Sunday, January 21, 2018

HURT 2018: They clicked on all the right things!

The 2018 edition of HURT will be one of those races that runners talk about for years.

After missing last year, Mrs Notthat and I joined All Day Ken and his wildly better half Karen in a VRBO on Round Top Drive that had a ridiculous view.


Also staying with us were Erica, running her first HURT (she had paced a loop several years earlier, so she had an idea of what she was getting into), Veronica (her pacer who had never seen the course before), and photographer extraordinaire Howie.

The pre-race briefing was as fun as it usually is. The only real news was that a boardwalk of sorts had been installed over a famously root-infested section of the course, but that runners were to ignore that boardwalk and run on the roots as normal. (I don't have a picture of that boardwalk, but in the ones I've seen, it looks reasonably solid, if narrow, but mostly it looks completely out of place. I'm not a tree pathologist, but I doubt walking/running on the roots is hurting the trees much, and that boardwalk really messes with the iconic look of that bit of trail.)


"It's like a [redacted] superhighway up there!"
One thing everyone agreed on was that the trails were mostly dry and the temperature was going to be favorable - nobody was going to be wearing a puffy jacket while running, but with temperatures projected into the low 80s, that would pass as "favorable."

A quick note, in case you know nothing about the course. It's five 20 mile loops. Each loop has three legs with an aid station at the end of each. Each leg forces you to climb Mt Tantalus. Over and over and over again.



It's not a complicated course, but there are a few bits that have caused runners to go the wrong way. Up on top, Cindy is an angel that hangs out and points runners the right way during the night. The left side of the figure eight can be a problem because you have runners on the same bit of trail going the same direction that have to make the correct turn for the particular leg they're running (white is heading out while orange is heading back). This sounds simple, but it's really easy on lap three in the dark to just follow a runner that it turns out is going the wrong direction for you.

One good thing about the course is that it gives you lots of chances to see the other runners.

A race morning not soon to be forgotten

Look at this picture. All Day is ready to go (minus his shoes since those were kept by the door). Or is he?



He turned out to have completely forgotten his bib. There was a bit of stress while trying to work out how to get it in time for the race start, but, well, everyone knows All Day and he is one of the few that could probably get by without a bib. In any case, Karen and I brought his bib back to the start after the race started, and it was ferried up to the first aid station. Paradise Park. Pirate-infested Paradise Park. They had a tiny bit of fun with the bib.

Pirates with bib booty. Picture probably by another pirate.
In the end, that all turned out fine, and would hopefully be the only weirdness of the day.

The next weirdness of the day

After making a second trip to the start area, this time with The Bib, we headed back to the house to rest up a bit. Crew is not allowed at the first aid station, so we wouldn't see All Day until after about 13 miles. I was volunteering at Nu'uanu aid station for the 1:30 AM to 6 AM shift, so, when we got back, I went to bed.

Then, a little after 8 AM, our bit of the world turned nuts.


There were four of us in the house - Karen, Veronica, Mrs Notthat, and myself. The alert left no doubt that we were doomed. I had a really hard time believing it, although I also had no reason to doubt it. I got on the computer to try to get more info, but couldn't find anything. We turned on the TV to local channels and CNN and saw nothing, except the local channels occasionally showing a banner at the bottom repeating the alert. We could hear police cars in Waikiki making announcements, but couldn't hear what they were saying.

The more I couldn't find any real news, the more I started to doubt it. Then I saw a post that said some agency in Hawaii had confirmed the alert was a mistake. And finally, 38 minutes after the first alert, a second one appeared that confirmed it was a mistake.


Picture from unknown. Apparently there were abandoned cars that caused traffic issues for a bit.
For the runners, this issue was a real mixed bag. Runners that hadn't made it out of the first aid station were stopped and told to shelter. Runners that had made it past that aid station either knew nothing about the issue or, if they had a phone and had also gotten the alert, were struggling with what to do. There were many "last phone calls" made. This was a mentally and emotionally devastating turn of events for many runners.

Once the all clear was given, the runners were allowed to keep going, and it was decided to add 30 minutes to the race's cutoffs. (Note: I will be disappointed if there isn't a new rule added to the 2019 Book of HURT based on this situation.)

And the race kept going

The rest of the race went mostly to plan. I spent some time at the Nu'uanu aid station just to watch the runners as they got their laps done.

Eventual winner Avery Collins was WAY out front and on his third lap while most were still on their second lap.
The perpetually smiling and overall second place Guillaume Calmettes on his third lap, heading out of the Nu'uanu aid station and bravely passing between the tiki gods.
Erica on her second lap, coming in to Nu'unau. (That stream crossing was a bit trickier than it looks, especially as you got more miles on your legs.)
I worked my shift at the Nu'uanu aid station (Freddy is the best!).

Ken showed up a bit before my shift started. The aid station had lights strung up all the way to the stream crossing!
Nu'uanu party central. 
Sidenote: I've worked night shifts twice at the Nature Center aid station (the start/finish) and now at Nu'uanu. Nature Center is near housing, so it is relatively quiet, especially at night. Nu'uanu is out in the middle of nowhere, so it is not even vaguely quiet. It is much more like a party. A loud, well lit, well fed party. If you are thinking of volunteering, keep all that in mind. (Nu'uanu also has very spotty cell service.)

Once I left Nu'uanu a bit after 6 AM and regained cell service, my phone blew up with text messages. First was a set about Erica and her pacer Veronica possibly being off course (they weren't). Next was a set that they were going to stop at the end of the third lap - those 60 miles had been tough and, after doing a bit of math, there was no way they were going to make the first cutoff (mile 80) to start the last lap.

(Note: To officially qualify for the unofficial "Fun Run," you need to finish three laps and then the first leg of the fourth lap. That's really hard to do if your car is sitting a few feet from where you currently are. Which is the point, I'm guessing.)

I went back to the house to try to get a nap, but the FOMO was too strong, so Mrs Notthat and I headed up to Paradise Park to watch the final runners on their last lap. I walked out a bit to get a few shots.

Mike was struggling mightily to try to get this finish. A few of his muscles were betraying him though. Still, he made it out  and headed to Nu'uanu. 
Alicja finished up her Fun Run, and was happy with that. (I had seen her in the middle of the night and was not convinced she would make it this far - she recovered nicely!)
Look really hard and you can see All Day and his pacer Malory.

At the end of All Day's fourth lap, he knew he was pushing the cutoffs, and knew he would need someone to push him. Christy had paced him from Nu'uanu to the Nature Center, but she did not know the course and was struggling to keep up with a motivated Ken. In a moment that is pure HURT, Malory just happened to be standing there and offered to pace him around that last lap. They did not know each other at all (Malory, it turned out, had finished the race the previous year in a bit over 34 hours - she was a perfect person to pace him!). Even better, part way through the first leg, she mentioned to Ken that her mantra was "All Day" - she had no idea that she was pacing Mr All Day himself!

From Paradise Park we headed back to Nu'uanu.

Kelly was looking amazingly strong considering she had gone 93 miles of this course. She would end up getting her first HURT finish! 
Mike made it to Nu'uanu, but had to make the call to stop there. So close to his first finish, but his issues were getting  worse, and the wise thing to do was to live to race another day. This was a bit heartbreaking.
Malory leading Ken out of the stream. They were SO focussed and moving like a team that had worked together for years.
We headed back to the Nature Center and a finish that was sure to be tense and exciting. There were still two runners representing the Bay Area, Ken and Kelly, plus a number of others pushing to make that final cutoff. The 30 minute extension helped a bit, but there is no way to know whether it was enough to really make up for time lost due to the previous day's oddness.

The finish line did not disappoint. Kelly finished in well under 36 hours, and now we were waiting for Ken. Nothing like a little bonus drama.

Then, with less than nine minutes to go, this happened.


He did it. His third finish was in the books. Wow!

Wrapping up

In the end, the near perfect conditions led to a record breaking 60% completion rate (78 of 128 starters). Five runners finished in the last 30 minutes. 18 runners finished the Fun Run, with Mike getting an Ultra Fun Run with his 93 miles.

Monday night's awards banquet was a blast as usual, with the unveiling of this year's unique "trophies."

The top three women and men got these really nice boxes that contained bits of the three aid stations and a place to hold a tea cup. (Note the missile that was added at the last minute.)
This year, both winners were from Colorado (Avery Collins and Darcy Piceu), and interestingly, three of the top four women were from Colorado.

This is a bamboo-inspired tea set. Each branch had three cups (one for each box), and when they were removed, it was an actual functioning tea pot! So clever and cool!
The "100-mile virgin" awards. The HURT 100 course is very tough, even for veteran runners. But every year, astonishingly there are several runners that manage to finish this as their first 100 mile race. These are given to the fastest man and woman to do that.
Yes, that's Mrs Notthat shoving a dollar bill in that guy's shorts. What happens at the HURT banquet should stay at the HURT banquet, but I couldn't resist this.
The above picture is hard to describe. First, there is a lot of competition to get on the safety patrol team. Second, the safety patrol team apparently surprised many runners by doing some wildly out of place "twerking" at one point. So there was a contest to see who would get to join the safety patrol team next year, and it was based on which candidate twerked the best (and got the most dollar bills in their shorts).

And that's about it. The HURT weekend is an amazing experience, whether you are running, pacing, crewing, volunteering, or spectating. It doesn't hurt that it's on Oahu. These trails are stunning - it's hard to picture just how challenging they are without trying to run them. Just getting one 20 mile lap done is quite an achievement.

A huge thanks to the team of race directors, all the volunteers, and the members of HURT (Hawaiian Ultra Running Team) for working so hard to make this such a memorable event.

That's it - move along…

PS: Here are links to some other pictures I uploaded:

Briefing
Start
First Day
Nu'uanu Night Shift
Second Day
Hiking the Makiki Loop on Monday

Monday, January 8, 2018

The streak has been struck

Back in December of 2010, we were at Summit Rock, the last Brazen race of the year (the New Year's Eve race wouldn't start until 2011), and 3 runners were given these amazing finisher medal filled shadow boxes because they ran all 15 races in Brazen's first full year. (There were 4 races in 2009.)

The Canadian's shadow box in 2010.
And that was it. There was almost no chance that anyone would ever run all of Brazen's races in a calendar year ever again. It was considered a fluke occurrence. Then Brazen added 6 races in 2011, even further guaranteeing that no runner would run all of a year's races again.

Naturally, 18 runners, including the 3 from the previous year, managed to run all of the races.

"Streaking" a year's worth of Brazen races officially became a thing. Streakers were given official numbers that would be theirs for life, and would appear on their race bibs at future races. All streakers get a custom shirt, and repeat streakers get something additional (duffle bags, coolers, jackets, a case of It's-Its).

The number of people streaking each year continues to go up. This year, there were well over 80 streakers, with a bit over 50 of those doing it for the first time. This is truly remarkable, especially now that there are 27 races you have to participate in. (You can either run any of the distances or volunteer at a race to be considered a participant.)

It wouldn't surprise me if I have something wrong on this table, but I think it's pretty accurate. (White means no race, dark green means I didn't participate, and light green means I participated, with volunteering or number of miles indicated.)
I went back to see how close I had come to successfully streaking in prior years, and was surprised at how close I had come a couple of times:
  • 2010: I ran/volunteered at 13 of the 15 races. (I missed the initial Dirty Dozen and Bear Creek.)
  • 2011: I only missed one of the 21 races - the inaugural Trailquake race.
  • 2012: I only missed one of the 23 races - Summer Breeze. (Mrs Notthat and I don't really like this race since it's flat and a bit boring, compared to most of the other Brazen races. In this case, we chose to do a different race that day, knowing it would break my streak. But I didn't really want to streak without Mrs Notthat, who had missed several previous races.)
And that was as close as I would come. Starting in 2013, I would average missing about a quarter of the races each year - in 2016, for example, I missed 10 of the 26 races. (The closest Mrs Notthat ever came was 2012 when she missed 3 races.)

I was a bit surprised when Mrs Notthat mentioned at the end of 2016 that she wanted to streak in 2017. What makes streaking so hard, especially now that there are 27 races, is fitting all those races into your schedule. We made several sacrifices throughout the year to make this streak happen, but we managed to get it done. (We broke our streak of running a GECKO race in Pagosa Springs CO with my family every year since 2011, we had to skip several other races that we would have normally run, and probably the worst, we ran a couple of races that we probably shouldn't have due to injuries.)

Streaker Graduation Day

A big secret and source of angst is finding out what your streaker number is. The first number to be assigned this year would be 174 (173 was the last number assigned last year). We weren't exactly sure of how many new streakers there were, but my best guess was that we would get up to 224. (Actually, we got up to 226.) People have been known to campaign for a specific number, sometimes even successfully. But generally, it's best to just roll with what you end up with.

Picture by Jay B. Goofy smiles by us.
There are a couple of ways to find out your number, and all but one require you to do something. In our case, I picked up our bibs before the last race and found out our numbers: 219 for me and 220 for Mrs Notthat. Another way to find out is to go to the Graduation Walk of Stars and find your stars (which show your number). The hardcore way to find out is to ignore all that and wait for your name to be called out, as several people did.

I assumed we got the numbers we did just by random selection. I found out later that that wasn't true, and that in fact there was a bit of a campaign for me to specifically get #219 by the owner of #19 - who it turns out is my arch-nemesis Yram (not her real name). She wanted for me to always be exactly 200 behind her. (As it turns out, 219 is the area code for Gary, Indiana, and since my dad's name was Gary, this number works just fine for me.)

 Mrs Notthat's #220 is special because it is the frequency of an A note. Of course she would get an A!

Picture by Jay B. Awkward strut by me.
Walking up the red carpet once our names were called was a blast! We got Mrs Brazen hugs (I did NOT get a bit choked up), and that was about it. Due to the number of streakers, they had to really move all this along, so there was no time for acceptance speeches or choreographed dance routines.

But there was something special…

The Brazen Hall of Fame

Mr and Mrs Brazen wanted to do something to recognize people that go way above and beyond to make these races special, so they invented the Brazen Hall of Fame.

Mr and Mrs Brazen holding up replicas of the ring that Hall of Fame entrants will be given.
And they indicted inducted The Canadian!

It's hard to catch her by surprise, but this completely did! (For the record, she is not really Canadian, but nobody can understand her, so I can type whatever I want and nobody can disprove it. And I love that people come up to her and ask what part of Canada she's from.)
Enirehtak, not her real name, is one of the original streakers who does so many things behind the scenes (and a number in front of the scenes). For example, she invented Clockie (for better or worse), comes up with all the props for post-race photo opportunities, and put together the whole Graduation Walk of Stars thing. Maybe most importantly, she makes sure we have It's-It ice cream at all the races.

The Shadow Boxes

To me, the best thing you get when you streak is a permanent bib number. To a lot of others though, it's the shadow box that contains all their medals from the year.

We got a combined shadow box, which meant one of us gave up our medals and  Mrs Notthat kept hers.
In the early days, Brazen would try to guess how many extra medals they needed for these shadow boxes, which was really a challenge since they didn't really know how many streakers they were going to have until very late in the year. Another challenge is that some of the races have different medals depending on the distance you run.

Trying to keep that all straight was a nightmare, so a couple of years ago, they required the streaking runners to supply the medals. This also has some challenges since, if you volunteer for a race, you don't generally get a medal. For those cases, you fill out a form at the end of the year when you submit your medals and list the missing ones. This means Brazen still has to do some guess work, but not quite as much.

(One of the hardest parts of this process for the runners is that, after you turn in your medals, generally at one of the turkey-based races, you are not supposed to pick up a finisher medal when you finish your races for the rest of the year since they are automatically being put in with your other medals. "Double-dipping" is not good for the karma.)

Once you get your shadow box, and once you finish drooling on it, you are then faced with a dilemma - where do you hang the thing? It's huge! We've already given up a large section of our hallway to our  medals (I bought a bunch of those things designed to keep your shovels and rakes off the shed floor, and we hang our medals on them.)

This really doesn't capture the Wall of Medals very well - it's hard to take a picture in a hallway.
So our shadow box is still leaning against the wall in the dining room.

Some shadow box notes:

  • You don't have to get a shadow box. There is an alternative option of just getting a nice plaque.
  • You can get a combined shadow box. This is what we did - rather than having two massive shadow boxes to deal with, we have one. This also meant that, while one of us had to give up our medals, the other could keep them (and between the two of us, we were able to cover all the races except Double Dipsea.
  • There is no guarantee shadow boxes will continue to be a thing. They are expensive and I suspect a huge headache to manage. Don't be surprised if that perk goes away or is replaced with something else. Then again, there are eight years of shadow boxes out there, so maybe the momentum will carry them on. In any case, I think the permanent number is the real perk.

Wrapping Up (Finally)

There is likely no way we will streak again, but I suspect many others have said that just before they ended up streaking again. There are a few trips we need to take this year though that will pretty much guarantee a broken streak.

Through 2016, two of the original three kept on streaking. Sadly, the Weasel broke his streak this year, so now there is only one - the Canadian. Her lack of good judgement likely means she will keep this streak going until It's-It goes out of business or Greece decides to keep her (neither of which is likely).

If you are thinking of streaking, be sure you have an amazingly flexible schedule. You can't travel for July 4th, Thanksgiving, or in the New Year's Eve timeframe. The volunteer angle works well for races you don't want to run (or find wildly challenging, such as we did for Double Dipsea this year). Even better, if you have a conflict on race day, you can often volunteer the day before the race during setup or at bib pickup - those options have saved many streaks. (Note that remote racing does not count. Also, you have to participate - you can't just register and count that.) Also note that, if you have to DNF a race, that won't break your streak.

And best of all, you get to keep your clothes on.

That's it - move along…

PS: An interesting thought experiment (to me, at least) - what about 2009? In 2009, Brazen's first year of existence, they put on four races. As best I can tell, there were several runners that ran all four of those races, although running four races isn't particularly amazing or worthy of the streaker glory that currently exists. But there is another kind of glory - the glory of knowing you were running Brazen races before it was cool! (Or at least as cool as it is now.)

PPS: Here is a link to a dodgy video I did about the streaking process. Use care watching this if you have just eaten.

PPPS: Mrs Notthat and I have "streaks" at six Brazen races that we have run every year:

  • Stars and Stripes (this is a bit of a cheat since there has only been one so far)
  • Winter Bear Creek (another cheat since this only happened once, in 2010)
  • Trail Hog (this surprised me - we've run it every year for seven years)
  • Quarry Turkey (funny that Nitro Turkey didn't make the cut - we've run all seven years Quarry Turkey has existed)
  • New Year's Eve (all seven years)
  • Badger Cove (Mrs Notthat has run all six editions of this race - I missed one)
  • New Year's Day (I've run all seven times - Mrs Notthat missed once)






Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Still ticking, and the ticking is getting louder. A bit.

Wow - my last post was July 2? That's what happens when you mess up a knee and become mostly useless on the trails. This is going to be long, but hopefully not too whiny. (Spoiler alert: There will be some whining.)

To recap, back in May, my old enemy, a partially torn meniscus in my right knee, got a bit irritated, so I dialed things back a bit (and yes, maybe running a race each weekend for 18 weeks in a row, starting in February, may have contributed).

So I took some time off, and the knee got better. By the time I was volunteering at Western States near the end of June, I considered myself 90% healed. And then, just a few hours before I was going to head out from there, I managed to twist the knee by stepping in a hole not big enough to hide a golf ball, and everything reset, with the knee being in much worse shape than it had been in May.

This recovery has been not fun. After a month or so, it was significantly better, and I restarted my lunch walking and was getting excited. Then things took a dark turn again.

I work on the 3rd floor and despise the elevator, but had been taking it while the knee got better. The day after my successful lunch walk, I took the next step, and started using the stairs again. That day I ended up making three trips up and down, and things seemed fine, but that night, things were not fine. By the next morning I was back to barely being able to walk again.

After that setback, I did something I've never done, and started seeing a physical therapist. I continued to take it easy and embrace the elevator, and am now back to being able to do lunch walks, and even more exciting, taking the stairs again. The next step will be a small attempt at running, but that's likely still a few weeks away.

This has not been a fun summer, from a running standpoint. There have been many races I had been looking forward to that I had to skip. But Mrs Notthat and I committed to streaking at Brazen Racing this year, so I still participated in quite a few races (many when I should have been sitting on the couch) - mostly just hobbling the 5K.

Following is a recap of sorts.

Brazen Stars and Stripes - July 4 (My Pictures)

Redwood City has a fun Fourth of July race, which, if I was actually up to running a race, I would have much rather run (largely because it's local). This was nine days after the injury, and I was still severely hobbling. But a streak is a streak, so I intended to limp around the 5K in lovely, but far away, Concord.

Then a call came out for volunteers, and I jumped at the chance to instead take pictures of the other runners.

The arrow-through-the-head made an appearance! Picture by Jason.
"I said NO PICTURES!"
Since volunteering counts as being at the race, this kept my streak intact. But there was not going to be an easy out next weekend at…

Brazen Dirty Dozen - July 8 (My Pictures)

This was a race that, when I had signed up, I had hoped to get a reasonably fast (for me) 50K. So I was set to run the 12 hour event (well, not really 12 hours, but more on that later) and Mrs Notthat was going to run a 5K and a 10K.

This event is a blast with the main event being a 12 hour and 6 hour race around a roughly 3.4 mile loop on a fun trail. You do as many loops as possible - there is a shorter loop (0.7 miles) that opens up in the last hour so that you can squeeze out as much distance as possible.

To add some spice, there are also a couple of normal 5K and 10K races scattered throughout the day. Those races don't start until late in the morning, while the 12 and 6 hour races start at 7AM. So, to avoid making Mrs Notthat have to get up early only to sit around for four hours, my plan was to show up and start my "12 hour" at about 11AM, making it an 8 hour race for me.

For me to get an official finish, I needed to complete one lap, and it wasn't going to be easy. But I did it, using hiking sticks for the first time. My official time was just barely under six hours (even though I started really late, my official start time was at 7AM), but the actual time was a bit over two hours. The knee was not happy, and ended up getting iced a lot when I finally staggered through the finish.

Mrs Notthat storming to the finish in one of her two races that day.
This was not my finish, but hours later when I was getting a picture of Mrs Notthat. Grandkid Second Born is realizing he could easily beat me in a race. Picture by Jay. 
A fun thing - the grandkids were dropped off near the end of the race so that we could play with them for a week!

Brazen Bad Bass - July 22 (My Pictures)

This 5K is all paved, but has lots of rolling hills. The knee was feeling much better than at Dirty Dozen, so I silently gave myself a goal of going sub-one hour.

I missed that goal by four minutes, but was pleased to not leave in worse shape than when I got there.

A first and likely last - a reserved parking spot for me! Not because I was fragile, but because I had the It's-Its!
Mrs Notthat also ran the 5K, so she ended up having to wait a LONG time for me.

Brazen Summer Breeze - August 5 (My Pictures)

Now that I was 60, this was a race I was targeting to get my Ageless Wonder status (run a 10K in fewer minutes than your age). Sadly, that was not to be this year, and instead, I was going to be shooting for a sub-one hour finish in the 5K. Heavy sigh.

This race is wildly popular, but for reasons that escape normal trail runners. It's on a trail, but it's generally flat and kind of boring. It's built for speed, and since I'm not, this race is not a favorite (unless I'm shooting for Ageless Wonder).

Photo by Volunteer Alex. Sunscreen was not an issue.
Mrs Notthat also ran the 5K since this is not her favorite race either. The 5K course is actually a bit more interesting than the other courses.

Brazen Bear Creek - August 12 (My Pictures)

This race was the first after the stairs setback, and I was a bit worried. The last mile or so is shared between all distances. It's normally my favorite part of the course, since it's moderately technical single-track with a nasty creek crossing sort of thing just before the finish.

The problem is that I was going to be hobbling along, using a hiking stick, with many faster 10K and Half runners wanting to pass. I'm fine with stepping to the side - I wasn't winning anything - but this single-track is lined with some of the most healthy poison oak you'll ever see. 

Mrs Notthat ran the 10K and passed me in that final single-track bit of trail.
The creek is no big deal, and it's actually often refreshing, but erosion made getting from that last step down to the ground challenging if you have a knee that should be resting on the couch.
Photo by Jay. I was not in great shape heading to the finish. 
I used only one stick so I could keep one hand free to take pictures. The problem with that plan was that it was my left hand, and my left hand had never taken a picture before. It took a lot of really bad pictures that day.

In the end, I got it done, but the knee was not happy and I ended up with a fair amount of poison oak.  

Diablo Dash - August 19 (My Pictures)

This was not an actual Brazen race, but Brazen was running it, and they needed some volunteers, so Mrs Notthat and I headed over to help out (well, Mrs managed to sneak in and run the race). I ended up working the first aid station then taking hundreds of photos. My knee was thrilled that I didn't push it.

Mrs Notthat blasting through the first aid station.

Brazen Trail Hog - September 2 (My Pictures)

This race turned out to be one of my favorites since we got to introduce two friends visiting from The Netherlands to trail running. It was the first race for either of them, and they were a bit nervous. But that went away pretty quickly once it all started - then it became fun!

The M and M Twins live streaming a bit of the race back to a disbelieving Netherlands.
Photo by Jay. Note the lack of walking sticks or a knee brace. I was getting better! Well, except for that stupid rubber pig snout. 
This race had record heat, and this course is very exposed, so many runners had to go much slower than normal or drop down in distance.

Dutch girls dealing with the heat by eating ice cream! Sadly, they now think all races here end this way. 
A sweltering Mrs Notthat finishing her 10K. 
Mrs Notthat is normally impervious to heat, but this race really got to her. When the race started, I thought there was a pretty good chance she would finish before me, but that didn't happen, which worried me a bit. But she hung in there and got it done. (She actually let people squeeze a sponge with icy water on her head at the finish - it was really hot out there!)

Brazen Drag-n-Fly - September 16 (My Pictures)

The Drag-n-Fly 5K course is fun - there are no big climbs (the other distances are infested with big climbs) and you get to go around the lake. Mrs Notthat ran the 10K, but it's a tough 10K, so I was pretty sure I would finish before her (I did). 

Photo by the Chasqui Runner - It's a thrill when a professional photographer takes your picture! I'm about a half mile from the finish.
Mrs Notthat pushed really hard, and was completely drained at the end.
Getting her third place age group medal managed to revive her quite nicely.

Brazen Rocky Ridge - September 30 (My Pictures)

Oh man. There is no "easy" distance at this race - even the 5K has a large climb to fight through. I decided to try to up my game and walk the 10K. That would mean a large climb up the dreaded Paved Hill, but maybe worse, that would mean a long downhill bit. With my knee, the downhills tend to be more of a problem than the uphill - I can manage to walk flat and uphill with little to no limp, but downhills, not so much.

So Mrs Notthat and I both did the 10K. 

The paved Hill was exposed and hot. And long.
A nice surprise was that, once you got to the top, you were in a nice cool marine layer. That was amazingly refreshing!
Photo by a Brazen volunteer. As much as she likes the sun, Mrs Notthat also liked this cool fog.
A stunning turn of events - I won my age group! And beat someone in it! (Note that I wouldn't have even placed in the two age groups older than mine - it's good to be in an unpopular age group!)

Brazen Tarantula - October 14 (My Pictures)

And that brings us to current time. And the first race that was in serious danger of breaking our Brazen streak.

The fires up north had actually forced our daughter (Weird Haired Mom for you history buffs) and her family to evacuate their house. The grandkids (and their cats and dog) came down to stay with us where the air quality was at least tolerable. We weren't sure at first whether we would be able to go to this race, or even whether the race was going to happen. But the air cleared up a bit, Aunt Aubri volunteered to take the kids up to the Exploratorium, and the race happened as scheduled, although on a highly modified course.

For safety, we ended up running only on trails that were near the park's main road, which actually made for a fairly fun race since we got to see the other runners multiple times. Mrs Notthat and I both did the 10K. I was a bit borderline as to whether to attempt running or not, but decided to stick with walking for now.

One fun thing about the course change was that we got to go to the top of the dam. Yes, it was on a paved road, but getting to go where people aren't normally allowed was kind of cool! Here, Mrs Notthat is flying back down that climb.
Photo by volunteer Michael. I made it to the top of the dam! And didn't blow away!
Mrs Notthat is wildly not fond of costumed mascots normally, but she was fine with this tarantula/RD. "I could see his face, so it was all good" she said. I think that secretly she really likes spiders.
And that's about it. I believe there are six more races in the Brazen streak, and it's looking like we may actually pull this off. I'm hoping to get at least a little running in somewhere in these races, but I've also been enjoying the walking and am OK being patient. I'm also happy that I've been able to upgrade to the 10K distance, even if it shows how much fitness I've lost over the summer.

That's it - move along!

Late Breaking PS: Mrs Notthat messed up her ankle at the SF Zoo while trying to rescue the grandkids from a zookeeper that was sure they had escaped from a cage! She will be volunteering at Goonies! With the grandkids!