Category Archives: SEPTEMBER 2015

All the posts created in SEPTEMBER 2015.

Member Profile: Nick Spector

Question: Hi Nick, congrats on your recent win at Golden Gate 8K Double on August 2nd ! I don’t think many Empire club members have run a double before…..what is it like running a 5K all out, taking a break, then running a 3K? How long is the break? How would you compare it psychologically to a regular race? Do you change your tactics?

Answer: Thanks! To be honest, it’s a lot like doubling in a high school/college track meet so it’s not that new to me (or other runners my age) I’d say. Though the break is around an hour, so maybe a little less than what I’m used to. I think the best strategy for me is to approach the first half like that’s the only part of the race and then figure out the 2nd half when I get there. In the ones I’ve done I liked to have the lead after the 5k because I everyone has felt how hard it is to come back after falling back in a race and with a break in between that gives me the extra confidence because everyone has extra time to think about how they are going to try to come back.


It also seems not many of our members are familiar with the Ujena Fit Club – what are the advantages of joining and do you log your training and races online there?

At first I just made the account because you need to have one in order to accept prize money from them, but after a while I noticed that’s its sort of a neat way to keep up on what’s happening in other races around the Bay Area since that’s where it’s based out of.

What’s the Bob Anderson connection? Bathing suits?

Bob founded the magazine Runners World and apparently he got bored with only being successful with that so he created this whole new Double Race series. I think he also founded a swimwear company but I don’t know too much about that. He’s a nice guy and have been inviting me to do more doubles since I’ve had success and I can’t really say no since I’m a broke grad student but they’ve been fun.

What did you major in at SOKA University in Aliso Viejo? Was that a good experience for you? Did they have a cross country and track team?

I majored in Social and Behavioral Science. My experience there was unforgettable and I would have made the same college decision again in a heartbeat. Soka is in the NAIA and has both XC and track and I made it to nationals 7 times (between xc, indoor & outdoor) and was a 5k all American on the track my senior year in 2014.


Are you currently studying Kinesiology at Chico State? What are your career aspirations?

Yea I’m currently on my way to a M.A. in Kinesiology grad at Chico and am using my psychology background to emphasize in sport psychology. Right now I’m thinking about maybe going into sport psychology consulting or going on to more school, but honestly I change my mind every day. I ran for the XC team last fall here because I had one season of eligibility left from when I studied abroad in Ecuador while I was at Soka and now I’m an assistant and still get to train with the team.

How would you compare your high school running state of mind with your current competitive state of mind? What have you learned since then?

For a long time in high school I was just doing it because it was fun and my friends where doing it so I didn’t take it super seriously until my senior year. Once I started taking it seriously I saw my PR’s drop significantly (from running 4:49 pace in my 2-mile PR in high school to running 4:38 pace in my 5k PR in college). Going through college I definitely had to sacrifice a lot to achieve my goals and sometimes that wasn’t the easiest thing to do, especially when I was lining up for my 5k final at nationals in Alabama while my class was graduating in California, but seeing what comes out of it made being a collegiate athlete totally worth it. Overall I just learned that patience and persistence will get you want in this sport.


What’s your mental preference – track, XC, or road racing? Or all three?

At this point I’m definitely most comfortable on the track but I’ve always liked to say that XC is my favorite, I mean you can’t really be from Sonoma County and not say XC was your favorite right? As a post collegiate I’m trying to become more comfortable on the roads but I’m still getting used to that.

What races do you have coming up? What are your running goals in the future?

I’m planning on doing the Empire Open at the end of August and some more of the PA cross country series races around Nor Cal this fall and Rock n Roll San Jose this September. I guess my biggest running goals right now are to do well at Club Nationals in SF this winter and try to run 1:05 in a half by January since that’s the cutoff for the trials. I’m not really sure how running 1:05 will turn out, but that’s sort of where I’m at with my running at this point.



ERC Vineman Aid Station Wins!!!

On Jul 30, 2015, at 7:02 AM, Michelle Pool wrote:

Hello fellow ERC Vineman volunteers,

I want to THANK YOU again for taking time out to help support the athletes in the Vineman races. I know they appreciate your efforts very much. I really hope you consider joining the ERC volunteer team for next year’s race.

Sep15Vineman4     Sep15Vineman6     Sep15Vineman7

It was really a pleasure to meet you all. What a great team!

So………. not only do we think we’re the best,  but apparently so does the Vineman Race Team. Our Aid Station #3 was voted best Aid Station of the Vineman races!!!

Not only do we hold the title but they gave us a load of swag to share as well.

Mike McGuire has kindly put together a list of the items we have to share but he has also come up with a way to get them fairly distributed. Please see his instructions below.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Michelle Pool


Brad’s Corner – Everything you wanted to know about Porta-Potties


Are you kidding me? You’re probably saying to yourself.  Has the Zeeman truly lost it? Is it old age? Have I run too many midday scorcher runs and self-induced some brain damage? Lord, I hope not. Usually you can expect a monthly running book or movie review in this blogspot but I had a recent 9 hour flight back from North Carolina via Houston and took that time to read a couple of running magazines, ‘Competitor’ and ‘Runners World’.

The ‘Competitor’ is a free magazine found in our local running shops. As a free magazine I didn’t have many expectations. I thought it would mostly have advertisements and maybe a couple of short articles and race ads. Seriously what caught my eye was the cover photo of Emma Coburn (top US Steepler) in full stride. On closer examination the cover notes: Get New Kicks (15 shoe reviews), Get Fit Get Faster, Elite Advice on Recovery,  and Beer and Running implored me give this rag a chance. And I was favorably impressed. I found ‘Competitor’ magazine to be a rather nice little magazine. Photos were of high quality, the writing was good and the articles were complete when necessary and brief when the subject matter was to the point. I thoroughly enjoyed the feature article on Emma Coburn. The shoe reviews have a fair amount of data though the are not critically reviewed. The Beer and Running article was particularly good and reminded me why I enjoy the Thursday night runs at Howarth Park.  The social run is the hallmark of a well rounded running program.

Not expecting much from a free magazine I was pleasantly surprised at the content of the ‘Competitor’ and will search it out in the coming months. If you are in need of some easy reading or you’re at one of our local running stores trying on shoes or clothes take a moment and grab yourself a free ride.

Knowing the nine hour trip would need something to fill the dead time I pursued the shops at the airport and only found Runners World in this genre. Normally, I don’t follow Runners World any longer as I don’t find it a good value ($4.99 each or $1 monthly with an annual subscription) or a great read. I am more of a ‘Running Times’ and ‘Trail Runner’ fan but being a shoe buyers guide sucker, and that being the cover headline,  I was all in for this choice.

A quick flip through the September issue displayed an article on adult XC (yeah), ice bath and other recovery treatments, power foods and recipes, strength training for runners and the aforementioned shoe buyers guide; certainly enough to keep me interested. After reading these interesting articles, some peanuts and a ginger ale, I awoke from a nap and thumbed through the Runners World again whereupon my eyes picked up the headline- Everything You Wanted to Know about Porta-potties… This is exactly why I don’t routinely read RW anymore ! Come on…porta-potties? Though I got quite a laugh as I reread the headline and did read the article anyway it stymied me that a major running magazine would stoop to this. I thought it would be funny and a joke, but no, a timetable of porta-pottie development (A Tinkle in Time!?) – COME ON!  Toilet paper information as well: quality, quantity, standards, amenities, the smell, Le ‘Bleu’ stuff, User to Potty ratios, ……. Unbelievable!. Yep Runners World  may have hit a new low. All anyone needs to know about porta potties when you get to the race is where they are, if there are any alternatives nearby,  and if possible get in there early and often. I think Runners World  may have left the proverbial toilet seat up on running articles.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Inspired by Belief, by Doug Murdoch

By 2012, I had been running for a couple of years but was suffering from a serious hip injury that kept me from running consistently.

At the time, I really looked up to Empire members Andy “Mr. Durable” Howard and Bryan “Zen Master” Porter because they were both running impressively, were just a bit older than I, and were more experienced. Andy, at age 50, had broken five minutes in the mile and had run the 400M in 58.09, setting the Empire record. And Bryan, also at age 50, ran 5:02 in the mile and 59.8 in the 400 meters at Empire track meets that year. I remember that 400 meter race very clearly because I called off 30 seconds to Bryan when he passed the 200 meter mark.

However, during this period I stopped showing up to ERC events because I was embarrassed about my injury. Being very competitive, I was really uncomfortable showing up for an event if I couldn’t run, or if I could not run my best effort.

Andy was and always has been known as rarely afflicted by injury, Mr. Durable so-to-speak. Except for when he got injured walking up Fountain Grove Drive, but that’s a different story.

However, shortly after this, Bryan started experiencing various injuries, and, much to my surprise, he kept showing up at the Empire races, racing the best he could. This was difficult for me to understand at first. How could someone show up for a race, dealing with aches and pains, and run slower than they normally would? I spoke to him numerous times about his experiences running while enduring his various physical problems and was impressed by his positive attitude and personal fortitude.

It’s easier to give up than to keep showing up.

But Bryan kept showing up, and he truly believed that if he had patience, his injuries would subside and he would return to normal again.

His viewpoint definitely had an impact on me. I started to attend Empire races, and even if I couldn’t run, I started to take photos for the club as a way of participating in the event.

In terms of my injuries, I started to strategize about how I could keep training while managing my various ailments. As it turns out, this has been one of the keys to my running success: not expecting the aches and pains will go away, but instead getting them treated and to keep on running continuously.

I talked to Bryan again at the first Tamalpa track meet this year, and he showed up to watch but did not run.

I sent him this Facebook message afterwards:

DM: I’ve been spending some time reflecting on being older and running. After I spoke to you at the Tamalpa track meet, I thought that you were inspired by belief, meaning that your inspired by the belief that you will get better if you remain positive and keep training. Do you think that’s right?

BP: Yes. I really do. It’s in me.





Duck, duck, ……dolphins? The Salmon Creek race report, by Heidi Cusworth

Duck, duck, ……dolphins?

This year’s Salmon Creek Beach run was full of fun surprises! Along with a great bunch of Empire Runners, we were delighted by a pod of playful dolphins, a ton of surfers, some boogie boarders, and a few stand-up paddlers. To round out all of these sightings, there was a drone flying around capturing all this ocean activity. The drone prompted some interesting discussions about its use in public areas, and how it can effect one’s time in nature.


This year 61 runners came out to run in the 2 or the 5 mile beach course. The 2 mile is denoted by “the stick” in the sand at the one mile mark, monitored this year by Bill Cusworth. The 5 mile runners have to tag the rocks at the end of the beach before heading back. Running in the sand is quite different than running up in Annadel or in town. Some prefer to run barefoot, while others stick with shoes. This isn’t a race so much for speed, as it is for the unique experience. Upon finishing, each runner is awarded a rubber ducky, each one lovingly picked out and presented to the tired runners as they crossed the finishing line, to hopefully make them smile.


This year the 2 mile run was dominated by the Skandera family, with Nehemiah and Abraham finishing 1st and 2nd overall. Dave Sell came in strong to round out the top 3. The first female, Sarah Skandera, was quickly followed by her sister Rebeka for 5th and 6th overall. The 5 mile race was won by Nicholas Rauch, with Andrew Gaidus close on his heals for second, and Gerald McCormick coming in third. The first female was Kate Papadopoulos, who came in 9th overall, Celeste Berg was second and Tori Meredith was third.


At the end of the race, everyone gathered around the potluck tables to swap stories. The awards were announced with prizes including beach towels, kites, saltwater taffy, beach balls, pinwheels, and bubbles. Perfect for hanging out at the beach!   Thank you to all of the volunteers that helped make this race happen: Eric, Karen & Ernie Bohn, Bill & Heidi Cusworth, Jerry Lyman, Don & Roisin Lindsay, Mike McGuire, and Larry & Tori Meredith. Hope to see many of you out at Salmon Creek Next Year!



The Long and Short of a Marathon Running Life

Stages in the life of a Marathon Runner, by Dale Peterson 

Sunday August 23rd I finished the Santa Rosa Marathon and thus notched my eighteenth marathon. Full disclosure – I have done fourteen marathons, two 50Ks and two twenty-milers. This comes to 468.8 miles or 2.8 miles less than eighteen marathons. So, to the purists out there, I have done eighteen races of twenty miles or more.  I promise to run an easy 5K a week after my last marathon to make up the difference.

At any rate, it is a lot of running and by the time I notch number twenty I will have covered roughly the distance between Santa Rosa and L.A. which is not even 20% of the distance spent training for these races.

Inspired by a large contingent of Empire Runners who ran the 100th Boston in 1996, I ran my first marathon in 1997 at age 40 in Sacramento at the California International Marathon (C.I.M.) in a pouring rainstorm. I ran 4:22:19 and I was definitely in the “all I want to do is finish stage”  (part I).

I would not run the next one, again at C.I.M. until 2000, but by then I had the idea that I wanted to finish under 4 hours. I easily broke that barrier in 3:47:27. I shaved six minutes off of that time the following year at Humboldt Redwoods. By now I was deep into the “how fast can I go?” stage. I peeled off three consecutive 3:38 and change marathons over the next three years with a 50K interlude at Way Too Cool in 2005.

But it was after the 2004 Chicago Marathon where I realized that I was probably not going to break 3:30 and qualify for Boston before age 50. At that time I made the decision to try to get a bit faster and a bit older and shoot for the then-qualifying standard of sub-3:35 as a 50-year-old. This was the beginning of the short but sweet Boston qualifying stage.

With a lot of hard work, the support of the large contingent of Empire Runners shooting for Boston that year, plus a little luck, I was able to run what turned out to be my marathon PR in Portland 2006 in 3:33:06.  I had no idea at the time that I would never come close to this kind of time again.

Having qualified I had no idea that I was about to enter a new phase of marathon running – the dreaded post-qualifier slump. I suffered through an epic at Grandma’s in 2007. I was on 3:30 pace at the half only to have a series of horrible cramps starting at mile 15 and finishing in 4:29:15. Dumbest thing I ever did.  Believe me when I tell you to avoid the medical tent like the Tower of London.

My Boston was also a semi-disaster as I had to do a lot of walking the last few miles and finished in 4:05:19. New York the next year likewise saw me on the far side of four hours. I was now in the “somehow I gotta break 4 hours again” stage. This was not to happen again until the 2011 C.I.M. when I squeaked under in 3:56:55.

Last year half way through the St George Marathon when I realized I had no chance of breaking four hours, I stopped taking mile splits and entered the current stage of “who cares how long it takes” also known as the “all I want to do is finish stage” (part II).

Around 2000 or perhaps 2001 I got the idea that it would be cool to do twenty “marathons” between age 40 and 60. Today I need to do two more to accomplish this goal.  Of course I also have to survive through two more birthdays.

I’d still like to break four hours again, but more than anything I hope to be entering the blissful “I’m just happy to be here and to still be running” stage.

Stretching? What’s the Truth? By Mike Wortman

It is amazing just how easily the media can grab ahold of a single study and overemphasize it’s topic to a point of mass misunderstanding. Stretching is one of those topics. There was a study done back in the early 1980s that looked at decreasing injuries. The problem with it was that it looked at nearly 20 different interventions for injury prevention including: stretching, gear, warm-up, field surface, etc. The good thing was that injuries decreased by quite a bit; the bad thing was that the researchers decided to ignore most of the study and attribute the improvements all to stretching. The media got ahold of this and stretching has been overemphasized since then.

Am I saying that stretching is bad? No. Is stretching important for injury prevention? Yes. Should you be stretching as much as you think? Maybe. The tricky thing with stretching is that you need to play a fine line between too much range of motion and not enough. There are two sides of the same coin that you need to pay attention to. There are advantages and disadvantages of being tight, as well as advantages and disadvantages of being flexible.

I feel like I hear about the detriments of being too tight everywhere. Most of those detriments stem from detriments in your running mechanics. Being tight starts affecting your mechanics and thus moves some of the stress to other tissues. You have a tight calf… here comes plantar fasciitis or achilles tendinopathy. The other aspect of your mechanics changing due to tightness is you tend to become less efficient mechanically. Your hip gets too tight and you can’t drive your knee up… it gets harder to extend your stride. So like we all think, stretching can be a very important piece of the puzzle.

But what most people don’t know is there is also detriment to being too flexible. Think about how a fast sprinter looks, everything is so tight on them that they kind of bounce. Their being so tight is part of what makes them so fast. When their muscles contract, their tendons are so tight that there’s no lag and they get the force transferred right away. If they were too flexible, there would be some force lost between the muscle contracting and the limb being pulled. So as you age and your muscles get tighter, your body is actually doing you a favor and just making you more efficient.

The takeaway here is stretch to find a happy medium or a “functional” level of flexibility. Different people need different levels of flexibility based on what they’re doing. Just because a gymnast needs to be able to put their foot over their head, doesn’t mean you need to as a runner. Rightly so, a steeplechaser has different flexibility needs than a 10k runner. Where as a steeplechaser needs a little more hip mobility for the hurdles, the 10k runner could afford to be a little tighter.

This post is more designed to talk about the theory of stretching. I plan to do a follow up post going into some of the practical ideas of when to stretch, how to stretch, etc. Like always, I enjoy to hear your feedback and want to know what you like, don’t like, what you want to hear in future blog posts.




This update on 3 Hoka shoes I have been reviewing over the last year has taken an interesting twist that I certainly did not expect. To begin, my first Hoka, the original royal blue Clifton gave me over 350 miles of fabulous service. If you go back to my original reviews of this shoe you will find I waxed enthusiastically about this shoe; some may say even ‘romantically’.  I called it a ‘game changer’ and a must try for anyone over 40, with or without chronic injuries or those that spend a lot of time in the steep climbs of Annadel or other local hilly trails. As I said, after 350 miles or so I moved these shoes to yard shoes and bought a second pair, the red version(1B?) and as much as I have liked these there was something just a bit off with this pair, I currently have put on nearly 200 miles on these and they have worn very well. I am very happy with them but they just have never had that ‘sweet spot’ that the original pair had. My only complaint with the Clifton has been wet trail traction (you remember that ONE time it rained in the last year?!).

So I went and bought a pair of Hoka Challenger ATV. I had hoped the ATV would be a CLIFTON with better traction, but after 100+ miles on the ATV it has not been so. The rugged sole has made the overall feel seem stiff and non-compliant compared to the CLIFTON. After a hilly uphill-downhill trail run the impact is significantly more in the ATV compared to the CLIFTON. In my case it is significant enough that I am not excited to wear the ATV on a more regular basis. As well, I am still awaiting some significant rain (can you say ‘El Nino’) so I can test out the lug pattern. So at this point I am still excited about the CLIFTON. A new CLIFTON-2 model is now available. The changes have been significant and those changes have added over an ounce to each shoe and per the reviews I have read has been a major negative. I have not slipped on a pair yet so you may buy a pair before I do.

And now the interesting and very unexpected twist to the CLIFTON story begins. About 6 months ago I felt the original blue CLIFTON after 350+ miles had seen better days and as is my practice those shoes moved right into double duty as ‘landscaping’ shoes. Thanks to the lack of rain and my dead lawns, the CLIFTONS haven’t gone through the normal destruction my post running shoes usually achieve. The twist is that about a month ago I did something I have never done in over 40 years of running. I took a pair of shoes that have been (forever) removed from my active stable and put them back on for a run. I don’t have any idea why I would or did attempt this(blasphemy?!). But lo and behold 6 months of little usage seems to have rejuvenated them. I don’t have any explanation for this, but as quickly as you can say ‘Voila’ I have re-fallen in love with my original CLIFTONS and will keep you updated on how many more pleasing miles I am able to enjoy before I come to my senses.