Last year at Brazen's Wildcat race, my brain's inner GPS malfunctioned and my Half Marathon became a bit unscripted. So I was looking forward to this year and getting to do the course properly. Unfortunately, a commitment that required The Blog and Mrs Notthat to be cleaned up and in spiffy clothes by 1:30 meant we had to back off and do shorter races - her the 5K and me the 10K. (An alternative was for us to just get faster - a LOT faster - but that wasn't likely. Yet.)
Earlier this week, Weird Haired Mom presented me with this mud-themed hat that says "Ultra Runner." (She admitted to finishing it up while running on the treadmill. Kids; what are you going to do?) It was a bit ironic that my first race after getting it was going to be my second 10K (although at 10.4 miles, it was an Ultra-10K; my only other race this short was my very first trail race - the Brazen New Years race back in 2010).
One of the first things that happened was that we finally got to meet Hteb (not her real name), who we had "met" by reading her blog post from the Diablo Trails Challenge race.
Her son Bubba (not his real name either) was wearing the opposite of barefoot running shoes. Given the ruts and cow-hoof created potholes that parts of the trail had, these boots would have been wise footwear.
We were joined by Hteb's husband, Nairb (not his...oh never mind), who was also doing the 10K. There are two notable things about this picture: notice the sunshine - this was our second sun-infested race in a row; and notice that Mrs Notthat is already, before 8 AM, peeling off her jacket.
A few minutes later and the long sleeved shirt was also gone. Can it really be true that summer has arrived?
I took up my normal spot at the back of the pack once the 10K started. Here we see the real runners out way ahead of me (so much of the trail was tree-free that I got to be reminded quite often how far ahead of me the other runners were - tiny specks flying up the hills and careening between the hoof prints) while Brazen Hussy Eriam guards a shortcut.
This was the only real mud on the trail, and it wasn't much. I had to work pretty hard to get some to splash up on my leg.
The clear weather made for some fantastic views. Every hill climb was rewarded with scenes like this. The cows were clearly enjoying watching us navigate the hoof prints.
The hills were not particularly steep, but the second one on the 10K was relentless and particularly good at tricking you into thinking it was just about over before springing another 300 foot climb on you.
From about the 2 mile point of her race, Mrs Notthat running UP THE HILL. Granted, it was for the camera (you HAVE to run for the camera), but still, this is impressive. And note the view behind her. Brazen posted a lot of great pictures from this race.
I had three goals for today (two were long shots though):
1) Beat Mrs Notthat and WHM back to the finish line (the 5K race started 30 minutes after the 10K race, which gave me a long head start and Mr Brazen a bit of a headache when he tried to remember why he set it up that way).
2) Not let any Half Marathoners finish before me (they started 15 minutes before me and had to cover more than twice the distance).
3) Beat my last 10K time (which should be pretty easy since I only walked that first race and I was recovering from a cold to boot).
Above we see the blur that is WHM about 30 seconds ahead of me. Oh well, at least I should be beating Mrs Notthat in.
This is WHM, who had a terrible time with her asthma during this race (this spring has not been kind to allergy sufferers), caught on camera running towards the finish line.
And then I was passed by half runner Werdna, who worked with me at a moist Bay Breeze aid station earlier this year. (He ended up winning the Half by three seconds. As he flew past me, he slowed to talk a bit about how it was going, the weather, and how the Giants will do this year. If he had lost this race because of that, I would have felt awful.)
As it turned out, only two Half Marathoners finished before me, so I didn't feel too bad (and they had to set course records to do it).
The Blog running towards the finish line. It's a miracle I didn't fall after striking this pose.
Once I finished, I headed to the side so that I could get a picture of Mrs finishing. Except she had already long since finished, had made a bathroom run, and was talking trash with Nairb (who also had long ago finished his 10K).
Between Mrs Notthat and I, we have several "winners" medals for finishing within the top three in our age group. In each case, we "won" because there were only three in our age group (it's good to be in an unpopular age group!). She broke that tradition today, and got second in her group by beating three others! She finished 55th out of 100! This is so stunning and cool.
I did end up setting a 10K PR for me, but still finished last in my age group (80th out of 109 total). Mrs and I both remarked at how odd it was to do a short race - when I hit mile 5, it finally dawned on me that there was only about a mile and a half left to go.
A benefit of finishing early is that we should be able to visit with and cheer on the many race buddies we have developed while doing these events, but sadly, we couldn't hang around and had to take off; for those I didn't get to say "hi" too - HI! and WELL DONE!
The next Brazen race is a flat, fast, and paved Hellyer. Which means it's another volunteer opportunity for me, but a fun race for WHM and the grandkids, who will be doing the 10K.
That's it - move along...
PS: I put up some more of my pictures, along with snarky comments, here.