Sunday, June 5, 2011

Once summer finally does get here...

...we will likely look back on days like this with envy. For now though, sun and warmth sound awfully good.

Mrs Notthat, Weird Haired Mom, Needs Cool Name, and I all went to the Brazen Nitro Trail race on Saturday. All week long the weather professionals had been saying it was going to rain a LOT on Saturday, but having lived in this area for so many years, it was really hard to believe that was possible. It's June, and it never rains in June here. For once, the weather professionals were right.

Since NCN was volunteering, we had to show up pretty early, so all of us ended up helping with the Race Headquarters setup.

Mrs Notthat covering a table before cutting up a bunch of fruit. Note that it was raining pretty steady at this time.

WHM, living up to her name, helping to pass out shirts.

Mrs Notthat and Nivek (not his real name) heading out as the Hiker Half Division. I started with the other Half runners 30 minutes later. My goal was to catch up to these two as quick as possible, maybe before the halfway point.

The last time you saw the two on the left was at a sunny Hellyer aid station. Today Nosaj and Ydnic (not their real names; Anwahs was around somewhere, probably trying to get someone hydrated) were cashing in their free race (as was I) to be here. (They are actually standing in the bathroom line: sadly, being a former volunteer does not get you cuts in line.) Also, the trash bag look was very popular today (they are generally temporary and intended to keep you dry early on, and are easily discarded once you no longer need them - lots of people kept theirs for the whole race though).

Once we started, we were led by Brazen Hussy Eiram through the bonus loop the Half Marathoners had to do at the start. The course was about half in trees (mostly great smelling, but oddly creaky eucalyptus) and half on open ground. There was a fair amount of pavement, a lot of gravel roads, and some pretty good dirt trails.

Eiram (no bunny ears today) sending us on our way down the main trail.

The trail followed the bay at the start. You could look across to try to see the hills to the west; if you could see them (as you can here, sort of), that meant the rain was slowing down, and for the first half of the race, it wasn't too bad. On my second lap though, you couldn't see the hills at all, and sure enough, the rain shortly picked up a lot.

Heading in to the first aid station. Despite the trees, there was a LOT of wind out here. Note the canopy - it did not have much longer to live.

The race was a 10K course with two physical aid stations, but was laid out such that you hit both of them twice. For the Half Marathon, you made two laps of the course, so we visited each aid station four times - eight aid station opportunities in all!

The Half runners also had many opportunities to see the start/finish area (and the nice dry tents and hot chocolate and, well, it really does not help to dwell on such things - so close but so far).

There was one section of trail that turned into a pond. (Once the rain started back up a bit later, this pond started bordering on lake status, and several trails became creeks.)

This is the second aid station - a lot less wind than the first one, but still a lot of rain and cold.

NCN taking pictures of the runners coming up to the second aid station.

For such a small area, there are a LOT of trails in Point Pinole Park. Normally, flour markings make it obvious what to do at each intersection, but all the rain erased a lot of the markings, although you could often still see them. (There were also lots of ribbons, which the rain could not ruin, although the wind took its best shot.) I heard later that some people missed turns, which you could do and end up not even knowing it had happened since shortly you would end up back on a ribbon-marked trail.

Finally, just before the 10 mile marker, I caught up to the Hiker Half Division.

There weren't many truly muddy areas of trail, so I had to make the best of those I found.

By the time I made my second lap through the first aid station, the canopy had become an ex-canopy; a twisted and broken pile of rubble. The volunteers at the aid station though were still perky and on top of things. (And for the record, I will give you guys cuts in the bathroom line at the next race - you were amazing!)

NCN took this great picture of Mrs Notthat, splashing (!) through a puddle. (Mrs is normally very careful to avoid unnecessary mud or puddles, but when someone points a camera at you, your strategy can change. This is an awesome picture!)

Not to be outdone, The Blog, who is not careful at all when it comes to mud and puddles, did some splashing oh his own.

And that's about it. My PR for a Half Marathon is on this course, and I had hopes to setting a new one today, but I could not get the proper mojo flowing for this to happen. As it was, my 2:46 finish was better than I had thought I would get back when I started my second lap. It was fun to get to hang with Mrs Notthat for the last three miles or so.

I can't say this was my most fun race ever - I am SO over running in the rain, plus I managed to drown my camera towards the end - but it wasn't the worst either. And a lot of that credit goes to the whole Brazen family and all the volunteers that really went all out for this race - the conditions were awful, but they made the best of it (the new heavy duty tents were very welcome).

Mrs Notthat and I have to miss next week's Brazen Trailquake race (which is really too bad since this is a great park and course, and likely will have great weather) as we will be in Colorado doing a trail race near my parents place.

A bit frighteningly, this storm is headed east - hopefully it will have passed through Colorado before Saturday. I'm not sure I'm up for another swim like that.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see more pictures I took here.


DAK said...

That is a truly great photo of Mrs. NotThat. She is channeling her internal Sharapova.

mary ann said...

I sure admire you guys! Have a great trip...