the last block along L Street before heading into the chute. "Finish strong," she said.

I felt like Oprah.

As the announcer said my name, another group of friends was there at the finish, cheering me to the end.

It's all the support that got me through. The e-mails from blog readers, the note from Audrey the postal worker (How did your husband do?), the editor who let me out of work early Saturday, the running partners who boiled my potatoes and drove me to the bus.

It apparently takes a village to run a marathon.

The question I keep getting now is, "Will I do it again?"

Um, ask me next year.


December 7, 2009
Video: This Is What D.O.M.S. Looks Like

That's delayed onset muscle soreness (see post below). This is a hilarious video to which many marathoners can relate this morning:


December 7, 2009
Marathoners: Time to Rest and Recover

There are two kinds of marathoners the day after a race: 1) Those who are sore and achy with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and 2) those who are feeling good and eager to continue running, like, right now.

It's those second kind of runners who need to worry about injury.

Here's a story I wrote before last year's CIM, quoting experts saying that runners should take at least a week off before resuming running. I reprint it here, just changing the dates:

Once there was this marathon runner who had boundless enthusiasm, middling talent and little capacity for listening to advice -- a sure recipe for disaster, if there ever was one.
He was a cocky 25-year-old and had just finished his second 26.2-mile ordeal, the quadriceps-straining, vertically challenging San Francisco Marathon.
So, what did he do the next day? He went running and kept running all the next week. Until his body broke down and required arthroscopic knee surgery, followed by many weeks of enforced recovery, weight gain and periodic existential despair.
Yeah, I was pretty stupid back in 1985.
It's debatable whether I'm any smarter today, but at least I know this much: Middle-packers need to take at least a week off from running after a marathon. I took an eight-day break after October's Cowtown Marathon -- though I did swim and cycle -- and my legs felt fresh and my fitness level stayed strong when I returned to the pavement.
So for those runners competing in the 27th California International Marathon, let my youthful indiscretion serve as a cautionary tale.
Take it easy after the CIM.
You deserve a break.
If you keep pushing, mental burnout or injuries from overuse (or both) can take hold and knock you flat.
This doesn't hold for those serious, high-mileage (100-plus per week) runners for whom a marathon is not that significant a stress on the body. George Parrott, coach of the Buffalo Chips local running club, reports that he has even run two sub-three-hour marathons six days apart.
But most runners fit in the former category. As Rich Hanna, director of the Cowtown Marathon and designer of The Bee's 18-week CIM training program, says: "You need to allow the microtears in your muscles to heal."
Dr. Meredith Bean, a Kaiser Permanente sports medicine specialist and medical director for the CIM, says marathoners should wait until their soreness is gone before resuming. It could be a week for experienced runners or as long as a month for those relatively new to the sport.
"One of the biggest mistakes I see in my clinic is that (runners) go back to their training too soon," Bean says. "They are on a high and want to train for the next one. They haven't fully recovered, and that's when they get overuse injuries."
Bean says the soreness resulting from microtears in the muscle are completely normal.
"Any type of exercise where you're either exerting your muscles more forcefully than normal or for a longer duration, it puts a lot of stress of the tiny muscle fibers and they get tears," she says. "That's actually part of the training process, too. As the muscle heals, it heals in response to that in a way it can tolerate more the next time out."
We asked three local running coaches to share what to expect in the days following today's CIM:
* Maureen Bartley, an ultramarathoner from Cool who coaches beginners to elites for Fleet Feet Sports in Sacramento:
"When you run a road marathon and you are out there for anywhere between 3 1/2 hours to 5 hours, your body is taking more of a beating than someone running at a faster, more efficient pace. Wear and tear occurs no matter how fast you are going, and depletion of essential nutrients along with microtears in the muscles due to dehydration and fatigue.
"It takes approximately three weeks for the body to repair itself completely, even though you should start feeling better and better within a couple of days. If this distance is unknown territory, you are in for a big surprise about how beat up you are going to feel even if speed was not a factor."
* George Parrott, coach for the Buffalo Chips:
"I would urge any marathon finisher to get out and walk the next day -- even get in some biking -- but nothing that has running-type impact. For the novice, this will prevent any additional damage to the muscles and promote the more active circulation of blood, which is the core to actual recovery and rebuilding.
"By the fourth or fifth day after, one should be able to get back out for very easy running on softer surfaces and, by the end of the second week, back to most of your prior training levels of three weeks before the actual marathon. Taking more than two weeks off can cost you almost all of the base endurance you spent all those weeks in building. So, if you want to use that last marathon as a step toward another, by the middle of the second week, you should be back to about 75 percent of your original base training."
* Chad Worthen, elite marathoner and coach of Nike Fleet Feet Racing team:
"For midpack runners, I would suggest taking the week off after the marathon. Some people are so sore they can't move, and some don't really get that sore. But no matter which camp you fall into, I really think that you need both the physical and mental break from the hard training that you put in prior to the marathon.
"If you don't take that break, then I think you will end up with a mental breakdown and loss of motivation. Don't get overexcited that you hit your marathon goals and rush into the next training plan, because then you can become injured."

December 6, 2009
Cold, windy and fun
Funny that Sam starts his race report with a picture of his Garmin. I could, too, since mine played a minor but maddening role in my race. But I will get back to that.

I did not reach my goal of breaking 2:50. But I did PR by 7 minutes, finishing in 2:54:16. I also had fun, especially for the first half. I got to run the half with two Jens, one of whom was doing the relay and pacing me, the other who was running a conservative first half as a prelude to her awesome kick to the finish.

I wore only shorts and a short sleeve shirt, but I was actually very comfortable at the start and all through the first half. I called out to spectators and volunteers and chatted with my running mates. All was well with the world. Mile after mile went by and the timers at every one of them seemed to say, "Pace, 6:29" -- my goal pace. I crossed the 13.1 mile mark in 1:25:00, exactly one-half of my goal of 2:50.

dan at cim.jpgThen, as we turned south on Fair Oaks, the wind picked up a bit, and the temperature seemed to drop. I didn't feel cold from head to toe, but my quads started to tighten, as if they were trying to find a warm place to hide. It was then that I looked with envy on the knickers that Jen. P was racing in. They looked very warm at that point. I managed to duck behind Jen and Katie, another woman who was running with us, and a man who was also in our little group, and I did a few pulls out front myself. The wind speed didn't seem to bother me too much, just the wind chill.

Then, at about the 16.5 mile mark, Jen P. did an abrupt right turn off the course, apparently for an unscheduled nature break. I had no idea how long she was detained, but I figured, given her talent for fast finishes, that she would be back. At that point Katie took over the bulk of the pack leading, and as she ramped it up to a sub-6:25 pace, I was determined to hang on. I did so until just before mile 21, when, as we ran stride for stride, Katie's elbow hit my Garmin. I use a triathlete's quick release watch band into which the body of the Garmin clips. Her elbow knocked the watch clear out of the plastic holder. I looked behind me to see my watch bouncing down the street.

In an instant I had to decide whether to let that $300 appliance go, and with it the data that would help guide my finish. I decided to go pick it up. I turned around, ran back to get it, popped it back into its holder and started to run again. But I hadn't secured it, and it fell out after a couple of strides. I went back to get it again, this time making sure I secured it, but it was turned off. So I had to turn it on an restart it. All of this probably cost me only 20 seconds or so, but more importantly, by the time I got back on track, Katie was long gone. The gap was too big to make up, though I tried in vain for a bit, managing only to send my heart rate soaring.

That incident only contributed to what was probably inevitable: just like in my first marathon, my final five miles were terrible. At the 20-mile mark my time was 2:09:52, which is a pace of 6:29.6 per mile and a projected final time of 2:50:07. Then I started to fall apart. My pace steadily rose until it was more than a minute per mile higher than my goal. My quads felt like telephone poles, so heavy I thought I might need to reach down and lift them off the ground to take my next step. By mile 23 I knew my chance of breaking 2:50 was gone, but I also knew that, barring a total collapse, I would still break 3 hours, and by quite a bit. So I went into defensive mode and focused on avoiding a total collapse. The cheers from friends and strangers along L Street helped as I struggled to another painful finish. As I expected, Jen P caught and passed me here, racing as if she were doing the relay and not the final miles of a marathon.  She urged me on, but my final 1.2 miles were no better than they were two years ago, which is remarkable given how much faster I ran overall this time.

My conclusion: if I want to finish a marathon in anything other than complete agony, I am going to have to run more than three days a week, and more than 35 to 45 miles per week. And certainly if I want to finish a marathon in under 2:50, that is what will be required.

But I am happy with this result, if not the path I took to it, cratering at the finish.  I had fun, learned some things about myself, met the challenge in front of me and found a new one. Onward.


December 6, 2009
Brr, That Was A Darn Cold Race, But Fun!

So how did I do today in the CIM? My watch tells the story.

Thumbnail image for time.jpg

My unofficial "chip time" was 3:27.10 (I haven't checked the official results yet). Not what I had hoped, but I still was able to easily reach my goal (by about 8 minutes) of qualifying for the Boston Marathon for the second time.

So, I'm happy. I'm not happy with the wind, or with my bruised right heel (no, not plantar fasciitis), both of which slowed me. But, hey, I ran a reasonably conservative race, didn't have a major bonk (as in exertional muscle cramps, though I did slow considerably after mile 20) and enjoyed this uniquely Sacramento experience.

What strikes me most about the race is the support from the populace -- not just the volunteers, who were great -- but the people who braved a windy and chilly morn in Folsom and along the route to cheer runners on.

Even the workers at the AM/PM minimart and Quizno's on Auburn-Folsom Road were not in the least bothered by a horde of runners lingering in the warmth at 6 a.m. and not buying anything.

From reading our online story, it was a close men's race. But we middle of the packers got our own drama, too. I ran with the 3:20 group for the first half (and tried to draft off tall people) and a women badly sprained her ankle and was forced to drop out. The pace leader, Pete Kelleher was a wonderful coach for the 3:20 groups. I was kind of disappointed I had to drop back off that pace, becaise the guy was an inspiration. 

Oh, and did I mention the wind? The runners were cursing it from the turn onto Fair Oaks near Mile 6. I don't know what the readings were, but it seemed a lot more than just a light breeze. 

But enough about me. 

How was your race? There are 7,000 stories in the CIM. Feel free to share.    

December 5, 2009
Counting down the hours

The anxiety still lingers. Last night, the dream was all about how I forgot my GUs. Then I realized I had also forgotten my hydration belt and rubber bands for my hair.

I almost wish it were here so I can stop being anxious.

The question from everyone is, "Are you ready?"

Um, uh. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. The meteorologists say it'll be about 33 degrees when the gun goes off. It will rise to 40 degrees at 10 a.m. and then 45 degrees at noon. Rain is definitely ruled out until Sunday night.

The CIM pacer table has a cool thing at the Expo. Temporary tattoos with the pace times for various goals. I grabbed one for five hours and another for five-and-a-half hours. I'll decide which one to stick on in the morning since I'm hoping for somewhere in between those times.

Thanks to all those who have sent their good wishes. On to the 26.2.


December 5, 2009
bruce.jpgI am ready to go.

I trained the way I wanted to. I found my pace. I dodged major injury and recovered from minor ones. I stayed focused. I tapered. This week, I fought off illness. Even the weather is cooperating.

Now I am ready to race.

This morning, I ran my short run with a "Chris Carmichael" half mile, at speed, to get my carbo loading engines going. Now I am eating, and kicking back. It is very hard for me to do nothing. I am watching a video of Bruce Springsteen's first concert in London, in 1975, the audio cranked up loud on my headphones. Later I will watch some college football and eat some more, finishing with a light dinner. I will be in bed by 8 p.m.

I don't know how the race is going to turn out, or if I will make my goal. But I intend to have fun. Ok, at least for the first 20 miles.

So many people have given me so much support, and will be doing so Sunday. Mentors, training partners, family and friends. Running a marathon can seem like such a solitary endeavor. But it really does take a village. Thanks to all.

I was injured and all but out of running from September 2008 through March of this year. I missed last year's CIM. When I started running again, and was ready to do a 5K, my friend Mary gave me some advice.

"Enjoy the pain," she said. "Remember how much you missed this when you couldn't run, couldn't race. Now you are ready to go again."

The end of a hard 5K is one of the most painful things in sport. But Mary told me to enjoy it. "Have fun," she said.

I took her to heart and ran a good race, and ever since then I have tried to smile during even the toughest moments of competition. Oddly enough, my new attitude seems to help me do better.

mary.jpgI guess it makes sense. We do this to have fun, right? Sometimes it is easy to forget that. Mary reminded me.

Of course, the final six miles of the marathon will be a major test of that philosophy. They will be hard. But they shouldn't be any more painful than the final steps of a 5K. I should be able to have fun. Or at least smile.

If you see me on the course, just yell, "Smile, Dan!"

I will try to oblige. But even if I can't get the smile to my face, I will be feeling it inside. Somewhere in there.

Thanks for reading. Good luck Sunday to all the runners. And thank you to all of you who support us.

December 4, 2009
CIM Runners, You've Already Won By Being There


Final thoughts before going into pre-marathon hibernation ...

The great thing about a marathon -- and the most maddening, too -- is that it's the culmination of months of training. It says something that the runners you'll see on the course Sunday actually made it there without succumbing to overuse injury, the nemesis of any runner -- especially those of a certain age.
But the maddening part is that so much can go wrong during a race, some your fault, others not. There are the elements, of course. Stormy weather or excessive heat can really ruin a PR (personal record) attempt. You also can make the mistake I did last May in a marathon and heedlessly go out too fast and pay for it with much pain and suffering past the 22-mark.

For all the runners feeling anxious about the race, let me leave you with these two quotes. The first is from from Runner's World blogger and ultra-marathoner Jennifer Van Allen; the second from by former Boston Marathon winner and writer Amby Burfoot:

Van Allen: "It's a funny thing about success in our sport. Everyone always defines it as 'more, better, faster.' But in running, for me and so many others, just completing the training and getting to the starting line is a huge, huge accomplishment. I always say we should get the medal at the starting line -- not the finish -- because when we show up there all lubed up, having overcome injuries, kids' soccer schedules, compromises for our careers and our relationships, and worst of all, our own doubts, it is a huge deal.
"The race is really a victory lap... The training lasts for four long months. You have to commit to that monster over and over and over again, everyday for 112 days. What else in your life can you point to that requires that kind of dedication, not to mention discomfort? Four months of your life! Your very busy, overbooked, time-pressed stressful life!"

Burfoot: "The 'why race' question is interesting. It's not required, after all. I can be a runner without being a racer. My wife is always advising me to be 'more moderate in all things.' And she's smart, this is good advice. But you know what? A person can get too much of this moderate stuff. Who wants to live a life that's always safe, controlled, aiming for the middle path?
"Every once in a while I still want to feel the burn. To push to the limit. To be near collapse when I cross the finish line. Sure, I already know the result: It will be shown that I'm older and slower than I was yesterday and the day before that. I don't need a race to tell me these things.
"But a race says I'm not ready to surrender. It says I'm going to keep struggling to squeeze all I can out of this life. It says I'm not checking out of here until I've given it my all. Yes, I know I'm gonna die some day."


December 4, 2009
Looking to Buy/Sell CIM Bib #? Think Again

This scolding email just arrived from the CIM race organizers:

IT IS AGAINST USATF RULE #143.9 TO SELL or GIVE AWAY YOUR BIB NUMBER. This is true for both the relay and the marathon. CIM officials will be monitoring runners during the race and checking race photos and results afterward. They will find runners with transferred bib numbers.

People caught doing this, both the original entrant and the person using the transferred bib number, will be banned from the CIM for life.

The CIM is a quality marathon race, NOT a fun run. It is the 2009 Pacific Association of USA Track & Field Marathon Championship. DO NOT compromise the integrity of the event, the race of the runners officially entered, and the final results by transferring your bib number.


Who would think of buying their way into the race at this point?

At least 18 people, apparently. Craigslist is lit up with offers. It's interesting to read the reasons why people are trying to sell their numbers -- mostly injury and sickness.  


December 4, 2009
Final CIM Weather Post*


Good news, at least according to The Bee and the National Weather Service. Our story posted online this morning calls for a chilly start (33 degrees), a light wind but no rain at least until Sunday night.

But if you've been reading Pete Danko's CIM all-weather-all-the-time blog, you already knew that. This morning, Pete posted forecats from four sources all calling for clear and cold. Woo-hoo.    


December 3, 2009
3 Ultra Guys to Run CIM Twice for Charity

Most of us are worrying about completing the 26.2-mile CIM course in one piece. Well, three ultra-runners from the area are going to run the course twice on Sunday.

It's for charity -- the Elk Grove Food Bank Services.

Here's the deal: Ultramarathoners Christopher Waters, Jim Barstadt and Ray Sanchez will start their CIM odyssey at 1:30 at the steps of the state Capitol and run the course in reverse to the Folsom Dam. Then, they'll turn around and run with the rest of us back to the Capitol at the official start of the race.

It's the brainchild of Waters, who says via email that he huimself benefitted from the Elk Grove food bank when he hit hard times nine years ago. "Since that time, I have completed college, bought a home, married a wonderful woman and furthered my passion of running to reach new challenges and hurdles for my life long journey," he says.


December 3, 2009
CIM Expo: More Than Just Packet Pick-Up



If all you do is pop in and out of the convention center Friday or Saturday to grab your race bib and stuff, you'll miss some great lectures. Yeah, I know. Lectures. Snooze. But there are talks about all aspects of running, so it won't be like school or anything.

Here are some highlights:

* Kaiser Permanente is the race sponsor, and it will hold a medical symposium on Saturday dealing with issues such as hydration, overuse injuries, mental techniques and -- ah, yes -- blisters.

* Runner's World bon vivant Bart Yasso will speak at 6 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday. Yasso wrote a piece in the most recent Runner's World magazine about how he met his future wife while running the CIM years ago.

Yasso's memoir, "My Life on the Run," is a great read, too. I especially liked his humorous encounters with burro racing in Colorado, the Bare Buns Run (yup, nekkid), and his tale of inventing the "Yasso 800s" interval work for marathoners. But he also writes poignantly about overcoming alcohol dependence and father issues by embracing running and its lifestyle.

* Elite masters women's marathoner/registered dietician Mary Coordt (who recently qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials) and registered dietician Andrea Hacker will hold a sports nutrition seminar on Saturday at 10 a.m. 

Also: Fleet Feet is running a shuttle from the convention center to its Midtown store. It's having a sale, including gels for $1.  

December 3, 2009
What's for (pre-race) dinner? Consider this pasta dish
Sweet potatoes and pasta have never let me down as pre-race dinner fare, so when an e-mail boasting a recipe for rigatoni with sweet potato, oregano and parmesan flopped into my inbox this morning, I immediately followed the link.

I think I've found my dinner solution for Saturday night.

Follow this link to check out the recipe, which is from the folks at Real Simple magazine.

The pasta dish has 485 calories and 14 grams of fat, but also packs 74 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fiber.

Happy eating and good luck!
December 3, 2009
CIM Photo Tips; Plus a Nipple Protection Video
If you are entered in the CIM, you received an email recently from "Sport Photo, Inc.," the outfit that will be shooting photos of you on the course. The email gives unintentionally funny suggestions on how to look good when a photographer snaps your picture on the course. The suggestions:
  • Pin your Bib Number high on your chest  & keep it visible
  • Look Up
  • Don't cross your arms
  • Don't stop your watch at the Finish-Line 
  • As veteran runners know, none of that will work. Your race photos still will make you look slightly ridiculous. In fact, it's Rule 2.38 in Runner's World staffer Mark Remy's "Rule Book." To wit:

    "Brad Pitt could show up at the start of a marathon completely rested, tanned, toned, massaged, hydrated, and professionally styled, and ... in the photos Brad would look like a badly dehydrated Quasimodo having a seizure. This is the magic of race photography. If the folks who sold race photos were smart, they'd charge people not to send prints of their pics."

    In every race photo ever taken of me, my mouth is open as if I've just gone into anaphylactic shock. Below is a shot of me rounding the corner near the end of the 2009 Dipsea trail race (where you run over Mount Tamalpais). Note the trail of blood and dirt going down my left leg (lovely) and the pained expression. Worse, I was passed in the final yards by the dude in the red shirt and backwards baseball hat.


    Moving on, here's our last installment of Video Thursday. Today, it's a funny take on that bane of male distance runners everywhere -- bleeding nipples.


    December 3, 2009
    Tim's CIM Tips: Mile 26-Finish



    The final installment of our mile-by-mile CIM course preview. The complete mile-by-mile analysis appears in today's print edition of The Bee, and an interactive map of the course will be on our Web site on Friday.


    Left onto 8th Street, left onto the Capitol Mall
    Topography: Flat
    Tim's Tips: You think, barring catastrophe, 'I'll make it to the finish line.' But it's elusive. You really can't see the finish line until the last 50 yards or so. It can surprise you."
    Sights: The finish line

    December 2, 2009
    Saturday Night Pre-Race Pasta Options in Sacramento



    CIM participant Michaela Baltasar of Sonoma, who goes by "Biscuiterie," in her pre-race tweets, lamented just a few minutes ago that she:

    Failed to make ressies at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Sac for Sat. They're completely full, said it's their busiest day of the year!

    Fear not. In fact, I talked with Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson, who turned up his nose at the Old Spaghetti Factory and said out-of-town runners can find much better pasta options at "non-chain" restaurants "for just a few dollars more," Blair says.

    Here are his four Midtown Sacramento pasta faves:

    December 2, 2009
    Reading to Wile Away the CIM Taper

    Since we aren't spending as much time running during the taper, that leaves us plenty of free time to devote to the sadly neglected family reading about running.

    Here are links to some interesting stuff:

    • What's the ideal temperature in which to run a marathon? Pete Danko's CIM Weather Web site addresses a study by South African researchers.
    • A guy gets banned from running in New Hampshire because, among other "crimes," he runs without wearing a shirt.
    • The New York Times has an interesting piece on how runners can try to avoid tibial stress fractures.
    • Sac Bee sportswriter John Schumacher writes about the favorites to win Sunday's CIM.
    • Finally, if you're bored on Saturday, you can go online and follow the live lottery drawing for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and just be happy that we'll only be going 26.2 miles on Sunday.
    December 2, 2009
    Tapernoia: Did I Wimp Out?



    Some of you might know that my day job is being the health & fitness reporter for The Bee. In that capacity, I go out and talk to people who do any number of activities for fitness.

    On Monday, I went to Carmichael to report on the growing popularity of hooping -- don't call it Hula-Hooping, unless you want to run afoul of the Wham-O Corp., which owns the trademark -- classes. The instructor, Allison Miller (pictured above), invited me to give the hip swiveling a twirl during her one-hour class.

    But I begged off. I used the marathon taper as my excuse reason. I could just imagine screwing up my sacroilliac joint or tearing a hip flexor before the race.

    My wife called me a total wimp -- actually something much stronger -- for not hooping. I say I was being prudent so close to the CIM.

    So, which was it: prudent or wimpy? My marriage and CIM taper depends on your response.

    P.S.: The hooping story runs Dec. 13.  

    December 2, 2009
    Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 24-26



    The finish of Tim Twietmeyer's mile-by-mile CIM course description is in sight. Pick up the print edition of The Bee tomorrow (Thursday) for the complete 26.2-mile list, plus a map and photos.


    MILE 24-25

    Alhambra to L Street, under Business 80 Freeway, to 21st Street
    Topography: Flat; uneven road near Sutter Hospital construction at 28th Street.
    Tim's Tips: "You complete that Z-turn onto L. People's legs are starting to get locked up. Making that left hand turn, you'll go over a drainage grate and dip, which can be dicey. When you're under the freeway, they have some good music right here that echo off the walls. You're looking for any piece of inspiration you can drag out of anyone. At the underpass, usually somebody's on the loud speaker shouting out names, cheering people on."
    Sights: Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Del Taco

    MILE 25-26

    L Street to 8th Street
    Topography: Flat
    Tim's Tips: "Back to counting streets. The blocks are shorter, though. There's something to be said for city planning at this point. You're starting to get into that gravitational pull of the finish line. Just keep your head down and keep moving. The next big milestone in the edge of the park and the Hyatt. At that point, you're just a few blocks away from the U-turn to the Capitol. The buildings can block the wind; sometimes it's swirling."
    Sights: Adult Costume Shop, Crepeville, Capitol Park

    COMING TOMORROW: Mile 26 to the finish line


    December 2, 2009
    Anybody Know How to Help Frostbitten CIMer?


    ice bag.jpg

    CIM postings out in the Twitterverse are multiplying this close to race day. (Remember to use the #CIM hashtag.) And I was dismayed to read this missive by a Bay Area marathoner who, well, let "jbone66" tell you himself:

    Dumba$$ me dozed with an icepack on my ankle. It appears I have mild frostbite! Can't walk/HURTS! Any good treatment? Maybe no CIM now. Ugh

    Yikes! Any medical professionals out there who can help this guy, stat!?! You can tweet him at

    One last note on icing: Remember, don't ice an area for longer than 10 minutes, according to recent research.

    December 2, 2009
    Using headphones? What's on your playlist?
    MP3.jpgIt may be frowned upon to run with headphones during Sunday's race, but it's not banned outright (see Sam McManis' story from April for more info).

    So the question here today is two-fold: do you plan to use an MP3 player and if so, what's on your playlist?

    I first stumbled upon the no headphones rule when I ran the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon earlier this year, but it was a moot issue because I was running with two friends.

    Lately, however, I've become an iPod junkie while on training runs, most likely because I gladly use any chance I get to listen to something other than the Wiggles.

    When it comes to Sunday's relay, I haven't yet decided. I probably will run with the iPod on a very low volume setting (and use my running shirt's double secret iPod stash pocket , which has a nifty little slot on the inside so you can wear your headphones without much detection).

    I promise not to bump into you.

    Here's my playlist (Judge if you must, but I tend to like the junk food of the music world. I have no shame admitting it):

    1. Fallin' for you - Colbie Caillat
    2. How will I know - Whitney Houston
    3. Right round - Flo Rida
    4. Love drunk - Boys Like Girls
    5. Leave me alone - Michael Jackson
    6. We are here to change the world - Michael Jackson
    7. Suddenly I see - KT Tunstall
    8. Spotlight (Twilight Mix) - Mute Math
    9. Girlfriend - Avril Lavigne
    10. Say hey (I love you) - Michael Franti and the Spearhead
    11. Every little kiss - Bruce Hornsby
    12. Just dance - Lady GaGa and Colby O'Donis
    13. The fear - Lily Allen
    14. Handle with care - The Traveling Wilburys
    15. Don't stop me now - Queen
    16. Ask me - The Smiths
    17. Back in black - AC/DC
    18. Leaving New York - R.E.M.
    19. 99 red balloons - Siobhan DuVall
    20. Let me love open the door - Pete Townshend
    21. Be OK - Ingrid Michaelson
    22. I gotta feeling - Black Eyed Peas
    23. Wanna be startin' something - Michael Jackson
    24. Heaven knows I'm miserable now - The Smiths

    Are you going to wear headphones during the CIM? What's on your MP3 playlist? Post your comments below.
    December 1, 2009
    Spared by rain but not the marathon blues


    I have officially caught the weather obsession. Last night, the Weather Channel's Web site still said it looked like rain Sunday. But today, it's pushing the rain back until Monday.

    Right now, this is the forecast:

    • HIGH: 57 DEGREES
    • LOW: 39 DEGREES


    Still, I can't shake this blue feeling. I don't know how to explain it - a combination of nerves, fear, disbelief, exhaustion and did I mention fear? It may also have something to do with these short 3-mile training runs. Perhaps I am not getting enough of those endorphins my body has gotten used to these past several months.

    I know I've trained properly and done what I could to prepare. Instead of the last long Fleet Feet training run Sunday, two fellow runners and I ran from Carmichael to Howe - basically miles 13 to 21 of the actual racecourse. It helped, a lot, with the anxiety I was starting to feel about these "hills."

    We still met up with our training group before and after the run - how do you thank coaches who have spent hours biking up and down the American River trail week after week, just to offer encouragement and sometimes running themselves after giving their bikes to injured runners? Thanks Bob, Terri and Jennifer.

    December 1, 2009
    Go Ahead, Shed Those Clothes at the Start

    Kristen, a CIMer out in the Twitterverse, asks "Is there a sweat 'donation' at the start or within a mile or so? Debating what to wear at the start."

    Answer: Yes, people pick up all the discards and donate them. So, feel free to do a striptease along the course.

    Here's a wonderfully written essay by Running Times' Rachel Toor about buying a mink coat to wear before a marathon.  

    December 1, 2009
    Online CIM Tracking Explained

    If you are entered in the CIM, expect a group email sometime today with the URL and other info for people who want to follow a runner's progress online. (The tracking will not be done on the site but another site to be named.)

    John Mansoor, the CIM race director, says that times for all runners will be posted at the 6-mile mark, half marathon mark and at "The Wall" at about 20 miles.

    December 1, 2009
    Hoping I Will Have Wasted $7.49...

    ... at Ace Hardware and NOT have to wear this lovely garment during the hour or so pre-race milling around in Folsom. But, alas, even our local TV weather geniuses are saying there's a good chance of showers on Sunday.


    December 1, 2009
    Tim's CIM Tips: Miles 22-24



    Tim Twietmeyer is moving us ever closer to the finish line with today's installment of his mile-by-mile course rundown.

    MILE 22-23

    J Street to 47th Street
    Topography: Significant downhill on a railroad underpass, followed by a significant uphill before flattening out
    Tim's Tips: "If you have trouble in that (uphill) section, you can lose 10-15 seconds just by not pushing yourself over a rise in the road. This is where the mental gymnastics start. You're at 56th and you have to go to 7th. There are two strategies: You look and count down or don't look at all. If you look a lot and you're not moving very fast, then it seems like forever to go through 56th to 30th."
    Sights: "The Fab 40s" homes

    MILE 23-24

    J Street, left on Alhambra
    Topography: Mostly flat
    Tim's Tips: "There's another rise right before the hospital. Unless you're really tired, you never notice it. But at max effort, you notice every bump in the road. There's an aid station right by (Mercy General) hospital. What a perfect location. There's a good chance here you'll run into somebody you know. That's a good energy boost."
    Sights: Coffee shops and tacquerias

    COMING TOMORROW: Miles 24-26


    December 1, 2009
    Carbs, anyone?
    Chris Carmichael says I need to eat about 700 grams of carbs on Saturday (and Sunday morning) to be fully loaded for CIM. I am not sure I need to go that far, but I would like to clear 600 grams without completely stuffing myself. Here is one way I might get there:

    Oatmeal, 1 cup, 54 grams
    Blueberries, 1/2 cup, 10 grams
    Bananas, 2, 102 grams
    wheat toast, 2, 26 grams
    Ensure meal replacement drink, 6, 240 grams
    spaghetti, plain, 1.5 cups, 88 grams
    tomatoes, diced 2 grams

    Oatmeal, 1 cup 54 grams
    Blueberries, 1/2 cup 10 grams
    banana, 51 grams