Richard Nelson

Running in Sacramento: almonds, deer, cyclists, and thugs; state capitals

In travel on 2007 November 15 Thursday at 21:21:00

I was in Sacramento, California (pictured), for about 15 hours, but managed to get in a 1¾-hour run. Because of a conference call whose time made sense to people in the Eastern Time Zone, I got out just at civil twilight Tuesday morning—about 6:15 a.m. local time.

I had asked members of the Dead Runners Society about running in Sacramento. Although the listmembers had suggested I run to the Capitol and then to the American River, a map one of them pointed me to showed a direct route from my hotel at G and 16th streets to a bridge across the American to the American River Parkway (below).

This route took me past Blue Diamond® Growers’ plant (warehouse? packing plant?). The point is that monado loves Blue Diamond almonds, so I got to see whence they come. Rather disappointingly, there was no scent of nuts in the air.

Just across the bridge I saw ahead of me what I thought was a Very Big Dog. Watch out, I told myself—then I realized it was a deer! An urban runner like me doesn’t see a lot of deer, so that was kind of cool.

Otherwise the only wild life I saw on the trail was some noisy birds I couldn’t recognize (magpies?), some mallards, and lots and lots of cyclists. I only saw four other runners (three in one pack) in nearly two hours, but lots of two-wheelers, including lots twice. Most responded to my good-mornings.

On the way back along 16th Street, now in daylight, I passed under some railroad tracks through a narrow foot tunnel that stank of urine. When I’d run out I’d thought it might be a bit scary, and I got the proof when I came back. Three tough-looking guys were hanging around at the entrance. Following the Manly (but Perhaps Stupid) Code, I didn’t show fear but kept jogging. At first they were friendly—“Hey, make way for the runner!”—but then they started demanding what was in my FuelBelt bottles, and wanting some water. They actually ran after me. I kept jogging as if I didn’t care, and nothing happened—I suspect even my slow pace is more than they can maintain for a hundred yards. But I saw my heart rate had jumped up 30 beats!

My meeting later that morning was across the street from the Capitol, and I realized I’d added another U.S. capital to my list. Well, I hadn’t been keeping a list, so I’ve now compiled one, and here it is:

Run in:

Washington, D.C.
Sacramento, California
Boston, Massachusetts
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Madison, Wisconsin

Slept, but not run, in:

Denver, Colorado
Atlanta, Georgia
Topeka, Kansas

Driven through, or stopped at:

Boise, Idaho
Annapolis, Maryland
Lincoln, Nebraska
Albany, New York
Raleigh, North Carolina*
Montpelier, Vermont

* We did run, and sleep, in Chapel Hill, which could be counted as a suburb of Raleigh.

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