I don't know what that face is...she was happy...really!
Some sights from Hobo Camp and the last 1/4 mile of the course. Great place for fall running!
Late last week (3 days before the race was to be held) my co-worker Amber received an email stating the first annual Run thru Reno had been cancelled. As Turi has previously posted, no surprise here, as it's supposedly been in the works for quite a long time, with no courses or any other new info being posted on the website for months. Wonder if she'll ever get a refund! So, I suggested that she go to Susanville to run on the Bizz Johnson trail. On Sunday, they held the 5th annual Bizz Johnson Marathon/half/10k/5k (with the "express" half marathon on Saturday). I ran for Lassen College in 1996-1998 and ran on the Bizz almost weekly. She then had the bright idea to carpool with Turi and myself and we could all run the half on Sunday, but Turi was not interested, and therefore, neither was Amber (even though it was her idea in the first place)! I'm convinced she would have gone if Turi did...
Anyway, the idea was now in my head, and although I was originally non-commital to the idea since I'd raced each of the last three Sundays, I have to admit I was intruiged. I knew the trail was beautiful, and I'd actually planned on running the full marathon last year before it filled up. My original plan was to do a long run this weekend, possibly on the rim trail, of between 19-24 miles, so to justify skipping a long run to do yet another race, I'd have to put in some good miles. Needless to say, by the time I knew neither Amber or Turi were coming, I had pretty much talked myself into racing for a 4th straight weekend. If I ran an additional 6 miles between my warm-up & cool-down, I'd still have put in over 19 miles. editor's note-after a 2.5 mile warm-up, and 2.2 mile cooldown, i'd fall short of 19 by just over a mile.
Abby, Hannah, & I left about 6:15 on Sunday morning and made the 85 mile drive to the Susanville Train Depot. Pretty cool place for race HQ, but since the shuttles to take the marathoners to their start hadn't loaded yet, the place was packed like sardines. I eventually made my way to the registration table with the exact amount to register (including one dollar in change), only to be told that the price had gone up for race day. Not entirely unique, but it would have been nice if that were advertised. The incredibly nice lady behind me was kind enough to spot me $5, so I told her to look for the lady with a cute 21-month-old after the race, and tell her she owes you 5 bucks. We stayed inside for a while, as the temperature was in the low 20's at 8 a.m (not much warmer during or after). I coaxed myself into a 2.5 mile "warm-up" at 8:30, and made it back to the line in time to drop weight (he he he) and stretch for a few minutes before we were off @9.
The race began rather uneventfully. I'd seen, from previous years, that the half and marathon were the only competitive races. The 5k and 10k were small enough and slow enough that even though we all started together, I had the overall lead after about a minute. The first mile had a couple obstacles in the form of unopened gates (why, I couldn't say). After about 3/4 mile, we passed Hobo Camp, where all races would turn into for the finish. The miles on the way out were marked at 0.9, 1.9, etc...so as to be on the back of the mile markers for the marathon. The shorter races all started at the depot, and were out-&-back, while the marathon was point to point. The half gradually climbed about 400 feet over 6.9 miles, before turning back down the trail, and going back down about 350 feet to Hobo Camp. I fully intended to go out conservatively on the 1-2% grade, so I'd be sure to have enough left to take advantage of the faster return trip. I hadn't really shared my goals for this race with Abby (or anyone else) as it was a last minute decision, but aparently Abby had noticed a time written on the directions. 1:21:26. That was the fastest half marathon run in the 4 year history of the race. Not a very intimidating time, but this was a trail course after all. My lifetime best is almost 6 minutes faster than that, but on a much faster course. So in the back of my head, the course record was my goal, but because of lingering stomach issues (again) and uncertainty about running fast on a soft, rocky surface, I did not share that goal. To run that kind of time, I'd need to run about 6:13 per mile, and I imagined that would be about 6:20 on the way up, and 6:00+ on the way down.
I was a little uncomfortable running alone from such an early point in a long race, but I broke it down mile by mile (especially for the last 6), so as not to be intimidated by the distance. I ran a comfortable 6:18 for the first mile, and had climbed 50 feet or so, so I imagined I could hold that pace to the turn. I was still comfortable at the turn, but not entirely sure how much faster the last 10k would be. I hit it in 44:14 for 6.9 slightly uphill miles, 6:24 per mile (or about a minute slower than I was hoping for). To have a shot at the record, I'd have to run 37:11 for the last 10k-or just a hair under 6 minutes per mile. I also would not have anyone pushing me as I had about a 2 1/2 minute gap on 2nd place. I instantly sped up after the turn, figuring if I didn't make a move now, the record would be out of reach. I was very happy to have a split close to 5:30 for mile 8, but I also knew I couldn't hold that pace. For the rest of the way, I pushed myself harder than I had for the first 7 miles, and was well under 6:00 per mile every mile but one (8-9). I ended up 46 seconds under the old course record in 1:20:40 (6:09 per mile/36:26 for the last 10k). I'd opened up a bigger lead over the last 6 miles as well, as 2nd place finished nearly 7 minutes back. Next year, I really hope to stay healthy so I can try to run the full marathon in the mid 2:40 range (the course record there is 2:45 and change).
The finish area in Hobo Camp was even cooler (no pun intended) than I remembered, as you can tell from the pics. They had a nice spread, and just about everyone was in good cheer (especially when the pizza delivery guy showed up!!!). The sun hadn't quite cleared the giant trees, though, so while we ate, we huddled around a fire pit about 10 yards from the finish. We hung out for quite a while, til it was time for Hannah to go down. Before leaving, I talked to Mike Buzbee, who'd ran the early bird marathon at 7:30. Brrrrrrrrr! He's hoping to be recovered in time for next week's 10k, and also plans on doing CIM in December. I'm planning on a 10k next weekend for my 5th straight week of racing (I think that's the most I've done since college), and want to move up to the marathon in January. Good times! I'm relieved to say that there is no unusual soreness or fatigue (for me) from this extra race (#19? on the year), so I should be ready to hopefully cut 4 seconds or more from last year's Run Through the Colors 10k. We shall see...