Category Archives: JUNE 2016

All the posts created in JUNE 2016.

Interview with ER Treasurer Tanya Narath, by Dale Peterson

Tanya was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She wasn’t involved in any organized sports growing up but took lessons in ballet, tap, acrobatics and played tennis. For a short period in her teens she took ice skating lessons and dreamed of being the next Dorothy Hamill – seriously! But never being able to spin more than 3/4 of a turn in the air made that dream seem a little out of reach. In high school she played the xylophone in the marching band, and clarinet in high school band and the youth symphony. Tanya was never sure what she wanted to be when she grew up, but enjoyed math so parents and high school counsellors alike suggested engineering.  She graduated from the University of New
Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering during one of the tech downturns. Unable to find a job,  she decided to go on and get her MBA at the University of Texas at Austin which had a new concentration in information systems.  She was thrilled to secure her first “real” job working for Hewlett-Packard in Rohnert Park in 1988 as a systems analyst. She worked her way up through the management ranks at HP and Agilent.


Outside of work and for all her life Tanya has had a love for being out in the wilderness, and a trip to the Brooks range in Alaska with  husband and fellow empire runner Tim Stewart in 1994 caused her to start thinking about a career change. It took her a long time but in 2005 she left Agilent to work for a nonprofit called the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy. She became fascinated with how the design  of our cities and transportation systems could be changed to improve our quality of life, health and that of the environment. She decided to go back to school to learn more and enrolled in a distance learning masters program in urban and regional planning through the University of Florida in late 2014. She felt ready to take on a new challenge and left the Institute in May of 2015. Tanya recently started working for the county of Sonoma as the IT manager for the Department of Health Services.  She feels that it’s a fun job because she is learning a lot about the many important services the health department provides for county residents.  Tanya says that she does not know where her path is leading, but as long as she is learning and feeling challenged she will be happy!

 When did you join the Empire Runners?

I think it was some time in 1990, around the time when Tim and I got married.

 You have been a member of the board and ER Treasurer now for how many years?  Being Treasurer is labor intensive – What has kept you so involved for so long?

I love this club and its members. From my very first Sunday run, which by the way I was super intimidated to attend because I knew how slow I was and how fast everyone else was, I’ve felt supported and encouraged to be the best runner I can be. It’s never mattered that my per mile pace is slower than others. So I stay involved because I am so grateful for the club, for all it’s given to me and the running community at large. I also see how a small number of volunteers do so much to organize the races we all enjoy, and I’m thankful to everyone who shows up early to set up the course, check in runners, and basically do all the work so that the rest of us can enjoy the race.

I’ve really enjoyed being a member of the ER cross-country team over the last few years. The races are tough, but it’s all worth it to be
part of the ER team and cheer each other on.

June 16 Tanya 03

On top of being so active in the Empire Runners – you have been one  of the people behind the Southeast Greenway initiative.  Tell us a little about how you got involved and the work you have done to assist with that effort over the past several years.

I originally got involved through my role at the Leadership Institute.
Several of our students were involved in the early stages of the
project. The community is really fortunate that many years ago a group of passionate residents came together to stop the bridge over Spring Lake, and then more recently the greenway volunteers who have held the vision of a greenway to Spring Lake when so many others might have settled for a road on the Highway-12 right of way. As a volunteer, I’ve helped with tabling at events, attending public meetings, and most recently set up the tech equipment for the greenway’s annual community event last February.

The Southeast Greenway will be a great resource especially for
runners who live on that side of town.  Living on the other side of
town, where do you do the bulk of your running?

I do a lot of my running on the smaller creek trails that are near my
neighborhood. The main Santa Rosa creek trail is about a mile and a
half from my house, so I have a range of options depending on how far I want to run. When I was training for my last marathon I did quite a few miles up and down the various creek trails. I also run in “the park” (Annadel) at least once a week, usually on Sundays, and try to get to the Thursday night run as well.


You have run a lot of marathons over the years.  How many are you
up to?  What are some of your favorites?  Got any others planned?

I’ve run 16 marathons, starting with my first one at the Valley of the
Flowers. My two favorites were running the Victoria Marathon with Pam Horton (and George Urdzik as our amazing support crew and post race dinner host) and the California International Marathon where I qualified for Boston. I would like to run more marathons, but finding the time to train is a little challenging right now.  I recently
learned about a website dedicated to “run commuting” and am intrigued by the idea of running to/from work to get a few more miles in during the week.

Do you do any cross-training?  If so, what?

I’ve been participating in club member Shelli Main’s boot camp once a week and am really enjoying it. I also dabble in yoga, but struggle to maintain a consistent practice. I need more hours in the day! I used to commute by bike when I worked downtown, and would like to start riding to work again.

You just seem like a healthy person with a lot of energy.  Do you
follow any particular diet or nutritional program?  What are some of your go-to meals?

I try to eat healthfully but I do have a sweet tooth, and I love
chocolate! Tim and I get a box of locally grown veggies every week
from a CSA (community supported agriculture) called Singing Frogs
Farm. It’s a great way to try new vegetables that I wouldn’t otherwise buy. I like making green smoothies to use up the abundance of greens in our box. Basically I aim for moderation and figure that if I don’t eat too much of any one thing (other than fruits and veggies, of course :)) then I’m doing ok.

June 16 Tanya 02

What are your short-term goals as a runner?  What are your
long-term goals, say in the next five to ten years?

I’d like to qualify to run Boston again, and try some longer trail
races. I’ve heard there’s a fantastic trail run in Portland that I’d
love to try one day. I’m also for some bizarre reason drawn to run the Tioga pass race that goes from Lee Vining at Mono Lake up 12.8 miles to Tioga pass. I’ve had trouble with altitude sickness so the idea of running from 7,000 to 10,000 feet is daunting but every time Tim and I do a trip to Mono Lake I think about doing the race some day.

Who do you look up to as a runner?  Who do you look up to in life?

As a runner I look up to Shirley Fee who runs crazy long trail races (30+ miles) and has a contagious drive to see what new adventure she can tackle.

In life I look up to my uncle Edgar who recently turned 80 and still runs and bikes with great enthusiasm for life.  I look up to anyone who pushes their own edge and does something that at first may not seem possible.

Back to the Future, by Paul Berg

Imagine the freeway heading east past Farmers Lane, parallel to Hoen Avenue, across that puddle formerly known as Spring Lake, carving a big chunk off Annadel State Park as it zooms past Oakmont on the way to Sonoma. That image sounds like a terrible idea today, but that was the vision of CalTrans engineers in the early 60’s. With that plan for the freeway, the state of California purchased a large swath of empty lots extending from the end of what became Highway 12 at Farmers Lane, past Montgomery high school all the way up past Summerfield Road and beyond. In 1960 Santa Rosa had a population of 31,000 residents, mostly clustered north of College Avenue and downtown. Flash forward to today, Santa Rosa has swelled 5 fold in population, eating up the surrounding ranchland in all directions. An aerial map curiously reveals a 52 acre chunk of empty land neatly nestled in the middle of town.

JUne16Berg3“So what does this have to do with me?” you might ask, and “why is this bit of trivia on the Empire Runners blog?”.

About five years ago a group called the Southeast Greenway Project approached us with the germ of an idea about acquiring this land and turning it into a huge green space including running and cycling trails. Empire Runners was one of the early groups to see the potential of this for the community, and we’ve been donating seed money to do studies, hire consultants and assess the feasibility of the idea. A large open space surrounded by urban development rarely comes available in any city, a blank slate for to imagine what we want to make best use of this resource.

June16Berg4At our May meeting, we were given an update by 2 members of the committee on the progress to date and a few of the hurdles in the near future. As you can imagine, there are many layers of bureaucracy to cut through, from state ownership to overlapping city agencies all wanting to be involved. The dedicated volunteers of the Santa Rosa Southeast Greenway have been working tirelessly to get input from the public on what we would like to include in this project. I urge you to sign up for updates on their website and envision what a game-changer this could be for our area, and feel proud that your club is helping to move this along.


Brad’s Corner, by Brad Zanetti

“The Boys in the Boat”, by, Daniel James Brown, Penguin Books, New York, New York, 2013, pp 370.



In the past I have reviewed mostly books about runners and running, for runners and running, written by a runner or had running in the title(how slick?!). So on a great recommendation from a friend(and the Sonoma Gals Book Club) I began reading a book about rowing, specifically the nine-man crew that went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics with a quest for the Gold Medal. Now I straight up don’t know a lot about rowing and although I watch it during the Olympics I don’t follow the sport regularly. Still, I felt this book was a great choice for two main reasons:  1) It’s an Olympic year and June is Olympic month and 2) I am fascinated with the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin and the politics of the era.

Upon starting the book I kind of read over the quote that begins each chapter. As it turns out each quote or thought is by a man named George Yeoman Pocock. In chapter three his character is formulated and it turns out that Mr. Pocock is a former rower from England who is a (the) master builder of the 8 man cedar shell (boat). In fact the Pocock shell is still considered the premiere shell. Well I went back and restarted reading the quotes prior to each paragraph and found that they added much to the storyline.

In lieu of giving a detailed telling of the story (’cause why would you read it then?) let me just say this is one of the finest sport stories I have ever read. Character development was excellent and complete. You really feel like you know what makes each character tick. Each chapter covers a number of storylines and character developments and repeats them in a way that makes you part of a story, part of the character’s life – a part of history.

The historical time frame covered extends from the late 1800’s through 1943 with excellent historical perspectives throughout the storieline. The epilogue chapter covers the lives of the characters through the 21st century. The reader will get an interesting feel for the times of the early 1900’s, the development of Seattle, the depression era, the politics surrounding the Olympics (and Avery Brundage) and the politics of Hitler, a rebuilding Germany post WWI and the way Hitler snuck up on the world prior to trying to rule it.

This will happen by following the life story of Joe Rantz, one of the nine rowers on the 1936 Olympic Rowing team from the University of Washington. You will learn about his rather sad early life and how it developed his resolve. You meet his teammates, how they relate to one another as the team is formed from over a hundred young men over four years under the watchful eye and tutelage of Coach Al Ulbrickson and Master shell builder George Y. (Yoda?) Pocock.

The Boys in the Boat is incredibly well written in all ways. I was especially impressed with the historical perspective and the development of an understanding of this new sport to me, Crew. The individual and team aspect of crew parallels in many ways running and cross-country although even more linked due to the synchronous nature of rowing. The story telling of the actual races was very good and I found myself immersed in the crew racing experience much as if I was in a race myself. I don’t often give an unequivocal thumbs up but with this book I am prepared to do so. If the story alone was not enough I was definitely enamored with the G. Y. Pocock quotes that begin each chapter.

Two examples of George Pocock’s insight circa the 1930’s are prescient of the type of things I shared with my high school runners and have shared with other Empire Runners:

“ Men as fit as you, when your everyday strength is gone, can draw on a mysterious reservoir of power far greater. Then it is that you can reach for the stars. That is the way champions are made.”


“Where is the spiritual value of rowing?…The losing of self entirely to the cooperative effort of the crew as a whole.”

And in an homage to the “Runner’s High”:

“When you get the rhythm in an eight, it’s pure pleasure to be in it. It’s not hard work when the rhythm comes… that “swing” as they call it. I’ve heard men shriek out with delight when that swing came in an eight;  it’s a thing they’ll never forget as long as they live.”

My recommendation is to read this book as soon as you can. It is a wonderful read full of depth and detail, characters and history, sport and its impact. Read it NOW, before it becomes a movie.

Rating:   Excellent                     5/5 *****