Sunday, January 30, 2011

No coyotes, but a few hills and lots of fun

Mrs Notthat and I did the Brazen Coyote Hills Half Marathon event today. It was the usual well-run Brazen event with great weather, a great course, great volunteers, and great after-race food. But would there be coyotes? There was a huge turnout (I got 17th in my age group - there's usually not more than 7 or 8 in my age group, and I'm usually 7th or 8th).

Mrs Notthat did the Hiker Half Marathon start. We tried to guess when I would catch her (my start was a little over an hour later - and the answer was "never").

There were a few more people that did the normal Half Marathon start. (It wasn't always this crowded. It thinned out a bit after about a mile.)

"Is the course paved, dirt, or gravel?" How about part of it being wood.

The first aid station. There were two sponsored aid stations, and both were great.

We spent a lot of time following the water's edge. This is San Francisco Bay, just north of the Dumbarton bridge.

The second aid station. These people were great, with the following signs as you left them.

The second time I came through this aid station, this is how I (well, and all the other runners) were greeted. Link to 21 second movie.

The closest thing to mud on the course. I would bet money that whoever marked the course ("Hi Eiram"- not her real name) dumped a bucket of water here just to give us something to dodge.

This volunteer had the difficult job of trying to sort out the mass of runners, directing them based on the race they were in (there were also 5K and 10K races) and how tired they looked. (Of course I'm kidding! Everyone was tired at this point and she showed no mercy!)

Only the Half Marathoners got this fun little rock-infested hill to go over.

And only Half Marathoners got to be directed by Weird Haired Mom (who weirdly currently has fairly normal hair). She's the one sitting here - she took a LOT of pictures that I'll be posting later.

The Big Tease. The Half Marathon required you to make two laps of the course. The finish line is so close but so far away...

I finally saw Mrs Notthat again, but she was still more than a mile ahead of me and only a mile from the finish. I didn't even come close to catching her. Coach Luap (not his real name either) would have been thrilled by her performance.

And here comes Einre (not his... oh you get this by now surely). The guy is amazing - not fast but the dude covers amazing distances every weekend. (He's also talking me into the Mt Diablo 50K in a couple of months. This might not ed well.)

On the coyote front, I spotted this, but decided it likely was not a coyote.

Up the little bonus hill again - and even better, this time it means we are nearly done with the race.

WAIT! Are those coyotes? Probably not.

Up where Weird Haired Mom was trying to convince runners to go the right way as they neared the race end (or, earlier, the race halfway point), there were a bunch of birds chowing down on the flour arrows on the trail. One arrow was nearly completely gone.

And that's about it. It was a blast. The next Brazen event is the Bay Breeze, which also goes along the bay's edge. I'll be a volunteer for that one though, since it is a bit too straight and flat for my tastes. Kenyans will love it though.

In the meantime, Mrs Notthat asked what other events there are around here before then. Oh boy!

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Warm weather and grandkids

What a difference a week or two makes. We are now in a warm period that should last at least until February. Add in a smidgen of grandkids, some cardboard tubes, and you get some fun outdoor pictures.

But first we have The Boy, again getting ready to add some improvements to Hey Jude the Jeep. Among other things, he is adding these heavily reinforced hubcaps (or something like that).

Riley decided it was time to get serious with those old cardboard tubes that have somehow survived two winters and everything the grandkids have dished out.

Verifying the seismic safety of the structure.

Darci using her tongue to help with precision tube alignment.

Shortly after getting everything just right, it was decided that an elevated layout was the way to go.

Mrs Notthat took advantage of the nice weather and did some weeding. Her and Darci also picked a bunch of carrots, which the two grandkids proceeded to eat before anyone else had a chance.

Old Dog Teddy checking out the embarrassingly neglected garden. It's tempting to start working on this thing (the garden, not ODT), but it's still winter and bad weather is surely still to come.

Darci practicing using her new baton. ODT wisely kept a wide berth.

Riley explaining the basic concept of "I was here first!" Note the usage of his tongue to add a bit of charm to his explanation. (Shortly after this picture, Darci explained the basic concept of "I'm older and bigger so IT'S MY TURN!")

The Boy starting the disassembly process of Sexy Sadie the Jeep's front end. New axels, u-joints, some random gears, and who knows what else should make this thing perkier than ever.


That's it - move along...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pirates, princesses, perky pilots, and one-eyed cars

This has been one of those weeks, which works out to this blog's favor since it resulted in a few bloggable events.

Riley the Serious Pirate has captured Darci the Queen and Camren the Princess, neither of which seem to understand their peril.

OK, maybe Riley is not such a Serious Pirate after all.

The Boy's cat took the Pirate, Queen, and Princess seriously though, and hid on top of her house.

And even though it was raining out, Old Dog Teddy wisely stayed out of their way too. (He's under the awning, so it's dry, but the cold, damp air couldn't have felt good to his tired old bones.)

Mrs Notthat "volunteered" ("was pressed into service because she has a van that seats eight") to drive some of Darci's first grade class to the Hiller Aviation Museum. We have never been to this place, even though it is very close to us (in San Carlos).

Darci the Pilot explaining how a bag of pretzels can be considered an in-flight meal. (It never ceases to amaze me how complicated these cockpits are. Almost as complicated as Facebook's privacy settings.)

Darci told me that they did not leave the keys in it. And she asked about the Pink Angels - surely there are Pink Angels, right?

And lastly, we got the repaired Corolla back yesterday. They appear to have done a great job (although I just noticed they added their license plate frame to complete the job). The one issue is that there is a bit of a difference between the two headlights - the old one on the right is suffering from seven years of wear and tear, and is less than optimal. The new one on the right, well, is new. $200 will make the old one new again. (We've tried using a variety of things to polish the old lights, but there is no way it will ever look right compared to the other one.)

Serious Pirate Riley thinks we should just put an eye patch on it. Arrrrrrr!

That's it - move along...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Legos, views, orchids, and a perky Jeep

Miscellaneous flim flam from the last week or so.

We lead off with a picture of the grandkids, guaranteed to bring a smile! Mrs Notthat has an eye for picking up Lego sets at garage sales and such, so we have a great selection of Lego things that the kids love to scatter all over. (There is an "action" piece that Riley uses to launch pieces across the room. These pieces are later found by anyone daring to walk around barefoot.)

Those of you that wonder what sort of weirdness drives Mrs Notthat and I to go on long, often muddy and hill-infested hikes should look at this picture. It wasn't what you would call warm (well, unless you are in Colorado right now), but it was a fine day for walking along the coast for 8.5 miles.

A consequence of these sorts of hikes is that our footwear gets a bit muddy. So on Sunday I finally got around to hosing everything off. Hopefully these will dry out by next Saturday. And be caked with mud again by Saturday evening.

We have three orchids along the kitchen window sill. Each looks good on its own, but they've never done this before - all bloomed at the same time. The one on the right is a pansy orchid, the other two are purple. And none are edible.

The big news yesterday was that The Boy got Let It Be the Jeep up and running after working on it for a bit over a month (loyal readers will remember that its rear-end self-destructed back in early December). Here he is taking it out for it's first test drive.

Extremely alert readers will note the front end of the red Corolla to the left of the drive way. While Rocky Raccoon the Jeep was under the weather, The Boy drove this car to work. One day a few weeks ago, a soon to be ex-employee very enthusiastically backed a customer's SUV out of an oil change bay and directly into the front of the Corolla.

Today the Corolla goes into the shop for a week of loving care and attention. Hopefully it will also get some counseling since it now cringes anytime it is left alone in a parking lot.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starting the New Year in a dirty way

Mrs Notthat, Luap (not his real name), and The Blog took part in today's Brazen Racing New Year's Run out at Lake Chabot. The forecast was grim with rain predicted for much of the morning, but somehow the Brazen people were able to deflect the brunt of the storm onto LA or Portland - anywhere but here since we ended up with only a few light sprinkles.

That doesn't mean it hadn't rained the day or night before the race though - the whole Bay Area has lately had a Seattle feel to it, weather-wise. That meant there was a bit of mud. For runners new to trail racing, there was a LOT of mud. For runners used to Brazen winter trail races, there was a LOT of mud, but not as much as some of the other races, like, say, the Mt Diablo Trails Challenge back in November (my write up of that fun day).

The Lake Chabot park does not allow any kind of amplified sound, which in the past has meant no stirring music to get us going. While I was taking the goody bags up to the car, I saw these guys tuning up. Heavy metal music that needs no amplification!

When it was time for the runners to line up for the race start, the trumpeter played that thing that's played before horse races, and once the race started, they played the theme from Rocky (I think - I may be wrong, but it was one of those songs designed to get your blood - and your legs in this case - pumping).

I liked this shot looking back at the start/finish area, with the trees that have not yet worked out that it's winter.

Mrs Notthat did the 10K. She ended up finishing 17 seconds over breaking two hours - I suspect she dawdled a bit at the aid stations.

I did the Half Marathon. We were warned that some of the flour markings might have washed away with the rain, but most were still pretty legible. Like this one that sent us up a bonus hill, added to the course since the last time we ran it.

You can tell how muddy the trail is by how many people try to avoid going down the middle of it.

There were a couple of places where, no matter how talented you were at puddle and mud avoidance, you were going to get muddy. (One of the women in this picture said a surprisingly appropriate and well deserved bad word, then was relieved to know I wasn't shooting video.)

I wasn't sure how to take this: was I going too fast (HA!) or was it calling me a name? (This was painted on the road, and I'm sure it's aimed at bicyclists since this was on a downhill with lots of blind curves. It had nothing to do with the race, but I chose to be offended anyway.)

Today's course was billed as 50% asphalt and 50% dirt trails. I heard more than one person wonder why all the dirt parts seemed to be uphill and filled with mud.

Luap starts out with the Hikers Division. We try to work out at what point I will overtake him (and I ALWAYS overtake him). I figured today I would pass him at around mile 10, but he was nowhere to be seen. I finally saw him coming up out of that mean little out-and-back near the end and he was perky and moving fast. At first I thought I could still overtake him if I pushed it a bit more, but coming back out of that mean little out-and-back I realized that I had no chance. And I failed. And I will NEVER hear the end of it.

The Blog slogging towards the finish line. I was tired but in pretty good shape. For me. The only reason I was running was the camera. And the smell of pie and ice cream!

Mrs Notthat and Luap having a good laugh at my expense.

I finished with a fairly respectable time (again, for me). I was tired but had a LOT of fun with this race.

See this muddy (and very slippery) trail through the finish line? A few hours earlier it was a nice green lawn, just like what you see to the side. The only person I saw fall the whole day was a guy doing his best victory celebration as he crossed the finish line, only to slip and slide spectacularly across the timing mats. In any case, I really hope the Lake Chabot people will let us back after doing this to their nice green lawn.

Here are Mrs Notthat's things (on the left) and mine. In the immortal words of Billy Crystal in Princess Bride, "I've seen worse." (One thing worth mentioning, after that Mt Diablo mudfest I brought up earlier, Mrs and I each picked up a pair of Gore-Tex, high-top Montrail shoes. These things made going through the slippery mud and puddles much easier than with normal shoes. Pure gold!)

And that's about it. I liked the course changes they made since they added a bit more elevation change and a bit more dirt trail. I liked that I never fell down. I loved the pie and whipped cream at the finish line. The shirts and medals were first class, as usual.

I will try to shoot more video next time though, especially around the mud puddles.

That's it - move along...