Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What a difference a year makes

Mrs Notthat and I ran the Coastal Zombie Runner Bay Trail race last year. Or maybe more accurately, swam it. (The post from that event is here.) This year's edition of the race had two surprises for us: It was dry (if nippy, but I'll take nippy over soaked any day); and it was sold out!

Selling out this race was a bit of a surprise for me - they had just held essentially the same race a bit over a month ago, and, while this is a trail race, it's not the kind that takes you through thigh-busting hills and root-filled forests; it's flat with mostly gravel roads for trails (with a fair amount of pavement, if you like that sort of thing).

Well, actually that probably explains why this sold out - a flat race where you don't have to compete with cars with great footing (even if it rains) is pretty attractive to a lot of people. What made it attractive to me was that it was close to where I live (Google helpfully said to allow seven minutes travel time - REALLY close).

So Mrs Notthat, Weird Haired Mom, and I all signed up, all at different distances, with wildly different finishing times, which meant we each drove our own cars the seven minutes to the parking lot. (Normally we all try to carpool to the races since they are usually at far-flung places in the East Bay that Google only vaguely knows about.)

One thing that made today's a race a bit special was that it was the first race for Lehcar (not her real name), on the right in this picture. She is an avid bike rider (she rode her bike to and from this morning's race - heavy sigh...), swimmer (which would have come in handy last year), and recently, trail runner. What she isn't, however, is fond of organized events like this. But fortunately, peer pressure was skillfully applied by her friend Aras (not her real name either), so Lehcar was standing near the start line, shivering with the rest of us.

Weird Haired Mom did the Half Marathon, Mrs Notthat and Lehcar did the 5 mile race.

Einre (not his real name either - sorry for this, but it amuses me) was also there, joining me in the Full Marathon. He was still glowing from his amazing adventure running the New York City Marathon a few weeks ago. He was also eager to share all the new rude words he learned while riding in numerous taxis and such while there.

Nad was there as well. He's smiling because he knows he's about to rip up this Marathon course (spoiler alert: he did).

WHM had an adventurous morning. Apparently she's been hanging with Ultra Woof (who missed the race due to a sick Spammy) a bit too much - she plugged in the address of the Zombie Runner store instead of the Zombie Runner Race and didn't realize her mistake until she was deep in mysterious downtown Palo Alto. She really did not want to do this race - alert readers can detect her slight lack of enthusiasm in this picture.

Lehcar took this picture while waiting for the 5 mile race to start.

The Half and Full Marathon people started together, and as you can see, WHM blazed to an early lead over me. (As you can also see, I haven't quite made it to the start line and I'm already switching to taper mode.)

This is maybe half a mile into the race and WHM still has a lead on me (she's the one in back there). This is typical of what the trails looked like - gravel, wide enough to easily pass (or get passed), and flat.

Shortly after that above picture, I passed WHM. In this picture, I have looped around the finger of a lagoon - that is WHM in pink in front of a bird viewing building. Note the sunshine and calm water - it was quite cold but very still, which made it reasonably pleasant.

The Duck Pond station (and the 5 mile turnaround point) at mile 2.4. This course had several chunks of out-and-back trails, plus those doing the Full Marathon did two laps and ended up visiting this aid station four times.

There were a LOT of water fowl strutting their stuff out there, making for nice viewing while going around this course.

This bike rider politely waited on the side of the trail as we passed.

Remember when I said it was cold? This puddle has ice on it, and this is at about 10 AM.

The "hill." My favorite part of the course.

As I was heading back, still about 3.5 miles from finishing my first lap, Nad came steaming by. He was flying!

With my first lap finished (under three hours, but barely), I had to bypass the glory of the finisher chute and instead turn around and head back out for lap two.

But not before saying "Hi" to Lehcar and congratulating her on finishing her first race in fine style! Look at that smile - it might be because she is having a great time, but it is more likely because she is done and does not have to go back out for another 13.1 miles like I do.

Lehcar did manage to get a picture of me wandering by a row of porta-potties (YAY!) before I headed back out. (You are welcome to those of you that were worried I might forget to include such a glorious picture.)

As I headed back out, WHM flashed me some secret gang sign and smiled, knowing she was nearly done.

I'm at the Bayshore aid station for the second time, mile 19.5, and I'm showing Htenaj (not her real name) how a zombie would look "running" this race. Sadly, this is also how I was looking at this point.

Htenaj and a lady wearing a tree on her head at that aid station. (Htenaj was the course marker and sweeper.) Weirdly, I wasn't dead (ha!) last, so she was hanging out here waiting for Einre and another runner that had accidentally turned the race into an ultra.

We spend some time going past a golf course. I loved this shot with all those geese clogging up the fairway. I suspect the golfers don't love it so much.

Finally I'm at the last aid station - mile 24.5 (Cooley Landing) - manned by a guy that has read my posts and STILL smiled at me! (Mostly though, the smile was because, once I show up, it means the race is nearly over.) Due to a trail closure, this aid station was not at it's normal point, which resulted in the course being about 250 yards short. The cries of anguish over this shortfall were deafening by their absence.

There's a bridge we have to cross to get out to that last aid station (it's an out-and-back, so we cross the bridge four times). As I was heading back, I could hear what sounded like Niagra Falls and saw that there was this man-made waterfall going on. I'm not sure how many times I've been over this bridge, but this was a first for me - it was kind of cool!

And there's the finish line - for real this time! Mrs Coastal is thrilled to see me (race directors are always happy, and mildly surprised, when they don't have to call 911 to deal with me). Note the speed bump on the trail - this is for YOU, you fast runners!

I was thrilled that the Soup Lady was still there - a large cup of hot soup tasted REALLY good after this race. By the afternoon, it had clouded up and the wind started blowing a bit, making it actually feel colder than it was in the morning.

But what about Mrs Nothat? She, of course, was stunning in her 5 mile race. Lehcar took this picture of her heading back after the turnaround. And that's The Persuader, Aras (with the stroller), just ahead of Lehcar and almost at the turnaround.

Mrs not only finished in fine style, she won third in her age group! Pictured with her is Nna (not her real...sigh) who won second in her age group and sent me this picture! The funny thing is that Nna recognized Mrs Notthat from previous posts - it always startles me a bit when someone comes up and, without a hint of malice, says they know us from these posts. I love that! (The downside is that I am HORRIBLE at remembering names, so I often end up smiling and chatting while desperately wracking my brain for clues as to who this is. Please don't take it personal - I'm just not gifted in that way.)

And that's about it. The race was a lot of fun, well organized, well marked, well aid stationed - I can't think of anything to whine about. (I could whine about the cold, but I just think back to a year ago, and that thought goes away fast.)

That's it - move along...

PS: Here is a link to some pictures I took that have a few snarky comments. And here is a link to many more pictures I took of a lot of the runners out on the course and posted to the Coastal site.


Wendell said...

Another excellent race report, Allen. Were you wearing some sort of rocket booster on your back at the start? Looks like Danni was still pulling away...

I really like the Mr/Mrs Coastal titles. And, I'm embarrassed to say, I just figured out names are spelled backwards to protect identity theft.

Great to see you and your family/friends!

DAK said...

I do love that speed bump. I can see the entire race tripping over it, like in a Woody Allen movie, after climbing over mountains and mudding through forests. A huge car chase crash, only without cars.

notthatlucas said...

Wendell - you figured out my super-secret high-tech code! (I get a small kick out of seeing names spelled that way, although Anna and Eve are trouble.)

DAK - I wonder if they counted that speed bump when figuring out the course elevation profile? And at the start of the race, when everyone is jockeying for position, I have to believe more than one person stumbled on that thing.

Mrs. Notthat said...

That bright sun behind you at the start does look like a rocket booster! I love it!!!!! I'll bet you really did have one just to help you get this done faster. I'm kinda glad I only did the 5 miler. I forgot all the out and backs and stuff. I must have ADD I get so bored! Thanks for the post - it was a beautiful day!

mary ann said...

Great post, great photos. Just missing a dog or two, that's all I'm saying...

Sara said...

What a fun race report! Thanks to Lehcar for sending me the link :) and for running with me & Gor (stroller contents). I like being called "The Persuader." I'll work on getting Lehcar out for a future event. Mr Persuader ran the 1/2 marathon and was super happy with the event as well. We may come back next year.

@mary ann--our dog was very sorry to miss out on this event. He did a lot of 1/2 marathon training runs with Mr. Persuader, but got none of the glory.

trailturtle said...

Nice report, as always. Love all of the pictures, esp mine ;))), and always enjoy the laughter that your writing generates-good for the soul. Inspires me to get back to my blog, too....if only there were 25 hrs in one day (sigh).
Anyway, glad to finally meet "half" of the "Notthat's." And Mrs. N was kind enough to explain to "dense me" about the use of the "Notthat" in reference to "Lucas."
Happy Holidays! Nna :)