Sub 1:30 Half Marathon 2021 Edition (Read 294 times)



    Darkwave - I hope that's the explanation.  The last few months have been the first time that I've used the treadmill regularly, and I'm finding it more of an adjustment to go from treadmill running to regular running than most people seem to.  With that in mind, I might gradually change my three-day sets from 3xtreadmill to treadmill-park-treadmill to park-treadmill-park and then to 3xpark.  Now that winter is basically over, I won't have many weather reasons to use the treadmill, so I can be more deliberate.


    Flavio - I've started eating a piece of dark chocolate before runs, two when I'm feeling tired or sluggish.  I tell myself it's because the sugar and the minuscule amount of caffeine will help me get started, but it's probably just a rationalization.  It may not be a coincidence that I'm a few pounds heavier than usual.  Anyway, if your problem might be a glycemic issue, pre-run chocolate might help.

    Post-1987 PRs:  Half 1:30:14 (2019); 10K 39:35 (2019); 5K 19:12 (2017); Mile 5:37.3 (April '20)

    2021 Goals:  Stay healthy, 40+ mpw, Half<1:30; PR or 80% age-grade at some distance


    Hot Weather Complainer

      I would say piwi should be on probation from the thread since he hasn't run a half in 6 years...but then I remember the casual sub 90 halfs he's done on training runs....carry on.

      PB:  Christchurch 2016 1:29.25

      Recent Races:    Queenstown Half-Marathon (trail) November 21, 2020 1:35.11 Cherry Blossom Half-Marathon, September 13, 2020 1:33:38 Half-Marathon Time Trial May 31, 2020 1:31.51  Auckland Waterfront Half-Marathon 2019 1:30.49 

      Plan for 2021:  Christchurch Half-Marathon April 11 Went as planned - 1:38, Wellington Marathon June 27 POSTPONED - Probably October 10,  South Island Half-Marathon August 1, Queenstown Half-Marathon November 20


      Mother of Cats

        Darkwave - I hope that's the explanation.  The last few months have been the first time that I've used the treadmill regularly, and I'm finding it more of an adjustment to go from treadmill running to regular running than most people seem to.  With that in mind, I might gradually change my three-day sets from 3xtreadmill to treadmill-park-treadmill to park-treadmill-park and then to 3xpark.  Now that winter is basically over, I won't have many weather reasons to use the treadmill, so I can be more deliberate.

        Way back a decade+ ago, I used to run on the treadmill a lot.  When I'd swap back to outdoor running, my adductors would always be sore.  I figured out pretty quickly that it was because I never had to do any lateral stabilization on the treadmill.


        Have you looked into Jay Johnson's lunge matrix?  I would think that would be a nice balance.  I don't use it myself because I think I get the same benefits from my yoga practice.  But I can definitely see the value - it adds in all the lateral work that you don't get at all otherwise.


        Flavio - scary stuff with the lightheadedness.  Could it be gamma rays from the GoPro? (Joking).  In all seriousness, I hope it's a one time thing.


        Piwi - amusing story.


        Mick Jogger - you swapped a long run for a 5K time trial, and called it lazy?  I'd call it just the opposite.




        My week:


        60 miles, 1500 yards swimming, and 2 hours of pool-running
        M: 50 minutes pool-running and upper body weights/core.
        T: 12 miles including 6x800m in 3:07, 3:08. 3:07, 3:08, 3:02, 3:03; jogging recoveries between 2:21 and 2:34. Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming
        W: 10.5 miles very easy (9:03), drills and 4 steep hill sprints, and streaming yoga. First dose of Moderna vaccine midday.
        Th: 50 minutes pool-running and streaming yoga.
        F: 11 miles on the treadmill, including a tempo workout of 2 miles, 1 mile in 13:20 (6:40/6:40) and 6:32, with 4:40 jogging rest in between. Followed with leg strengthwork and 500 yards recovery swimming.
        Sa: 11 miles very easy (8:55), plus drills, 6 steep hill sprints, and upper body weights/core.
        Su: 14 miles progressive, split as the first 5 miles averaging 9:07 pace, next 5 miles averaging 7:51 pace, next 4 miles averaging 6:56 pace, and then a 1.5 mile cooldown back to my car. Followed with leg strengthwork, 500 yards recovery swimming and 20 minutes pool-running.


        I was planning on a 4 mile tempo on Friday, but realized pretty quickly that I wasn't quite up to it.  Y'know how you feel like you are recovered from a race or a head cold and so you try a workout, and then you realize you are not recovered.  It was like that.  I'm guessing it was a bit of fatigue from Wednesday's shot.  I just swapped it to 2 miles, 1 mile, and called it good.  Felt back to normal by Sunday.


        It was interesting to compare my workouts on the track and roads this week versus those on the treadmill in the recent past.  Looks like the equivalent effort outside is about 6-10 seconds per mile slower when done on the treadmill - most likely because of the incline of my treadmill and the fact that it's 70F/ 21C in our home gym versus 28 to 33F/ -2 to 1C outside.

        Everyone's gotta running blog; I'm the only one with a POOL-RUNNING blog.


        And...if you want a running Instagram where all the pictures are of cats, I've got you covered.

          Darkwave good to hear you have recovered from the shot.

          4 mile tempo meh we do 10k tempos in NZ cos thats how we roll 


          Mick great job on that 5k TT.

          It is crazy how fast it can seem but with more mileage I guarantee you could extend it out to 10k and beyond.


          Steve nice holding week. I teased Parsons on strava for only hitting 144kms this week 


          I promise I will run a half this year.

          There is one called We run the night on the 15th May. It is an evening race starting at 6pm. It was supposed to be in March which can still be warm here plus I'm still needing some more weeks training so I wasn't going to enter but now there is more time and its at a better time of the year.

          The course is pancake flat too although 4 laps so slightly boring. All on nice asphalt. Definitely the fastest half course i would have ever run on.

          50+ PBs -  

          5k 18.25 Tauranga Parkrun  Sept 20      81.97 % age grade

          10k TT 37.21 may 2nd 2021 strava run 82.51 % age grade

          Half marathon  1.23.30 may 21 80.11 % age grade

          " If you don't use it you lose it,  but if you use it, it wears out.

          Somewhere in between is about right "      



          Hot Weather Complainer

            piwi - You could always do Christchurch on April 11.


            Interesting comments from Dave on Strava the other night that despite coming second twice in the Wellington Marathon, it's not a good race for goal times due to the unpredictability of the weather.  Pretty similar to what we discussed here.  It's a pity it's my only option for June, but I'm still holding out hope I get a rare nice cool, calm morning.


            I see he did an easy paced 37km in 2:45 the other day including lots of climbing.  His mileage and pacing is crazy.  I think he's got a 2:30ish marathon PB.

            PB:  Christchurch 2016 1:29.25

            Recent Races:    Queenstown Half-Marathon (trail) November 21, 2020 1:35.11 Cherry Blossom Half-Marathon, September 13, 2020 1:33:38 Half-Marathon Time Trial May 31, 2020 1:31.51  Auckland Waterfront Half-Marathon 2019 1:30.49 

            Plan for 2021:  Christchurch Half-Marathon April 11 Went as planned - 1:38, Wellington Marathon June 27 POSTPONED - Probably October 10,  South Island Half-Marathon August 1, Queenstown Half-Marathon November 20


              Flavio - interesting, I used to sometimes have a similar thing when I ran doubles more regularly - on the afternoon/evening run if I hadn't fueled enough during the day I'd often get a bit light-headed, not enough that it was a problem but it was definitely a bit off-putting.  Often it would be hard to get my HR up too even if I was pushing it a bit.


              Piwi - good week, hope you are feeling better now too.  Haha that sounds like an entertaining but short race.  Huntly Half is on May 15 too.  Fast course, not too far from you, and it's an out and back so a lot more interesting than running 4 laps too.  I was thinking about doing it, although the first race of the Athletics Auckland XC season is on the same day


              Steve - nice job on the progressive long run.  I still struggle a bit getting quality into my long runs.  Had some great ones last year during marathon training last year but that feels like a long time ago haha.


              MJ - gotta start somewhere!  With the right training, it's crazy what a bit of race day atmosphere and a good taper can do.


              Darkwave - ha I know exactly what you mean about attempting a tempo or workout and then realising you probably shouldn't have... I did that last Tuesday and paid for it for 3-4 days.


              James - a lot of nutritionists actually recommend dark chocolate as a great source of fats.  But you have to go for like 85-90%+ cocoa.

              5,000m: 15:39 (Dec-19) | 10,000m: 32:34 (Mar-20) | 10km: 33:15 (Sep-19) 

              HM: 1:09:41 (May-20)* | FM: 2:41:41 (Oct-20)

              * Net downhill course

              Last race: Southern Lakes Half Marathon, 1 May, 1:09:41 (1st place)

              Up next: Meridian Hydro Half Marathon (trail), 7 Aug

              "CONSISTENCY IS KING"

              Running Problem

              Problem Child

                Flavio I’ve had similar runs. I have thought it was a sugar crash, and I had the same feeling when shoe two was born. I almost passed out.


                mick I’m NOT looking forward to it. He is being an asshole and hitting mom and pulling her hair while she feeds. He is okay the rest of the time but apparently when she feeds he just acts like a complete asshole.

                don’t be lazy.


                dwave I’d heard of those pigs before when I looked up the Alaska pipeline. I assumed THAT pipeline has existed for decades without problems. Also, most of it is underground’s, and it actually increased wildlife contrary to what the groups opposing it said. I don’t think they ever actually admitted they were wrong publilcally.


                my week:


                Weekly for period: From: 03/01/2021 To 03/07/2021

                Date Name Distance
                in mi
                Duration Avg Pace
                per mi
                Elevation Gain
                in ft
                03/01/2021 That time there is work to do. 7.00 00:56:20 08:03 115
                03/02/2021 More Vitamin D 0.55 00:11:09 20:16 7
                03/02/2021 That time the reason is your stupid 0.26 00:02:13 08:32 0
                03/02/2021 That time I’ll put in juuuuuuuuuuuuust a little bit of effort. 7.42 01:08:44 09:16 112
                03/03/2021 That time we need more backlash. 7.01 00:57:12 08:10 115
                03/05/2021 That time we did some reconnaissance. 13.25 01:53:03 08:32 177
                03/06/2021 That time I misread the instructions. 11.50 01:36:10 08:22 669
                03/07/2021 That time it might be the last time. 10.75 01:28:51 08:16 328

                Total distance: 57.73mi


                Total distance: 92.89km


                speed work went okay. I felt like I could go faster, but the body wouldn’t. Repeats 8 to 10 were the only hard ones from my standpoint. I’m comparing them to speed work during marathons and they were done at a vdot of 50. Friday long run earned me a sunburn, Saturday I got lost because I missed a turn, and Sunday I met a guy who has run a 4:36 mile at 4,500 ft.

                Many of us aren't sure what the hell point you are trying to make and no matter how we guess, it always seems to be something else. Which usually means a person is doing it on purpose.



                  Classic NZ story, some guy with a digger accidentally disrupted jet fuel supplies to our main airport for 10 days and played havoc with airline schedules for this exact reason.




                  James there are a lot of little stabilizers that just don't get used when you're on something as consistent as the treadmill (I see DW got to this before I did). You may have to introduce outside running slowly. Sidewalk usually isn't bad but the more technical the trail, the more you need the stabilizers.


                  Mark Even your bad weeks are impressive.


                  Piwi  great story, I"m honestly shocked he was able to catch you at all.


                  CKeen  Good info on the pipe, thanks. Darkwave - great bonus factoid about Pigs!


                  DWave - Very interesting info about effort equaling half marathon. I've been doing tempos  very close to HM pace (both due to doing them by effort and because that's what Hudson recommends - 2.5 hour pace, 90 min pace and 60 min pace). I did Saturday's workout at Threshold pace and it was considerably more difficult (I mean it's faster so this is expected but based off today it juts took a lot more out of my legs). Very nice progression today. Looks like your getting close to 3 hour shape.



                  Mick  Congrats on the improvement but did you shave 12 seconds off the total time or per KM? Either way, good work and keep at it.


                  Flavio  Scary, hope it's no big deal.


                  RP  That's a great feeling on the speedwork. Hopefully it translates to big results. How soon do you start phase III?


                  My week:


                  Mon noon easy run that felt really good so I threw in 8x:20 surges. Chill noontime swim + PM run with the pup

                  Tues 5x3'on(5k effort) / 3'off + 4x :30on/:90off + Good Swim workout in PM

                  Wed 40min super easy, mile evening with the kid

                  Thur 20km trail w/ a crazy friend who didn't wear a shirt despite it being 29F

                  Fri 40 min ez + 10 min of drills. 40 min swim with oldest boy that was a bit harder than an easy day should be

                  Sat 25 min dog run + 8 short hill sprints AM + PM run of 10'T + 6xmin on/off + 10'T (2 min jog between sets).

                  Sun 85 min jog/hike at an icy/hilly park with friends. Good recovery/ultra training. + 40 min bike ride with the twins.


                  57.25 miles running

                  ~2.07 miles swimming (watch tracks this poorly)

                  5.7 miles "biking"


                  Really good week that I'm super happy with. Next weekend I'm doing something stupid called a 4x4x48 which should be good ultra training and I'm just hoping it doesn't set my training back too much.

                  1600 - 5:23 (2018), 5k - 19:33 (2018), 10k - 45:24 (2017), half - 1:38:57 (2018), Mary - 3:37:17 (2018)

                  Glute Force

                    Zebano: 12 seconds per km down (I don't know how many that would be in mile pace, that's higher math!). So my new "PB" according to Garmin is 21:44min (granted I had never really trained for this before), although Strava says its 22:05min (I used the lap function on the Garmin and started at an odd distance); my previous time trial on the sidewalks of my neighborhood were 22:33min and I had done the 800m repeats at 4:30min/km pace. My aim would now be to train at 4:20min R pace and see if I can shave another 5 seconds off in 2 months time - that would get me close to 21min for the 5k. At which point I will add another day and start training for a sub 100min half in summer, early fall (September/October). It's funny that everyone here is about 2-3 minutes faster, and I don't consider myself unfit. But then again, I keep on forgetting that I am on the Sub 90min thread Smile


                    Piwi: I was thinking about this - it's a lot of work to run a fast 5k, but it's so much more work to extend this to 10k, right? Might be the natural progression for a fast half marathon, to extend the 5k time to 10km and beyond. I am glad I don't do this for a living Smile


                    RP: natural instincts I guess - I hope this phase is over soon Smile I'm sure the fresh air will be good for him, and your quads!


                    Darkwave: Yes, in my simple mind running for 2 hours is the bigger effort as compared to running hard for 22 minutes Smile


                    Rune: get well, hope your niggles are behind you!

                    Running Problem

                    Problem Child

                      Zeb I think phase 3 is months away at this point. I need to get back to where I was a year ago (just  missed a bq by 26 seconds) to get serious for a marathon. Summer should unlock the country enough to run traditional races. I have a 5k “race” Sunday.

                      me too. I want to be able to leave the house without him bullying my wife.  I made him cry last night when I come out from our bedroom to hear my wife yelling at him to clean up his mess and he intentionally urinated in the floor.


                      darkwave slight temp advantage outside,  78 sounds horrible right now. I got a sunburn from my Friday long run too. Sounds like you got a lingering illness from the shot instead of the sleeps or the sore arms or migraines.

                      Many of us aren't sure what the hell point you are trying to make and no matter how we guess, it always seems to be something else. Which usually means a person is doing it on purpose.


                        Mick You are in pretty good shape and congrats on the huge time drop!


                        Aside: Your use of R pace keeps confusing me because Jack Daniel's uses that for mile pace, I just have to pay more attention to context.


                        RP have you picked a marathon yet? or are you waiting until you feel like your in better shape.

                        1600 - 5:23 (2018), 5k - 19:33 (2018), 10k - 45:24 (2017), half - 1:38:57 (2018), Mary - 3:37:17 (2018)

                        Running Problem

                        Problem Child

                          Zeb I’m expecting to get screwed on Boston so back to California International Marathon for my next race. Only if COVID 19 goes away this spring/summer and more than 250 people are allowed to be near each other somewhere. Honestly no other hope of ever racing a marathon again otherwise. Or a local 5k.

                          Many of us aren't sure what the hell point you are trying to make and no matter how we guess, it always seems to be something else. Which usually means a person is doing it on purpose.


                          Aspiring Hobby Jogger

                            Quick, drive-by-ish post while short on time, I'll be back with more later.

                            Piwi - That's a really solid tempo run. I take it that we're in rather similar race shape right about now.

                            DWave - Dead on about the pigs! I haven't seen Reno 911 either.

                            Flavio - Nice week. Did that "off balance" feeling last for the entire run? Some time afterwards?

                            Pretty good week for me as I cut mileage down a bit during the week to taper a bit for my HM Saturday. I planned on getting in a 90 minute LR this weekend, but DD1 & DD1 had a soccer tournament way on the other side of the city (~1 hour drive) with a crazy schedule so that simply didn't happen. Both girls had a ton of fun playing, which was great. DD2's team didn't fare well (1W, 2L playing up a year), but DD1's team won the whole thing.

                            Weather for my HM isn't looking great. Starting temp is predicted to be ~15F/9C warmer than the morning temps we've had, plus a heavy possibility of thunderstorms. Should make things nice and interesting!
                            Question for the class: if it's raining should I break out my super shoes (Endorphin Pro) or stick with the fast trainers (Endorphin Speed)?


                            Weekly for period: From: 03/01/2021 To 03/07/2021

                            Date Name Distance
                            in mi
                            Duration Avg Pace
                            per mi
                            Elevation Gain
                            in ft
                            03/01/2021 4 miles at HM effort 11.51 01:22:49 07:12 259
                            03/02/2021 3 ducks 10.05 01:21:58 08:09 358
                            03/02/2021 Hills and OK Runners 3.51 00:31:44 09:02 223
                            03/03/2021 3 hawks & 1 rabbit 8.55 01:10:37 08:16 312
                            03/04/2021 6x 1k @ CP 8.26 00:58:17 07:03 217
                            03/05/2021 2 rabbits & 1 skunk 8.10 01:07:10 08:18 292
                            03/06/2021 1 owl, 1 rabbit, & plenty of fog 3.25 00:25:54 07:58 23
                            03/07/2021 All I could manage with the big soccer weekend 2.10 00:17:16 08:13 72

                            Total distance: 55.32mi

                            5k: 18:24 5/21 (solo track TT) │ 10k: 38:56 4/18 │ HM: 1:24:16 11/19 │ M: 3:04:13 11/18


                            Upcoming Races:


                            10/2 - Wurst Race Half

                            12/5 - California International Marathon

                            Running Problem

                            Problem Child

                              Apparently there is a TV show or something filmed MILES and MILES and KILOMETERS up the road from me




                              Nomandland. Anyone ever heard of it? I think it has the mom/wife from Breaking Bad in it.


                              EDIT: The mine in the pictures ins just south of town. Most people wouldn't even know this area exists if it wasn't for another secret private gathering for international social elites.

                              Many of us aren't sure what the hell point you are trying to make and no matter how we guess, it always seems to be something else. Which usually means a person is doing it on purpose.

                              Running Problem

                              Problem Child

                                The town of Empire is not typically a destination town. 

                                Seasonal chukar hunters and bohemians headed to Burning Man pass through, but there are no bars, no restaurants and the zip code, 89405, dissolved 10 years ago. 

                                So when a professional film crew asked the townspeople if they could crash the tumbleweed thorp for a few weeks, the locals were pleasantly surprised. 

                                "I thought it was some little Mickey Mouse movie going on," said Gay DeForest, an Empire resident explaining that he thought it was just some shoestring budget, amateur endeavor.

                                In fact, the film wound up making stars out of Empire, DeForest and several other Nevadans.

                                In recent weeks, the critically acclaimed film has proven to be anything but a "Mickey Mouse movie," earning best picture and best director at the Golden Globe Awards. Starring actress Frances McDormand (Fargo, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and directed by filmmaker Chloé Zhao, the film is based on the 2017 book, "Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century" by Jessica Bruder. It is currently in theaters and streaming on Hulu. 

                                The film weaves through many American landscapes — from the winding coast of the Pacific Northwest to the Badlands of South Dakota to the cactus country of Arizona. But it both begins and ends in Northern Nevada.

                                The town of Empire in particular is paramount to the back story of the main character, Fern, played by McDormand. 


                                The idea of a place called Empire that no longer exists, you can’t write something like that," said producer Mollye Asher in an interview with the Reno Gazette Journal last week.

                                While Empire does still exist, like many small, rural American towns it was deflated during the Great Recession. For five years, it was a ghost town with only two residents: a pair of llamas for weed control.


                                Today it's making a comeback, but those who knew the town in its prime don't expect it will ever be quite the same. From the hay-colored golf course to the covered pool, the town is dotted with graves of the past. 

                                "You could feel the life that was there when it was bustling, but at the same time you see the empty playground and the houses covered up so it was like a moment in time that was just stopped," said Asher. 


                                Choosing Empire

                                Bruder published the nonfiction book, "Nomadland," in 2017, documenting the growing community of "houseless" Americans who found home on the road, often in a van or a camper. The author knew Empire after visits to Burning Man and was familiar with its boom and bust story. 

                                "We've known Jessica for a long time. She keeps a lot of her stuff at our storage, her stuff for Burning Man," said DeForest's wife, Sunny.

                                Many of the people that Bruder encountered in her three years writing the book star in the movie as themselves, including Gay DeForest and several other real-life Nevadans.

                                Fern, however, is fictional, appearing neither in real life nor in Bruder's book. She's an amalgamation of McDormand's own personality and a character created to steer the film's plot. 


                                Fern is a widow who has lost her job and her home just after the U.S. Gypsum Corp. shut down the town of Empire. While Fern is fictional, the 2011 closure of the gypsum mine and its company town, Empire, really happened.

                                The company had owned the town, plant and mine since 1948, but shuttered everything after the Great Recession tanked the construction industry, eliminating demand for the Sheetrock produced at the factory.


                                "Empire was a huge part (of Fern's story). It’s the impetus for her to go on the road, it’s the starting point, and the ending point when she realizes that life won't look like how she always imagined it," said Asher. 

                                Empire was also a natural choice for the story's beginning because it helped mark time, said Asher. The operation's closure was a direct result of the economic crises that slammed the country after the 2008 market crash. Both the book and the film portray characters who became refugees in the ensuing recession.  


                                As for Empire, it sat fully abandoned, with coffee mugs left half-filled on office desks, swing sets entangled in weeds and calendars still marking the date of its closure.

                                "Places like that are one in a million. It’s so rich," said Asher. "You have to just travel around the country to find these places that you could never, ever build."

                                In 2016, a new company, Empire Mining Co., purchased and reopened the mine, plant and the town, but it still is nothing like what it once was. About 70 residents call it home today, including the llamas — Tony Llama and Llama Bahama — who also apparently serve as coyote deterrents. 

                                When the film crew arrived in mid-November 2018, they needed the town to appear like it was in 2011 — entirely vacant and abandoned.

                                "We shut down production for an afternoon. The crusher wasn’t running, the trucks weren't running around all over the place, and we shut down some of the residential streets," said Brandy Wilber, who acted as a town liaison for the film crew.


                                Wilber moved to Empire about five years ago to work with the mine and today manages the Empire Market, a general store that the company bought last year. She and two of her daughters later appeared in the film as well. 

                                "Everyone in the crew was so down to earth," said Wilber. "We didn’t think it was going to become an academy nominated film, we thought it was just a little film."


                                Filming with locals

                                In 2018, crews spent about a month in and around Empire, shooting the wintry opening and closing sequences of the film.

                                The crew stayed at Bruno's Country Club motel in Gerlach and spent many nights at the Miner's Club bar. Asher and another producer would meet people and take notes for Zhao about their characteristics, habits and back story. 

                                Wilber said she and her daughters, Aubrey and Makenzie Etcheverry, were in no way looking to be part of the film, but Zhao is known for writing people into the script after meeting them. 

                                In a scene just after Fern has left Empire, she runs into Wilber and her daughters, who presumably had Fern as a substitute teacher at the local schools. 


                                Wilber's daughter, Makenzie, is wearing a Gerlach K-12 Schools shirt and has one of the lines most fundamental to the philosophical question of the film: "My mom said that you're homeless. Is that true?"

                                "No, I'm not. I'm just houseless. Not the same thing, right?" Fern responds. 

                                Makenzie Etcheverry's line has been rebroadcast on 'Good morning America' and on the radio.


                                "It’s become a pretty iconic line," said Wilber. "They told us this was an important part, but we never anticipated what this would turn out to be. We didn’t think we'd be going to a movie theater to see it."

                                The closest theater is about 100 miles away, in Sparks. 

                                "This is just one crazy event that happened in our life and we’ll remember it forever," said Wilber, whose daughters joke they'll sign autographs if they're paid per letter. "I keep saying, eat it up. It won't last forever."

                                Gay DeForest, who has the first line in the movie, said he's watched the movie twice and was astounded at how the film turned out, especially given how easygoing the entire crew was, including McDormand. 

                                He recalls the day of filming. The desert was blanketed in snow. He was waiting for a few hours and needed to use a toilet, so the crew pointed him in the direction of McDormand's camper. He knocked, and she let him in without question. 


                                "I didn’t even know who she was. We haven’t been to a movie in five or six years, we just don’t go to the movies," said DeForest. "I mean, what the hell, I don’t know her. So she’s in Fargo. Well, I never seen Fargo, but she was very easy to get along with."

                                The first scene of the movie shows McDormand picking through a storage unit at DeForest's actual facility.


                                Most of the items, implied to be Fern's, are actually items that have been left behind at the storage facility over the years, DeForest said. Some of them are belongings abandoned by clients when the town originally closed, others are items left behind by past Burners who never came back.

                                McDormand is seen sifting through the belongings, figuring out what she'll take, and what she'll leave behind. 

                                "She was just like in the movie. She wasn’t a big talker, very nice and just a nice person. She wasn’t trying to flash her stardom around," said Gay DeForest. 

                                Sunny DeForest, who declined to be in the movie because it was too bitter cold that day, said McDormand even picked a few gypsum rocks out of her husband's truck for keepsakes. 

                                In his speaking role, Gay DeForest tells Fern to take care of herself and gives her a tight hug before she hits the road. He wasn't so much acting, he said, because he was thinking about saying goodbye to an old friend of his. 

                                "I had a good friend, he owned the Wig Wam in Fernley. He died some years ago," said DeForest. "They said, 'Think of something sad.' I thought about him."

                                Workampers 'saved us'

                                Empire isn't the only Nevada locale to star in the movie. Nevada's sagebrush lined roads, particularly Highway 447, appear in the film. And the Desert Rose RV park in Fernley is the backdrop for several key scenes. 


                                Debbie Skinner, manager of the RV park, said she sort of forgot her RV park was even in the movie. She has yet to watch the film.

                                One of her seasonal employees had a few lines while working the front desk, but Skinner put in plenty of off-camera work. Skinner remembers clearing the park of any vehicles that were released after 2011 and taking down the calendar for the filming. 

                                At the time, the crew shared the loose plot of the film. It made Skinner think back to the Great Recession, which her business survived thanks in large part to nomads like those in the film. 

                                "When the economy fell, it was a tough place to be in. Parks weren’t quite sure what to expect, but Amazon and 'workampers' in a lot of ways saved us," said Skinner. 

                                Workampers, or people who travel year-round and hop from one seasonal job to the next, became the main client of parks like Skinner's. For two years, the Amazon distribution center, previously located in Fernley, reserved about 75 percent of the spaces during the fall and winter months, Skinner recalled. That was a blessing because the colder months are often a slow period for RV parks such as Skinner's. 


                                In Bruder's book, she speaks with a number of short-term residents at the park, most of them working at Amazon. While the character Fern works at Amazon briefly, the film doesn't delve into some of the complaints that many workers have made about working long hours and repetitive, physical labor. 

                                The movie, in fact, shows Fern working at one of the Amazon distribution centers, but the center is located in California. The film crew gained access after McDormand herself sent an email to the company. 

                                "Going into an Amazon factory is like peeking behind the curtain at Oz. It’s loud, there are people bustling everywhere and there are encouragement posters everywhere," said Asher. 

                                Since the Fernley distribution center closed in 2014 and moved to Reno, Skinner doesn't see as many Amazon employees anymore.

                                Today Northern Nevada is grappling with a 21st century boom and bust, one in which the arrival of tech and manufacturing companies is bringing growth. Yet, the housing is neither sufficient nor affordable for the demand. 

                                "Since 2018, we’ve noticed the workampers are younger. A lot of them are in their mid-40s, some are younger than that, and we got families that come in now," said Skinner. "Some of them, they want to travel and they want to try a different life. But also right now, housing costs are so expensive.

                                "For some people, they are comfortable. They just don't want to use their savings or retirement yet. For others, this is their bread and butter. This is what they do to put food on their table," said Skinner. 

                                'A very special place' 

                                Last week, Wilber gathered some of the residents of Empire and Gerlach to watch the film on a 100-inch screen set up at the market. They set out cookies and popcorn and cheered every time a local appeared on the screen.

                                "For Empire, the shutdown was such a major life event for so many people. You lost your job and house all in the same day," said Wilber. "To show a little glimpse of that, not just here, but for all the people that lived through 2008 and the recession, it means a lot."

                                While a "sad" movie, Sunny DeForest said, it feels good to have Empire's story briefly on the silver screen. 

                                "They're showing a lot of parts of America that everyone should see but not everyone sees," said Sunny DeForest. 

                                Sunny DeForest, who worked at the gypsum mine's offices for 42 years, never thought she'd fall in love with a place like Empire.

                                She first arrived with her ex-husband in the 1960s, and she was certain she'd hate it. But she didn't. She loved her neighbors. Her kids ran free. The community had barbecues and block parties and everyone knew each other.


                                Sunny DeForest was one of the few residents to stay after the closure. She retired before the shutdown and lives just beyond the gate of the community. Because USG helped most of her friends find work quickly after the mine closed, the main character of Fern didn't particularly remind her of anyone she knew, but she appreciated her story nonetheless. 

                                "The people I know, they wouldn’t have chosen that lifestyle, but the story tells me that Americans are very resilient and we will survive whatever happens. We will do what we have to do," said Sunny DeForest. "Most people won’t sit on their hands and cry, they’ll pick themselves up."

                                In Empire, there are again children playing and there is again the sound of people at work. Yet, while the mining operations have resumed and some of the houses have been renovated, others are in disrepair. 


                                "The pool is no longer there, the tennis courts are no longer there, the golf course has gone to hell, it’s not the Empire of old," said Sunny DeForest. "It’s a place." 

                                In the movie, Fern comes back to Empire. She discards the belongings she once held on to. She stares out the window of what was once her house, into the vast desert and comes to accept, and choose, her life on the road.

                                "It’s a decision moment. She’s deciding to walk away from the homestead. She's making a choice now to go on the road. At first it may have been out of necessity, but she’s discovered now that being on the road, this is what she wants to do," said Asher. 

                                Wilber said she can't count how many people have come back to Empire to get closure, or to simply remember. They ask if they can see their old house. They tell Wilber stories of what once was.  

                                "I think a lot of people come by and feel that same way," said Wilber. "They have just the best memories of Empire. They say, 'Those were the best days of my life. This was a very special place.'" 

                                Many of us aren't sure what the hell point you are trying to make and no matter how we guess, it always seems to be something else. Which usually means a person is doing it on purpose.