Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Donner Lake Turkey Trot

With Helen Klien being my last official race of the season, I am now officially in slacker-mode. Never mind that my last two weekends have included 42 miles of running in Zion, and another race. There are just too many fun things to do to stop running! But the off-season is all about having f-u-n, and typically for me, well, that involves running.

One lap around Donner Lake is my standard "go-to" training run. It's about 1.5 miles from my house, and 7 miles around, so it makes the perfect 10-mile run. When I'm nearing the end of a run and things hurt, I always try to bring my brain to a place that is comfortable and familiar. When I have 7 miles to go in a race, I tell myself, that's just one lap around the lake, and then I picture where I am every step of the way around. It turns a tough finish into something I have done a million times. So, when I get a chance to run an actual race on this course, I just can't pass it up!

Last year at the Donner Lake Turkey Trot, Cap and I won the "Canine and Human" category. This year, I decided to leave Cap at home. I felt kind of guilty, but I knew he wasn't ready to lay down the speed, and I wasn't in the mood to wait for him. (Sorry, Cap, but there are plenty of skiing adventures in our future!)

As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by Chris, and was delighted to discover that most of Team Library Dork was in attendance. Turi and Dave were busy registering, but unfortunately Amber had to stay home with her boys. I had time to say hello to a lot of other friends from the neighborhood before the start. The best thing about the DLTT is that it is a community event. I see a lot of local friends that I don't normally see at most of the races I run, and it's such a treat!

I lined up near the front, and took off with the speedsters. It was a chilly morning, and luckily they had us starting on the sunny side of the lake. Still, I was bundled-up in my tights, long-sleeves, jacket and gloves!

Running thought the park. How much do you love that green Salomon Whisper jacket? My new favorite!

I hung on the shoulder of the first place woman for a while and let her set the pace. It felt quick, but I was also eager to warm up my cold muscles, so I had no complaints. The road was flat, and we all trampled along the north side of Donner Lake.

Shortly before turning into Donner State Park, I spotted the 3 mile marker on the road. My watch had it clocked at 20:21. Hmm. Could that possibly be accurate? I decided there was no way I was running sub-7 minute pace, but friends with gps's later confirmed it was spot-on. Yikes!

As soon as we turned into the park though, conditions changed a bit. I passed the first place woman to take the lead, and we promptly hit some ice and snow. The long icy stretches were well sanded, so I was able to keep my speed up there for the most part. The snowy stretches required a bit more caution. Then we hit the hills.

This is where things got a little dicey, and the whole "6:48 pace" started to fall by the wayside.

I was having fun running fast, and just trying to hang onto my pace through the slow stuff. I finished in 49:51, and was pretty stoked to go under fifty minutes. My friend Nathan took the win for the men, just barely edging out Chris, and we got our pick from the raffle prizes. (He chose a thanksgiving turkey, and I chose a sweet Salomon backpack-a total score!)

People watching included hanging out with these little alpacas. Totally weird! It's probably a good thing I didn't bring Cap, since I can't imagine a more tempting scenario for a border collie.

We stood around in the sun and people-watched while raffle prizes were awarded. Afterward, Chris and Dave dragged us all off to the local brewery for some standard post-race beer tasting. (Seriously, they had to force us to go. I swear.) It was only then that I realized what true beer nerds these guys are. (And I say that with the utmost respect!) They ordered a taster set of the beers, and sat there plugging their notes on each selection into their iphones. (Okay, Chris was writing his by hand, but he's still a beer nerd.) I just ordered my standard, the Donner Party Porter, and let them have at it. But seriously folks, I have totally found my peeps.

Nathan and me, at the finish. They served this hot chocolate made by Clif that was specifically for post-race recovery. How awesome is that!

It was a beautiful day with friends! Now I swear I am going to focus on being lazy. At least, during the week. Weekends are still fair game, right?

If I can manage to wrap my brain around the sheer awesomeness of the experience, I have a post coming soon about my trip to Zion. It turned out to be one of those very rare, very special experiences that I'm not sure I can fully capture in words and photos. I do love a challenge though, so I'm going to give it my best shot. Stay tuned, friends.

And in the meantime, I'll be looking for more adventures. Any suggestions?


  1. How did I miss those alpacas? I swear I didn't see them at all...

    Great running with (well, behind) you again Gretchen, and super cool to grab a beer afterwards. Even if I wasn't taking notes...

  2. Sounds like a fun race! I was up in Tahoe this past weekend, and definitely struggled with the snowy/high altitude conditions. It is certainly a beautiful place to be on trails :D

  3. i didn't see them either Turi...they must have been camoulflaged (yeah that's not even close) or - we must be getting old! oh yeah...mmm...porter.

  4. Turi - Maybe you started on the beer early, and thus missed the alpacas? ;)

    Addy - Yeah, Tahoe is beautiful, even when the running isn't perfect. Too bad you didn't make it for the Turkey trot. Lot's of great raffle prizes!

    Chris - Definitely "mmm" on the Porter. What did you decide was your favorite? BTW, my growler didn't make it through the evening. I ended up at a football-watching party and barely got a pint out of it for myself! But it's good to share the love.

  5. Welcome to Slackerville! There's always room for one more.

    I'm totally looking forward to the Zion report, of course. Still kind of kicking myself over missing that one.

  6. I hear all the cool slackers are wearing bare feet. :)
    Look forward to the Zion report!

  7. I haven't decided yet if I'm running in my off-season or not but you nailed - all about having fun. I'm ready for a good break. Some easy jogs around the neighborhood and on days that I don't feel like running I won't and it would be totally fine. Maybe a holiday 5k, maybe.

    You are doing so well with your running.

  8. Gretchen, you are awesome! Nice win. :) I'm totally bummed that I couldn't fill out the rest of the team this time. But we'll all be there for the Midnight Madness 5K at Rancho- there's an adventure to consider! You in? Of course Chris has declared there will be beer after this race as well~