Marathon number 29 was the Santa Rosa Marathon on 28 August 2011. I finished in 3:31:55, 113 out of 418 finishers, 10/34 in my age group.

I chose this one among many excellent candidates for a California run because it happened to be the only US race this year on my birthday.


I had taken a break from marathoning due both to the disappointment of run number 28 in New Hampshire, more significantly, time constraints arising from a pair of trips to Asia in the Spring. Having clearly been undertrained for the Clarence Demar race in 2010, I followed a strict  regime using Adidas MiCoach on my Android in the months leading up to Santa Rosa. I set a goal time of 3:45, which set me up a bit slow in training.


Training in the North Carolina summer was a challenge, starting out too late in the morning for a long run in July led to one case of heat stroke. A 20 miler on a cool rainy day went great, an 18 miler on a typical summer day was disasterous. A week running on cobbled streets in Scotland led to worrisome shin splints in late June, but everything came together for reasonable conditioning going into the race.

I happened to read Gary Taubes' book Why We Get Fat three weeks before the race, with the inevitable result that I began experimenting with a low carb diet. This led to a drop in weight by a 2-3 pounds over a couple of weeks and to worries that I would run out of energy during the run. I did some carbo loading with bread and phad thai over Friday and Saturday before the run and drank Heed and ate a couple of gell packs during the race and my energy seemed fine. It would be nice to test for blood sugar.

Rachael and I flew to San Francisco on Thursday the 25th and met up with friends on sabbatical from Duke in town. They are renting a fabulous home near Dolores Park. We walked to a great sushi spot Thursday night. Friday we drove across the fogged-in Golded Gate and up the coast road. We stayed at the Pearlessence Vineyard Inn in Sebastopol. The Inn has only 1 very nice room with heated slate floors and a private deck over looking a couple of acres of pinot and a flower garden. Here we are in the garden


We shared a bottle of the house wine with our hosts on checking in and then went to dinner at the French Garden Restaurant in Sebastapol. While the State of California is in the midst of prolonged crisis, a visit reminds one that life in CA remains pretty sweet. The food and wine, of course, are incredible. The French Garden served cubes of tomato and watermelon with an explosion of spices. After visiting galleries and tasting rooms on the square, we went to lunch at Ravenous in Healdsburg on Saturday. The service was epically glacial, but the food was again fantastic.

When Rachael and I left California for Illinois in 1990 the lack of reasonable coffee shops was the hardest blow. Of course, Starbucks made it to Central Illinois a few years later and we learned that it wasn't that tastes were different in the midwest, rather it just took a decade or so for food trends in California to reach the middle of the country. I have thought that Durham was near the center of a food revolution. After all,  the New York Times listed us at #35 in places to visit in 2011 based on the quality of our restaurants. There is no denying, however, that the wine country food and farm scene is amazing.

The Santa Rosa Marathon itself was fantastic. The race is directed as an apparent labor of love by Arthur Webb, who sends copious and useful email updates for months ahead. One of the great challenges of marathoning; traffic management, is avoided by using a trail with very few road crossings. This is more pleasant for both runners and, obviously, non-running motorists. The trail goes out and back 6.5 miles from the railroad district of Santa Rosa, so a double loop is necessary. It is kind of fun, however, to know how the finish is going to work ahead of time. While much of the trail is suburban, there are a few vineyards to see.

After the Clarence DeMar disaster I started this run conservatively. I thought to go just over 8 miles, but settled in just under to make the turn around 1:44. I felt great and picked it up in the second half, running my fastest mile at 7:39 in the 21st mile. I tighted up a bit in the last couple of miles to run at 8:30-9:00. Overall the mean pace was 8:05. I could have gone a bit harder in the first half to get under 3:30. In any case my now advanced age leaves me again Boston Qualified. I am still a bit sore 3 days later, but feeling pretty good and ready to continue the project.

Rachael ran the half and did well despite not training much. Here we are celebrating at the finish:

        Rosa Finish

Clarence DeMarupnext