Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two days, two very different races

About a month ago, I decided to sign Mrs Notthat and I up for the Palo Alto Moonlight Run. It was (theoreticaly) the weekend before Brazen Drag-N-Fly and a couple of days before Mrs Notthat headed to spend some quality time with her sister in Maryland. It was perfect.

Until Ulra Woof asked what I was thinking scheduling a 10K the night before a ridiculously challenging Drag-N-Fly. I knew she was wrong, but I checked anyway, and to my horror found out she was right - I had seen the registration cut off date and thought that was the race date.

This meant Mrs Notthat was not going to be able to do the Moonlight Run (Weird Haired Mom stepped in to take her place) and I was going to be really tired for Drag-N-Fly the next day.

The Moonlight 10K race was a lot of fun - my first night race - but had a pinch of bonus excitement in the form of a lightening storm followed by a brief, but drenching rain. Cool surprise - seeing Wel (not his real name) from my old San Jose Fit world out there running (he beat me by a few seconds, and then I lost him in the crowd, sadly).

We all had a great time, including Nairb (not his real name) who faced very stiff competition and ended up getting fourth overall. (Note that Ultra Woof is also there - she's tougher than me so it wasn't quite as surprising seeing her do a race the day before a Half.)

It was nearly 11 PM before we got home and my alarm was set for 4 AM -  not a good night's sleep before such a tough race.

Note: You can see more pictures from the Moonlight race here.

Since WHM was volunteering and I was doing the Hiker Half start, we had to get there early. Very early. It was still dark and the Brazen arch wasn't up yet. This thrilled me since it meant I had a chance to help raise the arch again (trust me - the thrill of a lifetime!), but my body convinced me to make a quick stop at the bathroom first.

By the time I came out, it was up. And soon after that, a blazing sun joined it.

WHM, Yerrk, and Anaid (not their real names) were assigned the first/last aid station. This meant they had to be there very early, before us hikers made it there, and were the last to close. Note the complete lack of shade, except for that awning. And yet they were amazing and enthusiastic and encouraging and life savers - as were all the aid station volunteers wherever we went.

Heading out, this is what faced you from that first aid station. A 1000 foot near cliff.

Looking back wistfully on that aid station while part way up the cliff.

The second aid station could not set up until the Black Diamond Mines park opened their gates - I watched them pull in (I've never seen a VW microbus take corners on two wheels before) and get the table and water set up just before Ultra Woof and I arrived. Keeper the dog made it hard to leave this place. (Well, that and knowing what was ahead of us.)

The lollipop part of the Drag-N-Fly course is a lot of fun, assuming your idea of fun includes very technical single-track trails with tons of elevation. So it was more my idea of fun than UW.

We discovered this mine shaft vent that had cold air pouring out - we politely stood here for awhile letting the faster runners have plenty of room to pass us.

Seriously - this is a challenging section of trail.

Near the top of the climb was the third aid station, staffed with angels to get you hydrated, fed, and cooled off with water poured on your head. It was very hot by now.

From that aid station you head back to the second aid station at the base of the lollipop. It was mostly downhill, but there was some uphill still (naturally). And steps. Way more steps than I remembered.

A real dragonfly!

The scenery was stunning. (No, we didn't have to climb over that rock formation. But I'm sure the Brazen Rabbit tried to make it part of the course.)

I loved this part of the course. I wouldn't have minded doing a second lap, except for the intense heat and my very tired legs.

A very cool thing (literally) is this mine shaft - it's amazing how much cold air streams out of this thing. It was very hard to leave here, but I'm pretty sure it saved a number of runners that needed a bit of a cool down by this point.

We finally made it back to the second aid station, almost an hour before the cutoff. Keeper the dog congratulated us for surviving the toughest part of the course, but reminded us we still had a major hill to go up.

Far from the hardest hill on the course, but by this time, with tired legs and a relentless sun, it was very challenging.

It took a bit but finally we caught a glimpse of the first aid station again. What a great sight, although that meant we now had to climb down that cliff.

Brain freeze! As wet as I would get as these aid stations, by about 15 minutes later I would be dry again.

This picture is a classic - as one of the faster runners came through he called out to get water thrown at him. WHM was more than happy to oblige.

Ultra Woof, Nahom (not his real name), and I all managed to finish the Half, but with shockingly slow times. The Endorphin Dude, Chris Bliss, and a few others weren't quite so lucky (or were smarter) and ended up doing a long 10K.

UW and I showing off our medals. She beat me by about two minutes or so - when she smelled the finish line she took off with a burst of energy that was astonishing.

Mrs Brazen and her wonder kids seemed to enjoy the day, but were happy that it was almost over.

And then the arch came down - the last runner had come in and we could all go find some serious AC.

Most of our group hanging out at a shady table, comparing trail stories.

The shirt, medal, and bib - stunning design as always.

I survived the two races, but not by a lot. They were a lot of fun though, even with the many challenges they provided.

But believe me that I will be a LOT more careful when looking at race dates in the future.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see more pictures I took here. I will be posting more on the Brazen Picassa site later.


mary ann said...

fun photos but those trails look v. difficult ~ when do you sit w/ your Pringles® and watch TV?

Chris said...

Such a crazy course. Too hot for me! I will be doing just the 5k possibly 10k this year!