the view from West End Beach and a hundred yards from the finish.
Three quarters of Team Library Dork headed up the hill for what I beleive is the year's first Turkey Trot, the 33rd Annual Donner Lake edition. It's so simple, even I can't get lost*. One lap around the lake (a hair over 7 miles) starting & finishing at the west end beach, which on this chilly day, would be covered in ice and frost. Dave & I had been up to Donner twice in the previous week to get some miles in on the road up here, and although snow and ice would force the course organizers to run the race in the opposite direction, we still had a lot of fun, and got some benefit from, our training runs.
I figured to be between 40-42 minutes on this course, and the winning times the last two years had been 41-42+, so as long as I ran within that range, I'd have a chance to at least equal a personal best eight race win streak. I had one in the fall of 2000, and almost matched it last fall before dropping a stinker at what would have been eight in a row at the Michael Bratton Turkey Trot in Nevada City.
We also met up with honorary member Gretchen Brugman from Truckee (who won the women's race!), and after a 2 1/2 mile warm-up, which was needed to wake up the cold muscles, we were off.
I tentatively took the lead before we exited the West End lot, and headed east towards Reno on the flat side of the lake. The only real difference between what we'd practiced and what was on race day, was that the hills would now be in the last 40% of the race instead of the first 40%. This was totally necessary due to what would have been a long and dangerous ice-covered downhill (which was now a slowish ice-covered uphill). It was hard to have exact splits because at least 3 of the markers were off, but I beleive mile 1 was really 0.9, mile 4-5 and 5-6 were probably a bit short as well, and mile 7 was definitely 1.21. My 3 mile split (where I'd lose the lead due to oncoming side cramps) was 16:24 (probably a hair under 17 minutes in reality)...still on pace to break 40 but I knew I was in trouble. I let a runner pass without much of a fight and hoped he'd be the only one. From 3-5 I just tried to keep him in sight. About 4.5 in, we hit some snow on the east end of the lake, which was all shaded, before climbing the big ice hill. I managed over the last third of the race to cut his lead by maybe 10 seconds or so, but the cramp never went away, and I never got close enough to challenge. The last 1.21 was 6:53, or about 5:40 pace again, but was rolling downhill, so I only made up a couple seconds here. I'd finish second, 22 seconds back, in 41:15 (5:52+ per mile) well ahead of third, who was another 2+ minutes back. Not a bad day given the circumstances, but being that my "A" goal time would have won the race, I was a little disappointed.
That did not last long, however. I cooled down on course and was able to see Gretchen & Turi finish, before meeting Dave at mile 5.6 and pacing him the rest of the way in. There were raffle prizes, and although the food was gone by the time my name was called (2nd to last), I managed a subscription (I'm guessing a year?) to Trail Runner magazine. After that, I hit up a coffee joint we'd seen the previous Sunday, and all of us (including Abby & Hannah) had a great lunch at FiftyFifty Brewing Co. in Truckee. Those of you who know me may know I gave up on this place after getting horrible service during three visits over the course of a year. Because we had a couple beer drinkers in our party, in addition to myself, I decided togive them a 4th chance...and it was totally worth it. No earth-shattering beers, but they were solid across the board, and the service was actually good for the first time in the history of the world!! All in all not a bad day, although I'd have preferred the streak continue. It wouldn't have made too much difference anyway. If I'd reached eight, it still would've ended this coming Saturday in Davis where the winning time is regularly faster than I've ever run. I am hoping for a post-surgery 5k pr in that race, though, before taking on Folsom Trail Run race #3 the following day...
Here's the results link: http://www.squawmountainrun.com/uploads/2009_trot_results.pdf