Category Archives: JULY 2015

All articles published in July 2015.

Member Profile: Kate Papadopoulos

Lately Empire Runner Kate Papadopoulos has been kicking ass on the trails,  winning the Annandel Half Marathon,  and most recently running an excellent first Dipsea. In this interview with Kate we try to understand why she gets so psyched about trail running. 

Question: Lately it seems that you have really found your stride in trail races, including winning the Annandel Half Marathon. What is it about trail races that you enjoy most?

The biggest attraction is being in nature! I also prefer small groups over large crowds. It is through Empire Runner races that I began loving and gaining confidence about racing on trails. I was hooked on running the Illsanjo classic after the first time I ran it.

About the Annadel Half this year…everything seemed to come together. Participating in Tuesday track workouts and joining a trail running group led by Kenny Brown really helped. With the trail group, not only did we travel to challenging and beautiful locations, but I also got to train with friends who were about my pace.

July15KateP_Ilsanjo 10M Female

When the majority of people run on trails, they slow down because of the obstacles – rocks, water, uneven terrain, etc. They give your mind an excuse to slow down. The best trail runners gain energy and increase speed when obstacles are encountered, which is a hallmark of great cross-country runners.  What do you mentally experience when you encounter challenges on the trail?

It took me awhile to get used to trail running but now I’m hooked. When jogging on easy days I like to relax, not think about my pace, and enjoy the scenery. During races, however, it is true that you have to stay focused on every step both to keep up the pace and to keep from tripping.

You also mentioned cross-country, which I started last season. The shorter distances are challenging for me and honestly I’m more comfortable in races between 10k and half marathons. But I loved the camaraderie and group energy and look forward to the next season.

USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page,
USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page,

What was the most challenging part of the Dipsea race that you ran recently?

The Dipsea’s successive stairs and hills were never-ending. I’ve rarely walked more than a few steps during a race but during the Dipsea I mixed walking with jogging on the multiple flights of stairs and the steepest inclines. It felt wrong to walk during a race! But there was a tipping point where If I took the hills too hard, I would not have had the energy to speed up on the descents. As it turned out, it was often difficult to gain speed going down as well due to sharp turns, steep but legal shortcuts, and shrubs laden with poison oak.

Kate Papadopoulos running to the finish line at the Dipsea race, 2015. Photo by Bev Zanetti
Kate Papadopoulos running to the finish line at the Dipsea race, 2015. Photo by Bev Zanetti

How did you do, and where on the trail do you think you can improve next year?

I felt good about the race. It was an accomplishment just getting in. I also reached my goal of getting in next year’s Invitational. Frank Cuneo, Paul Berg, Brad Zanetti, Stephen Agar and I did a practice run on the course prior to the race day which was helpful. Food and drinks after at Stinson beach helped us recover.

With such a challenging course and numerous headstarts based on gender and age, I finished without any sense of how I did other then I was exhausted. In the open runner section (which is like the second large heat of the race) I ended up 17th overall and the 4th female, which was a huge surprise. I will be back next year and I think more hill work and faster runners around me in the invitational section will hopefully help me improve my time.

In any of your trail races, any wipeouts? Bloody knees? Poison oak? Rattlesnake scares?

No big falls yet, thankfully. When not racing I run pretty conservatively. Poison Oak? Of course. I got my worst case after taking “shortcuts” during the Dipsea training run. After the actual race, scattered bumps came back as a reminder. I’m now armed with strong steroid cream for the next exposure. Rattlesnakes? I’ve seen small ones in Annadel, but never felt threatened. Aggressive mountain bikers are probably a larger risk!

Kate Papadopoulos running to the finish line at the Dipsea race, 2015.


In comparison, what are your thoughts about road races? Equally enjoyable?  What’s your most memorable road race?

I enjoy trails more than the road but I’m looking for a flat half marathon to do to see what my time would be like. I’m signed up for the CloCow half marathon in September but it is full of hills. I have not run too many road races but one that sticks in my mind is the Kaiser Half marathon 2014. It was my 3rd half marathon after Annadel and CloCow. It was cold and pouring rain. I carpooled with Steve Cryer, you may know him—he is one of our shyest Empire Runners :). It was such a gigantic race that I lost him at the start and it took awhile to find him at the finish. In the final race results,however, we had serendipitously finished 2 seconds apart. It was a lesson in chip timing that our places were 430th and 431st but I only saw him at the turn around.


Have you always been good racing on trails, or is this a recent awareness? Did you run cross country at your high school in Lincoln City, Oregon? Way back then, did you think you would still be running now?

A recent awareness for sure. It took a few people pointing it out to me to realize that this was a strength. I ran some track and half a season of cross country in high school. I loved running enough to the point that I would happily run during Oregon Coast rainstorms but I was a bit more competitive in other sports, mainly basketball and volleyball. I was also plagued with knee pain that kept me out of sports part of my Junior and Senior year.

Did you run in college? If so, how did you do?

Unless running late to class counts, I did not run in college. I tried to start running again a few times for the exercise but had recurrent knee pain that for some reason or another, has not come back since I have started running again over the past 3-4 years. I feel so fortunate.

2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club
2015 Loop de Loop, March 29, Empire Runners Club

You’re working as an EHS nurse practitioner at Sutter. Are there any connections between work and running? Does running reduce stress, or give you more energy at work?

I take care of Sutter employees with work related injuries and manage other healthcare setting required vaccine and testing needs. The majority of work related injuries in this population are musculoskeletal and I love learning about human anatomy, physiology, and rehabilitation which is one connection to sports and running. The biggest connection between my work and running is geographical. I work on Summerfield Road…just a few strides from Parktrail! After work I can easily get in runs in the park or Tuesday/Thursday workouts. Running definitely helps me manage stress and has become a part of my social life.

What’s your next race?

I’m signed up for the Clo-Cow Half in September and will sign up for some local cross country races.


Dear Old Dad, by Catherine DuBay

Even though Father’s Day has passed,  I can’t seem to stop thinking about my dad. Actually, I think about my dad all the time. Especially when I am running-which some say is all the time. Anyway, my dad died almost 4 years ago and I would think that the passing of time would reduce how much I miss him. It seems to have gone the other way. I miss him more and more all the time. Growing up my dad spent most of his free time with his roto-tiller in his garden. I never understood why he would spend so much time with something so much less interesting than my sisters and me. However, as I now have teenage daughters of my own, it is becoming quite clear how the loud, rhythmic sound of the roto-tiller was exactly what the father of 4 girls needed to survive our teenage years.


I was the youngest of the 4 girls and was always trying to get a little bit of my dad’s attention. It was useless. After spending a day teaching middle school math, tending to a dilapidated house and yard too big to maintain it was rare to get a minute of his time. I was lucky to sit next to him at the dinner table on his “good ear” side so at least if I wanted to tell him something really important I had the best chance of all of us for twenty minutes every night. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized my dad’s good ear would change periodically depending on who was sitting next to him and what they were saying. If we were asking him for money he would say he couldn’t hear us because that was his bad ear. If we were asking if his shoulders needed rubbing he heard us just fine from the same side.

When I was about 10 years old I found a way to spend time with my dad. I knew that every Sunday he would be in front of the TV watching football. I didn’t like football but I liked my dad enough to sit there. Eventually I started to grasp a few of the concepts and this led to endless questions to my dad. My sisters told me to “stop asking so many stupid questions. Dad is trying to watch the game.” And he responded with one of his many sayings; “Youth wants to know. You can ask as many questions as you want Chief (his nickname for me).” When football season turned to baseball season we watched or listened to the games and I would ask questions that he would patiently answer. I especially loved summer not only because baseball is so much better than football but also because my dad would always let me have the first sip of his beer as he sat down and turned on the game after a hot day of working in the yard. My love of sports and beer grew from this time with my dad.


When I was 12 or so my dad started to run. This was the mid 70’s and running was only seen every four years in the Olympics. No one ran on the streets or in the park unless they were in trouble. We didn’t understand it at all. My mom thought he lost his mind as she watched him from our porch with a cocktail and cigarette in hand. One Thanksgiving day en-route to our cousins in San Francisco he pulled over our Volkswagen van on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. He jumped out and told my mom he was going to run across the bridge and pick him up on the other side. My sisters and I begged to go with him but he told us we weren’t trained for this run.

I watched him from the back window of the van as we drove away. I watched his big curly head of hair cut in two by a sweat band as it bobbed up and down. I stared until he became smaller and smaller and eventually faded from my sight. When he got to our van on the other side of the bridge he was sweaty, stinky and so happy. I knew right then that next year I would be out there with him. The next year all of my sisters ran with him. My mom drove the van while we made our way across the bridge and this tradition continued for many years until our cousins decided that hosting Thanksgiving was hard enough let alone providing shower facilities for their crazy cousins from Santa Rosa.

My dad continued to run and eventually started to enter races in which he won his age group almost every time. My mom continued to think he was crazy but would attend all the races and eventually his love of running passed on to my sisters and me. By then running was becoming popular and races were taking place almost every weekend. The Moscow Road Race, Kenwood, The Human Race and Young at Heart were my dad’s favorites. When we were going through his clothes after he died I found race t-shirts from the first Human Race held in Santa Rosa-circa 1982. He loved his race t-shirts. For $6 you could run a race, have a banana and a bagel and get a t-shirt. To my father who was as frugal as you will find, this was the best deal in town. When I was a freshman in college I asked him if he would run the San Francisco Marathon with me. He agreed until he saw the race entry fee was $20. This was the first time a race entry was double digits. He refused to pay the entry fee. He ran it with me as a bandit. At the finish line he was unable to get to the refreshment table without his race number. He grabbed a Mylar race blanket from the medical tent, wrapped that around him and walked right in. He eventually came to grips with the rising cost of entry fees but in 2007 when I told him I paid $150 for the New York Marathon he asked if that included air fare.


The Moscow Road race was moved to Father’s Day in the 1980’s and this became a family tradition. It was the first race I ever beat my dad. I felt kind of bad about this. When Moscow Road race ended we did the Perry’s to Perry’s race in San Francisco. I just found the trophy my dad and I won in 1993 for the Father/Daughter division. My dad had to stop running shortly after that due to congestive heart failure. He still came to all the races and cheered us on and I always knew how much he missed running. One day not long before he died I was running in the park and decided to take a loop through Oakmont where he lived. I stopped for a glass of water. He was sitting in his back yard reading the paper or doing a crossword puzzle. He asked how the run was going and I told him I was feeling really good. He was never one to express feelings or want pity so I was surprised when he told me how much he missed that feeling. It was the first time I realized that someday I too, would lose the ability to run and enjoy the pleasure of a great run.

I miss you dad and as long as I can I will continue to enjoy and thank you for teaching and sharing with me the greater things in life; football, baseball, being a parent, beer and running!


You have a reputation as a very “durable” runner, getting very few injuries and running consistently. But rumor has it you got injured walking to work. How is that possible? 

>I normally commute to work by bicycle, and have done so for nearly 30 years. But my bicycle frame broke in October 2014. So while waiting for my new bike from the Trek factory, I started taking the bus to work. But this included walking up Fountaingrove Parkway to Keysight. Plus, when I took the bus to work, I nearly always walked home, which is 5 miles. Also, I started standing at work instead of sitting (I definitely recommend this if you have a desk job.) So suddenly I was spending a lot more time on my feet than I had been, and plantar fasciitis showed up in one foot. After the Pacific Association championship race in November, I could barely walk. Even five months later, it isn’t completely gone.  May15Howard4

What is the ratio between riding your bike and running? Do you think biking up Fountain Grove Parkway to Keysight improves your running? 

>I don’t know what the ratio is, but probably pretty close to 1:1 in terms of time. My round trip commute is probably 45-50 minutes, and I usually run less than this each day. I think biking does improve my running. It is a good source of background fitness, and there is 0 pounding stress. I think the biking helps your running more for longer races. For shorter races (a mile or less), the intensity from bicycling may be a little too low to provide as much benefit. Of course there is nothing preventing me from trying to ride up Fountaingrove as fast as I can, to get my heart rate up closer to what it is during a race. I think the bicycling improves my up-hill running. Also, Chris Cole, a very talented runner, whom I really respect, thinks that as you get older bicycle training transfers over better to your running. This is because you run slower as you age, so the lower-intensity bicycle training transfers over better to your lower-intensity running.

I didn’t start out intentionally bicycling to train for running. I just knew that bicycling would be (and is) a great way to commute – I can still fit into the same suit I bought in 1984, I save maybe $3000 a year by not owning a car for commuting, it’s great for the environment, and it relieves stress and is fun.

In 2011 you were part of the Senior Men’s XC team that went to the National Championships in Seattle, Washington. Given the fact that it was such an exceptional team, what was the energy of the team members before the race? Tell us about the trip. 

>We had a great time. Don Stewart, Ty Strange, and I had just turned 50, and we had Jonathan Hayden, 54, and Brad Zanetti, 57, as our top 5. Paul Berg, John Harmon, and Larry Meredith also came and competed well. It was great travelling as a group. We knew we were facing the best runners in the country, and I think we were just thinking, “We have nothing to lose. Let’s go out and give it our best shot.” We finished 7th of 17 teams, if I remember correctly. Not bad for the relatively small population that the Empire Runners draw from. I really enjoyed the race, because there were lots of people in it and watching, all along the course. It was very high energy, and I would definitely do it again. Throughout the race, I had people right in front of me or right behind me, so it was easy to maintain a faster pace than I would in a more typical cross country race. The only bad thing about it was that it was 10k, which is a little long for me.

Sometimes they have the national championship race in some cold location like Spokane. Being a wimpy Californian who grew up in Novato, I’m spoiled. I’m always thinking: why go to Kentucky or Pennsylvania in December when we have such mild weather here in California?

Kenwood 10K July 4th, 2014

 I believe you are a Senior Applications Engineer at Keysight Technologies in Santa Rosa. Do you experience much stress at work and does running help you deal with the challenges of working?

>Yes, I am an applications engineer at Keysight. I have worked at Fountaingrove since 1985, except for a year in Japan. I would not say that my job is very stressful. Occasionally I have deadlines I have to meet, but my boss pretty much lets me decide what to work on and how much time to spend on each task. However, running, bicycling, lifting weights, the elliptical, walking, hiking, all forms of exercise reduce stress and get your mind off things. Plus it makes it easier to sleep at night. Exercise is without a doubt the best medicine.

 You’re known as a “middle distance” man and a cross country runner, which seems entirely different. What is it about the 800 meters that you actually like? What did you run in high school / college, and what have you run as a master? 

>I started out in high school as a 440 runner (50.0 as a junior) and moved to the 880 as a senior (1:55.9). I ran cross country in high school just as training for track season. I was pretty fast in the shorter distances, but there were plenty of people faster, which is why I ended up running the 880/800. I like the 880/800 because I was relatively good at it. I continued running the 800 (1:53.6) at UC Berkeley, but was never good enough to make their travelling team. But certainly the training did and does require a lot of speedwork, which is more stressful than going out and running 5 miles, for example.

In 2011, when the Master’s World Championships were in Sacramento, and I had just turned 50, I entered the 800. I made the semi-finals, but finished 16th in 2:12.22. I needed to run about 2:10 to make the final. I think if I had run more races (I only ran 2 before the meet), I might have done better. I think it is somewhat harder to train as a master athlete than as a college or high school runner, because you are probably working full time, may have a family, and may have very little time to train. Plus you frequently have to run on your own without a coach.

It is well known and accepted that people have different body types meaning they will be better suited to certain distances or types of races than others. However, I’m convinced that you can train for specific races or distances, and that if you know your ability and pace yourself correctly, you can tolerate most races.


How do you compare the “mentality” of a track race versus cross country? How do you adjust your approach? 

>In track races, my goal is almost always to run faster than a particular time. So I want my splits and I want accurate timing results. In cross country races, I’m looking at which competitors are near me, and I’m thinking about how I’ve done against them in previous races. “Tom beat me last race. I’m going to see if I can stay closer to him today and beat him (or at least close the gap.)” My cross country strategy is to be a little conservative in the first half of the race, and then try to be more reckless and aggressive as I get closer to the finish line. I like that they are longer than track races. You have to think a little more and focus longer. I’m an assistant referee for high school soccer. This requires intense concentration, which I think transfers over to my racing. “You can do this. Stay focused. Stay relaxed. You can catch this guy. Let’s push this hill. Just a mile to go. Now just half a mile… OK, someone has caught me, but I’m going to be back, with a vengeance in the final sprint…”

I now find cross country races way more appealing than track races. This is because no matter what you do, past about 35, you are going to keep getting slower. I really enjoy the competition of cross country, the series of races the Pacific Association puts on. Everyone I’m racing against is getting slower from year to year, so I’m sure we’re mostly thinking about competing against each other. Also, I think that longer, slower races (relative to track ones) are easier on your body as you get older.

 Now some important questions. What is your favorite pre cross country race food? What do you consume and how far in advance? What do you recommend? 

>I used to think that racing on an empty stomach was a good thing. Now I’m convinced that eating something 2- 2.5 hours before the race leads to much better results. I try to eat a bowl of oatmeal and half a banana about 2-2.5 hours before a race. It isn’t too much, but I don’t start the race feeling hungry, which would be bad. I think people need to experiment and figure out what works for them. Taking energy gels even closer to the start would probably be good, too.

 And what’s your post race reward? A rueben sandwich? Chocolate ice cream with Oreo crumbles? Be honest. 

>Well, I don’t eat meat anymore, except for fish, and I don’t eat any dairy, either. A Cliff bar or a bowl of granola, or some fruit would be ideal.

I’m curious to hear what other runners do to prepare for races. I think there is a lot of “tribal knowledge” in our club.

The Cusworth’s Running in Cambodia

(Editor’s note: Heidi and Bill Cusworth visited Cambodia  and ran the Ankor Wat half marathon on December 5th, 2004 –
1. When you landed in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, and got settled into your hotel, what were your pre – race thoughts and emotions?
IFActually, we landed in Bangkok and toured Angkor Wat as part of an overland backpacking trip.  The Thai/Cambodia border was very sketchy and so I would recommend flying directly to Siem Reap.
We toured some of the temples by bicycle the day before the race which got us excited about the next day’s event.  I was somewhat surprised at how flat the area was and how large an area that the temples covered.  It was once a very large city.
2. On race day, what time did you have to be in the starting area? What was the atmosphere?
I think we were in the starting area by 6am.  The race was a fundraiser for victims of land mines left behind from the various military campaigns.  The atmosphere was very friendly and we felt very welcome.  There were not a lot of competitive runners and not a lot of European or American runners in the race.
3. How was the race – did you run it for fun or competitively? What was it like running by the ancient ruins?
We ran the race purely for the experience.  It was amazing running through the ancient ruins!  Many of the ruins had been taken over by the jungle and still had massive tree roots embedded into the stone walls.  The race route was paved and flat and so the course was easy.
4. Any issues with the humidity?
The humidity which was high would have been a problem if we had been racing hard.  The temperature was in the upper 80s.
5. What’s your view of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat? Would you recommend this trip to other runners?
Having toured all over SE Asia, Angkor Wat still stands out as the biggest highlight.  It’s really a must-see destination.  The town of Siem Reap is very safe feeling and inviting to foreigners.  There are all levels of accommodations and restaurants.

Cross Country Starts July 1st, by Stephen Agar

While the fall cross-country season can be one of the most enjoyable racing experiences, combining the camaraderie of team competition with the diversity of trail running, it can also be the most challenging. Such is the depth of our cross county circuit that a performance that would rank in the top two or three at a local road race may not be enough for a top 30 finish. However, nothing can enhance your experience like PREPARATION, and the time to start is now. The club group training is a great opportunity to increase the volume and intensity of your running, while keeping things fun and social. Go to for times and locations. If you plan train on your own, here are some suggestions of what to incorporate into a typical week.

  • Try to run 4 – 6 days a week
  • One long run of 60 – 90 minutes
  • 5 x three minutes with one minute rest
  • 8 – 10 x one minute with one minute rest

Take at least one rest day or easy day between these efforts, and remember “train don’t strain.” Feel free to  email me with any questions. Stephen Agar – stephen.k.agar@gmail.comContactUsHeader

It’s Track Time, by Paul Berg

I hope you caught the fantastic piece in the Press Democrat a few weeks ago about the Summer Track Series. The article captures the spirit of this popular meet, which is hosted each year by the Empire Runners at a different high school and regularly draws 250 competitors on each of five alternating Tuesdays. Berg15July1

The longer days and warm evenings have also inspired a lot of energy and friendly track competition among Empire Runners. On the Tuesdays when there is not a scheduled meet at Santa Rosa HS, about 25 runners regularly toe the line at Montgomery HS track. Coach Larry Meredith has designed a set of workouts with a variety of paces and distances, often in the 200m to 800m range, to simulate race effort but at a shorter distance. I personally prefer racing on trails and roads, but these track sessions help develop pacing and turnover without the threat of crashing on boulders. Published monthly on the website as the Training Calendar, runners of various abilities are able gauge their efforts in a fun supportive environment. I’m excited to see that the end of this month (July 28) brings one of my favorite annual events, Lawn Relays in front of SRJC. Larry usually devises a clever handicapping formula to get us all finishing in a humid mass at the final oak tree, guaranteed to get you ready for XC season.


Carlsbad 5000, By Larry Meredith

For the fifth straight year a small contingent of Empire Runners made the pilgrimage to the Mecca of 5Ks in Carlsbad, California held on March 29. The event calls itself the “World’s Fastest 5K,” not because it is run on a downhill course, nor because it is pushed by tailwinds, nor because the surface is engineered for speed. On the contrary, the course presents a few gradual rises, runs back and forth along what can be a breezy coastline and offers standard road pavement underfoot. No, Carlsbad is internationally known as the “World’s Fastest 5K” because 16 world records, 8 U.S. records, along with numerous national and age-group records have been set on the scenic oceanfront course.


On the current list of 5K world records by age (, Carlsbad is the listed as the record-setting site 39 times. And now you will see that the most recent addition to the list is a 7-year-old Empire Runner by the name of Daniel Skandera who sped around the course in an amazing 19 minutes and 25 seconds. Competing in the 12-and-under age group against 77 others, Daniel placed 6th.

You might want to check out Daniel’s accomplishments at other distances ( He is listed as the world record holder at age 5, 6 and 7 for the mile; at age 6 for the 600-meter run, 1000 meters and 1500 meters run; at ages 6 and 7 for the 2000 meters, 2 miles and 3000 meters. O.K., so Daniel’s not listed in the steeplechase (an event his Grandpa Harry excelled at) but that’s only because he can’t reach the top of the barriers.


But enough about the young prodigy among our band of long-distance travelers for a short-distance race. Our elder statesman Brad Zanetti was testing out his 60-year-old wheels and fared quite well, placing 12th in a field of 120 in his division.   In a race of over 2000 masters runners special awards go to the top 250 finishers and Brad claimed 204th, just 3 places ahead of fellow ER and long-time Carlsbad devotee Bryan Porter. Carlsbad rookie John Harmon earned a medal as well, taking 235th and placing 26th out of 188 in his 55-59 group. Larry Meredith placed 312th.


Carlsbad’s final races are truly elite affairs and this year’s field of competitors did not disappoint the thousands of spectators lining the streets of this fashionable little burg. In the women’s race Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia turned in the 2nd-fastest road 5K ever run, a 14:48, to win going away. Lawi Lalang held off fellow Kenyon Wilson Too by just 3 seconds, finishing in 13:32. Third place went to America’s most decorated distance runner, Bernard Legat who, at 40, set a world road record for masters at 13:41.

If the time and expense of traveling so far for a 5K puts you off, don’t forget that the coastal corridor down south is home to some world-class breweries and Brad Zanetti is a willing and more-than-able tour guide for this type of extra-curricular pastime. There are swimming pools, hot tubs and beaches, local cuisine and family activities nearby. And with our cheerful designated driver Bev Zanetti negotiating highways and byways, a long weekend with a short race turns into a mini-vacation. Mark your calendar for the weekend of April 2-3 and join in on the fast fun next year.



“RUNNING with the LEGENDS”, by, Michael Sandrock, Human Kinetics, Champaign, Illinois. 1996, pp 568

While trying to finish the Dr George Sheehan trilogy (see last  months Newsletter) I finally finished a book that I have been reading May15ZanettiHeadshotfor over a year. “Running with the Legends” is definitely not an easy read. At over 550 pages it is a solid commitment. At 21 chapters in length, basically 21 different short stories (one for each ‘legend’) don’t necessarily lend themselves to a cover to cover read. The legends include Zatopek, Keino, Rodgers, Waitz, Coe and Benoit among many others.  I find reading a chapter or 2 at a time and most likely in a random order the most satisfying. Sometimes not getting back to the book for weeks at time has been the norm. The short story format lends itself to a great experience. Each story has been very well written and very complete. You will get a nice understanding of the running careers of each ‘Legend’ with the welcome addition of their insights and training trips. Each chapter begins with a historical picture of the runner, a birthdate, a nickname and many of their most important running records/awards. At an average of 25 pages per story you will be drawn into the life of each legend. “Running with the Legends”, if in a slightly larger and thinner format. would make an excellent coffee table book for any proud Empire Runner (see Cosmo Kramers idea for a coffee table book about coffee tables :}. Well even if this book doesn’t end up on your coffee table it would be a welcome addition to any runners bookshelf and his or her essential running library list. I would rate “Running with the Legends” a 5/5 and a must have. In addition, the reading of the short stories of each legend may pique your interest to find and read the full length versions where available. Happy reading.

XC Finals – A Photographer’s Photo

It was the end of the race, and the last two runners of the men’s open were racing to the finish line. I was standing near the finish line to photograph runners as they came in. What I love about this photo is the story it tells about adult cross country. Even though they were the last two runners in the race, the crowd is enthusiastic, cheering them on, happy, and fully engaged in the race – they showed just as much enthusiasm for those that came in last as they did for those that came in first. And the crowd had a very strong reaction when both runners sprinted to the finish line, cheering them on, simply for the love of running and competition and for not giving up, even if you’re last. Just as this photo was taken, the runner on the left gave up and Empire runner Daniel Karbousky came through the finish line chute and collapsed onto the grass outside of the chute. I helped pick him up and got him walking again. I believe this is the best photograph I’ve ever taken of a cross country race because it shows the supportive community of adult cross country and the spirit of competition. And of course…..the Empire runner came in first!


Racing the Mile, by Jonathan Hayden, July 2010

Back in the Day: Racing the Mile For Road Runners (Published in June, 2010, Empire Runners Newsletter) 

Do you want to brighten up your longer races and run faster? Try running the Mile on the track. With a solid strategy road runners can learn how to race the Mile with style and finish strong.

The Mile

Throughout track’s history the Mile or 1500 meters has been a showcase event. In Europe every summer the Mile/1500 Meters is one of the featured events at every professional track meet. At the Olympics, it has become a signature event like the 100 Meters. The reason is the race itself demands a balance of strength and speed. The media has focused on the rivalries between gifted athletes as they challenged both the clock and each other. Whether it’s an Olympic final or a local track meet, the Mile is always the featured event for fans and racers alike. In my opinion it’s how these athletes race the distance that sparks the fans interest.  The appeal of the Mile is that it is a tactical race.

How to Race the Mile

Watch the elite track athletes race the Mile/1500 Meters and you’ll notice that each lap represents part of a strategy. We can all learn some techniques from this that will assist us in racing the distance successfully and getting the most out of our abilities.  That’s one of the reasons why watching the top milers race is so much fun. Here’s a race strategy that will help you enjoy the race and finish strong.

Lap 1- The Start: After the “gun” goes off, relax, stay calm and glide along with the pace around the first turn. Then just settle in with a group of runners at a comfortable pace and try not to change speeds very much. Stay in the first lane as much as possible and don’t let yourself drift to the outside. You will save time and distance over the race if you stay in the first lane. Think of it like riding in the peleton of a bike race or running with a large group down a narrow street. Just “sit in” and enjoy the ride. The idea is to just get comfortable with the pace that works for you and let the front runners break the wind.

Lap 2- Relax and maintain your position in the field. By this time the runners who have gone out too fast are starting to fade a bit and the rest are mostly holding their pace. You can do the same. It may feel a bit faster, but chances are you’ll be running the same pace as the first lap.

Lap 3- This is where the real race begins. With two laps to go, the pace will pick up now as racers begin to position themselves for the final lap. The stronger front runners will push the pace and those with finishing speed will just try to stay in contact. This lap is often the first moment of truth in the Mile. Can you “keep it together” while your legs start to feel the increase in the pace and you start to breathe harder? This is where your mental and physical discipline come together. Stay in contact, keep the pace reasonable and get ready for the final lap.

Finishing Lap- Racers get moving on the final straight of the third lap as the “bell” is rung. The pace will pick up going into the first turn, but don’t try to pass here, just let the pace pull you forward. On the backstretch you have a choice depending on how you are feeling. If you feel comfortable, pick up the pace and pass some runners if they are close and fall in behind runners who were further ahead before the final turn. In the final turn, remember to hold back and do not try to pass. You can waste a lot of time and energy swinging to the outside lane to get by someone. You’ll have plenty of real estate left in the final straight to pass other runners.

Coming off the Last Turn

One of the best feelings in the Mile race is coming off the last turn with something in the tank. It’s about 100 meters to the finish line and now you can accelerate twice before hitting the tape. Begin to sprint at about 90% for the first 70 meters and then in the last 30, sprint all out to the line. A lot of races are won and lost over the last 30-50 meters. It is amazing to me how many runners begin to slow down 50 meters from the finish, struggling to hold their pace. It doesn’t have to be that way if you just reserve that final flurry or all out sprint for the end.

Racing the Mile can be a lot of fun using a strategy that works for you (this is just one of them). Sticking to the plan makes all the difference between struggling and finishing strong. So give it a try this summer at some of the summer track series events and have fun racing on the track.

Jonathan Hayden

Editors Note: Jonathan (age 53) ran 5:19.9 at the first Summer Track Series Meet this June 15th,  2010

Back in the Day: Racing the Mile For Road Runners (Published in June, 2010, Empire Runners Newsletter)