It delivered on all those promises. But I nearly failed on my promise to finish every race I start - this was a tough Half Marathon (and the 10K and 5K were no slouches). It was easily the toughest race I've done, including the Full Marathons.
First, we start with a picture of my feet. Sorry. (As a warning for sensitive readers, there will be another picture towards the end, and it will be FAR more disgusting.) Last Thursday, Zombie Runner (the most interesting trail runner shop around) held a foot blister clinic. I tend to get blisters on longer events, or very hill-infested events where I try to do some running. Based on that, I picked up some Kinesio tape and put it on my feet on Friday night. I'll tell you later how it turned out ("great" for those with short attention spans or who are determined to not see the other foot picture).
Brazen had promised cool weather (the Bay Area had went through a heat wave earlier in the week, so this was great news). Diane is dressed for snow. She did the 10K, so I didn't see her again until I finished. (I had, in a wildly optimistic moment, mentioned that I would probably catch up with her since both of our races were to finish on the same trails. She is still laughing at me for that.)
This was at the first Half Marathon aid station. Later I heard how much of a stud the guy slinging the water was - there was a bit of confusion which meant that while all the aid station stuff had been delivered the previous day, nobody was there to set it up. So The Stud, who was volunteering as the course sweeper (the guy that goes over the course, removing the ribbons and signs and any left over bodies after the last runner has gone through - he does the race as a sort of housekeeper), took off once the Half started and managed to beat all but four runners to the aid station. Amazing.
There were many cows around the course. In this picture, careful readers will notice that there is a calf, standing behind its mother, nursing. Mother cow was not happy with me for taking this picture. She mooed loudly and I took off.
Shortly after the second aid station, there was this tree blocking the trail. It was challenging to fight your way through, but a nice break to the routine.
It was shortly after this, a little after the 7 mile marker, that I started to realize that I was not doing very well. I was very tired after covering only one of three significant hills. I struggled up the second hill, and by the time I was starting down it towards the third hill, I realized that I was not going to be able to finish. There are two common terms for what happened to me: bonking and hitting the wall. I don't really know the difference, but this was a feeling I had never had before.
The good thing was that soon, just after mile 9, there was a shortcut to get back to the start area, making it easy to call it a day there.
The only problem was that also at that point was the next aid station. And at that aid station was Coach Paul, the guy who for nearly two years has dragged me from a couch potato to someone that loves trail races. And I knew Paul would want me to finish.
That's him, standing at the gate, ready to drag me on. I rested a bit, took some salt tablets (I was pretty well hydrated, but hadn't been eating enough, especially not enough salty stuff). Paul, who is currently recovering from pneumonia and had been manning the 5K turnaround point, walked me to the top of this last hill.
Here is Paul, my daughter Danni (who was on the course taking pictures), and a little girl (to the left) that loves the idea that she will be able to whip this old guy up that hill.
It was hard and slow going up that hill, but with Paul's encouragement and patience, I made it to the last aid station. At this point, there were 2.5 miles left, mostly downhill. There was nothing for it but to finish. The aid station workers were fantastic, and were eager to see me make it to the finish line. (In part, no doubt, to not wanting to have to carry me down the hill.) And I was off.
I kept going, even managing to jog short bits as I started to smell the finish line, and then saw Danni. She had climbed up the hill to see how I was doing. She knew how close I had been to calling it quits, and wanted to make sure I was still on my feet.
This is the picture she took of me. As you can see, the "on my feet" answer was "just barely."
And I made it! Diane was at the finish line holding the newest member of the Brazen family, with Mrs. Brazen looking on.
Diane, by the way, managed to not only finish her 10K race strong, but to also get third place in her age group.
Danni with Marie, a Brazen regular (a Brazen Hussy?), posing with a pocket kleenex holder she made for Danni. I swear, these races are like one large family get together.
The three of us posing with the new Brazen Baby (who is only a couple of weeks old).
Sorry for this picture, but I just wanted to show how the Kinesio tape held up for the race. It was a great success - it was such a relief that, on top of everything else, foot blisters were not a problem. (Yes, there was a bit of dirt out on the trail.)
Here is the front of the shirt, the bib, and the medal. All awesome as usual.
And the back of the shirt - I love the elevation profiles. Those Brazen people are very clever.
That's about it. While this wasn't a particularly fun event for me, it was a success, due mostly to Coach Paul and the volunteers that dragged me back from the near-dead. And certainly most other runners had a great, if challenging, time.
That's it - move along...