Run, Sacramento

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

March 31, 2010
Running Crimes & Misdemeanors

 

handcuffs.jpgI ran a red light the other day in Woodland, and I thought I was going to be sooo busted.

But, nope, I wasn't even warned, let alone ticketed.

The officer passed right by me -- waved, even.

You know, Woodland's not such a bad place, after all.

Let me explain: I was running, not driving, at the time of the incident. It happened last Sunday morning during my long run. I was trudging along on Gibson Road, heading toward East Street at about 8 o'clock. No cars (or so I thought) were on either road as I neared the intersection. The light was red. I looked both ways, slowed for a nanosecond, then kept going.

Hey, it was Mile 12 and I was in a good groove. I'd feel pretty stupid stopping for a red light with no one around, now, wouldn't I?

After I crossed the intersection (running against traffic, as is the safety protocol), I looked to my right and saw a Woodland police car, creeping up behind me.

"Fiddlesticks," I mumbled. (Actually, it was another exclamation starting with F.)

Acting fast, I raised my right hand and gave a meek little wave to the cop.

And he waved back!

Then he made a left turn behind me into a strip mall, where there was a coffee shop, and I continued on my way.

The incident made me wonder if it's common for runners to get ticketed for jaywalking (jayrunning?) or running through red lights.

Google was little help. I found only one thread on the Running Ahead forum. And then there's this weird story from the '80s, in which a runner and Florida Highway Patrol officer engaged in something of a running feud. This last link is worth clicking on. Amazing.

So, I'm asking you, readers: Have you ever been ticketed while running?  

 

 

March 31, 2010
Reading List: Sports Docs, Long Runs on a Whim, Marathon Participation

 

ankle-injury.jpgLet's catch up today with some running reading.

First, the New York Times' Gina Kolata has another interesting sports medicine column, this time positing that it's often useless to go to the doctor for a running (or other sports) injuries.

There's a big caveat to be mentioned here. She's talking about those obvious, day to day injuries. For instance: Got shin splints? You know the drill. Ice, rest, strategic exercises, maybe some ibuprofen. 

But -- and this is a biggie -- there are certain running injuries that need a doctor's care. Obviously, serious knee injuries and, say, a ruptured Achilles. I had a nagging sacroiliac injury late last spring that I tried to cure myself with ice and rest, but it got progressively worse. My orthopaedist and chiropractor (husband and wife, by the way -- might make a good sit-com) had me healed and running pain-free in a couple of weeks.

On to other reads ...

I think I've found someone crazier than I am when it comes to running. It's Running Times magazine blogger Katie Wolpert, who does 20-milers just for fun. Who needs a marathon as motivation to go long. Not Katie. Read her manifesto here.   

Running USA has released its annual State of the Marathon Report. Participation levels for marathons reached a record level -- 467,000 -- this year. In 1976, only 25,000 ran a marathon. But, as the sport's popularity rises, so, too, does the average finishing time. In 2009, it was 4:13:36 for men and 4:41:26 for women -- that's about 45 minutes slower than runners in 1980 recorded.

Anf finally ...

I've been following New York City Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi's Tweets leading up to the Boston Marathon. It's my way of living vicariously through an elite runner. Here's Meb's Tweet from last night: "Nice intervals sessions @ Horton Creek. A windy day, a day like this effort is what counts most, not what the watch shows."

Words to live by, Meb. I'll remember that the next time the notorious Yolo winds slow my mile splits.   

March 30, 2010
Will Vacation Play Havoc With My Marathon Training?

I really think I need professional help.

See, I'm going on vacation later this week to desert climes, and all I can think about is how it's going to affect my marathon training. I'm in the midst of the so-called "monster month" -- the time when you're putting together high-mileage weeks, featuring a string of 20+ long runs -- before my spring race and I've been training hard.

For an eight-day spell, I will jump the groove of my training (fast, flat Davis for tempo and recovery; Vacaville for hills; Sacramento for a change of pace) and go to where it's 20 degrees warmer and the terrain is pancake flat. Plus, I won't be running in the early-morning dark, and I wonder what that will do to my system. Plus, I'll be at a place where I inevitably eat too much buffet style food.

It's ridiculous, I know. I should just enjoy myself and the time spent with family during spirng break. And, besides, I'm always bitching, after all, about running in the dark. So that should be a nice change.

But after three months of disciplined training, I'm worried I might slack off during this lull. After all, when I return home, it'll just about be the start of tapering.

Please tell me I'm worrying about nothing. Tell me to enjoy myself. Tell me (even if it's a lie) that the switch in training will actually help my marathon prep.

My name is Sam, and I'm a running head case...

 

 

March 29, 2010
New Garmin 'Minimalist' GPS Watch Unveiled

 

newgarmin.jpgBig news today for running geeks: Garmin has announced a new GPS watch, the Forerunner 110, aimed for runners who want just the basic facts.

To wit: How fast am I running, and how far am I going? Sure, it'll give you mile splits, but that's as complicated as it gets. Those with heart monitors can sync in with it, as well. Cost: $199.99 or $249.99 when bundled with a heart-rate monitor.

The best news is that the watch is not as bulky as the more complicated 205, 305, 405 models. A Garmin press release even suggests you can wear it in your civilian (nonrunning) life.

 

March 29, 2010
Brrrrrrr ... My First Ice Bath

 

s_2_icebath.jpgWell, I now have been baptized, so to speak, into that crazy running circle known as ice-bath aficionados.

My wife, who had already doubted my sanity, now is convinced I've gone over the deep end.

And that deep end is saturated with cold, icy water that I willinging plunged eased myself  into after Sunday morning's 22-mile run.

For years, I've been reading about marathoners who swear by the ice baths as a way to hasten recovery, post-long run. The (non-scientific) theory is that the icy water takes the blood away from the legs as they reach that chilling state of numbness. Then, when you exit the bath, blood rushes back into the area and flushes all the waste products accumulated during your run, helping to shore up those microtears you normally get during that pounding on the road.

I don't know: It had always seemed to me like that old joke: Man 1: "Why do you keep hitting yourself over the head with a hammer?" Man 2: "Because it feels so good when I stop."

During this marathon cycle, my legs had been feeling quite achy after long Sunday runs, maybe because I've added some steep hill training, as well as a mid-week 12-15 miler. In any case, I knew I had a challenging 22-miler five weeks out from my spring marathon on tap for Sunday, so I decided to give the ice-bath experiment a try.

I did some research online, talked to a few smart running friends and set up a plan. I needed to keep the water between 40-50 degrees -- any colder, and there's a hypothermia risk, apparently. And I would stay submerged for about 10 minutes for my virgin experience. Ice-bath vets sometimes stay in as long as 20 minutes.

Throughout my long run Sunday, I kept obsessing about the ice bath awaiting me.

Will it be excruciatingly cold?

Am I complete idiot? 

It can't be much worse than strapping five ice bags on your legs, hips and lower back, can it?

In a way, this obsessing helped me on the run. I found it a good way to dissociate and ignore the pain I was feeling around mile 19.

When I finally finished the run and a five-minute light stretch, I did that post-long-run Frankstein walk to the bathroom and turned on the cold water in the tub. I had my 14-year-old son go to the garage to retrieve from the freezer the 20-pound bag of ice I had bought for the occasion. He looked at me oddly when I told him just to put it next to the tub. (He has long known I'm freaking nuts.) I turned on the radio -- the Car Talk Guys from NPR were on, and their incessant cackling seemed a rebuke to my folly.

When the tub was about 3/4 full, I eased myself down into the cold water and ... It wasn't that cold, really.

Ah, but then I ripped open the bag and started dumping in the ice. By the time half of the bag was emptied in, it was bone-chillingly cold. I started my watch, willing the 10 minutes to go fast. After a minute, I started to acclimate, so I dumped in the other half of the ice bag.

In another minute, my legs were numb. I moved them around in the water to make sure they could still function. I was uncomfortable, but certainly not screaming in agony.

There was one problem: There was a, ahem, certain part of the body, some dangling appendages, exposed to the cold water that got, really really cold -- and I don't mean my toes, dear readers. But even that became tolerable after a while. I was thinking that my ice bath  anxiety was misplaced. It really wasn't that bad.

When the 10 minutes were up, I hoisted myself out of the tub and toweled off. From the waist down, my skin immediately turned a bright red -- the blood was rushing back. I put on a pair of shorts, T-shirt and sweat shirt and went to the kitchen to make a post-run smoothie.

Perhaps I should've had hot tea, instead. After a few sips of the smoothie, I started shaking like a scared Chihuahua. My teeth chattered. The feeling subsided after a minute or so and I put on some sweat pants to try to warm up.

So, after going through this ordeal, did the ice bath help? Did it aid recovery, lessen inflammation and nearly eliminate the morning-after DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)?  

It did, indeed, reader.

I took the dog for a long walk Sunday afternoon and felt fairly loose. This morning's recovery run was not as creaky as previous Mondays. I am now a convert.

Call me The Ice Man.   

March 29, 2010
Weekend Race Results

The spring racing season is just starting to heat up. Last weekend, the burner was turned up a bit when local runners had a varied choice of events -- a marathon in Oakland, trail half marathon at Folsom Lake, 5K and 10K in Elk Grove.

By far the largest local turnout was at the Nutrition Fuels Fitness 5 and 10K. Marcelo Lerda, 38, of Lincoln was the overall winner at 33 minutes 44 seconds, 22 seconds ahead of second place finisher Steve Schenck, 26, of Sacramento. The women's 10K winner was Beth Zinkand Michael, 40, of Davis at 38:46.

In the 5K, Folsom's Michael Livingston (16:08) and Folson's Bridgette Styczynski (18:19) were the top male and female.

Over at Granite Beach on Folsom Lake, the Chanoko Xterra Trail Half Marathon was won for the second year in a row by Jeffrey Moreland at 1:22:24. Reno's Sarah Raitter was the top woman at 1:41:06.

The inaugural Oakland Marathon did not draw many local runners. The top finisher from these parts was Davis' Efrem Rensi, a barefoot runner The Bee profiled in 2007, at 3:32:29. Top woman: El Dorado Hills' Shannon Kuehl at 4:17:17.   

UPDATE: Six local traithletes beat the 5-hour mark in the Rohto Ironman 70.3 California Triathlon in Oceanside: Michael Sparks (4:38:51); Brian Baxter (4:53:19); Justin Morejohn (4:53:33); Austin Matulonis (4:55:08), James Player (4:56:04); Eruc Russell Webb (4:56:23).

March 26, 2010
Four Big Races This Weekend

There are at least four interesting races from which to choose in Northern California this weekend.

For you speedier distance runners (or those in the Buzz Oates Racing Series), try the Nutrition Fuels Fitness 5K and 10K in Elk Grove. (It's a great race, and I'm trying mightily not to note the irony that McDonald's is one of the sponsors -- oops, guess I noted it).

Speaking of irony, there's the 2- or 4-mile Doughnut Dash in Land Park -- sponsored by Sutter.

For you trail junkies, there's the XTERRA Chanoko Half Marathon Trail Race at Folsom Lake, brought to you by the professional TBF Racing crew.

And those those running in Sunday's inaugural Oakland Marathon and Half Marathon, please let us know how you liked the race, how organized and what that hilly course did to your time goals.

March 26, 2010
What We Can Learn from the Masters: Don't Smoke on the Run

 

Bernie_100th_Marathon007.jpgI'm a sucker for stories about eccentric masters runners -- maybe because I'm both.

But I'm definitely not in the same league as Bernie Portenski (pictured), a New Zealander who is breaking all sorts of 60-64 age-group records. Sure, the records are impressive and all, but Bernie's story is fascinating and her personality priceless. Click here; it's worth the read.

Still not convinced? Here's Bernie talking about why she took up running decades ago (boldface and italics are mine):

I was trying to give up smoking. My ex-husband suggested I run as it might get me off the fags. So I ran around the block, running and smoking at the same time. Someone came up to me in 1985 and said, "If you give up the smokes you might be a good runner". I thought that's it I've got to quit. It took five years on and off but running did help. I worked my way up and found my passion.

And here's Bernie talking about her post-long-run ritual, which takes the ice bath concept to an extreme:

I've got an old rubbish bin out the back full of water. Before I go on my run I throw in two bags of ice. After every demanding session I stand in it, thigh deep, for eight minutes. In winter I wear a beanie, woolly coat, thermals and gloves to keep my upper body warm. From the waist down I'm in my knickers and socks!

You know what? I've never tried an ice bath. Can't bring myself to do it. But maybe on Sunday I'll fill up my trash can with cold water, throw in some ice and be like Bernie. Or not.  

March 25, 2010
Debate: Quantity Vs. Quality, Injury Risk Vs. Fitness Level

Desert Series Episode 8 - The quality vs. quantity debate from Joe English on Vimeo.

 

My spring marathon is about five weeks out, so I'm in my highest mileage phase right now. I'm pushing 60 miles per week and, frankly, am worried I might wind up with an overuse injury.

So far, so good. But every little crimp and niggle that I feel anywhere on my body during and immediately after a run leads me to strapping on the ol' ice bags as a precaution. This morning, after a recovery run, it was a four-bag morning -- heel, calf and both sides of my sacroilliac. I'm at work now and feeling fine. No real pain. I have faith that ice and preventive exercises will see me through.

But I'm a worrier. And I talked with enough runners to know I'm not alone. (Give it to me straight in the comments section if you think I'm a head case; I've got a thick skin.) 

I do have ample reason to worry, though.

A quick rundown of my injury history, just since 2005: right sacroiliac, acute kidney failure during the Boston Marathon (that's a story for another day), right shin splints, left groin strain, left hamstring strain, partial right tibial ligament tear and left sacroiliac sprain. None of those injuries proved majorly debilitating, though the left lower back injury did keep me off the roads for eight weeks last summer before my wife-and-husband ortho doc (Dr. Gina Lokna) and chiropractor (Dr. Ron Rudometkin) team healed me. 

Since last August, though, I've been injury-free.

Now, here I am at age 50 running more miles per week than I ever had. I've completed eight 50-plus weeks in this marathon training cycle (mixing in two max-effort half marathon races, as well) and so far my body seems to have adapted.

I've been taking the advice of several running coaches whose philosophies I've encountered, most notably Joe English (see video above). Basically, I do three hard-effort runs a week (significant distance with most of the workout at or below goal marathon pace) and two recovery runs. That's five days a week of running. Plus, I add two to three swimming workouts in the evenings after the hard runs. (In previous years, I've done more cross training, but I'm experimenting by laying off the road bike until after May's marathon, the theory being the bike might trigger my lower back issues.)

So this means I've been taking two days off -- no running, no cross training, and blissfully sleeping late -- a week. So far, it's worked. My times have improved and my various bodily troubled spots haven't flared up too much.

Now, some people might consider the two recovery runs (ranging from 5.4 to 7.3 miles, but at a s-l-o-w pace) to constitute so-called "junk miles." Who knows? They may be right. Could I get rid of the muscle waste products, post-long runs, with cross training and avoid pounding on my legs? Yes, but I find that the cross training doesn't improve my fitness as much as running -- even slow running -- does.

This goes against conventional wisdom -- including what English mentions in the video -- but as a running acquaintance of mine is fond of saying, "We're all a sample size of one."

The great thing about running is how, through trial and error, you can experiment and eventually find what works (or doesn't) for you. But what works is always changing, depending on age and fitness level and scientific factors way above my knowledge level.

Come to think of it, this may be the answer to the question non-runners are always asking us. To wit, Isn't running boring? No, it's like a giant physical puzzle you're eternally trying to solve.            

March 24, 2010
Where Are All of Sac's Morning Runners?

 

BPGREAT_RACE_STARTME.JPG

So I had a 13-mile tempo run on tap for this morning and, because my right calf has been acting a bit cranky the past few days, I decided to treat myself and run on that wonderful crushed granite dirt surface on the American River Parkway.

I parked at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery and did an out-and-back with the turnaround at Cordova Community Park. (Calf felt fine; thanks for asking.)

But here's what I'm wondering: Where are all the runners?

I started at about 6:15 a.m., still dark, but not horrendously early for most people who, say, hold down jobs or go to school. I finished around 7:45 amid sunshine. In that span, I saw maybe five runners. Total.

Lots of cyclists were out and a few people were walking their dogs (or vice versa), but runners were scarce.

What gives?

The American River Parkway is supposed to be this running Mecca in the Sacramento area, but, frankly, I see more early-morning runners on my customary routes starting in Davis.

I've been on the ARP bike trail on weekend mornings, and runners are well represented. But what's the deal on weekdays? Do you guys sleep in and run after work, or what?

I was kind of looking forward this morning to having more people out trotting to help me reach my mile splits. Oh, well, it was a pleasant run, nonetheless. The dirt sure was a nice change from the unforgiving cracked pavement on those lonely rural Yolo County roads.    

March 23, 2010
Do'h: Stuff That Can Happen to You at Races

 

 

800px-Porta_Potty_by_David_Shankbone.jpg

 

This happens to me all the time -- NOT -- during races. Don't know about you, but the runner should get some kind of special medal for "not winning" the marathon, considering he was running at half-marathon pace for the first 10 or so miles before ratcheting it down. Impressive performance, even if he was DQ'd.

In other news, check out this article from Fit Pregnancy magazine (one of my favorite publications -- NOT) about "The 6 Grossest Things About Running" ? Five of the six have NEVER happened to me. (I have thrown up after two of my marathons, but I'll spare you the TMI details.)

 

March 22, 2010
Weekend Race Recap -- LA, SF, Modesto

While I was doing a brutal hill run in Vacaville on Sunday that just kicked my butt, others were having much more fun racing in the Los Angeles Marathon, the San Francisco's Emerald Across the Bay 12K or the inaugural Modesto Marathon.

 Here's how the Sacramento area's top runners fared:

At the S.F. 12K, 35-year-old Alan Jackson of Sacramento finished 9th overall with a time of 39:04, a 5:14 pace. The top local woman was Lindsay Nelson, 24, of Roseville at 44:49. Nelson was the third overall woman.

In Los Angeles, former Sacramento masters star Linda Somers Smith (who now lives in Southern California) was the sixth woman overall and the first Masters runner. Somers Smith, 48, logged a 2:36:33 time, easily qualifying her for the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials. Top locals: Janine Marello, 37, of Sacramento, at 3:12:40 and Travis Meyers, 22, of Sacramento, at 3:18:15.

In Modesto, the first ever marathon was won by ultra runner Jon Olson, of Modesto, who treated the race like a training run and crossed the line at 2:43:44. The woman's winner was 29-year-old Samantha Shultz of Stockton at 3:19:21. Shultz, a bartender, is a former college sprinter running her first marathon. She told the Modesto Bee, "This is my first marathon, so I know I'm not supposed to win. I'm here because it was close to Stockton."

We couldn't find the complete race results online, but here's the link to the Mod Bee story.  

March 19, 2010
Don't Even Think of Trying This

A motivational speker in Southern California has decided to run Sunday's Los Angeles Marathon on a whim and without training -- none at all. Guy says he hasn't run in two years "but my cardio's pretty good." I wish him luck, but really, you've got to respect the marathon distance and the toll it can take on an under-trained or untrained body.

Ironic aside: The guy's Web site says "He is a master at helping people find their 'Genius Spot.'"

It doesn't take a genius to know that lots of spots will be painful after the guy runs 26.2.

Check out his video explanation below.

 

March 19, 2010
Another 'Running Is Bad for You' Study: Should We Freak Out?

Phidippides.jpgGreek doctors have determined that running can kill you.

Wait, didn't we already know that way, way back when some dude named Phidippides expired on the trail from Marathon to Athens at the 26-mile mark delivering some battle message.

Ah, but now, researchers in Greece have determined that hard-core marathon runners have "increased stiffness of the large arteries," suggesting that putting in the miles necessary for distance running may be bad for your heart.

OK, before everyone freaks out, consider that this is just one small study involving less than 100 people, less than half of whom were distance runners. We don't know whether this was a peer-reviewed, valid and reliable study because it's yet to be published in any journal. It was presented at the American College of Cardiology's conference in Atlanta.

Here's what the lead researcher, Dr. Despina Kardara, said in a news release:

"Regular long-term endurance training is generally beneficial for heart health, but it seems that the cardiovascular system is like a sports car engine. If you do not use it, it will decay, but if you run it too fast for too long, you might burn it out."

The most troubling data point from the study: Marathon runners scored 11 points higher on systolic blood pressure readings.

Read more about the story here, but try not to let it elevate your blood pressure.  

 

March 18, 2010
Fun (Run) With Dick and Rich

Beardsley-invite5.jpg

Have you ever longed to go out on a run with one of America's all-time great marathoners? Or match yourself stride-for-stride with an elite Master's runner who also directs the Run to Feed the Hungry and Urban Cow Half Marathon?

Well, my friends, you are in luck.

Dick Beardsley (pictured, courtesy of Capital Road Race Management), the man who battled Alberto Salazar in one of the greatest Boston Marathon finishes ever, will be at the Roseville Fleet Feet store on April 8 for a 5 p.m. run. He'll be joined by local running guru Rich Hanna.

Don't worry. Dick and Rich won't go all out and leave you in the dust. It's labeled a "Fun Run." Beardsley is in town for the AR 50 ultra race that weekend. For more info on Dick's appearance, click here.  

March 18, 2010
Minimalist Running -- Way Minimalist -- Exposed

Ah...For the second straight morning, it was singlet and shorts on the run.

To honor the unexpectedly warm weather, let's devote Video Thursday to a look at some minimalist runners -- and we aren't just talking about the shoes.

http://nikerunning.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikeplus/en_US/video_wall#?guid=e0e4c2ef-d14c-e28b-57ea-d23282bf3487_id1257

Sure, it's a spoof ad for Nike, but certainly not one you'll ever see on TV. And it's funny.

Caution: Don't try this on the roads of Sacramento.

March 17, 2010
Energy Gels Put to the Taste Test

 

100311-gu-vmed-420p_standard.jpgOne of my favorite health news Web sites comes from MSNBC, specifically its "Does It Work?" feature, in which they put health and fitness products to the test.

Some are quite wacky. My all-time favorite is editor Linda Dahlstrom testing that "Hula Chair" you see on late-night infomercials. Great stuff.

Well, now, "Does It Work?" takes on energy gels for runners. Nothing real wacky, but a good read nonetheless.   

March 17, 2010
How to Dress for the Run during Seasonal Changes

 

singlet.jpgCan this really be mid-March?

I awoke at 5 a.m., looked at the temperature display on my front porch and saw it read 56.7 degrees. Must be some mistake, I thought. I walked outside to pick up the newspaper down the driveway and ... where was that morning chill? It felt more like early summer.

So I put away the long-sleeved shirt I had planned to wear and rummaged deep in my shirt drawer for a singlet I hadn't worn since October. (And, yes, smart guy, I had washed it since then.)

There I was, hitting the road about two hours before sunrise, and I'm sweating big-time. Just three days earlier, at the starting line for the Shamrock'n Half Marathon, I was shivering.

We're obviously in that weird time of year when the seasons get confused. I guess that is spring in Sacramento. Warm one day, chilled the next.

Believe me, I enjoyed the mile temp this morning.

You just have to remember to stay a little more hydrated than if you were running when it's 10 to 15 degrees cooler. Let's just say I felt a tad parched after today's 15-mile progression slog.

Take it from me: If you're running today at noon or after work, imbibe liberally with fluids.

And enjoy the run.

Who knows, tomorrow might turn out to be windy and rainy. You just never know.  

March 16, 2010
Another Reason Not to Run with an iPod

This may be the most freakish accident in the history of running fatalities:

"Plane Kills Jogger in SC Beach Emergency Landing"

But still ...

You'd have to think that the South Carolina runner killed by a falling airplane would have heard the oncoming craft had he not been cranking the tunes on his trot.

It's been more than a year now since I stopped running with an iPod. I can truly say I don't miss it.  

March 16, 2010
You're Not Getting Older, You're Just in a New Age Group

 

birthday-cake.jpgWell, my 50th birthday came and went and, you know what? The sun still rose in the west. Dogs still chirped. Birds still barked. The sun is still spinning around the earth. 

Or something like that.

I'm still a little out of it after my midlife crisis birthday ritual of getting a tattoo, buying a red Porsche and cavorting with hookers sobbing uncontrollably under the covers all day.

But seriously, my wife came up with the perfect thing to say to snap me out of the birthday funk: "You're in a new age group now!"

Indeed, that's something to look forward to. Though, it must be noted, there are some speedy 50-something men on the Sacramento running scene.

Still, it does give a sluggo like me hope that age-group placing might be in my future if the ol' body doesn't break down. For instance, at Sunday's Shamrock'n Half Marthon, I ran a P.R. by 2 1/2 minutes (1:22:56) yet finished out of contention among 40-49 year olds. Ah, but if the race were held a day later, I would've finished second in the 50-59 age group.

So there is some benefit to growing old. (I'm still too young, alas, for the senior discount at movie theaters, but -- and this really stung -- the AARP sent me an unsolicited membership card in the mail , pending my act of writing them a check. That ain't gonna happen.)

Moving on ...

How was your Shamrock'n experience?

I've heard two, uh, streams of dialogue from readers about the bathroom situation at the race, held at Raley Field.

1. People loved the fact that there were REAL bathrooms with plenty of stalls inside the stadium to use prior to the start.

2. People ranted because the lines were pretty long for the two bathrooms at Raley Field, and they almost missed the race's start. They wanted additional port-a-potties outside the stadium as a safety valve.

Your thoughts?

And for those who missed Bee sportswriter John Schumacher's fine race recap of Saturday's Way Too Cool 50K, here's a link to it.

   

March 12, 2010
The Mayor is a Runner

 

JV_JOHNSON_16.JPG

Kevin Johnson (right) is an early-morning runner.

Be sure to check out Bee staff writer Anna Tong's feature story this Sunday on Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's workout routine.

Two surprises:

1. Johnson hasn't picked up a basketball in at least four years.

2. He's a runner, logging about 3 to 6 miles a day.

We were curious and looked up Da Mayors race times.

His most recent race was last November's Run to Feed the Hungry 5K. He ran it in 32:29 -- a 10:29 per mile pace. His P.R. came in the 2008 Cowtown 5K: 29:20.

March 12, 2010
Shamrock'n Plea: Please Arrive Early

I really enjoy the Shamrock'n Half Marathon in West Sac. I'm a runner and of Irish ancestry. What's not to like?

Well, there is one thing: the parking situation.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it sucks.

Race organizers realize this and have been warning runners in every email blast to show up early -- yes, as early as 6:30 a.m. for the 8 a.m. start.

Here's my two cents: Listen to them! This is a high volume race. Get there early, sit in your car listening to NPR, if you like, but get there. Most runners hate it when races start late due to traffic tie ups, especially in March races when there's still a wee bit of nip in the morning air.

March 11, 2010
CIM in 2010 to Offer $$$ to Olympic Trials Qualifiers

The California International Marathon -- which, by the way, will open online registration for December's race starting on Monday -- will offer "bonus" prize money to any elite runner who uses the race to meet the qualifying standard for the 2012 Olympic Trials in Houston.

Race director John Mansoor will give a $1,000 bonus to any American male who meets to 2:19 standard in the CIM. American women will receive $1,000 if they meet the "A" standard of 2:39 and $500 for the "B" standard of 2:46.

"The number one goal is to support American distance runners," Mansoor says. "I'm mostly thinking of the runners closer to home who might be looking at different (race) options. The other hope is -- remembering my days of chasing that (qualifying) standard -- we can put together a good pack of runners and develop a field that can push each other to the (standard)."

And, as a side benefit, it also doesn't hurt the CIM's reputation if it winds up being the race that sends the most runners to the trials.   

 

March 11, 2010
With the Weather, Everything's Relative

So I whined casually mentioned to my wife this morning that it was freakin' freezing a tad chilly on my run this morning.

She shrugged, as usual, then took another swig of hot chocolate.

This was another instance when I have to tell myself it could be worse. I've visited this territory before, with a chilling (and chilly) blog post recapping the three winters I spent in Ithaca, N.Y., arguably the coldest place in America.

Some of you might think, "Oh, it can't be that bad in Ithaca."

Well, it can. And now I've got proof.

Check out the video below of Cornell U. runners in Ithaca trying to train in a blizzard. I found it on letsrun.com and it sent a shiver down my spine. (Warning: You have to sit through a 30-second Starbucks ad before the video, but it's worth the annoyance.)

 

 

March 11, 2010
Waiting for the Light

sunrise_320.jpgFor early-morning runners, the past week or two has been quite enjoyable.

Leave the house at around 5:15 a.m., and it's pitch-black. But by the end of the run, dawn has broken, you can turn off the Petzl head lamp (if you remember) and revel in actually seeing where you are running.

Don't know about you, but I'm getting a wee bit tired of feeling like a coal miner only seeing 10 feet in front of me through a shaft of light. Sure, there are advantages to running in the darkness, and I've celebrated that in earlier posts. But there comes a point, as springtime approaches, when you crave light.

Alas, just when I'm getting used to seeing sunrises, along comes the time change this weekend. Sure, we gain an hour of light in the evening, and that's just swell for afternoon and evening runners (or those who do two-a-days), but it means a few more weeks of darkness for me and fellow early morning runners.

An additional bummer: We lose an hour for Sunday morning's Shamrock'n Half Marathon in West Sac. The 8 a.m. start really is 7 a.m. No biggie to people who normally get up early, anyway, but still ...

IN HAPPIER NEWS: The new Running Times magazine features America's top Masters performances of 2009, and two local runners are represented.

The incomparable Barbara Miller, 70, of Modesto, recorded the best performance in the 70-74 women's age group by running a 1:47:10 in the Humbodlt Redwoods Half Marathon. And, in the 85-89 division, Po Adams had the third best time in the women's 85-89 age group for her 3:24:14 at the Cowtown Half Marathon.

Read the full list here.  

   

March 10, 2010
Top Reason to Run Fast Sunday at Shamrock'n HM

 

beer.jpgA week or so ago, I posted a blog item lamenting the loss of beer glasses (replaced by medals) as the finishers' prize at the Shamrock'n Half Marathon in West Sac, which will be held Sunday.

 I also blogged about the other St. Paddy's Day-themed races around the country and how most featured beer.

Well, what should appear in my email just moments ago? An email blast from the good folks at Sacramento Fleet Feet, the Shamrock'n organizer.

 Turns out, there will be beer, after all. To quote the email:

We are excited to announce the addition of the New MGD64 Pot-o-Gold Post-Race Party.   The party will include music from Irish Rock band, Stout Rebellion, from 9:00am to 12:45pm as well as food, beverages and picnic style seating.  Enjoying a refreshing MDG64 for just $3.50. 

OK, so they make you pay for the suds.

Still, it's the thought that counts.

But, let's see, the race starts at 8 a.m. The beer starts flowing at 9 a.m. Unless Sammy Wanjiru enters the race, no one will finish before the beer starts flowing.  
 

March 10, 2010
Listen to Your Elders: Ease into Those Tempo Runs

 

old_style_stop_watch_clip_art_15803.jpgI put in another tempo run this morning. Hit all my time marks, didn't feel overly strained or tired and, in fact, could've gone faster. Nice effort for a dude counting down the hours to the Big 5-0.

All of the above is true, that is, in miles 3 through 9.

The first two miles were slow and creaky. Mile 1 was about a minute and a half slower than tempo pace, Mile 2 about 45 seconds off pace.

Geez, I know I run early in the morning and it takes a while to warm up, but I really do start slowly. I'm like an old car that needs a while to speed up after idling all night in the cold.

I've come to terms with my slow starts to training runs. Keeps you from getting hurt, I tell myself. And if it lowers my overall run pace, so be it.

The other day, I was heartened to learn that even a few Masters elite runners are slow starters during training, too.

Here's an excerpt from a competitor.com interview with Masters distance champion Colleen DeReuck:

What kind of pace are you doing for those mid-week long runs?

The first mile is like 8:15. Then I build up to like 7:00, maybe even 6:50.

So you are doing a progression run, then?

No. I think as you get older, you start out slow and then it takes your body a longer amount of time to warm up. It's not that I'm meaning to do a progression run. Darren just bought a Garmin and we saw that I was running like an 8:15 first mile, and I was like, "Oh my goodness, this is how I've always run." I think it's because you are older and so you start out a lot slower and then eventually get into your pace. When you are younger, you can just jump right into it.

 

  

March 9, 2010
Great Resource for Running Advice

Those of you running in Sunday's Shamrock'n Half Marathon in West Sacramento would be well advised to read this post by Joe English, a running coach from Portland. Ore. It's all about "running your own race," and not getting caught up in the communal excitement that leads many to go out too fast and crash and burn later on.

Here's an excerpt:

"...it can be easy to get swept up by what other runners are doing. This is true even when we know that we are running much faster than we should. This is where the skill of a highly trained runner comes in. They are able to ignore what's happening around them and they understand that race day is no different than any other day when it comes to their capabilities, so that means that running faster on race day to keep up with the crowd is a very bad idea."

English's Web site, aptly named running-advice.com/blog, is a great resource for instruction and videos. It's mostly geared toward marathoners, but those running any distance and speed can benefit. From time to time, I'll link to English's videos.

 

March 8, 2010
Top 2009 Ultra Runner to Race at Way Too Cool on Saturday

trailrunnermag.jpgShameless plug alert!

Be sure to pick up tomorrow's print edition of The Bee or go to www.sacbee.com to read our feature story on Geoff Roes, the 2009 ultra runner of the year, according to two magazines. Roes, who lives in Alaska, won five of six races he ran last year, setting five course records in the process.

UPDATE: Click here to read the full story.

(That's Roes above on the cover of the latest Trail Runner magazine.)

He only took up the sport four years ago. But that's not the most interesting part of Roes' story. 

He's an offbeat, Zenlike dude, a free spirit who moved to Alaska just because he thought it might be interesting. He pays his rent by being a deli cook and finds himself on long runs in the mountains above Juneau.

Roes will be in Nor Cal not just for the Way Too Cool race on Saturday, but for the AR 50 Mile Run in April and Western States 100 in June.  

March 8, 2010
Locals Run Well in Napa, Redding and at Indoor Worlds

 

JV_COORDT_03.JPG

Mary Coordt in 2008

It was quite a busy weekend for local runners, so let's get right to a recap (oh, and if I missed your race, let me know, I'll add it.)

Perhaps they should rename the Napa Valley Marathon the Mary Coordt Race. The 40-year-old Elk Grove marathoner, who has already qualified for the Olympic Trials, won her record fourth Napa marathon yesterday. And she did it in a time -- 2 hours 46 minutes 7 seconds -- only eight seconds off the Olympic women's qualifying standard.

Coordt, who also won Napa in 1997, 2005 nd 2009, was the fifth overall finisher. She was followed in sixth place by the Sacramento area's top male, Robert Evans of Pollock Pines, at 2:46:39.

Check out the Napa results here.

Meanwhile, a gaggle of area distance runners traveled to Redding for the USATF-sanctioned NorCal 10 Mile Road Championships on the hilly Sacramento River parkway.

Top area finishers: Kevin Pool (Folsom) second overall at 51 minutes 13 seconds; Austin Weaver (Sacramento) third at 52:40; Mike Styczynski (Sacramento) fifth at 53:52.

Perhaps the most impressive showing was by former Sacramento Olympian Linda Somers Smith. The 48-year-old, who now lives in Southern California, was the top female finisher and the second overall Masters runner (regardless of gender) at 57:09. That beat the Masters record of 59:15, set in 1992.

Other top women: Kim Conley (West Sacramento), second at 1:01:28; Jenny Hitchings (Sacramento) third at 1:03:49.

One last note for longtime readers of this blog: Daniel Weintraub, the ex-Bee columnist and "Run, Sacramento" blog contributor, finished 34th overall at 1:00:45.     

Complete results for the Redding 10-miler here.

And, finally, at the Masters World Indoor Track & Field Championships in Kamloops, Canada, Folsom's Liz Palmer too home silver medals in the 60-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles.

UPDATE: Read  Liz's blog about the meet at the "Younger Legs for Older Runners" blog here.  

March 5, 2010
Attention, Napa Marathon Participants: Keep an Eye Out for Anita

There are lots of speedy women entered in this Sunday's Napa Valley Marathon -- in fact, the women's field looks more competitive than the men's -- but it's one of the back-of-the-packers that intrigues me.

The St. Helena Star newspaper recently profiled 66-year-old hometown girl Anita Lewis, who ran her first and only marathon exactly 26 years ago but plans her sequel for this Sunday?

Why the wait between races? We've heard about long recoveries, but this is a tad extreme?

Actually, Lewis is asking herself the same thing. She tells the paper: "Why did I decide to do this marathon? Because I've lost my mind. Truthfully, I wanted to see if I had one more marathon left in my 'bod.'"

Read the entire story here.

My prediction: Anita will not only finish but will not wait another 26 years before trying Marathon No. 3.

Good luck to all the local Sacramento area runners competing at Napa. Looks like the rain and wind from last year will not be making a comeback. And, remember, don't go out too fast. 

March 4, 2010
How to End Plantar Woes? Wiggle Your Toes?

 

plantar-fascia-small.jpg

Thank goodness, I haven't had any plantar fasciitis problems since 1985.

But I still remember the excruciating pain of plantar, best described as irritation of the connective tissue on the foot's bottom from the heel to the balls of the foot. I wince in recalling plunging my feet in a bucket of ice water, post-run, and not having it do a lick of good for the condition. And I wimper in empathy for those runners I've talked to who've have big-ass needles injecting cortisone into the area, not to mention the hurt put on one's pocketbook paying for those expensive custom-made orthotics.

Plantar fasciitis, it has been said, has driven more runners out of the sport than knee and back injuries, combined.

Most doctors have believed that inflammation of the fascia was the culprit with this injury. But, as detailed this month in Running Times magazine, some podiatrists are blaming dead cells from lack of blood flow, rather than inflammation, for the plantar problem.

A Temple University researcher analyzed tissues from plantar sufferers and determined that repeated micro-tears and associated cell death was the culprit. And that, he hypothetized, came from inadequate blood supply to the area.

The solution, according to Portland podiatrist Ray McClanahan, is to exercise the muscles that enable us to wiggle our toes. That, and wearing more minimalist shoes with wider toe boxes that enable more toe flexion and movement. Oh, yeah, and toe massage, too.

Read the entire story here.  

March 2, 2010
Required Running Reading

It's time to catch up with some recent running stories/blog entries that really transcend the mundane, prosaic chatter (barefoot vs. shod, lactate threshold workouts, plantar fasciitis cures) and delve into the -- dare I say it -- philosophical.

In a nice bit of symmetry, Bay Area trail runner Scott Dunlap and Running Times magazine editor Jonathan Beverly both blog about running "for" something. Both posts are definitely worth a read.

For a perspective on what's really important in a runner's life, read this column by my old boss, Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times, writing about L.A. Marathon winner Wesley Korir.

On the lighter side, Runner's World Daily blog has a posting about a treadmill runner's virtual battle with "Cardio Girl" at her gym. I'm curious: Do you find the guy funny or stalker creepy?

And, finally, for something completely different, how about this story on (we kid you not) a running shoe for women during "that time of the month."   

 

March 1, 2010
Cowtown (Texas version) T-Shirts Critiqued

 

cowtownlogo3_2010.jpg

Not that we're bitter or anything, what with having the "Cowtown" name ripped from our grasps by those weasels in Texas, but ...

Have you seen those T-shirts they handed out at yesterday's race in Forth Worth? (See image above) 

Ug-ly.

Where's the whimsy? Where's the creativity? Where are, you know, the cows?

All I see is horns and a big-ass map of Texas.

Sacramento's Cowtown had much better T-shirt logos. We can take solace in that.

cowtown-thumb-222x275-9800.jpg 

March 1, 2010
Meanwhile, On the Trails ...

 

Wintershirtfront-constantcontact.jpg

 

The Folsom Lake Winter Trail Series, eight off-road races that began last fall, concluded Sunday.

The overall series winners were (male) Chris Badolato of Reno with 800 points and (female) Susan Grinstead of Citrus Heights with 787.70. Both of those runners competed in the 7-mile run yesterday to secure the overall wins. Badolato won in a time of 46:19; Grinstead the top woman at 1:00:13.

In the 12-mile race, Kirk Ferris of Reno smoked the field with a time of 1:15:11, while Ellen Sherrill of South Lake Tahoe was the top woman at 1:27:02. The 3-mile race belonged to the Velez family. Charlie Velez, age 11, won at 21:04 while sister Eleanor, 12, was the top female at 24:10.

The other big trail race over the weekend was the Pony Express 100K/50-Mile/50K in Cameron Park.

Peter Lubbers of Oregon House (Yuba County) set a course record in the 100K with a time of 8:34:48. The 50-Mile winner, John Olsen of Modesto, posted the second fastest time ever in that race, winning in 5:58:42. The 50K winner, in a course record of 3:45:08, was John Souza of Modesto. Lainie Callahan-Mattoon, of Lincoln, was the top woman at 4:41:00.   

March 1, 2010
Recovery Runs: Life in the Slow Lane

Because I have no other life, I read a lot of books and articles by running experts (Jack Daniels, Pete Pfitzinger, Tim Noakes, Matt Fitzgerald ...) and have, finally, grudgingly embraced this concept:

You can never do a recovery run too slowly.

Memorize it. Use it. Needlepoint it on pillow and sleep with it every night.

To reiterate ...

You can never do a recovery run too slowly.

For years, I had figured that, on the mornings after my long weekend run, I could get away with a 4-to-6-mile "recovery run" at maybe 10 to 15 seconds slower than customary long run or even lactate threshold pace.

I ended up hurting myself more than helping. Not only was I not getting all that nasty waste products out of my muscles and healing those pesky minor tears that come with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), I may have been causing new damage. At the very least, I wasn't letting my body rest enough.

Part of the problem was that I was ruled by the watch/GPS and by vanity. I didn't want to be perceived as one of those plodders chugging along on a Monday morning before work, so I'd force an acceptable pace just for the sake of appearances. One of the great things about getting older is that you don't care as much what people think -- ask my daughter about some of my clothing choices; major eye-rolling from her -- so now I'm OK with it.

Plus, I've given the Garmin the day off during recovery. No heart rate readings, no mile splits, no elevation info. I just go out and run, slowly but steadily.

This morning was actually one of the best recovery runs I've ever experienced. I knew I'd be sore when I rolled out of bed at 5 a.m., because Sunday's 17-mile marathon pace run included the imposing Cantalow Hill in Vacaville (an 8 percent uphill over a 1-mile stretch -- that's a major vertical rise for a Davis flatlander such as me).

As expected, the first mile of the recovery slog was achy and halting but, about halfway through, I felt my joints and muscles start to loosen and elongate. I resisted the urge to pick up the pace (well, I did just a little) and finished feeling good and ready for the next hard workout.

Long-time readers (thanks, Mom!) will be surprised that I'm actually blogging about a good run I've completed. I find the bad experiences usually make much better reading. But I thought I'd share something positive, for a change.

There it is.