Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sure, you could drive to the summit...

...but in what way would that be fun?

Mrs Notthat and a bunch of running friends did the Coastal Diablo trail race this morning. This had all the makings of a really tough run:

• Mt Diablo (Swedish, roughly translates to "Delightful Mountain") is known for very hot temperatures this time of year. After last weekend, we anticipated the worst. (Spoiler alert: it was actually quite pleasant in the morning. Those doing the longer distances though, almost for sure had to deal with heat.)

• There was a bit of serious climbing involved.

You go uphill for 6.6 miles. Then you turnaround and come back, going downhill for 6.6 miles. The arrows show where the aid station was. Total climbing to the summit of Mt Delightful was 3420 feet. The elevation didn't bother me so much as the relentlessness of it - I'd never done a course that wasn't a mix of up and down.

• It was the start of tarantula season.

This was a positive for me since I'm pretty sure tarantulas keep the rattlesnake population down. I never saw one, but Hteb (not her real name) alertly noticed one that her husband, Nairb (not his real name either), thought might make a wonderful pet. Hteb was able to convince him otherwise. (I love that these two each had a camera with them! More tourist runners!)

(I'm not sure whose finger that is, but it's not mine.)

• I'm a little directionally challenged this early in the morning. We are on time, heading east on 580 so that we can go north on 680. When I saw a sign saying "Nevada State Line 10 Miles", I figured I might have missed a turn. We ended up driving a bonus of 20 miles and heard the race start just as we pulled into the parking lot. So we started about 5 minutes late.

But we managed to start the race, and that's all that really mattered. Well, Mrs Notthat managed to start the race - I was stuck IN A LINE AT THE MEN'S BATHROOM! What is up with that?

It took me a while to catch up, but I finally managed to see Mrs Notthat ahead of me. She did the 4 mile race and my goal was to catch her before she hit her two mile turnaround.

I did, thanks in large part to Nad (not his...oh surely you get this by now) who lives nearby and wandered over to make fun of my gaiters, but also paced me nicely (mostly he just kept me from getting lost, and made sure I knew that Mrs Notthat was WAY ahead of me). Mrs Notthat hit the turnaround and flew back to the finish, with Nad trying to keep up.

The relentless uphill was often only a fairly moderate climb, but once in a while it threw in some steep bits just to make it interesting. This woman trains on Pikes Peak in Colorado. At the end of this race she declared it the toughest race she has ever done. (She stole my heart because she also had a camera and was taking a lot of pictures. Another running tourist!)

Surprisingly I managed to catch up to the speedy Hteb and Nairb at about mile 4 or so. This was their first trail Half Marathon - they knew it was a doozy, but it was very close to their home and, really, if I could do this race, how hard could it be? (Note that they each have their cameras out. Yay!)

Weird Haired Mom (my daughter) was at the aid station directing traffic (there were also 10 mile, Full Marathon, and 50K distances going on). The aid station was a life saver - lots of water and such, but also PBJ sandwiches, potatoes, and a lot of other good things to eat.

And another surprise - Arabrab (with a novel way to display her bib) was also at the aid station. Don't worry, she ended up soundly beating me.

Leaving that aid station there is just 1.6 more miles of climbing, and then it's all (mostly) downhill from there. How hard could another 1.6 miles of climbing be? Well, if you run across the feared Endorphin Dude, especially when he is wielding his chopstix, it can be very hard.

Actually, this bit of the course was a blast - steep at times, but pretty single-track with some mind-numbingly challenging technical bits.

Once I got to the top, I thought I saw a shortcut.

Ultra Woof talked me out of it though - some bizarre logic involving trail race etiquette and how hard it would be to scrape me off the cliff.

I like this shot of Hteb, showing her lack of fear of cliffs. And that really is what the trail looked like at this point.

Then I saw this picture and realized that I'M NOT LOOKING WHERE I'M GOING AND THERE IS A CLIFF THERE!

Of course Einre was there, steadily breaking the trail to his will as usual. And grinning from ear to ear as usual.

I don't know who this is, but it's an example of how cool the trail was here.

As soon as we hit the downhill on the return, Hteb and Nairb took off - they were in their element. I managed to make it back to the aid station just as they were leaving. WHM is showing great style in displaying the course map. I think the heat was getting to her.

There were a lot of stunning views along the course. This was very different than the golden hills of last week.

Once I finished I caught up with the others. (I told Hteb that I wasn't taking the picture until she was taking a bite of her soup, so she finally did. Sometimes it's tough to be the paparazzi.)

Mrs Notthat showing off her third place age group medal (!) and the great water bottle she won at one of the raffles they have sporadically during the race.

The race was a blast - much more fun than I had expected. The course was great and the whole thing was run very well.

And it really was a lot better than driving to the summit.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see a lot more pictures I took here.


Beth said...

We had a blast out there! I am so glad you caught up to us...we would still be doing the uphill had you not set such a wicked climbing pace!

Congrats again to Diane, you're going to need to get her a bigger hook to hang her medals on soon!

DAK said...

Diane is so thin now. She's ready to be a Hollywood actress but then she'd have to pose at every bend. So sorry about IDT, but -- you could get yourself a nice tarantula. I can barely even write that -- they give me the serious creeps.

Giants win by one over a fading Arizona. Zito relieves and gets the win in the final game. He is then traded to wherever Renteria is.