Saturday, December 4, 2010

Racing through the redwoods

Mrs Notthat and I participated in the PCTR Woodside trail race this morning. This was our first race with this group and it turned out great. While a bit low on frills, they came through with all the important things: excellently selected trails that were well marked (I heard of a few people missing a turn here or there, but I think most had no problems); great aid stations with lots of great food to choose from and wonderful volunteers to help you out; and chili at the finish line.

What really prompted us to sign up for this race was its closeness - we generally drive around an hour to get to most of our local races. It took us about 15 minutes to get to this one. While we are very familiar with the trails of Wunderlich Park (which the 50K people dipped into), we've never tried the trails at Huddart Park, in part because of the $5 entry fee, but mostly because we think of this park as a picnic place and had no idea there were so many great trails in it.

A drawback of being so close is that we got there very early (note the empty picnic tables). Mrs Notthat is looking very confident at this point.

Me with my game face on. Mrs Notthat didn't like my game face.

 So I smiled.

What's a trail race blog post without a bathroom picture. This was shortly before our race was to start. It was lightly, but steadily raining at this point. Mrs Notthat did the 17K race and I did the 35K race, but we both started at the same time (and were the last group to start).

I absolutely love narrow, single-track trails, and this race was filled with them. But shortly after the start, there was a bit of a bunching-up issue when the trail went from wide to narrow. Our patience was rewarded with lots of great trails after that though.

The rain did not last long and the trails were perfect. This was the only stretch of mud that could not easily be avoided (well, you could avoid it by not doing the 50K or 35K races!). My shoes giggled as I splashed through this.

Most of the trails were like this - awesome.

One of the aid stations. These were great, well stocked, and filled with enthusiastic volunteers.

While Mrs Notthat was waiting for me to finally finish my race, she noticed a couple of deer wandering through the park. I never did see deer out on the course (although I spent most of my time watching the trail, looking for rocks, roots, and banana slugs, so I probably just missed them).

Finally I arrived at the finish line. My time was about 4:55 or so for 21.75 miles with nearly 3000 feet of climbing (most of it was reasonably gentle climbing though). Since I'd never done a trail race this long, I wasn't sure what sort of time to expect. Also, I had been fighting a cold for the last two weeks and had been able to do little training. I told Mrs Notthat to expect me to have a just under six hour finish time, but when I made it to the last aid station at just under four hours with four miles to go, I decided to push for a sub-five hour time, and barely got it. This was WAY better than I had any right to expect.

And while the rain went away, it was still pretty cold. Actually, it wasn't so bad early on, although the humidity made me sweat a lot - I had to be careful at the aid stations not to let water drip from the brim of my hat onto the food. But then a cold front moved in, the wind kicked up a bit, and it got downright chilly. These pots of soup and chili were stunningly perfect for the end of this race.

The shirt we got.

This event was a blast - it was so fun to be out with a little over 400 others that braved the cold and moisture just so they could play on these trails. PCTR have a number of events at interesting locations, and we will be trying to add a few of them to our schedule.

And speaking of schedule, next weekend is our Brazen Summit Rock event, just outside of Saratoga. More trails through the redwoods. (And Mrs Notthat is thinking of upgrading to the Half Marathon since this race went reasonably well!)

What a great way to spend a Saturday morning!

That's it - move along...

PS: I posted some other pictures here.

PPS: I originally wanted to do the 50K, but was afraid I wouldn't make their 8 hour time limit or the cut-offs at the aid stations. I figured it up and I would have made the cut-off at the first aid station (by 12 minutes). I likely would not have made the others since there was a LOT more elevation opportunity after that point, but maybe...

PPPS: I just took the bottles out of my hydration belt and saw this. Now how did that get in there?


Mrs. Notthat said...

You forgot to state my stats. I did a 17k (a little over 10 miles) in 3 hrs and 11 mins. It's not great but I did it!

DAK said...

So you ran for almost five hours? And are wishing you could have done eight? Well done, Mr. NotThat and Mrs. NotThat. Sounds like your lives have been taken over by nature and moving your feet through it. I'm wondering is there an end point to this, or are you just having so much fun you'll worry about that later?

notthatlucas said...

Mrs Notthat: Let's wait to see your official time - I suspect you might have been faster than you think.

DAK: I don't know what the end game is. It's a blast to be out there, but there are times when you wonder what possessed you to sign up for such a long race. And then you finish and start thinking that it wasn't so bad, how it was a great accomplishment, and really, how hard could 100 miles be? I was warned that this would be addictive, and the warnings were right. (If things go right, I'll have three events this month! And this wasn't the longest.)

notthatlucas said...

Whoops: Mrs Notthat's time was 3:11:57. Still, not bad for her longest race in several months. My official time was 4:55:52. Neither of us was close to last (time-wise; finisher-wise we weren't that far off though).

NCN (needs cool name) said...

Absolutely fabulous you too rock:)

mary ann said...

Great post, congrats to you both!