Category Archives: PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

The current Empire President says…….

Fun in the Sun

Aug16Berg01The second annual Empire Runners Member Appreciation picnic was held on Sunday, August 28 at Morton’s Warm Springs resort. This event is the brain-child of Peter Kirk as a way to get members together in a social environment, including families and friends, to celebrate our friendship and do something other than run. In that vein, there was softball, bocce, cornhole and mystery games organized by Tori Meredith. We were happy to see several families new to the club, brave souls who figured it was a good time to meet fellow runners.

In keeping with the spirit of member appreciation, this is no BYO potluck affair, but fully catered and carefree, with appetizers and salads by the famous Tag’s deli from Novato (long-time club member and race director Al Tagliaferri), and grilled burgers and sausages cooked up by Peter’s team of volunteers.

Since every picture tells a story, here are a few from the festivities….

 

 

‘Tis the Season by Paul Berg

No, don’t worry I’m not going to start celebrating Christmas at Labor Day, or bring out the carols before Thanksgiving, but the date on the calendar that I get most worked up for is upon us: Cross Country season. The transition of summer to fall is on display as we eat some hot dust at our home opener and Garin Park in September, maybe some mud to slosh through by the time we hit China camp at Halloween, to a crisp morning in Golden Gate Park in November. Friendly rivalries emerge anew each year, age-group teams reconfigure as some of us get older, while others manage to stay ageless.

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Your club has once again made a big commitment to subsidizing entry fees and uniforms, making it possible for nearly 100 runners to compete wearing the feared Empire Runner singlet. Carpools at an ungodly weekend hour serve to strengthen our resolve to give it our all and cheer on our teammates. Foggy memories of glory days fade as we toe the starting line, no matter how fast or fit we are today, the adrenaline kicks in as the gun goes off. Even if you’re not running for the Empire Runners team this year, I encourage you to search out a local race, maybe a high school or JC meet at Spring Lake, and come out and cheer the past and future heroes of our sport.

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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 http://www.southeastgreenway.org/ and envision what a game-changer this could be for our area, and feel proud that your club is helping to move this along.

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Training the Brain, by Paul Berg

April16Berg1Maybe you’ve heard the ads targeting our over-stimulated and aging population: “Brain fitness to challenge memory and attention with scientific brain games. Used by over 70 million people”. A quick Google search will reveal dozens of companies claiming to improve memory through brain fitness schemes. Most of these programs approach the problem by devising brainteasers, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles or pattern-recognition games to “exercise” the brain as if it were some ordinary muscle. By analyzing your answers and/or reaction times, the algorithms can make the tests incrementally more challenging, theoretically improving brain fitness.

As I’ve reached the age where I’ve begun to worry about forgetfulness and lack of sharpness, I was intrigued by a study last week in Neurology (“the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology”). The study followed about 900 older people over the course of twenty years. The researchers judged how much exercise the people were getting, and then over the course of more than a decade, they judged their mental capabilities using memory and logic tests and MRIs.

At the end, the study showed people who intensely exercised had brains that looked and performed 10 years younger than their peers. Those people were both quicker at figuring things out and had better memories. The researchers note that it wasn’t just any exercise- the benefit came for the people who got regular moderate to intense exercise, like running or aerobics.

Exercise affects the brain on multiple fronts. It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the bodily release of a plethora of hormones, all of which participate in aiding and providing a nourishing environment for the growth of brain cells.

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How often have you been given the advice “sleep on it” when facing a big decision?  A better idea may be to “run on it”, as there’s nothing like a good run to clear the mind and allow you to focus your thoughts. Whenever I’ve faced a big business decision or creative challenge, if I’m able to take an hour to clear my head on a moderate trail run, the decision is often waiting for me at the end.

If you’ve been reading the Empire Runners blog for long, you know that runners are smart people, and now you have the evidence to prove it! Run happy, run smart.

Source: http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2016/03/23/WNL.0000000000002582.short

Running S.M.A.R.T.

It must be January. I just logged on to reserve an evening slot at my TRX gym for tomorrow night, and the dreaded “wait list” message popped up. Most of the year there’s enough space for everyone to get into their preferred class, but January brings out the New Years Resolution folks with good intentions. I won’t be petty enough to say aloud “they won’t last long”, but resolutions are hard, and easily broken.

My favorite article on the ER blog this month is Mike Wortman’s article on running S.M.A.R.T., where he breaks down those letters to lead us on the path to successful running goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. It’s a great formula for sticking to your resolutions, especially when added to the ER secret weapon: training partners. When you’ve articulated your goals to the runners that you normally train with, motivation and commitment become that much easier. So make your SMART resolutions, wear them on your sleeve, and get out there and soar!

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So I’ve done it again. Depending on your perspective, I’ve been elected, drafted or sentenced to being club president for another year. Fortunately, we have continuity and enthusiasm on the Board of Directors, with Tanya Narath and Luis Rosales joining Karen Frindell-Tuescher, Nuvit Salz and Chris Mason, with Peter Kirk replacing long-serving Bill Browne. Thanks to some stalwart and dedicated volunteers we all have a great club to support and enjoy. Run Happy!

Jingle Your Bells…..Run, Dinner, and Meeting – Dec 17th

Everyone gets very busy this time of year, so we’ve decided to combine two December events into one, a mash-up of sorts, with the Jingle Bell run potluck combined with the annual membership meeting and Board election.

Located in the cozy dining room in the “Who-ville” complex across from Whole Foods on Yulupa, we will be hosted by Andrea Guzman and her chef extraordinaire husband Arturo.

This is a family-friendly event, a great opportunity to bring your non-runner partner and/or kids to show them how much fun we can have.

Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015
Location: Yulupa Co-Housing Common House
1350A Yulupa Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95405

5:30 Jingle Bell Run (45 min) Bring your bells!

6:30 Socialize

6:45 Dinner

7:30 Club meeting and election of Board of Directors

8:00 Dessert

9:00 Bedtime

Chef Arturo Guzman, currently with St. Francis Winery, will prepare the main course.

If staying for dinner, please email an RSVP to Andrea (andreatherunner@gmail.com) and tell her who is coming. RSVP no later than Monday, December 14. Bring food and beverages to share.

 

Going out with a Bang, by Paul Berg

With the time change after summer, the kids back in school and the holidays fast approaching, life seems to reach peak velocity. And so it goes with the last two months of 2015 for the Empire Runners.

The XC season is coming to a head, with record participation and several close division races. With one more regular race on Nov 15 at Carmichael, November 22 brings us the PA championships in Golden Gate Park. Always a very competitive field, the excitement continues, as we’re fortunate to have the USATF Team Nationals in San Francisco this year on December 12. Even if you’re not racing, it’s worth coming out for the day to cheer your teammates and see some of the best adult runners in the country.

Not to be outdone, the Empire Runners club hosts several races in the next few months. My favorite antidote to Thanksgiving is the McGuire’s Breakfast run on November 29, a low-key (but hilly 10k) members-only event to help you re-enter the real world after the holiday. In mid-December we’ll be having our annual Jingle Bell run and potluck dinner. This is a great event to include your kids and/or non-running partner, as we walk and jog a few miles trying to sing on key, and then celebrate with a great meal. Back-to-back are two of our most popular races, the Last 10k on Dec 19, and the Resolution Run on January 1.

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Not to be forgotten, we have some very important club member business, with elections for the new Board of Directors on December 17. You can vote online or by proxy ballot, or in person at the club meeting. This is direct democracy; help choose your representatives to assure that your club continues to prosper.

Last but not least, just as you’re thinking, “how can I get involved?” we ‘re looking for a party person to lead the organization of the annual Member Appreciation dinner on February 6. This is a fun event to organize, as it can be broken down into manageable chunks to delegate to eager volunteers. We need to find someone in the next two weeks to get rolling, so contact me at president@empirerunners.org for details. Get involved; it’s YOUR club!

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Community, by Paul Berg

If you’ve been around this club for very long, you’ve probably realized that some of the most memorable moments aren’t when we’re actually running. Chatting in the drizzle on a wintry Sunday morning, joking in the carpool as you head off to a XC race, sipping a cold one on a warm Thursday evening, cooling down after a track workout, catching up over coffee at Aromas on a leisurely Saturday, these are the times when we get to know each other in a lasting way.

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A few weeks ago about 120 of our members and families enjoyed a perfect Sonoma Saturday at Morton’s Hot Springs resort. The brainchild of long-time running aficionado Peter Kirk, the idea was to get together and eat some food, play some games and celebrate our supportive community. The inimitable Tag’s deli provided tasty snacks, salads and burgers; several people noted that they appreciated the rare occasion when they could just show up and not have to bring a potluck item.

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Tori Meredith, fresh back from her weeklong stint at PE teachers’ camp, coaxed volunteers to perform various odd games of skill  (or games of various odd skills?). All sorts of objects were hurled through the air as we exhibited our rusty talents at softball, Frisbee, volleyball and bocce. Families with kids were free to come and go to the warm spring-fed pools, and several newbie members were introduced around the picnic tables.

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I got talking to a nice woman and her kids from Petaluma who’d joined the club at the Resolution Run but didn’t get much chance to run in Santa Rosa, and was wondering if there anyone there who could show her the Annadel Loop course. I moseyed us on over to a chatting group that included Shirley Fee, and soon a running date was arranged for early the next morning.

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Your club funded the expenses, volunteers made it happen, and members new and old had a day to remember. That’s how we run. Supportive and competitive. Hard-working and fun. In it together. This is our tribe.

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Got Hills? It’s XC Season, by Paul Berg

At the July 23 club meeting, the Board of Directors voted to increase financial support for the upcoming Cross-Country season to the tune of $6,000, an increase of over $2,000 from last year. The Empire Runners will now pay race entry fees for any member to participate in up to seven races in the upcoming fall season, regardless of whether the race is designated as a team race by your age-group team. There is no minimum number of races you must run in the season, and the club will provide the new stylish singlet to any member who participates. Adding extra excitement to this 2015 season is the fact that the National Championships will be held on our home turf, Golden Gate Park, on December 12. The club will also pay entry fees for approx. 60 ER members to participate in this national event.

USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page, https://empirerunnersclubphotos.shutterfly.com
USATF PA XC Finals at Golden Gate Park, Nov 16 2014. To see all the photos, go to the Empire Shutterfly page, https://empirerunnersclubphotos.shutterfly.com

Regardless of you age and ability, racing XC is all about participation. The camaraderie of meeting up for the carpool on race day, warming up with your teammates, strategizing the race and supporting each other is what it’s all about. Seeing a sea of ER singlets powering up a hill in a blur of runners is a sight to behold.

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If you’ve never run XC or have dropped out the past few years, I encourage you to go to http://www.empirerunners.org/crosscountry and check out the definitive and thorough guide that John Harmon has prepared. You won’t regret it.

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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.

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