Run, Sacramento

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

May 28, 2010
SF Mayor is a bandit ... runner! For shame!

newsom.jpgListen, I've got nothing against Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco Mayor running for Lt. Guv of our tattered great state. My wife thinks he's hot. I may even vote for him.

But, dude, I lost a lot of respect for you after reading in the SF Chronicle's political blog that you ran the Bay to Breakers as a bandit. (For the uninitiated, a bandit is someone who jumps into a race without paying for a bib number. Basically, it's a form of stealing.)

Here's an excerpt of The Chron's blog: "So how did the mayor do on his impromptu 12-kilometer run? Well, he didn't have a race bib, so we don't know the official time. ("I was one of those bandits," the mayor said.)"

One question The Chron didn't answer: Did Gavin's hair move at all during the run?

I've been tempted to bandit a few races in my time. But I thought better of it. Yes, I know race fees are getting higher, but it's just not done.

Say what you want about Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson -- and many sure do -- but he was a registered runner when he competed in past Run to Feed the Hungry and Cowtown 5K races.  

May 28, 2010
Tweeting on the run ... and afterward



I'm just back from Fleet Feet Sports in Sacramento, where I picked up my race packet for Monday's No Excuses 5K and met Phil O., a loyal reader and tireless volunteer on the local runnign scene. 

The best part of the race is the back of the T-shirt, where each year they come up with witty excuses why "I didn't win." My all-time favorite is: "Galloway method didn't work." (Think about it. It's a 5K.) I've already got my excuse entry for next year: "Just realized you don't wear Vibram 5 Fingers on your fingers."

Anyway, this year, my favorite is, "I fell behind while Tweeting my splits."

I do find it quite amusing to see runners (mostly at marathons) Tweeting as they go.

Yet, I do like reading running Tweets after the fact. (I'm on Twitter myself.)

Here's an example of some of the best running-related Tweets I've read in the past two days.

  • From RunMikeRun1: "If you make it a point to run shirtless once a week I GUARANTY you will make better eating decisions...girls included!"
  • From Biscuiterie: "Just got race photos from Sunday's half. Note to self: Blowing sweaty kisses at the photog is a Very Bad Idea."
  • From PeterAlford: "At what point did wearing a cowboy hat while running laps become the "in" thing to do? My count on the day up to 2?"
  • From Naryga: "After lugging my Gym Bag all the way to work, I realized that it apparently had no running gear in it."


May 28, 2010
Avoid the crowds; No Excuses 5K packet pick-up starts today

Thousands of runners are expected to compete in Monday's Buzz Oates No Excuses 5K run at William Land Park.

Because of the volume expected, race organizers are urging people already registered for the race to pick up their packets and timing chips today or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Fleet Feet Sacramento (2311 J Street). There is no packet pick-up Sunday.

However, runners can still register or pick up their race bibs on Monday morning at the race site, the "village green" of the park, near the corner of Sutterville Road and Freeport Boulevard. The  race starts at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $30.

For more about the No Excuses 5K and its unique "age-grading" system for determining the winner, look for a story in Sunday's Bee Living Here section.       

May 28, 2010
'No Excuses' for not reading our age-grading running story


Shameless Plug Alert ...

Before you run Monday's Buzz Oates "No Excuses" 5K at Land Park, you must read the story that will be published in Sunday's Bee (the Living Here section) explaining all about age-grading.

It'll tell you why Barbara Miller, the 70-year-old Modesto phenom, probably will win the race for the third straight year even though she'll finish probably eight minutes behind the guy who breaks the tape.

We're quoting a lot of locals.



May 27, 2010
Type-A runners need to watch this video

Aren't we all Type-A?

Well, while you're mulling that philosophical question, check out the latest video from those wacky guys at the "Running Advice & News" website, Coach Joe and Coach Dean. They are talking about running as a contemplative endeavor, meaning turning off your iPod, cease consulting your watch for mile splits and heart rate levels and to just -- ommmm... -- run.


Season 2 - Episode 26 -- Solitude, Introspection & Meditation from Joe English on Vimeo.

May 27, 2010
Great Treks: Debut of new Sac Bee trail running series


Today in The Bee we debut a new feature called Great Treks, in which your humble blogger picks a trail run (or hike, if you prefer), tries it and "reviews" the experience.

Read the story by clicking here.  

Today's installment is the Stebbins Cold Creek Canyon Reserve trail, a 5-mile loop in the hills just before Lake Berryessa's Monticello Dam. It's single-track the whole way, hilly (start at 200 feet and summit at 1,535 feet, all in 2.5 miles) and you'll almost need some amateur bouldering skills to get over some of the rocks.

I chose it because it's little known in the area, compared to those well-trod trails in the Auburn/Sacramento region. (Check out the photo above of me huffing and puffing toward the summit and the shot below of me chugging up the stairs.) 

Each month, I'll highlight a different trail -- most won't be as difficult as the first. For June, I'm mulling doing the Olmstead Loop (8.6 miles) in Cool. But I'm certainly open to suggestions from you, dear readers.


May 26, 2010
Which races are you running ... and why?

We're at that point in the year when races pop up all over the place --  5Ks and 10Ks, especially, as well as a bevy of trail runs.

And that leads to these questions:

How do you determine which race to pick? Do you always do the same races each year, or seek variety? Do you prefer a certain distance in the summer? Does the (presumably) drier weather make you want to do more trail races? Does the high cost of races keep you from competing much?

Let me know your thoughts.

Oh, and this, too: If there is one summer race you absolutely have to do, which is it?    


May 25, 2010
Vegged Out: The Veggie Chase 5K has some problems

For two days, I've been trying to find the results of last weekend's Veggie Race 5K so I could blog about the winners. No luck.

Turns out, the race itself was blogged about by several runners angry about the organization. Specifically, they ran out of kids' shirts in a race geared toward kids. D'oh!

Local runner/blogger Jose Galvan was brutal in his recap. Trailmomma, too, took some shots on her blog. And SlowRunner77 (who, it turns out, is anything but slow) weaved a disturbing tale of the course marking being confusing (a pet peeve of mine).

The forum on the race criticized everything from the "chaotic registration" to the late starts of each race to a faulty P.A. system.


Was it really that bad?

May 25, 2010
Spots filling fast for Women's Fitness Festival 5K

Fleet Feet Sacramento, posting on its Facebook page (so, hey, it must be true!), reports that it has fewer than 500 spots left for the June 6 Fleet Feet Sports' Women's Fitness Festival 5K at the state Capitol building.

That's pretty impressive, considering that the field cna handle 3,500 participants (runners nad walkers).

If you're still sitting on the fence about doing this event, it's time to decide.

Here's the link.

May 25, 2010
The joy of progression runs

T-h-i-s ...  b-l-o-g ... i-t-e-m ... c-o-n-c-e-r-n-s ... progression ... runs ... which get faster as you go untilyoufinishupatsomethingnear10Kor5Kpace.

Whew, that was a good workout, er, sentence: Slow and plodding at the beginning, gaining steam in the middle and really working it at the end.

Progression runs are my favorite types of workouts, for a couple of reasons:

  • When you're 50, like me, a progression run just seems the natural way to do it. Those old bones and muscles need a couple of miles to wake up and start functioning. It's like an old car on a chilly morning that needs time to rev up before moving forward.
  • Those of us who loath the track and short interval training -- and tolerate tempo running -- can at least feel like they are getting some benefit rather than just logging "junk miles."

Wondering what type of progression run works best for you? Coach/journalist Matt Fitzgerald, on, provides a lesson. Find it here.   

May 25, 2010
Donate Old Running Shoes at No Excuses Race


Runners often have growing collections of old shoes in their closets -- too worn out for training but perfectly fine to wear when not working out.

In an effort to help the homelesss and less fortunate (as well as clean out closets), students from C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento will be at Monday morning's Buzz Oates No Excuses 5K at Land Park for a shoe collection. (The race starts at 8:30; the shoe pick up booth will probably be manned by 7 a.m.) 

Runners can bring any pair of used running shoes to the race, and McClatchy students will send them to organizations that provide services to the homeless. Any tennis shoes or sneakers will be accepted in addition to running trainers. Shoes not accepted: dress shoes, boots, flip-flops, hiking boots, kids' shoes with lights. Also, they do not accept wet or muddy shoes. 

Shoes deemed not wearable will be shipped to a recycling facility as part of Nike's Re-Use a Shoe Program. Those shoes will be ground up and used to make all-surface tracks and playgrounds for kids.


May 24, 2010
Hot enough for ya? Well, no! But great for running

Somebody slap me if I start to whine about it being too cold for May here in Sacramento. (OK, my wife has volunteered.)

Soon enough, people, we'll be cursing to 90-to-100 thermometer readings and start pining for days like today when the temperature hovers in the mid-50s all morning and into lunch hour.

So, I say enjoy the cool days for running while we can. And, according to your always trustworthy Bee weather forecasts, it'll be unseasonably cool on through the weekend. In fact, we are in the midst of the coolest stretch of late spring weather in a half a century.

What I fear is that we'll go from cool to blazing hot without the much-needed transition period -- days in the 70s and 80s to prep us for the heat that's sure to come. Personally, I wouldn't mind a couple of 80-degree days this weekend and maybe a race-morning temperature of 55 or 60 for the No Excuses 5K on Monday, Memorial Day.

Then again, if it's cold on race day, we'll have a built-in excuse -- "My muscles couldn't loosen up!" 


May 24, 2010
For the pain and heartbreak of lactic acid buildup, forget massage


tiredrun.jpgDon't know about you, but I had a killer run on Sunday. It was a hilly, 17-mile course in Vacaville, including a brutal climb up Cantalow Road that makes a guy absolutely hypoxic.

When I finished that exercise in torture training run, I wanted only two things: a large jug of iced tea and a massage to get rid of all that lactic acid building up in my quads, hams and calves.

Well, I got the iced tea, at least.

Turns out, even if I had gotten the massage, it wouldn't have helped relieve the lingering soreness from the lactic-acide buildup in my muscles, caused by the glycogen breakdown from the pounding I gave myself.

Canadian researchers, in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, tested subjects after a vigorous bout of exercise and then administered a massage. They found that the massage does not help disperse the lactic acid. In fact, it hindered blood flow during recovery.

Read the full study here.   

May 21, 2010
Amby's wisdom for injured runners, including himself

ambywcartoon.jpgIn addition to having the coolest name of any running journalist out there, Amby Burfoot (pictured) also is one of the best. Whether he's writing about others or about his own training (he won the Boston Marathon back in the '60s and still competes to this day), Burfoot always provides keen insight into the mechanics and -- dare I say -- spirituality of running.

I was happy to hear that he gained entry into next month's 100th running of the famed Dipsea race, from Mill Valley over Mount Tamalpais to Stinson Beach. I'll be there, and it'd be cool to run with him.

But then I read his most recent Runner's World blog post. He's got a knee injury and might not be able to run on June 13. I can relate to Amby's plight. Last spring, when I learned I had gained entry to the Dipsea, I trained like a hill demon and messed up my lower back. Though I was walking with a severe limp, I ran the Dipsea anyway, just fast enough to earn automatic qualifying for this year.

But I paid for my stupidity; I didn't run again for nine weeks, didn't have a moment without back pain for eight of those weeks. When I could finally run again, I vowed to be smarter. I'm not sure I am. But Amby's blog post reminds me not to overtrain. It's something we all can take to heart.

Quoth Amby:

Things change dramatically when you can't run. Stuff comes into sharper focus. And you quickly realize that being able to run healthy is way more important than the stopwatch or the finish-place card.


May 21, 2010
Running cliche No. 46: 'Fast, Flat Course'

You've read this is nearly every advertisement for road races. It's a shameless attempt to get us to enter, figuring we'll try for our PR on that "fast & flat" 10K/5K/1/2 Marathon/Marathon course.

And, you know what, most of the time it works.

Except, of course, when you're dealing with those ultra trail runners, for whom fast & flat is anathema. (I can just picture Greg Soderlund publicizing the Western States 100 ... "a fast, flat course from Squaw Valley to Auburn!")

Anyway, according to Portland-based running coach and top elite masters runner Joe English, the "fast & flat" claim mostly is a fallacy. English says that even when a course in pancake flat, if it has a lot of turns, it'll slow a runner down.

Here's his full post from his website, "Running Advice and News."


May 20, 2010
Video Thursday: In running, it's all about the hips

Today, we feature Boulder (Colo.) coach Jay Johnson's exercises to improve hip strength, range of motion and stability.

Any physical therapist will tell you that a good chunk of running injuries, from hamstring to knees to Achilles problems, can be traced to a weak core group of muscles. But the core is much more than those "rock-hard abs." The hips and glutes are vital for runners, especialyl those of us who aren't young anymore.

Johnson recommends that runners do this series of exercises after a run or later in the day, but he says it's OK to do it before you start running, if you must.


Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

May 19, 2010
Morning commute on foot provides a different perspective: bananas, frogs

Have you ever had one of those runs that is so eventful for what you encounter along the way that you almost forget you're running?

That was me today.

Normally, in this space, I don't delve into the prosaic details of a training run -- stuff like mile splits, interval work and the like or even what I encountered. But I'm making an exception today because I saw some interesting things on my running commute from Davis to Sacramento that I either would've missed had I driven my car to work or been annoyed by if traveling in an automobile.

truckoverturned.jpgFirst, I ran by an overturned produce truck (turned out to be bananas)  on Mace Boulevard in Davis. Major rubbernecking. Major backup. Street closures. The whole thing. It was freaking great being on two feet. I just motored on through and got a close-up view of the truck resting on its side. Had I been in my car stuck in traffic, I would've been mighty stressed.

frog.jpgThen, on the Yolo Causeway, I spied what looked to be a big blob on the paved trail ahead of me. When I got closer, I saw that it was a frog, dark green and as big and round as a pancake, sunning him/herself on the asphalt. I was hoping none of the cyclists zooming by me would accidentally smoosh it.

After exiting the causeway and merging onto West Capital Avenue, I discovered something truly shocking to a runner -- polite drivers!

West Sacramento gets a bad rap for a lot of things, but give it this: Its motorists are polite to runners.

In fact, I was a little worried. On this day, they seemed almost too polite, to the point where they almost caused traffic accidents. At cross streets, a few of the drivers in the right hand turn lane with a green light saw me approaching and stopped. Remember, they had the green light. I was more than willing to stop and wait, but twice cars waved me on even though they clearly had the right of way. Even the truckers turning into the industrial yards lining the avenue waited for me to pass.

And then there are the West Sac denizens wandering the avenue in the early morning. I know it might freak some people out to pass by a disheveled, unshaven guy swigging from a bottle in a paper sack. But a guy doing just that at a bus stop actually gave me the thumb's up salute.

Downtown and midtown Sac motorists could learn some manners from their West Sac brethren. I had hardly passed over the Tower Bridge before a minivan cut me off when I clearly had the right of way crossing in front of the Crocker Art Museum. In the 20 blocks of Q Street I traversed, I was honked at twice -- seemingly for no reason. I wasn't even running in the bike lane; I was on the sidewalk (because Q is a one-way street and I was going with traffic).

Today's eventful run raises the bar for my return trip home tonight on my bike. I'll be on the look-out for frogs and crabby drivers.      

May 18, 2010
Save the date: Oct. 18. Boston Marathon Registration opens

It'll figure to fill up even faster than the two months it took last year, so remember to register for the Boston Marathon when sign-ups open Oct. 18.

Here's the press release.

May 18, 2010
One man's plod from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, with Golden Gate swim

Today, the Tour of California cyclists will ride from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Quite a hilly undertaking, but these guys will zip through in three hours or so.

Then there's an admittedly slow (but terribly persistent) ultra-runner named Bill Bradley who recently ran 199 miles from Calistoga to Santa Cruz, including a 1.2 mile swim along the Golden Gate Bridge segment.

It took Bradley nearly four days to complete the journey. I gotta say, the dude looks pretty wasted at times on the road. (Oh, and Bill: Remember to run against traffic. Safer, man.)

Bill's next "Challenge" will be 10 Ironman triathlons in 10 days. That's 24 miles of swimming, 1,200 miles on the bike, 262 miles running.

Here's Bill's video montage from the "Show Up and Suffer" trek, posted on YouTube.


May 18, 2010
Q of the Day: How many days without running before you feel guilty?

So I took a day off from running today. But, to assuage my guilt, I swam a mile. (I think I may have strained my left teres major muscle, or is it the rhomboid? Anyway, that's off point.) 

What is my point?

This question: How many days off of running can you take before you start feeling guilty and think yourself a sloth? This was a query recently on the message board. I agree with the poster who said that, if he's not immediately recovering from a marathon, taking more than one day off in a row makes him feel a little guilty.

How about you?

Is it obsessive to think that way, or a form of motivation? Is such thinking leading to overuse injuries or does it propel you to better fitness?

Please weigh in.

Speaking of time off and recovery, many distance runners swear by a post-marathon massage to speed recovery and rid the muscles of nasty waste products and lactic acid buildup.

But a new study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise says otherwise, that it actually impedes recovery. Read for yourself here.

May 17, 2010
Ryan Hall wonders how runners, like, hold down jobs and have kids!

First, let me say that I really like Ryan Hall and marvel at his running ability.

But his latest blog post on the website shows that elite athletes have no clue as to what working parents go through when it comes to squeezing running into their lives. Hall muses about whether he would still be able to spend, oh, ALL DAY AND NIGHT concentrating on running, active release massage therapy, cross-training, nutrition if he had a 9-to-5 job and offspring to shuttle to soccer practice/guitar lessons/play rehearsal ...

Short answer, Ryan: No!

In a way, it would be doable for Hall. After all, running is his job. So that takes care of the 9-to-5 aspect. But he wouldn't have the luxury to be "self-absorbed" (his word, not mine) about exactly what time he eats before his second, evening run. I believe Hall's Mammoth cohort, Meb Keflezighi, has three children. But, from reading stories about Meb and catching his Tweets, his wife does most of the child-rearing -- to which Meb often praises her for on Twitter.

My advice to Hall: Enjoy your youth and your tremendous talent. One day -- probably way far off -- you might actually have to squeeze in that evening run with a full stomach. Don't worry. You'll deal with it.   


May 17, 2010
24-hour track record? It still belongs to Auburn's Clark

Much has been made (and rightfully so) of ultrarunner Scott Jurek's new American record last week for miles covered in a 24-hour run: 165.7.

It should be noted, however, that Jurek did it in France on a road surface. The record for most distance covered around a standard 400-meter track is 165.3 miles by Auburn ultra legend Rae Clark, who did it in Portland in 1990.

Twenty years later, Clark's accomplishment still impresses. Just running laps on a track for 24 hours is maddening enough; doing it swiftly is a whole other matter.


Rae Clark, training in 2002. (Bee File Photo)   


May 17, 2010
Weekend Races: Davis runner 14th at Bay to Breakers

Brad Poore, a former UC Davis distance runner, was the top local finisher at Sunday's 99th Bay to Breakers. Poore, 31, finished 14th with a time of 37:56 on the 12K course. Word is he wore a costume: that of an elite runner.

Don't know Poore? He's a 2:20 marathoner who was a late bloomer. Here's an interview with him from 2007 on the website Flo Track.


Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

In other races, Sacramento running impresario Rich Hanna, 45, won the Avenue of the Vines Half Marathon with a time of 1:13:25, nearly three minutes ahead of Reno's Fred Zalokar. Hanna, best known as the race director for the Run to Feed the Hungry and Urban Cow Half Marathon, is coming off a fourth place finish at the Big Sur Marathon. Sacramento's Stacy Worthen, 37, was the third overall woman with a time of 1:27:11.

 A competitive 10K field assembled for the Folsom Run With Nature. John Howard III, age 22, won with a time of 35:58, nine seconds ahead of 48-year-old Michael Drury of Folsom. Erica McNeil was the top woman at 43 minutes.

May 14, 2010
Running videos: Can't you just feel the bonk?

This guy on Twitter today is posting links to a string of videos showing runners in the latter stages of marathons/Ironman triathlons cramping like crazy.

I feel their pain. As someone who cramped so badly during the 2006 Boston Marathon (but stupidly refused to drop out) that I ended up being hospitalized for eight days, I cringe at the sight of these poor souls whose muscle spasms get the better of them.

But, yeah, let's be honest: it's also kind of funny to watch. I especially like the end of the Ironman video, where the two wobbly women literally are crawling over the finish line.

Below are three of the videos featured (No. 2 is the Ironman finish; No. 3's bonk comes 1 minute into the video):


May 13, 2010
About that mountain lion sighting on the Parkway ...
May 13, 2010
Does being a vegan and a runner mix?


There aren't many elite distance runners out there who are vegans. But the one I know about, ultramarathoner Scott Jurek (pictured), has become something of an evangelist for the dietary practice.

Personally, I like the occasional chicken breast, turkey burger and, if I splurge, salmon fillet. And cheese. I need cheese. So, no, I'm not about to go vegan.

Not that there's anything wrong with it. Heck, if someone told me that by going vegan I could be half as talented as Jurek, a six-time Western States 100 winner, then I'd swear off the animal products, pronto. In an event, the diet seems to work for him. Check out this New York Times story in which Jurek whips up a vegan lunch with food writer Mark Bittner.  

Meanwhile, as you read this, Jurek is competing as part of Team USA in the World 24 Hour championships in France. (I keep getting Tweets from him -- or his surrogate -- updating his progress.) You can track Jurek and other U.S. runners yourself by clicking here.  

UPDATE: Here's a short video of Scott after 12 hours of running sub-8:00 miles. The man is an animal. 

May 12, 2010
Changes to improve the enjoyment of road races?

I occasionally lurk on the message board on the running site, Let's Run. A wide variety of topics is discussed -- some even about running.

A recent thread caught my attention: "What changes would you like seen made to road races?"

Everybody, it seems, has an opinion.

Here's a brief list, sure to raise some discussion and hackles among runners (And, please, add your own wish-list on the comments section):

  • More toilets
  • Later start times/evening races
  • No frills races for $5-$10, no T-shirts
  • More 8Ks, 15Ks, 10Ks
  • No walkers
  • Combine young age groups to one 18-39 age group
  • Road races with more hills
  • More visible mile markers
  • More races using D-Tags
  • Stricter time cutoffs in marathons
  • Stage running races like cycling, where Category 1-2 riders race separately from Cat 3-4-5 

Check out this one post:


May 11, 2010
Is 'wearing your number' tech shirt the latest running fad?

Perhaps I live a sheltered life, but this was the first I've heard of this:

You now can get your bib number printed on a tech shirt.

My, my. Just when you thought there was no other way for budding capitalists to try to separate runners from their hard-earned money, along comes an outfit called to entice runners to go bibless at races.

I first heard about it today when I received the latest newsletter from the San Francisco Marathon. That race is offering competitors the option of spending $30 for a technical shirt ($28 for a singlet) that has the bib printed on the front.

Gee, if this catches on, what kind of impact will this have on the safety-pin industry?

I'm normally wary of gimmicks, but this kind of intrigues me.

And, for those who collect their bibs for sentimental reasons, rest assured: Participants at the races using the bibless shirts still get a paper bib at registration. But the shirt would serve as the official bib.

Here's a fashion question for you: Would you wear the "bib shirt" after the race, like to the grocery store or on training runs? Wouldn't it make it seem as if you were forever racing? Personally, I chuckle at runners who wear their bib numbers all day after a race. Would this be a similar look to that?  

As for the quality of the tech shirts and the printing process, I don't know, because I haven't worn one. But here's what the website has to say about quality in its FAQ section: "We use the best printing method available for printing on today's performance apparel. The race bib artwork is dyed in to the fabric. You will not feel it and it won't fade, crack or peel."

Fade, crack and peel? Hey, that's what I do in the last three miles of a marathon!

Naturally, the company is on YouTube with this infomercial:


May 11, 2010
Weekend choice: Wild Bay to Breakers or Folsom's 'The Wild Way'?

wild way.jpgSure, you can choose to follow the herd and run with 60,000 others, some of whom even will be clothed, in this weekend's Bay to Breakers in San Francisco.

But, if you don't like crowds, but still want to do something on the wild side, may I suggest heading to Folsom on Saturday for the Run With Nature? Sure, there's a 5K and 10K with hills (!!!), but that's not the wild part.

No, this year, race organizers are adding an event called "The Wild Way." It's a two-mile obstacle course inspired, perhaps, by the alterna-runners who practice the sport of parkour. It's not quite the same, but fun nonetheless.

Here's how the race organizers describe it:

The course takes you on a 2+ mile crazy rollercoaster of a run, over grass, gravel, pavement, and dirt; up hills and down hills; over fences, under barricades; through fields, along chutes; through the Zoo, up flights of stairs; and over logs spanning a mud moat. You won't get that dirty ... unless you happen to misjudge your step on the logs!

The best part is, they are holding the "The Wild" after the conclusion of the 5K and 10K. So you, theoretically, can do both the traditional and nontraditional runs.  

May 10, 2010
Hitting the trails prepping for the 100th Dipsea




I've been thinking a lot about trail running recently. There's no mystery as to why. I'm training for the 100th running of the famous Dipsea race, from Mill Valley over Mount Tam to Stinson Beach, and I really want to beat my time from last year.

 It shouldn't be hard to do that, actually. Last year, I shouldn't have raced at all. I was suffering from a debilitating back injury -- sacroiliac -- and limped to a time of 1:08:47. (It's a 7.4-mile course, all up and down.) I had to push in the final mile to beat a 12-year-old girl from Novato (yeah, she had an age-handicapped head start, but still ...) I could barely walk back to the shuttle bus after the race -- and I didn't run again for 9 weeks because of the injury.

But I'd do it again. See, I had to run the 99th Dipsea (and do reasonably well) to qualify for the historic 100th running this June 13. This time, I've come out of my post-marathon recovery intact, mostly, and I'll start putting in the hills and trails this week.

You road runners should give the trails a try, too. It's a nice summer diversion. Both mainstream running magazines, Runner's World and Running Times, have devoted their June issues to trail running. RW has a nice piece on the lore of the Dipsea, and Running Times has five how-to stories.

For road runners a tad intimidated by the trails -- all of that uneven footing, those vertical climbs -- may I suggest Fleet Feet Sacramento's trail clinic, which lasts seven weeks. The coaches alone are woth the $90 registration. They are Tim Twietmeyer (pictured, above, dousing himself), five-time Western States 100 champ, and Mo Bartley, a former member of the U.S. 100K team.

Registration continues through June 9 (it starts June 13), and Fleet Feet says it already has signed up 22 runners.

WEEKEND RESULTS: Speaking of trail runs, Brian Miller of El Dorado Hills won the Jenkinson Lake 34-Mile run Saturday with a time of 5 hours 17 minutes 17 seconds. Russell Shaller of El Dorado Hills won the 25.5-Mile run at 4:20:10 and Gerell Elliott of Folsom won the 17-Mile run at 2:18:14.

Back on the roads, here are the winners of Saturday's Race for the Cure 5K at Cal Expo: Male: Tyler Spangler at 17:05; Female: Judy Pickett at 20:2(. Pickett also was the first breast-cancer "survivor" to finish.  


May 7, 2010
One more race this weekend: Jenkinson Lake trail run



We were remiss in our earlier post not to mention the other race going on Saturday, the Jenkinson Lake Trail Runs.

You, literally, run around the lake, which is 8.5 miles in all. Distances: 34 miles, 25.5 miles, 17 miles or just one lap, 8.5 miles.

Details and directions here.

May 7, 2010
Lunges before running? So says Coach Jay

We've long been told that static stretching before a run -- and speed workouts on the track -- is counterproductive.

But Boulder-area coach Jay Johnson says his athletes do a regimen of lunges before workouts. First thing, even before warmup jogs or strides or whatever. Johnson taped this video for Running Times magazine.

Check it out. See if it'll help you.


May 7, 2010
Running news you must know before the weekend

That wasn't me out there running today. Uh-huh. Must have been somebody who looked like me. Yeah, that's right. I really need that full week off for marathon recovery.

OK, it was me. But I wasn't really running. Call it, er, fast walking. Really fast.

Full disclosure: I ran 4.2 miles at a leisurely pace just to burn off the stress. So sue me.

Now that I've got the confession off my chest, let's share some other running news, stuff that people might actually care about.

  • It turns out Chico was well represented at last weekend's Eugene Marathon, too. Blogger Greg Fischer writes about Paul Smith (the speedy 32-year-old who often travels down to Sacramento to win our races) getting a PR of 2:27:34, and highlights the race of 24-year-old Lindsay Nelson, who was the third overall woman and came within two minutes of Olympic qualifying at 2:48:15.
  • Weirdest running story of the week had to be the development of an indoor trail marathon. Yes, indoors and trail. It will happen next February on an indoor motocross course in Wisconsin. Details here.  Being in California, we can't quite grasp the allure of the indoor marathon craze in the Midwest (brrr...). Running 26.2 around either a track or on the concourse of a hockey rink just seems dull. Maybe the motocross mini-hills might make things more interesting.
  • News organizations have been reporting all week about how the alleged Times Square terrorist wasn't very skilled in car-bombmaking. Well, it turns out that Faisal Shahzad isn't a very savvy runner, either, according to A neighbor of Shahzad told the network that "He would wear all black and jog at night." C'mon, we all know that's not safe. Faisal should have been wearing reflective clothing on those night runs. Then again, maybe he had a reason he didn't want to be noticed.
  • Kind of quiet weekend for local races coming up, except, of course, for the massive Race for the Cure 5K at Cal Expo. Details here. Expect thousands. Have fun. Me? I'll be there in spirit. I can't race. After all, I'm in recovery mode.   
May 6, 2010
Fleet Feet Davis to host 'Running School' May 20

Newer runners might want to check out the evening seminar, "School for Running," at Fleet Feet Davis on May 20 at 7 p.m. For details, all 530-758-6453. 

Heck, I'd go just for the "chair massage" and the free "beer, wine, soft drinks, chips and guac." Sound more like happy hour than a serious talk of running. But there promises to be that, as well, including a Q-and-A with "shoe guy" J.D. Denton.

May 6, 2010
The agony of post-marathon running 'withdrawals'

Don't mess with me today. I'm in a mood. Have been all week. It's an edgy feeling. It's like an itch I can't scratch. It's making me write sentences without clauses. It's making me sound like bad Hemingway. It sucks.

The problem is that I'm on Day 4 of not running.

After Sunday's marathon, I promised myself to take a full week off from the roads to help my creaky 50-year-old body recover a bit from the race and the four months of putting in 50-to-60 miles per week.

I was fine on Monday, not really that sore even, but glad for the day off after having to drive back to Davis from Eugene Sunday afternoon. I went to the pool and swam a half mile just to flush the waste products from my legs.

Tuesday was an OK day as well. I wasn't really jonesing for a run. I knew my body needs the rest, blah, blah, blah...

Yesterday, I started feeling antsy and irritable, kind of like how imagine a meth addict would feel coming down off the high. I swam a mile in the pool to try to satisfy the fitness urge, but it's just not the same.

Neither is cycling. For me, running is my primary stress reducer. Better than Prozac. Better than Jack Daniels (the alcohol, not the running coach). Better than (OK, different than) sex.

The thing about not running is that you suddenly have so much time on your hands. I've experienced this phenomena when I've been injured, too. I've been getting to work this week at 6:30 simply because I'm accustomed to being up at 5 a.m. for the run.

I promised myself all during this last training cycle that I'd take a full week off after the race, then resume training. Hey, I've got to be in good hill shape for the 100th running of the Dipsea in mid-June.

But now I'm starting to hedge on this not-running thing. First, it was, 'Well, if I run this Sunday, it'll be a full six days off.' Then, it became, 'Why waste a Saturday. Maybe just a slow 5-miler.' Now, it's, 'You know, I could just do a jog to shake out the legs on Friday without doing any damage.'

We'll see what happens.

In the meantime, check out this blog post from Ryan Hall, the elite marathoner, who takes a full two weeks off after each race.      

May 5, 2010
The irony of a barefoot running seminar at a running shoe store


bareft.jpgWe're serving up irony, fresh and piping hot today.

How about this? Fleet Feet Sacramento is holding a seminar on Saturday (6:15 p.m., details here) on barefoot running.

Yes, a running shoe store is promoting shoeless running.

To heap more irony on the pile -- OK, maybe it's just my own curdled cynicism -- there will be a lot of product to move at the store after the presentation by Michael Sadler, the author of the how-to book, "Barefoot Running." Sadler is the coach of the Barefoot Running Club in Boulder, Colo.

Gee, I thought that part of the allure of the barefoot movement (and, yeah, it's grown into a movement by now) was that it was a non-consumerist answer to those evil running shoe companies and the retailers that conned us into believing that we needed to spend our hard-earned money on shodding our feet when we run.

But for all of its talk of being a minimalist movement, there are a lot of people trying to make a buck off barefoot running. Like, the makers of Vibram Five Fingers, the faux-barefoot non-shoe for those who apparently aren't ready to make the full commitment to having their soles laid bare.

Listen, I've got nothing against running barefoot. If it works for you, fine. Go right ahead. I wrote a profile of Sacramento barefooters back in 2007 and treated these guys with respect. I personally wouldn't give up shoes, but I respect their right to do so.

What I find harder to take is the faddist nature of the barefoot movement. It seems that the terminally trendy, the ones who read Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run" and suddenly started popping chia seeds and running ultras, are doing so just because it seems edgy and out there.

There is, of course, science behind the forefoot striking of barefoot running. No question. And, yes, the Kenyans grew up running barefoot.

But it seems the rank and file runner is going minimalist without really thinking this through.

For instance, last weekend, I ran the Eugene Marathon. During the first half of the race, before the marathoners and the half-marathoners split up, I ran right behind a guy wearing Vibram Five Fingers, the closest thing to bare feet. And it was the damndest thing: HE STILL WAS HEEL STRIKING! Yup, it didn't change his form at all. In fact, the dude was hitting the ground so hard it sounded like wet swim fins slapping on a concrete pool deck. Ouch! 

So that makes me think another group of people will make a profit off the barefoot fad -- sports medicine doctors.    

May 4, 2010
Weintraub's marathon race report: The P.R.

Note: Daniel Weintraub, who blogged for us during the run up to last December's California International Marathon, checks back in with his report from Sunday's Eugene Marathon, where he achieved his sub-2:50 goal. (For a full report on the race, see earlier blog)

My favorite moment in the Eugene Marathon Sunday came as I was struggling through Mile 25 on the scenic Ruth Bascom Bike Trail along the Willamette River. As I passed what I think was the Eugene Water and Electric Board Building, a distinguished looking gentleman with a cane was standing on some steps, urging the runners on as we passed him by. "Looking good," he said as I neared him. "Good form."  His encouragement brightened my spirits, especially at a time when I sensed that my form, which is never pretty, was uglier than ever. Then, as I passed the man, I looked more closely at him. And I saw his cane ended in a white tip. He was blind.

Perhaps despite his handicap this man could sense by the sound of my footsteps that I was about to finish my third marathon with a far better experience than I had during my first two.

My first and second marathons were very similar. I ended both with good times but was disappointed because I was on pace to do much better up to the 20-mile mark, only to crumble in the final miles of the race and finish short of my goals. After the second one, the California International Marathon in December 2009, I was determined that my next one would end differently.

On Sunday it did. I completed the Eugene Marathon in 2:48:32, accomplishing my goal of breaking 2:50 and bettering my personal best by six minutes. Just as important to me, I finished strong and was able to walk away from the finish without assistance.

The day could not have been better. The weather was perfect, overcast but dry, with temperatures in the low 40s at the start and the mid 50s at the finish. Almost no wind. This was the only day in a stretch of about 10 days in Eugene before and after the race where there was no rain, or rain in the forecast, and no wind. The course was also favorable: mostly flat with only two real hills, both before the 10 mile mark and neither as hard as the rollers in the early miles of CIM. After that we had only some bridge approaches and tiny ups and downs on a bike trail to deal with. The only downside of this course is that it is very turny, at times comically so. But at least it wasn't boring. After mile 18, most of the course is an up and back on a paved trail along the Willamette River, with trees, parks and gurgling rapids at your side. Very peaceful.

I arrived at the start with fellow Sacramentans Jenny Hitchings and Midori Sperandeo, who would go on to win the women's race in a record-setting time. I knew my friends Tina Moore, and Sam McManis from the Bee, were somewhere in the crowd as well but I could not spot them in the mob at the start.

The first part of the course was fast and I went out a little too fast, logging 6:20 miles and a few in the teens when I intended to stick to a 6:25 pace. My 10K split was about 45 seconds faster than it needed to be, and my half marathon split was a good minute faster than my goal. But my heart rate was in check so I decided to go with it. Things got tougher in the second half of course.

Around mile 16 to 17 my pace started to slow just a bit, in part, I think, because we had just completed the most turny part of the course, on some sidewalks in a park along the river that seemed to be going backward on the course and around in circles for a half mile or more before finally returning to the bike trail and a straight flat stretch. Mile 18 was my first that was slower than my bottom-line goal pace of 6:29. But I knew I had a good two minutes "in the bank" toward my goal of breaking 2:50 and I was only losing a second or two per mile to that goal, so I did not stress about it. I just wanted to make sure this was not the beginning of another collapse, so I didn't let my pace slip any slower than 6:31.

By this point in the race the runners were strung out pretty thinly along the course. For a few miles I ran behind a guy in a white cotton tee-shirt who had hand-drawn a cross and a religious statement on the back of his shirt. I don't remember what it said now, but at the time I was praising him and his God for keeping my pace under 6:30. Eventually he slowed and I passed him at about the 21 mile mark just before we crossed the river for the final time.

This was the crucial part of the race for me, the point at which I had cratered in my first two marathons. I felt that if I could get past the 22-mile mark and still feel strong, even if I was hurting, I would be ok. I took several deep breaths as I passed through 22 miles and willed myself to keep going fast, calling on all the strength and motivation I could muster. My quads were hurting and almost felt like they were cramping but I shortened my pace and tried to ignore the pain. I started to see racers in front of me who were faltering, and I was gaining on them. As I spied each one I vowed to pass them before the next mile marker, at 23, 24 and then 25 miles This was my motivation to keep going strong. I was actually able to avoid wishing for another mile marker to appear because I wanted to pass these people more than I wanted the race to end. This was an entirely new experience for me in a marathon. I think I passed 11 runners in the final six miles.

I kept picking people off and kept my pace right around 6:30 through mile 24. Mile 25 was the slowest of the race for me. It included a quick little downhill under a bridge that was more painful for my quads than anything else in the race. Then we had to climb back from the river, and we were running along an industrial area on the other side of the trail that was not very inspiring. I finished that mile in 6:37.  At this point I knew I would break 2:50 unless my legs went into a full cramp mode, but I still wanted to finish strong and not keep fading. There were still two runners visible ahead of me. I went after them and cranked it up to what felt like a full sprint to my deluded senses. I finished mile 26 at 6:21, one of my faster miles of the entire race. I caught one of those two runners  as we left the bike trail and re-entered downtown Eugene.

The race ended on the track inside Hayward Field, the historic University of Oregon track stadium made famous by the late Steve Prefontaine. As I hit the track it was electric, with fans and family packing the stands and cheering the runners on. I was still chasing the last guy I had a chance to catch, but the approach of the finish must have lifted his spirits as well, and he kicked it into gear and held me off. No matter. I crossed the line well under my goal, and after a brief bit of support from two friendly volunteers, I walked away from them, turned down the offer of a space blanket and headed for the food.

I was happy to  make my goals but also to be able to finish strong and walk away without assistance. It is an amazing experience to be able to race a marathon and actually treat it like a race at the end, trying not just to survive but to pass people and earn a higher position in the standings. (I was 51st overall and 4th in my age group). I attribute my improvement to running a few more miles a week, and adding in a few more long runs with fast finishes, but also to increasing my cycling mileage significantly. I am still averaging only about 40 miles a week running and rarely run two days in a row. But I probably averaged close to 200 miles a week on the bike since January, and I did three bike races in April, including one a week before the marathon. I think the cycling kept me strong and built my endurance to enable me to complete the marathon the way I had hoped to. Even if you are not a competitive cyclist, I strongly recommend cycling not just for "cross-training" but as an integral part of your running training program if you want to get stronger and improve your chances of remaining injury free.

May 4, 2010
Folsom's Sperandeo wins Eugene Marathon; Area runners fare well



Midori Sperandeo/Bee file photo



Every time Midori Sperandeo, long one of our top Masters marathoners, wins a race, news reports focus on how she "couldn't run a mile at age 29" and is a "stay-at-home mom." It's a great human interest story, no doubt. And Sperandeo, a former TV journalist and documentary filmmaker, must know that, as well.

But it almost overshadows her running ability.

Her performance Sunday in the Eugene Marathon speaks for itself. 

Sperandeo, 43, won the Eugene Marathon on Sunday and qualified for her fourth U.S. Olympic Trials with a time of 2 hours 44 minutes 21 seconds. It was a course record. Sperandeo is the second local woman to qualify for the 2012 marathon trials. Mary Coordt, of Elk Grove, qualified in last fall's Twin Cities Marathon.

The win in the women's division, by slightly under a minute over second place finisher Marlene Farrell, was merely a bonus for Sperandeo. As she told the Eugene Register Guard afterward, "My primary goal was to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials. I did that, so I'm happy." 

Read the full story here.

It was a happy day for other Sacramento area runners. Former Bee columnist and "Run, Sacramento" blog contributor Daniel Weintraub shattered his P.R. by finishing at 2:48:32 -- that's a six-minute improvement. (We'll post Dan's race recap shortly.) Elite Masters runner Jenny Hitchings, 46, of Sacramento finished first in her age division and was the sixth overall woman with a P.R. of 2:51. Sacramento's Emily Mah-Nakanishi finished 15th among the women at 3:00:50.

The top finisher from Davis was ... your modest blogger. Then again, I was the only entrant from Davis. Anyway, I ran 3:26:58. That's five minutes slower than my P.R., set five years ago, but still easily qualifying me for the Boston Marathon, my overarching goal. So, I can't complain... even though those damned calf cramps returned at mile 23 and slowed me.

In the Eugene 5K, Sacramento's Stacy Worthen won the women's title at 18:44. Sacramento's Kurt Mellick finished third in his age group (40-44) and 16th overall at 17:46. He finished just behind the race mascot, Flap Jack (dude in a pancake costume, courtesy of a race sponsor), who was finished at 17:46.


Yup, we haven't forgotten that there were other races over the weekend other than at "Track Town, U.S.A."

At Saturday's Miwok 100K ultra, Folsom's Erik Skaden, 38, finished fifth in 8 hours 53 minutes 58 seconds. Davis' Mark Murray, 47, was 24th overall at 9:57:29. Other top locals: Joe Van De Water at 10:05:57, John Blue at 11:05:35 and Kim Kortz at 11:47:08.

At Saturday's American River Parkway Half Marathon and 5K, Roseville's Michael Fadling, 42, emerged victorious with a time of 1:16:40, eight seconds ahead of Adam Weiner of San Diego. Sacramento's Chris Pollack was third at 1:19:30. The top local woman was Karalee Morris at 1:31:56.

At the Parkway 5K, Curt Casazza, 38, of Cameron Park was the winner at 18:01. The women's winner was 41-year-old Kirsten Schneider, coming off an injury, at 19:45.

At Sunday's Avenue of the Giants Marathon in Humboldt County, the top local finisher was Folsom's Brian Wieland at 3:22:24. The top local woman: Nevada City's Abby Hunter at 3:42:06.

And, finally, at the Fleet Feet Fair Oaks Sun Run 5 Mile Run, Sacramento's Steve Schenck was the winner at 27:41. The top woman was Mary Coordt, recovering from a top finish at the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in South Africa, at 31:27.