We had to make a choice.
There was a Half Marathon in San Jose that would be a lot of fun with bands sprinkled around the course. When I was a cheerleader there last year I realized that Mrs Notthat would love the San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon.
But there was also this Urban Cow Half Marathon in Sacramento ("A Race Like No Udder!") that would be a lot of fun with bands sprinkled around the course. Even though I had never been a cheerleader at this race, I knew Mrs Notthat and The Boy would both love it. (Mrs Notthat because it was much cheaper and still had the element of music along the course, and The Boy because it meant he could see his sweetie, The Big Wind.)
The thing that swung the decision firmly in the direction of Sacramento were the cowbell finisher medals. How can any race compete with that?
On Saturday afternoon we headed up to Sacramento to pick up our bibs, shirts, and timing chips for the next day's race, then headed north to Marysville (motto: "We know it looks like Kansas, but trust is, you really are still in California") to stay with The Big Wind and her family.
TBW works at a shelter where a few weeks earlier, someone had left a herd of very fresh kittens on their doorstep. So TBW ended up keeping them at her place so she could bottle feed them and get them to an adoptable age. Yes - the kittens were absurdly cute and I am stunned we didn't end up with one or four riding back home with us.
The next morning we all headed to downtown Sacramento. It turns out there were about 4000 other people that thought a cowbell medal sounded like a good idea. The plan was for Mrs Notthat, The Boy, and I to do the Half Marathon while The Big Wind would do the 5K. This changed a bit when The Boy started having stomach issues and sadly (wink wink, nudge nudge) had to do the 5K with TBW.
The obligatory porta pottie-picture. There were a lot of these along the course, and early on, they all had lines like this.
One of the bands along the course. There were probably 5 official bands plus a few unofficial ones - they were all fun though.
We spent a lot of time wandering through neighborhoods, and I loved how many people were out in their driveway cheering us on.
I love the "Caution Watch For Pole" sign in the middle of this picture. The course was all on pavement, although there was a nice stretch along the river where you could run beside the pavement on dirt if you so chose. (I so chose.)
We were told that at one point we would be passing close to the state capital building. This wasn't it.
I completely missed the capital building, but fortunately Ultra Woof had her camera, and since she is a better tourist than me, got this picture of it. How in the world could I have missed this? (I overheard a LOT of people saying they too had missed it. You had to look the opposite way you were running to see it, which is why so many missed it.)
It was nearly impossible to miss the many cow-based cheerleaders along the course though.
There was one short out-and-back stretch and I had hoped to see Mrs Notthat there. She didn't start with me since she spent a LOT of quality time in the porta-pottie line at the start area. Here she was though, just a few minutes behind me.
A side note: As you can see it was sunny. Sunny + Sacramento = HOT. Usually. But not on this day - the weather was perfect for this race.
My favorite stretch of the trail, along the river with optional dirt to run on.
This was a first for me - an arch telling you that you still had half a mile to go. (Sporting one of the many cow puns along the course.)
A surprise to us was that Yram (not her real name and needing a fun nickname) also did the race and turned in a great time.
A total non-surprise was that Einre (not his real name and also in need of a nickname) did the race and finished with a smile on his face.
And then of course there was Ultra Woof (does not need a nickname), with her superior tourist abilities (I stole four pictures from her) and amazing talent for adding stress to the beginning of a race.
The happy owners of new cowbell medals. After a fine meal at an upscale burger joint, we headed back to Marysville to drop off The Big Wind and pick up our bags and such.
And give The Boy one last chance to bottle feed a kitten. THEY WERE SO CUTE!!!
So, how did it go? I was happy. Both Mrs and I set PRs with our times. (Not that the USA Olympic Committee should be taking notice. Yet.) I bought a bonus cowbell to give to Weird Haired Mom who was unable to come to the race. (It was embarrassingly hard to hand it over though.) I loved the finish line area - it sounded like a huge herd of cows wandering around a field with all the clanging cowbells.
The race was a blast. The course was fun, there were lots of water stations (no food on the course though), and it seemed like everyone in Sacramento was either in the race or standing on the side cheering. The only negative was that they had no Half shirts in my size or the next size down - I had to settle for a 5K shirt. (Seriously, I can't complain too much - I've already gotten about 30 shirts from races so far this year and my closet deserves a break.)
Maybe next year we will try the San Jose Rock and Roll race. Or maybe we need to get a second cowbell medal.
You can never have too much cowbell. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)
That's it - Moooove along...
PS: You can see a lot more pictures here.