A year ago, I also couldn’t run more than a mile without doing a very good Darth Vader impersonation and could make three plates of food disappear at an all-you-can-eat East Indian buffet.
Now, after running for a year, I’m 13 pounds lighter, eat healthier and have completed my first 50K (31-mile) trail race.
For those of you, like me, who use long-distance running as a means of exercise and getting out of the house and away from laptops and cellphones, I highly recommend running along the California Aqueduct.
There are actually two waterways in south Tracy. If you follow Tracy Boulevard south, past the free-range chickens at Linne Road, past the airport, you will find the Delta-Mendota Canal.
I don’t normally run here, because the road, although wide, is rougher, and the path runs by several commercial plants.
If you continue south on South Tracy Boulevard for about 1.5 miles, you will run into the California Aqueduct, which is almost next to Highway 580 itself.
You can park on either side of the road, but not in front of the gates. The main gates are almost always locked, but there are side gates specifically designed to allow bicycles and pedestrians through.
You can travel “up river” toward Bethany Reservoir 20 miles away or “down river” toward Patterson, also about 20-plus miles away.
You can expect peace and quiet running along hard-packed gravel for as far as the eye can see. During spring, you can also expect to see “snow” as the almond trees flower.
There are always various fowl and fish making ripples in the water. Creative and nimble graffiti artists have decorated several of the overpasses with multicolored murals and tags. And there are normally friendly people fishing for catfish and stripers.
Don’t expect bathrooms, nor water fountains, on your run, and plan accordingly. Normal recommendations for fluid and fuel consumption while running are 4 to 6 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes and about 100 calories every hour.
For me, a typical 20-mile Saturday run at a leisurely 10:30-minute mile pace will take three hours and 30 minutes and require roughly 44 ounces of electrolye fluid and 300-plus calories. I normally use a CamelBak Marathoner Hydration pack filled with 44 ounces of Cytomax and bring four 100-calorie Gu gels with me.
For safety reasons, always take your cellphone and let friends and family know where you’ll be.
There is a gas station and mini market on Mountain House Parkway going north and on Chrisman Road going south. There are also “green room” porta-potties scattered along the aqueduct, but they may not always be open, and sometimes they are temporary and only available to construction workers.
If I can get away from the city and run trails along the beach or a single track through redwood groves, I do. However, for routine long runs close to home, you can’t beat the peace and quiet of our California aqueducts.
It is always better to run in pairs than alone.
Dogs are allowed along the trails near the aqueduct, but they must be on a leash at all times.
Stay away from the edge of the aqueduct when running along it. The currents in the aqueduct are quite swift and pose a significant drowning danger.
Never swim in the aqueduct.
Never attempt to pet a dog unless you get permission from the owner.
Items you will need
• Cellphone (with GPS)
• Toilet/tissue paper
• Appropriate seasonal running clothes
• Scott Noack is a Tracy resident and runner. First Person is an occasional column in Our Town written by members of the Tracy and Mountain House communities. To comment, email email@example.com, call 835-3030 or visit www.tracypress.com.