Saturday, April 23, 2011

The problem with an island race... that you have to take a boat to get there. For a farm boy from Kansas, this is not an insignificant issue.

Mrs Notthat and I ran today's Coastal Ayala Cove trail race on Angel Island. It had been nearly four years since the last time we had been there. The Boy reminded me last night that I had a very hard time coming down a set of stairs on the trail back then (for some reason, I had forgotten all about that - thanks for reminding me and giving me something else to worry about!)

We showed up at the Tiburon Ferry Dock at around 9:30, for a 10:00 ferry to a 10:50 race starting time. Remarkably civilized! That's Angel Island straight ahead - we will end up circling it twice, with the last time getting us to the top of that mountain in the middle of it.

That's our ferry on the right, and a rescue boat on the left. I would have felt a lot better if there had actually been someone in that rescue boat.

Race Headquarters in kit form. Many of us runners helped carry on a lot of this, and once we survived the crossing to the island, helped carry it to the staging area.

I didn't notice until I looked at the pictures that a lot of life preservers were under that pile of Race Headquarters. As if the boat ride couldn't get any more stressful.

Mrs Notthat and I getting in one last hug before we head off into what will surely be our doom. I then went looking for the life boats.

There they are, but how they expected us to get to them was beyond me. I started looking for the tallest guy there to make friends.

Is this a great race or what! That orange cone is the starting line, and five feet past it is the aid station. (I tried not to linger there too long once the race started, but hydration is the key to a good race.)

There were lots of great wildflowers along the trails.

And lots of great trails. There were no real tendon-snapping climbs even though there was a fair amount of elevation gain. There were those dang stairs though...

Angel Island is infested with stunning views. Since the weather was reasonably clear, we got to spend a lot of time looking at this sort of thing.

And this.

The Stairs. There must have been 100 steps, but I flew down them. Three times (once for each of my loops and a third time after going up to find Mrs Notthat). That is Enirehtak (not her real name), a Canadian with a New Zealand accent. Or something like that. She is smiling because she is nearly done with her 5 mile race.

The finish line for some, but for me this was the halfway point, and I got to head up the toughest of the loops - the Mt Livermore ascent.

As close as we got to seeing a waterfall.

A group of hikers I had passed. When they heard me thundering up behind them, the one at the back yelled out "CAR!" I turned to thank him for not yelling "BUS" or "ELEPHANT" - when I turned back around I smacked my head on a low tree branch. The tree branch appeared to suffer no damage. The Blog's ego, however, may never recover.

I hoped to finish my race before any of the 15 mile runners did, and came close, but ended up being passed by three of them.

The top of Mt Livermore. The cool thing was that it was all downhill from here (granted, some of that was on those dang stairs).

The finish line again - this time for real!

I headed back up the trail, and up those stairs, and found Mrs Notthat storming towards me. She said "Hi" and threw her extra clothes and walking sticks at me and was gone. I then said "Hi" back.

Mrs crossing the finish line. She was way ahead of me by this time - fortunately my camera has a good zoom lens.

A fine post-race lunch: a chicken tostada (mine), garlic fries (hers), and some weird vegi wrap thing (definitely hers).

Mrs Notthat waiting for the ferry back to the mainland. It was getting significantly colder by this point, so all the warm clothes were put back on.

It was an extremely fun day. I got third in my age group, but that was mostly (OK, entirely) due to there only being three people in my age group. There were four in Mrs age group, so she did not get a medal. (I'm still wearing mine, and by tomorrow, will be talking about how I beat out dozens of others for this thing.)

Many thanks to Coastal and their volunteers for putting on such a fine race.

I wonder if Angel Island has an airport though.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see a lot more pictures here.

PPS: There were three distances, each comprised of a mostly unique five mile loop. I thought about doing the 15 mile run, but the first loop was mostly on pavement. In retrospect, I wish I had done it anyway - this island has too many great views to not see them as many times as you can.


DAK said...

Can you really appreciate a view when you're running for your life? So here's the question: a beautiful weekend in September, pennant on the line and you've got Giants-Rockies tickets, but there's also the 25-mile Slog Through the Blackberry Bramble fun run the same day. Tough choice?

mary ann said...

This looks like a GREAT day and my city looks beautiful, my bridge too...