Bizz Johnson - T-Shirt

 

12 down only 40 to go.

Well, that was a long ass drive. Wait – that’s how I started last weeks post. This was the second week in a row that we had to go out of state to find a race. We found a trail HM in Susanville, a small town in CA, east of Redding. This was our third trail HM. I love running on trails. This trail was wonderful to run on. I’m used to the trails in Tucson where rocks try to trip you and feed you to the cactus. This was the perfect run at the perfect time for me. It was mostly gentle downhill on a nicely groomed trail with lovely scenery and nice weather. I went into the Enchanted Forest Wine Run, a couple weeks ago, feeling a bit off and it destroyed me. Ever since I have been feeling, not really sick, but that tired, on the edge of sick feeling that sucks all the joy and motivation out of running. This run reminded me why I love to run.

Bizz Johnson -

Perfect Trail

Before I go on to my race report I want to respond to a comment my good friend Marilyn left. She wrote, “Aren’t you getting the teeniest bit bored with running every weekend?” I can understand why you might think this but the answer is an emphatic, “No”, exactly the opposite. If anything I am more excited every week about our upcoming runs. Every week I get to explore a new town with my husband and then run through places I have never been before. We are trying new restaurants and meeting new people. It really is an adventure every weekend. And while I have felt many things on this adventure, I have never felt bored. As for running every weekend, when I used to run regularly I always did my long run on the weekend anyway. We used to run with a group called the Mt. Lemmon Runners. While it was fun to run with a group we did the same Sunday Sabino Canyon run every weekend so this is actually a lot more interesting. Doing races every weekend has the added benefit of making me run – I can’t just decide to sleep in if I am feeling tired or unmotivated. Although I write a lot (too much) about how annoyed I am with all the weight I’ve gained, one of the things I think about while running is how wonderful it is that my body can run at all after all I have put it through. Even when running hurts, and it is harder than it was 40 pounds ago, it hurts in a happy to be alive kind of way. That said I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I run in a masochistic state of bliss thinking things like – “My feet hurt, right on” or “More chafing, bring it on.” It’s nothing like that. Most of the time I enjoy running more in retrospect than in the moment.

I feel like my race reports have been a bit negative lately so it is great to be able to write such a happy review. I loved this run. In fact, this race was damn near perfect in every way.

It was pretty chilly Saturday morning. A little too chilly to be standing around is perfect running weather. Luckily they had drop bags so we could dress warm until we started running.

Bizz Johnson - Pre race

Tim has snow pants on

The bus ride to the start was amusing. We were sitting towards the front so we could overhear the driver. Apparently he had no idea he would be driving on dirt roads and was not happy. I don’t blame him. He was driving a full sized buss up a road I wouldn’t take my car on.

Bizz Johnson - Bus ride

View from the bus

It was even colder at the start. The only good thing I can say about my weight gain is that I didn’t get as cold as I used to. Once I started running I warmed right up. I was impressed that they had managed to transport 4 port-o-pots to the trail near the start of the race. To make it a true HM (13.1 miles) they started the race with a half mile out and back. I love to see the front runners fly by.

This is one of the most scenic runs I have ever done. Trail runs are usually beautiful but this one was extra nice because the views kept changing. There was a forest, then we ran next to the Susan River for a while, over some bridges and through 2 tunnels.

Tim ran with me until I had to walk, about 5 miles. I finally got a picture of that moment I write about in every race report where Tim leaves me to run at his speed.

Bizz Johnson - trail

Bye sweetie,
see you at the finish

I didn’t bring my music because I brought my phone to take pictures and I didn’t want to be that gadget runner. It turns out my phone was almost dead so I didn’t get to take many pictures. The run was so pretty I didn’t mind not having my music.

A good part of this run was along the Susan River. I love running by rivers. Maybe I love running by water so much because I have done most of my running in Tucson where bodies of water are pretty rare.

Bizz Johnson -

The Susan River

And where there’s water there are usually bridges. If you have been reading my blog by now you know I have a bridge fetish. No matter how tired I am I always try to run over the bridges. I recently found out that there is a race over the 7 mile bridge in the Florida Keys. Bucket list.

Bizz Johnson - Bridge

Last picture before my camera died

Luckily Time took some bridge pictures for me. Thanks Tim.

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One of the big differences between toad races and trail races is that trail race aid stations usually have way more food. It’s like a buffet every 4 or so miles. Road races have water and sometimes Gatorade. If you are lucky the last couple aid stations might have a get.

Bizz Johnson -

Why don’t you stay a while?

The tunnels were nice and cool. I was worried because I had heard that the tunnels were really dark but they had put up glow sticks. A guy on the bus was loudly talking about how much rattle snakes like to hang out in the tunnels but it was obvious that he was trying to freak people out. I thought it was as funny as he did to watch the squeamish girls panic. IT was an interesting experience to run through what used to be a train tunnel.

This race effectively had 2 after race parties. One at the finish line and one back at the car. The great food theme continued past the finish line. Besides a full table of yummy snacks they were grilling chicken and burgers. They also had full sized bottles of beer and cans of soda. Usually you get dixie cup sized beverages.

I usually don’t care much about the medal but this one was really nice. We have been talking about photographing the medals and having a link. I have heard that some people are really into medals, so much so that they will they choose a race based on the medal. I would love to hear what people think about this in comments. If you run races, do you care about the medal? If we had a link called medals that had pictures of race medals would you even bother to click it? Also, is there anything about races you want to know that I’m not writing about?

Bizz Johnson - Medal

I noticed there were no full sized buses on the ride back. They had a shuttle that made a couple of trips. We talked to a guy on the bus who recommended that we run a HM in May called Avenue Of The Giants that runs through the redwoods. Even though it is in CA we may do that one.

As great as this race was in all the details, the best part was the people running it. The Forest Service guy welcomed us and told us about the trail when he saw us reading the sign at the trail head. He obviously loved the trail and was happy people would be experiencing it. The race director was talking to people and the volunteers were really nice. They were even some sweet kids giving out water and high fives. You can always tell if the people putting on a race really care or if they are just trying to make money. This year they had a record number of people. I think it was because they had so much return business. I overheard quite a few people talking about running it last year.

There was a railroad festival going when we got back to the car. They had a craft fair, a chili contest and more that we didn’t see. I wish we weren’t so tired because they had handcar races. I so wanted to do this but just didn’t have the energy.

Bizz Johnson - Handcar race

Next year?

Cons

  • They ran out of mustard for the burgers (really, that’s all I’ve got)

Pros

  • Everyone involved in putting on this race was super friendly
  • One of the most beautiful runs I have ever done
  • Great food
  • No chance of getting lost (this is a concern of mine on trails)
  • Mostly downhill on a well groomed trail
  • Fun after race party with lots to eat and drink

Tim and me both highly recommend this race. This would be a perfect first trail race. This race is very beginner friendly but would also be a good run for a PR (mostly downhill). If you do this race be sure to sign up for the express HM because they have another HM that is an out and back. That means the first half is all uphill. If races keep being this great we are going to have a hard time picking out the top 10 to repeat. I would really like to do this run again.

Bizz Johnson - Post race

No I’m not about to give birth to an alien, I have stuff in my pocket

Click here to leave a comment. I love comments.

4 Comments

  1. Very impressive. I’ve never even thought about running a HM, know the seed is planted. Hmm we seem to have a planting theme going here.

    I love seeing the medals. I didn’t know you got them either! Way cool.

    Think of you guys often!

  2. It was so much fun to actually feel your excitement about this race! Even Tim left a comment this time! You look really great, Sharon. I love the dayglo shirt and orange shoes – it’s quite a good look I think. I noticed you finished closer time to Tim than usual. That’s a sign, I think!

    Loved all of the photos of the bridges. The one concrete bridge with the curved abutments reminded me of the Arroyo Seco bridge in Pasadena – we called it the suicide bridge for obvious reasons!

    As to having a separate section with photos of all your medals – YES!! I would love to see them. It wasn’t until this entry that I realized you get medals, in addition to the fabulous T-shirts, and of course, bragging rights.

    Which brings me to my next question: Are you keeping a log/journal of these runs? Because this would be a great book. Not only will runners buy it, but armchair adventurers like me will buy it. I can help you put it together. Just planting a seed, hoping it will grow! (I started gardening again, so lots of my conversations right now involve planting and seeds and stuff like that.)

    I can’t tell you both how very honored and proud I am to be your friend, and to get a chance to be a part of this crazy and wonderful HM running journey you’re on. I am so happy you have broken past the difficult runs into a magical world of happy trails. You’re on the right path now for sure.

    Sending you love – and lots of awe!!!

    • Hey sweetie, thanks for noticing but the reason our times were closer is because Tim ran with me longer. I’m not getting any faster but I’m ok with that,for now. This blog is pretty much the only record I am keeping except for some pictures that for whatever reason(no one wants to see that many pictures of bridges)didn’t make it. Thanks for writing. I look forward to your comments. This weekend we plan to start a medals link. I love you, miss you and think of you every time I play scrabble.

  3. Tim

    I really loved this run. The trail was always wide enough to pass, or be passed. This is because it is one of the rail to trails projects. While I am sad to see the trains go away I am really happy that this makes some fantastic trails available.

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