Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mud on the Wildcat!

Mrs Notthat and I participated in today's Brazen Wildcat event. I was afraid the event would be mud-free, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Our daughter and son-in-law, Weird Haired Mom and Needs Cool Name, were volunteers at this event: WHM directed traffic at one potentially confusing area and NCN took over 2000 pictures. Here they are getting last minute instructions from Mas (not his real name) and Enimsaj (not her's either) from Brazen Racing. These two and their team are fantastic at organizing these events, and weirdly seem to have fun at the same time.

Diane walked the 10K event and I ran/walked the Half Marathon. To make it easier for us slower people in the Half, they gave us a one hour head-start. This was great, even with the issues that cropped up (more later). In any case, here I am, still clean and perky, listening to last minute instructions. ("Don't pet rattlesnakes.")

I had no idea how large of a group there would be for the 7:30 early start, but there were more than I had expected.

The first 100 feet or so past the start line was not bad. Then you turned a corner and faced a reasonably serious hill.

Near the top of that hill were WHM and NCN. WHM was a great cheerleader - you could hear her from a mile away, and that's the kind of thing that really helps put a jump in your step. NCN was really busy snapping pictures. (Or would be once the other groups started.)

One fun thing about being in the first group out; the cows were still close to the trail. REALLY close. Talking to Mrs Notthat later she said she didn't see any cows by the trail at all by the time she went through. I'm pretty sure this guy was eying my gaiters.

The first stretch of mud. The 10K and 5K people were spared from the mud for the most part - it was a perk only the Half people got to enjoy.

The views were stunning. It was clear and pleasant (although a bit cool when you were out of the trees and the breeze hit you).

Easily the coolest of all the trails the Half people went on was the Havey Canyon Trail. Yes, that's the trail, with a small creek running down it.

Then I came up to this gate. This sign was a bit of an understatement. I was thrilled.

There was this wonderful creek to cross.

And a supremely muddy stretch. We had been warned that, to avoid poison oak, we would be better off just dealing with the mud. Who was I to argue?

Eventually I ended up back on the same trail that Mrs Notthat was on. I followed her up this hill for probably ten minutes, barely gaining on her. She was doing great and would have been leaving little puffs of dust in her wake if there was any dust around.

It's a bit hard to tell in this picture, but my legs and shorts are covered in muddy splotches.

It's a little easier to see from the back. (I didn't wet myself and didn't realize how much it looked like that. That's a combination of water that splashed on me and sweat. I think.)

So I finished the race walking along with Mrs Notthat. One of our favorite pastimes was saying "I think this is the last hill." It never was.

If you look hard you can see the trail winding down this hill (the last one?) off into El Sobrante (Spanish for, "The town by the park with a thousand hills, each one higher than the previous"). One thing worth pointing out, hills are challenging both going up and down them. My knees really hate going down steep trails.

It wasn't the last hill after all, but this one was. That's WHM signaling a touchdown.

Mrs Notthat posed for a picture with WHM and NCN. WHM and NCN stood up there for about five hours, balancing periods of intense action with short stretches of waiting for the next runner to drag up that last hill.

Very close to the end there was a volunteer and his dog making sure the gate stayed closed and the cows didn't make a run for it. I had some leftover water and the dog lapped it up. (I brought them some more water later - it wasn't hot but warm enough to make you thirsty.)

A huge surprise at the end was Anert (not her real name either, thankfully) who had unbeknownst to us walked the 5K. The toughest 5K ever in her words. (I believe her, although I think the 5K at the Bear Creek event, the extremely mud-infested event at the end of January, was probably worse.)

Note: A cool thing Brazen has started doing is announcing runners as they approach the starting line. I have a stunningly shaky video I took of this that I am hoping to post later, if I can remove at least some of the shaking. This means though, that I have no pictures of the finish line.

See all those pink boxes? LOTS of donuts! (And some token fruit and other healthier fare.)

Mrs and I stopped at this fine restaurant in El Sobrante since she refused to fill up on donuts (which I had no problem doing at all).

And from there we went directly to a garage sale that she was participating in. No shower, no fresh clothes - this kid has an amazing garage sale gene.

Here's the medal, looking classy along with my muddy gaiters and shoes. (The orange thing is a D-Tag - it is a disposable timing chip. I proved that it works even when muddy.)

And the shirts. Women got the yellow ones (which are actually a women's shirt!) and men got the tan ones.

The goodie bags had their normal selection of fun stuff, including these tiny bottles of olive oil - they are so cute!

And that's it. There was an issue with the early start that was compounded by a confusing trail intersection, a late delivery by the park service, and me not paying enough attention to the directions. In any case, several of us completely missed a turn that actually cut about half the distance off the Half (and a significant hill). By the time I realized this, I had gone too far to turn around, but was able to find a trail that took me over so that I could at least go on part of the missed trail (the really muddy part, at the expense of having to come up a killer hill a second time, easily making up for the missed hill). My distance ended up being closer to 12 miles than the 13.1 miles I was supposed to do, which was fine with me since I still got to go on the muddy trail and got to walk with Mrs to the finish line.

My time was a mess due to a variety of stoppages, but that's OK. I had a LOT of fun at this event and can't wait for the next one.

Actually, our next event is a week from tomorrow - a full marathon at the Avenue of the Giants. No hills, but lots of miles. And trees. Big trees.

That's it - move along...


WHM said...

I got a little tiny bottle of balsamic vinaigrette in my goodie bag (ryan got the olive oil) pretty cool stuff :D

mary ann said...

Great report and beautiful photos. I'm so glad you didn't pet any rattlesnakes. You have certainly trimmed down notthat and the best way, through fun (sometimes) exercise. Good job everyone!