Run, Sacramento

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

April 30, 2010
Packing for Race Day? Shoes might help

We turn over "Run, Sacramento" this morning to guest blogger, Stephanie Papas, who reminds runners that they need to make a list and check it twice before leaving town for a road race. Good refresher for those going to run in Eugene, Avenue of the Giants or Miwok on Sunday.


There are a zillion fall marathons to choose from, but there aren't as many choices for spring or summer. This means that many runners are staying close to home, running local races. Having a race on the calendar helps get us out the door, especially on those 100 degree days and keeps us "race ready." There are many perks to running a local race - there are no travel expenses, you don't need to take days off from work, you get to sleep in your own bed, and you might get to run with your friends and training partners. An added bonus is that you are supporting your local running community.

Even for the races that start in our neighborhood, we need gear. Let's face it - runners love gear. Oh yeah, we brag about how all we need is a pair of shoes (and yes, maybe a few items of clothing), but really, we need our stuff. And since runners are a bit persnickety about preparation, even for a local race of a short distance, here's a checklist you can use to prepare for race day. After checking the weather a million times, I set out everything I am going to wear the night before. I pack a small back pack for the items I'll need after the race and place it right next to my clothing. Race morning, all I need to do is roll out of bed, slide into my clothes, grab the backpack and head out the door.

How easy is that?
  • Map/directions to the start, including parking instructions
  • t-shirt and shorts
  • two pairs of worn and washed blister-proof socks
  • running shoes
  • watch/GPS device
  • cap and/or sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • Vaseline
  • band aids
  • any special food requirements
  • music player
  • clothing for after the race
  • open-toed shoes or flip flops for after the race
  • towel
  • cell phone
  • money
  • camera

The only other item I'd add is a flag to drape around your shoulders for when you take your victory lap.



April 29, 2010
Simple, yet wise, marathon advice from coach Joe

One of the archived Coach Joe and Dean Videos on the Running Advice website might help me some of you out there obsessing about things you cannot control in the days before a marathon.

Take a listen and, remember, on race day, "Stick to the plan."


Season 2 - Episode 5 -- The Control Episode from Joe English on Vimeo.

April 28, 2010
Do the Parkway Half / Fair Oaks 5-mile double, get a discount


Attention, runners gearing up for Saturday's American River Parkway Half Marathon: Bring your bib number from that race out to the Fair Oaks Sun Run (5 miler) on Sunday and you can register for that race at the reduced rate of $25. (Consider it a, uh, recovery race run, one with four significant hills.)  

I've wanted to run that Fair Oaks course since I've moved tot he area, but it seems as if I alays have an out-of-town race that weekend. But I love the Old Town Fair Oaks section of the CIM course, and I'm told the course features the most hills of any (road) race in the area.

Besides, they've got a great logo -- the trotting chicken -- and a race director with a sense of whimsy, as evidenced by this message posted on the race website: "Disclaimer: No chickens have been injured as a result of this event - as far as we know - with the exception of the Race Director who insists on wearing his chicken outfit and then taking a face plant while attempting to run with the kids!"



April 28, 2010
Hydration study: Even just rinsing with carb solution helps

Here's an interesting study that runners who eschew carbrohydrate sports drinks might want to read.

Turns out, New Zealand researchers, in the journal Brain research, found that even just swishing the solution around in your mouth provides a wake-up call for the muscles. Presumably, late in a race, when you just can't swallow another cup of lemom lime Gatorade, just do like your dental hygienist says, rinse and spit.  

Here's the abstract:


Brain Res. 2010 Apr 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Carbohydrate in the mouth immediately facilitates motor output.

Gant N, Stinear CM, Byblow WD.

Exercise Metabolism Laboratory, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


The presence of carbohydrate in the mouth can immediately improve physical performance. How this occurs is not well understood. Here we used transcranial magnetic stimulation of primary motor cortex (M1) to investigate the effects of non-sweet carbohydrate on corticomotor excitability and voluntary force production. In Experiment 1, 16 participants performed a fatiguing isometric elbow flexion exercise for 30 minutes, and MEPs were recorded from the biceps brachii during maximal voluntary force (MVF) produced every two minutes. After 11 minutes participants drank a carbohydrate solution (CHO) or an energy-free placebo solution (PLA), in a double-blind, cross-over protocol. MEP amplitude increased by 30%, and MVF increased by 2%, immediately after carbohydrate ingestion. There was no relationship between the facilitation of MEP amplitude and plasma glucose or magnitude of fatigue. In a control experiment, 17 participants alternately mouth-rinsed CHO and PLA, in a randomized, double-blind protocol. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were recorded from right first dorsal interosseous at rest or during isometric contraction. MEP amplitude increased by 9% with CHO, when the muscle was voluntarily activated. In both experiments, there were no effects on silent period duration, indicating that MEP facilitation was not due to reduced inhibition within M1. This is the first demonstration that carbohydrate in the mouth immediately increases the excitability of the corticomotor pathway, prior to its ingestion. Afference from oral receptors is integrated with descending motor output, perhaps via nuclei in the brainstem. This novel form of sensorimotor integration facilitates corticomotor output to both fatigued and fresh muscle. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


April 28, 2010
Pistol-packing Texas governor shoots coyote on morning jog


rugerlcp.jpgDon't know about you, but a laser-sighted .380 Ruger pistol is not something I take with me on runs. Cytomax? Yup. GU? Of course. Identification? Sure.

But Texas Gov. Rick Perry reportedly lugs a concealed weapon in his shorts -- the aforementioned high-powered gun. Ah, Texas. Gotta love it.

Anyway, a coyote that threatened Perry and his dog while they were out on a morning run in February near Austin was on the wrong end of the gun. Talk about hitting the wall. That coyote literally died on the course.

Read all about it below.

Personally, I've seen Coyotes while running on the American River Parkway Trail in Sacramento and never felt the need or even slightly compelled to blow it away and, to quote Perry, "send it where coyotes go." Mostly, the coyotes I've encountered skitter away when they see you.

But those must be mellow, Califorinia coyotes. In Texas, they must be really bad ass.


AUSTIN, Texas - Pistol-packing Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a message for wily coyotes out there: Don't mess with my dog.

Perry told The Associated Press on Tuesday he needed just one shot from the laser-sighted pistol he sometimes carries while jogging to take down a coyote that menaced his puppy during a February run near Austin.

Perry said he will carry his .380 Ruger -- loaded with hollow-point bullets -- when jogging on trails because he is afraid of snakes. He'd also seen coyotes in the undeveloped area.

When one came out of the brush toward his daughter's Labrador retriever, Perry charged.

"Don't attack my dog or you might get shot ... if you're a coyote," he said Tuesday.

Perry, a Republican running for a third full term against Democrat Bill White, is living in a private house in a hilly area southwest of downtown Austin while the Governor's Mansion is being repaired after a 2008 fire. A concealed handgun permit holder, Perry carries the pistol in a belt.

"I knew there were a lot of predators out there. You'll hear a pack of coyotes. People are losing small cats and dogs all the time out there in that community," Perry said.

"They're very wily creatures."

On this particular morning, Perry said, he was jogging without his security detail shortly after sunrise.

"I'm enjoying the run when something catches my eye and it's this coyote. I know he knows I'm there. He never looks at me, he is laser-locked on that dog," Perry said.

"I holler and the coyote stopped. I holler again. By this time I had taken my weapon out and charged it. It is now staring dead at me. Either me or the dog are in imminent danger. I did the appropriate thing and sent it to where coyotes go," he said.

Perry said the laser-pointer helped make a quick, clean kill.

"It was not in a lot of pain," he said. "It pretty much went down at that particular juncture."



April 27, 2010
Taper hypochondria? It's not in the DSM-IV, but should be


dsm_iv.jpgHere's a recent Tweet from "Trying to Qualify," a Portland runner who'll be at Sunday's Eugene Marathon.

"taper syndrome 32094b: becoming more germ-phobic than Howard Hughes. 4:20 P.M. April 24"

I share this because it's so true. That's so me. I was off the charts this morning when I had to take one of my kids to a doctor's appointment. That waiting room was absolutely a teeming mass of germs. 

I really believe the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders needs to add a section on taper hypochondria for marathon runners.

I'd define it thusly:

A (hopefully) temporary mental disorder in which a runner believes any little thing he encounters in the week prior to the race will throw off all of his hard work. Any little sniffle sends him to the medicine cabinet for zinc supplements. Anyone around him who has the temerity to sneeze is looked upon as being a carrier of a combination of the Swine Flu and Black Plague. Other symptoms include feeling phantom pain in parts of the body which had not given him pain during 18 weeks of brutal training but now bother him because he is NOT running huge mileage. Pain usually lasts several hours, then mysteriously disappears as quickly as it came, only to be replaced by soreness in the other leg. Sufferers also show signs of nascent, fleeting eating disorders. He irrationally believes he will gain weight by reducing mileage but, as race day nears, then has the opposite fear that he's not eating enough. All traces of the condition usually go away three (or, if it's a bad day, four) hours after the starting horn sounds.

There is no cure for taper hypochondria, But researchers are working on drug trials featuring super-skinny, neurotic lab rats. Plans are being drawn up for a telethon to benefit T.H. sufferers. Please, dig deep and give generously. They'll take any donation of GU or electrolyte replacement drink.

Together, we can beat this. Thank you.


April 26, 2010
More scary marathon death stories; perfect reading for my taper

Why does it seem that every time I'm tapering for a marathon, another story comes out about sudden death from heart attacks involving marathon runners? And why is it that well-meaning folks insist on sending me the links?

As if I'm not freaking out enough worrying about the prediction of 30 mph wind gusts in Eugene, where to eat pre-race, and whether my eldest son will give me his cold, along comes the Wall Street Journal with this story.  

April 26, 2010
Drink a pre-marathon Slurpee? Oh, please, no


So, what, now some exercise scientist is telling me that I need to drink a Slurpee (they called it a Slushie) before a race to prevent overheating?

C'mon. The mere thought turns my stomach. Still, the article by the always-provocative New York Times' Gina Kolata makes a case for it -- at least when you're running a hot summer marathon. (No, the study was not funded by 7-Eleven.) 

Actually, I do recall ultramarathon legend Tim Twietmeyer telling me that he stops on long training runs in the summer to eat ice cream sandwiches. So ...  

April 26, 2010
More about age-graded performance

So, for those of you asking about age-grading (see the previous blog post about 45-year-old Rich Hanna and Big Sur), here's a handy-dandy site that does the calculations for you.

Hanna's 2:33:49 at hilly Big Sur translates to a 2:25:55 if he were a scratch runner.

Explaining age-grading is way too mathematical for me (I was an English major in college), but here's a link.

By the way, there's a fun age-graded race coming up in Sacramento, the Buzz Oates No Excuses 5K on May 31.

April 26, 2010
Big Sur is Big Surge for Sacramento's Rich Hanna


 Big Sur is a tough marathon. Hilly, often windy. Great views, sure. But most people agree it adds about 10 minutes to your normal marathon time on a flat course -- say, the CIM or Chicago.

All of which makes us even more impressed by Rich Hanna's performance Sunday at Big Sur. Hanna (pictured), 45, perhaps best known around these parts as the race director of the Run to Feed the Hungry and the Cowtown Urban Cow Half Marathon, has long been one of Northern California's fastest and most versatile runners -- cross country 5Ks to ultramarathons.

On this day, Hanna finished fourth in 2 hours 33 minutes 49 seconds. (Daniel Tapia won in 2:26:09.) Age-graded, Hanna posted the best time.

The second local male Big Sur finisher was Sven Hausner, 38, of Davis at 3:23:07. Kari Haus, 27, of Davis was the top female at 3:24:51, followed by Sacramento's Michelle La Sala at 3:27:45.

There were three other smaller races over the weekend -- the Folsom Point Trail 50K, the Nevada City Spring Run 5K and 10K and the Spear It 5K in Stockton. We couldn't find results anywhere online. Let us know how you did. UPDATE 4/27: Sacramento's Brad Lael, age 45, won the Folsom 50K in a time of 4 hours 8 minutes 53 seconds; Brian Miller of El Dorado Hills was second at 4:14. In Stockton, the top local finisher was Sacramento's Jose Pimental, who placed 11th at 17:14.

Meanwhile, many local runners arecompeting this coming weekend in the Miwok 100K in Marin County, the Avenue of the Giants Marathon in Humboldt County or the Eugene (Ore.) Marathon, where you'll find me, by the way.

To gear up for the big races, how about having a big laugh. Check out this humorous post about "15 Things You Don't Want to See While Running a Marathon."   


April 23, 2010
Run with Ryan Hall Sunday in SF

Not doing anything Sunday morning at 8 a.m.?

Head over to San Francisco's Aquatic Park and do a run with Ryan and Sara Hall, America's First Couple of Distance Running (sorry, Kara and Adam Goucher).

Click here for the details.

April 23, 2010
Don't be a 'John Doe' runner, like this poor Newport Beach guy

A few months ago, in this very blog, I wrote that I knew I should don Road ID during runs but failed to do so because (a) It's distracting wearing something on my other wrist; and (2) I was superstitious that if I wore the ID then I'd surely be hit by a car.

What I should have done is added "(c) because I'm a freaking idiot."

Well, for my birthday in March, my wife bought me a Road ID. I wore it. I got used to it. Now, I feel naked and exposed without it.

I'm a total convert.

Now, I'm superstitious that if I don't wear it, I'll get hit. (Did I mention I'm a tad neurotic?)

If you're still an identification holdout, as I was, read this story in today's Orange County Register:

Unconscious jogger still a mystery

2010-04-23 07:50:18

NEWPORT BEACH - A jogger found unconscious at Corona del Mar High School Wednesday has still not been identified, police said Friday.

The man is still in a medically induced coma, Sgt. Steve Rasmussen of the Newport Beach Police Department said.

The jogger was found near the school's baseball fields Wednesday evening. Police put out a public notice Thursday, but nobody has called in yet to ask about a missing person, Rasmussen said.

The man apparently suffered a medical problem, as he had no visible injuries, and there were no signs of an attack, Rasmussen said. He was taken to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian.

The man was described as physically fit, well-groomed and clean-shaven.

He is white, 30 to 40 years old, 5 feet, 8 inches tall and about 160 pounds. He has a light complexion and brown hair.

He was wearing black Speedo-brand running shorts, new dark gray Nike shoes with a red swoosh emblem. He was not wearing a shirt, and did not have identification.

Anyone with information about the man is asked to call Newport Beach police detective Kristen O'Donnell at 949-644-3797.


April 22, 2010
Marathon weather forecasts: Big Sur (Sunday), Eugene (10 days out)



For those running in Sunday's 25th Big Sur marathon, weather forecasters are calling for a temperature of 48 degrees with low clouds on race morning  (wonderful!) but with 10 mph winds and 20 mph gusts (not so wonderful!). Click here for the link.

For those running in the Eugene (Ore.) Marathon on May 2 -- that's yours truly and about a half dozen other Sacramento-area runners that I know of -- Portland runner/blogger Pete Danko has put up a Eugene weather blog (Pete did the same for last December's CIM).

Click here for Eugene weather news.  

April 22, 2010
A runner's tribute to 'The Tree Lady' on Earth Day

For years, I have run on the bike path along the south side of Russell Boulevard, the main artery connecting Davis to Winters.


The stretch is glorious - at least the first few miles in Davis proper, featuring towering black walnut trees (planted in 1876) that envelop the path in shade. But outside the city limits, runners, cyclists and hikers find themselves bereft of trees and shade, utterly exposed to the fallow fields and, in summer, the harsh sun.


Running on that stretch - which, by the way, is part of the course for next month's Tour of California bike race - I often said to myself, "Hey, they should plant some trees along here, too." Not that I ever did anything about it. Heaven forbid I would get involved.


Then one morning last fall, I was cruising along the Russell trail and saw a line of saplings spaced several feet apart, encircled with fresh mulch. It brightened my day. A few weeks ago, I saw more new plantings.


Somebody had cared enough to get involved.


Turns out, it wasn't Yolo County or any of the area's well-organized arbor groups. It was one woman, Winters resident Janet Mercurio, who saw a need and dug deep (both in the dirt and her pocketbook) to plant about 150 trees along the Russell Boulevard stretch - with more to come.


It may be decades before that part of the bike path is bathed in shade. But on this Earth Day, Mercurio's small but meaningful gesture shows how people can help the environment the other 364 days of the year.


Her motivation was simple aesthetics. She, too, had noticed the denuded stretch and thought it a shame that no one had thought to plant trees.


"I live on Russell, close to Winters," Mercurio said. "I would drive in all the time - my son went to school in Davis - and I kept thinking, 'I wish they had more trees along here. It would be so great.' I'm a tree lover."


That was eight years ago. Mercurio contacted Yolo County authorities and the advocacy group Tree Davis to find out if the three could team up to make her idea a reality. The county gave the go-ahead but apparently had no funds to offer. Tree Davis had its plate full of other projects within Davis' city limits. So the idea lay dormant.


After Mercurio, now 60, retired a few years ago from the Sacramento County conservator's office, she renewed her plan. This time, she had the freedom to carry it out herself. She enlisted the help of a master arborist, Dave Muffly of Palo Alto, rounded up as many as 25 volunteer workers through e-mail blasts and got to work.


Ask her the name of her organization, and Mercurio hesitates, then laughs. "Well, you know, we really don't have a name," she said. "It was just my idea. When I started e-mailing Tree Davis and other people for help, I guess I just started calling it the Russell Boulevard Tree Planting."


Hers has hardly been a slipshod endeavor, though. She and Muffly agonized over just what types of trees to plant, how their spacing would affect their growth possibilities and aesthetic quality. The acorns Muffly gathered from mature trees were augmented by seedlings provided by the L.A. Moran Reforestation Center in Davis. Equipment for planting was donated, too, as was the water from Three Palms Nursery in Winters.


Mercurio paid for much of the material, but she was crafty enough to find people willing to help, gratis. The bulky water tank sitting in Mercurio's front yard came from a tree group in nearby Woodland. "The man's wife wanted it out of their front yard," she said, "so now it's in mine."


Muffly says he was impressed with Mercurio's passion. "This really is Janet's baby," he said.


After all, some people get excited over the iPad, the latest electronic gizmo. Mercurio marvels over saplings. "Have you ever seen the animated film 'The Man Who Planted Trees?' " she asked. "It's about a little old man, a hermit, who goes out and collects seeds and acorns, and sorts them and plants them, and years later, all the trees are growing. That inspired me.


"But Dave's made all the difference. I don't know what I'm doing. But we chose a lot of oak because Dave's an oak nut. Heck, I love oaks, too. And the county loves oaks because they are native. Then Dave says, 'How about sycamores?' Then, at the last minute, he says, 'Let's throw in some buckeyes.' "


In time, the saplings figure to take root and grow. Muffly's not sure exactly how long it will take for the new growth to mature and flood the bike path with shade. He guesses "a couple of decades."


Mercurio and I are willing to wait.

April 21, 2010
New marathon taper obsession: My weight


potato.JPGYesterday afternoon, around that time in the work day when you start feeling kind of blah, our restaurant critic walked into the pod with a doggie bag absolutely oozing with the aroma of fried foods.

"Hey, Sam, want some french fries?" the sadistic critic asked.

He then opened the bag and our whole pod smelled like a deep fryer -- in a good way.

I begged off the fries. It was hard. I was hungry. Suddenly, the baby carrots and raisins I had squirreled away for a mid-afternoon snack seemed so, well, so paltry and unsatisfying.

But I had to be vigilant. My marathon in Eugene is in 12 days and I have started tapering. That means, for the uninitiated, a steady reduction of mileage. For me, that means dropping from 57 mileage last week to 41 this week and then down to about 30 next week, the last before the race.

You always hear how people love, love, love tapering. All that hard work and brutal 20-milers over the winter months is behind you, etc. But aside from my customary anxiety about getting injured in the last two weeks, the marathon taper means that I've really got to watch what I'm eating.

I'm weighing in at what, based on past experience, my optimal racing weight should be: 143 pounds. I haven't been "dieting" during my 20-week marathon build up, just eating about the same as always. With the increased training volume, though, nearing 60 miles most weeks, plus swimming for cross trainnig, I've dropped a few pounds simply because I've been expending more calories than I've ingested.

During peak weeks, I ate ... and ate ... and ate. Not the deliciously bad stuff -- like my daughter's penchant for baking chocolate chip cookies -- but generous amounts of complex carbohydrates, fats and lean protein. I've been having an intense love affair with peanut butter sandwiches for weeks now. (Side note: It's weird, in every marathon training cycle, I have different food cravings; kind of reminds me of women who report craving different foods with each pregnancy.)

The point is, now that my training volume has been reduced, pre-marathon, I've got to make sure I don't keep eating at the same rate as before.

If I were to eat in the next 12 days as I did in the previous 12 during heavy training, then I'd probably go into the marathon weighing about three pounds more than what I'm at now. Lugging those extra three pounds over 26 miles takes a toll, you know.

So the fries and chocolate chip cookies will have to wait -- until at least May 3.

The marathon is all about delayed gratification. So we know the drill.        

April 20, 2010
We're back, with local Boston and River City results

Technical difficulties knocked us offline yesterday.

Hey, did we miss anything in the running world?

Oh, yeah, that Boston thing.

Local runners once again were well represented in the 114th Boston Marathon. It was a particularly good day for my fellow Davisites. For complete results, click here.

Here are the top five from our area:

  • Stephen Andrews, age 28, Davis: 2:48:23
  • Kris Vogt, 43, Wilton: 2:51:29
  • Munashe Chigerwe, 32, Davis: 2:58:23
  • Brent Kaneyuki, 37, Antelope: 3:03:23
  • Sven Hausner, 38, Davis: 3:04:29.

The top female was Elizabeth Tedsen, 25, of Davis at 3:07:34.

The top runner from Sacramento was 60-year-old John Yamagata, who ran 3:05:26. That's just one week after Yamagata finished third in his age group at the Carlsbad 5000. Now that's versatility.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, they held the River City Marathon and Hal Marathon on the American River Parkway.  

The winner was 27-year-old San Franciscan Peter Celona II at 2:59:21, beating Sacramento's Brad Lael (3:00:36) and Davis' Philip Luck (3:01:12). The female winner was Ilyse Shugall of San Francisco at 3:19:01. Top local woman: Meredith Wurden of Sacramento at 3:31:13.

For full River City results, click here.

April 16, 2010
Pre-race anxiety: It's a good thing

OK, so I'm 15 days out from my marathon (Eugene, Ore., May 2) and am only starting my gradual taper.

So why is it I already feel so anxious and nervous?

(Forget, for a moment, that I'm a head case. I know lots of rational people who fret this early before a marathon.)

Watching the latest video by Portland-based coach Joe English gave me one less thing to worry about. Those gearing up for Monday's Boston Marathon might want to watch the video, too. Hey, can't hurt.

The point, essentially, is that being nervous "can be a good thing" because it shows a runner's body and mind are well preepped and gearing up for the big day. What the coaches in the video stress is reframing nervousness to make it work for you, not to your detriment.

Check it out.


Season 2 - Episode 22 -- Dealing with the Pre-race Freak Out from Joe English on Vimeo.

April 16, 2010
Is this stray dog named Rosie Ruiz, by any chance?

Courtesy of the BBC News and, I stumbled upon this Associated Press photograph of Ethiopia's Alene Resta winning the Santiago (Chile) Marathon with a stray dog pacing him.

Great stuff (as long as the dog doesn't bite).


April 16, 2010
80-year-old Stanford Doc, Boston Marathon runner talks longevity


Dr. Walter Bortz, with wife Ruth Anne. Michael Jones/Bee file  


I recently had an entertaining interview with Dr. Walter Bortz, the noted Stanford gerontologist and longtime Boston Marathon-level runner, about his new book, "The Roadmap to 100." Bortz, at 80, will be running in Monday's iconic race.

The Bee's story on Bortz and his book will run in Sunday's paper, but here's a sneak preview:

Judging by the title of Stanford professor of medicine Dr. Walter Bortz's new book - "The Roadmap to 100: The Breakthrough Science of Living a Long and Healthy Life" - you might presume the noted gerontologist has uncovered some miraculous anti-aging potion.
In a way, he has.
It's called exercise and diet.
Old school as that may seem, Bortz presents solid, peer-reviewed research that confirms that it's fitness - not antioxidant supplements, or gene and hormone therapy or the latest "super fruit" - that is the key to extending and improving our lives.

"Fitness is a 30-year age offset," Bortz says. "A fit person of 70 is like an unfit person of 40. And the galling thing is, it cost us $2,000 per person per year to pay for people being unfit."
An outspoken proponent of personal responsibility for one's health, and a frequent critic of medicine's disease-oriented focus, Bortz, 80, is himself a model of healthy behavior. A veteran long-distance runner, he will compete in Monday's Boston Marathon.

Q: I read a statistic from your book that shocked me: By the middle of this century, we'll have 6 million centenarians. Does that mean people are healthier or are they just holding on longer thanks to medical science?
A: Oh, I give medical science very small partition of it.
Q: Are people healthier now than before?
A: The data clearly shows old people are staying healthier longer.
Q: A good thing, right? But don't you also write in the book that we live in a "bifurcated society," where we've got the really healthy and really unhealthy, and the healthy pay for the rest?
A: I lay a lot of the blame on health illiteracy. If you're smart, you're going to live a long time. Because now we know. It's not genes and not doctors. It's how you live your life. We are a set of a wonderful ensemble of genes. All these genes are little electric switches that must be tuned. The tuning of it is exercise. When you're fit, everything tunes correctly. If you're not fit, everything goes to hell.
Q: Exercise and nutrition: Is that going to be a hard sell to someone always looking for the quick fix?
A: Sure. We, as doctors, can treat disease. We can charge you for it. We want thing as we can send you a bill for. And they can bill you for surgery and pills. But if you come into my office and I go over you and say the best thing for you is to get on a really good exercise program, you're going to stalk out because I didn't give you the easy answer.
Q: Why aren't doctors trained more to deal with health rather than disease?
A: They get paid for having you sick. They want you to bleed. I just lectured 600 doctors at Kaiser. They are all fat.
Q: So, if doctors themselves can't stay healthy ...
A: Listen, health is a control thing. You have to own it. You must ingest health and make it a part of all your decisions. I'm a student of the human potential. How long can we live? A hundred years. That's our birthright. But it can be a good 100 years. It's not lying around in some desolate nursing home.
Q: So longevity for its own sake is not a good thing?
A: Clearly, no. It's quality of life. When I wrote my first book in 1991, called 'We Live Too Short and Die Too Long,' I asserted that 100 was our birthright. That was out on a limb back. A lot of people said, this guy's blowing smoke. Now we recognize that we ought to live to be 100 if we don't (mess) it up.
Q: "Disuse Syndrome," you write, should be recognized as the real leading cause of death. You even say that newspaper obituaries should say, 'He died of disuse syndrome' rather than heart disease. Is a sedentary lifestyle really such a killer?
A: The data exists. There's an article from JAMA about 10 years ago called actual causes of death: that sitting on a couch kills you. Everything rots out before you go into the doctor and say, 'Give me a pill.'
Q: How do you combat Disuse Syndrome in people who may not be motivated?
A: It's I.O.I. I is information. People have to know it first. You have to be informed that, if you're thin and vigorous, you'll live longer. Second is opportunity. You need to live such that you have access to good food, not damned fast food. Lastly, incentive. I'm working on the government to make it worthwhile for people to be healthy rather than sick.
Q: Subsidies for having lower cholesterol levels and higher fitness levels?
A: Yes! Come in and I'll do a health exam. If you're healthy, I'll charge you 10 percent less. It's a reward.
Q: What about the ways other than exercise and nutrition? Everything from gene therapy, to dietary supplements to super fruits - is it people wanting to get the quick fix? Or is science trying to sell us product?
A: It's money. I'm at Stanford. So high tech. They all want their laboratories. They all want to find something lucrative that helps people. I was at a lecture there a year ago on angiogenesis - new blood vessels. The speaker is said, 'With these viral vectors you get the first blush of a new vessel!' I went up to him afterward and said, 'You get the whole thing from exercise.' He says, 'Yes, but there's no money in it.' It all comes down to what you can sell in Walgreens.
Q: What can be done tangibly to help change this?
A: I have a program here in Santa Clara called Fit for Learning. We're in all the schools. I lecture the kids and tell them, 'I do not want to see you at Stanford with diabetes. It shortens your life 15 years and costs $11,000 per person per years. And if you're fat at 5, 10 or 15, you're going to be fat at 50. Then you come to me and say, 'I'm sick. Take care of me.'
Q: So the key is to get them early?
A: We need kids and their parents. It's health literacy. Right now it's a staring contest. Are we going to continue to be paying the bill for the people who don't take care of themselves, the 200 million fat Americans? They are talking about a surgery for diabetes now. I think that's immortal.
Q: Immoral how?
A: To do that is to get a smoker to stop smoking by amputating his fingers. And Stanford loves it because they can charge you for it.
Q: How popular are you now at Stanford with your contrarian views?
A: I'm in the face of my dean and my medical professors. But I'm right. And they know it. They are guilty. But medicine is a whore house.
Q: Later in the book, you touch on the quality of life issue, how being engaged in life helps you live longer and how an active elderly sex life keeps you living. Is that another incentive for staying fit?
A: I wrote a paper on aging sexuality and fitness. I surveyed our lifelong fitness association group and we've much sexier.

April 16, 2010
How to win free running stuff: Guess Hall's Boston time



The folks at Asics and, seeking free publicity (well, I guess they got it, since I'm writing about it), are holding a contest to guess Ryan Hall's finishing time at Monday's Boston Marathon.

The person closest to Hall's time will win a stash of Asics running stuff, some of it autographed by Hall.

Here's the link to participate. 

April 15, 2010
To Boston runners, From Stephanie

Once again, there is a large Sacramento-area contingent heading to Monday's Boston Marathon. Know that at least one person, Sacramento blogger Stephanie Papas, will be thinking of you all on Monday morning.

So, without further ado, we turn over the rest of this blog pot to Stephanie:

   I have Boston envy. It happens every year at this time. Just when I should be packing my bags, and picturing myself at the start line, reality hits and I remember - sigh - I am not heading to Boston.

   Instead, I read people's blogs about their taper. I inhale the course tips, maps, and stories featuring Bill Rodgers (a 4-time winner), Johnny Kelley (who finished Boston 58 times, took second seven times and placed among the top-10 finishers 18 times) and Katherine Switzer (the first woman to officially enter and run the event). And I think about how I need to get off my lazy arse try harder to get faster so that I qualify.

   Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. So true, literally, and for Boston in particular. They say that work productivity is reduced by 30 to 60% during March Madness, the college basketball finals. For me, all productivity stops on the Monday the Boston Marathon is run. With the time change (I'm in Cali), the race starts at 8:00am, meaning the elites finish between 10 and 10:30am. I picture myself waiting patiently in Hopkinton (note to self: when have you EVER waited patiently for the start of a race?), seeing the Wellesley girls kissing others, running up Heartbreak Hill, crossing the finish lineon Boylston, having a Sam Adams post-run.......sigh.

   This is a seasonal affliction, kind of like spring allergies. It starts right around April 1st, with 3 weeks to go before the race. But I experience minor flare ups throughout the year - when I read of others BQing, or when I see someone roaming around a race expo with their BAA jacket on.

    I am not whining here. I realize if I wanted this badly enough, I would get serious and really dedicate myself to getting faster. That said, it's been nice to run and race just for the fun of it. It's a luxury to wake up when I want to, instead of at 4:30am so that I get that day's assigned mileage done before heading off to work. I'm even able to stay awake past 9:00pm, since the alarm is not ringing and I am not pounding the pavement then heading off to work.

   I've yet to commit to a fall marathon, so qualifying is certainly possible. In the meantime, best of luck to those running Boston this year. I'll be with you in spirit, sitting in my cubicle, cheering you on!


P.S.: If anyone else wants to guest-blog on "Run, Sacramento," feel free to email me at  

April 14, 2010
Tribute to the mayor of the Central Park running path

Normally I don't tune into to NPR's "All Things Considered" to satiate my thirst for running info. NPR, rather, is one way I feed my insatiable news hunger.

But it was a pleasant surprise last night to listen to a tribute to the late Alberto Arroyo, who was considered the "mayor" of New York's Central Park running path along the reservoir. If any of you have run in New York on vacation or business, you no doubt saw Alberto, who died last month, trotting along and holding court on the path.

(And even if you haven't run in Central Park, you've probably seen it featured in countless movies -- from Woody Allen and others -- over the decades.)

Well, it was Arroyo who made that running path possible.

Listen to the NPR report. It's worth the 3 minutes of your time.


April 13, 2010
Sports medicine seminar in Davis: The agony of da feet



Woodland Health Care and Fleet Feet Davis will hold a seminar from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday night, featuring two local podiatrists who work with runners.

No doubt, the term "plantar fasciitis" will be thrown around a lot. But I'm sure they'll also speak on bunion. Nothing more engrossing than bunions, folks. Seriously, if you've ever had one, it's no fun running with it.

The event will be held at the Fleet Feet Davis store, 615 2nd Street, Davis. If you go, you might even get the honor of getting a "shoe fit" from J.D.Denton, the store owner. The man is a genius when it comes to figuring out what works best for your foot.

More details here.

April 13, 2010
This is your -- uh, my -- brain on running


home-simpson-brain.jpgFor reasons too prosaic to detail here, I had to do my recovery run yesterday at 8 p.m. For someone who is accustomed to running early in the morning (like, 5:30 a.m.), I found it a little disorienting.

But in a good way.

It was kind of pleasant, running in the dark but being fully awake and with veggie lasagna in my tummy. By the time I reached Road 97 in rural Yolo County, it was almost pitch black and I was completely zoned out, running at an even, slowish pace just to get my legs loose. I wasn't wearing a watch, so I didn't even have to concentrate on time or splits.

In this blissful state, I saw a runner coming at me from the other direction. I'm a kind sort that always gives a greeting to a fellow runner. This time was no exception.

"Good morning," I said.

Do'h. Then I caught myself.

"Evening, I mean."

But he may have already passed out of earshot by the time I could correct myself. I'm sure he probably picked up his pace to get away from that lunatic who didn't even know what time of day it was.

Sad to say, this wasn't the first time I've made such a mistake.

Running, at least in my case, can make a guy kind of stupid. Don't, for instance, ask me for directions when I'm in the final stages of a 20-mile run. My brain is mush by that point. I tend to shut off all rationality and concentrate on the task at hand. Some psychologists have called it a "flow state." To me, it's being simpleminded, not singleminded.

Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking.

What's this guy's excuse for his stupidity when not running?

Got no answer for you there.

Speaking of psychology, here are some pre-marathon tips by the Boston Marathon's "team psychologist" to get you through race day.    

April 12, 2010
About my anti-treadmill bias ...


tread.jpgI don't consider myself a running snob. I don't tsk-tsk at people wearing headphones during runs or even races (though I don't do it, myself), and I certainly don't turn my nose up at people struck by some crazy running fad (compression socks and kinesio tape, anyone?).

But I've always been down on treadmills.

It's not just because I've lived most of my life in California, where the weather doesn't get frigid enough to be forced inside by poor conditions. (I lived in upstate New York, and ran during blizzards and with three feet of snow accumulated.) 

The reason, I think, is that 've always considered running an outdoor actvity where you commune with (or swear at) the elements -- yes, even if you're running on paved roads. It's that feeling of going someplace, not merely trudging like a hamster on a wheel without even a wedge of cheese to keep you going.

That's why I had to nod knowingly when the Washington Post asked Joan Benoit Samuelson (still the queen of American distance runners, in my book) about treadmills. Joan said:

You're asking the wrong person. I love to run because I love to be outside in a natural environment.

Amen, Joan.

Feel free to argue with me, but there's no excuse -- even on a day like today, when it's raining hard in Sacramento -- to choose the treadmill over the open road. I will make exceptions say, if you're traveling in an unfamiliar city and it's night and you forgot your head lamp.

I know several elite runners who use the treadmill for hill workouts and even tempo runs. Yeah, it's relatively flat in Sacramento, but why not drive to Folsom/Auburn to the east or Winters/Vacaville to the south West and do hill work there?

OK, now it's your turn. Tell me why you opt for the treadmill, how often you use it compared to outdoor training and why you like it.    

April 12, 2010
Mary Coordt update, AR50, Carlsbad and Zoo Zoom Recaps



Mary Coordt (center) finished 10th in South Africa (Bee file photo)


Lots of catching up to do after my 10-day vacation in the desert. (BTW, quite a shock to return Sunday morning and do my 20-miler in wind and rain after being hot and dusty for 10 days.)

Anyway, on to race results...

First, a belated way-to-go to arguably Sacramento's best female marathoner, Mary Coordt, who finished 10th overall in the contentious Two Oceans Marathon (actually a 56K) in South Africa two weekends ago. Coordt's 4:04:10 was good for second place in her age group (40-49), two minutes behind South Africa's Joanna Thomas. More details here.

Speaking of ultramarathons, the American River 50 Miler was held Saturday, and Alaska's Geoff Roes (whom The Bee profiled recently) was an easy winner. More race details here.

Down in San Diego on Sunday, Sacramento's 85-year-old dynamo Po Adams (profiled Sunday in The Bee) won her age group at the Carlsbad 5000. Of course, Po was the only runner in the 85-90 age group, but she still rocked the course. Another local runner, 60-year-old John Yamagata of Sacramento, finished third in the 60-65 age group at 18:40. That's an age-graded time of 85.9 percent. Impressive.

And, finally, at the rainy Zoo Zoom 5K and 10K Sunday in Sacramento, 22-year-old Davis resident Matt Young outkicked 38-year-old Folsom runner Ed Brooks to win at 16:54 (Brooks was five seconds behind). The top female 5K runner: Sacramento's Bridgette Styczynski, age 27, at 18:51.

In the 10K, Sacramento's Austin Weaver, 26, was the winner at 31:21, while noted local race director Rich Hanna, 45, finished second at 33:31. Top female: Angela Escay, age 35, at 36:50. Full Zoo Zoom results here.

I'll be back later with more news and musings ...




April 1, 2010
Running Off to Vacation


Vacation beckons, and I'll be going to a place in the desert where I can run in daylight while wearing just one layer of clothing. Heck, I might be brave and put aside my fear of all things snakes to try running in the Estrella Mountains (pictured). (If you don't hear from me, it means the venom took hold quicker than I thought.)

The "Run, Sacramento" blog, therefore, will be going into "sleep mode" until April 12, when I'll be back to recap what happens at the American River 50 Mile ultra and the Zoo Zoom 5k and 10K. (Still plenty of room in the Zoo Zoom; the AR 50 sold out weeks ago).

Keep clicking here on the ol' blog daily, though, because I need the web hits to keep my job.  

P.S.:Good luck to Elk Grove elite runner Mary Coordt, who competes this Saturday in South Africa's famed Two Oceans Marathon (56K/34/8 miles).

April 1, 2010
Free Run, Free Burrito -- Not an April Fools Joke

Fleet Feet Sacramento tonight is hosting a free April Fools run (starting at 5:30 at the store on J and 23rd and winding around McKinley Park). And, yes, Chipotle will be handing out burritos afterward. No word on whether they'll charge for the guac.

Details here.  

April 1, 2010
Liver 'n' Onions GU flavor and other April Fools Fodder

Yeah, there are a lot of running-related April Fools tropes in cyberspace this morning -- everything from a thread on stating that the Boston Marathon has lowered its qualifying times and cut the field to 15,000 participants to Runner's World magazine's Mark Remy telling us about a marathon in Charlotte that forgot to run the race, to this inventive faux energy gel ad:

  Thumbnail image for Savory Line from GU 2.jpg