Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lake Chabot with the New Kids on the Block

Saturday was all set to be our first Pacifica-based trail race. When that race was postponed, there was another trail race on the same day that was an obvious replacement, although it was Lake Chabot-based, and we had just done a couple of New Years races out of there a short time ago.

Looking at the course maps showed that, while the ITR Lake Chabot race would use same paved sections at the start and finish, the bits in between would be significantly different. So we signed up and ran into this vicious-looking gang of trail runners as we headed to the check-in area.

Etep (on the left, and not his real name) has the punk trail running attitude down.  (Actually, I'm just REALLY good at taking pictures are the wrong time, but I love how it looks like he is overflowing with attitude.) Like me, these four were doing the 30K distance. Unlike me, they would finish well before noon.

These two need to work on their punk trail running attitudes. Llib (not his real name) was  going for his first 50K with this race. And he still managed to smile. His much saner wife Eilsel (not his...oh surely you get this by now) did the 10K (and ended up having more adventure than all of us).

Ytsirhc (on the left) and Mrs Notthat (dressed for snow, on the right) both did the Half Marathon. Irual (in the middle) said she was the volunteer flamingo wrangler, which I took to mean she had had WAY too much caffeine this morning.

Mrs Notthat was fighting a mean cold and intended to downgrade to the 10K. But once we got to the registration table, her competitive juices (which make my competitive juices look weaker than water, if that's possible) kicked in and she stayed in the Half. She said she would take it easy. (I had a good laugh over that.)

This was Inside Trail Racing's second official race. I've got to believe it's not easy for a new trail race company to get started in this area - there are already a number of great trail race companies putting on a LOT of great trail races. Selfishly, I love this since on most weekends I get a choice of races to run. But are there enough runners to keep all these races going? Judging by their turnout for this race, with a bit over 200 finishers, it looks like there might be.

These are the 50K, 30K, and Half runners getting their last minute instructions before being sent on our way.

Photo by ITR volunteer paparazzi

Here I am flying, almost half a mile into the race. And in dead last (as normal).

Once the pavement ended and the bridge was crossed we came to this intersection. That harmless-looking trail is what I have taken in the six previous races I have done out of Lake Chabot. And it is far from harmless, leading to a long, often steep climb that provides a real test of your resolve to finish the race.

But today, we ignored that trail and continued meandering along the lake shore for a bit. We still had to climb that hill, but on a gentler trail.

One last look at the lake before we head up through the eucalyptus forrest.

Or the forrest heads down to us. This tree crossing was actually a bit more challenging than it looks, at least for me. Most crawled under the tree, but I chose to go over it, and nearly slid down it as it was higher than I thought (and I was MUCH less graceful than I hoped).

These were all new trails for me, and I loved them. Some really great single-track through the woods.

When I got to the first of the aid stations, I was shocked to see Mrs Notthat there. I had figured she would have been a good 20 to 30 minutes ahead of me by now, but apparently she really was taking her time, sort of. When she saw me, she gave me a few encouraging words ("You look awful! Are you taking your salt?") and took off. I never saw her again until the finish.

As we left that aid station, there was a sign saying that Two Rocks was straight ahead! Never having been here before, Ytsirhc and I bubbled over with excitement, picturing some sort of amazing geologic formation was just minutes away.

And then we got there.

In case you missed them, these are the Two Rocks.

As you can see, Ytsirhc is a ham. As you can also see, the weather was wonderful - cool, sunny, slight breeze. There has been little rain this winter, but just enough that we are finally seeing things green up a bit. The trails were almost completely mud-free.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that, while these trails were new to me, they still took you near a shooting range which serenaded you with alarmingly enthusiastic gunfire. For some reason, most runners sped up a bit during this stretch.

The second aid station was on the bonus loop that the 30K and 50K runners had to do. The aid stations were all great with everything you could want (short of a horse rental or burrito bar), but this one, run by Kcirtap and Kcnarf at 10 miles was most welcome. (I had worked with Kcnarf the weekend before at a Bay Breeze aid station.)

Heading out of this aid station, we were warned that there would be a bit of a climb, and we weren't disappointed.

We weren't warned about the treacherous creek crossing though. This is Nosyerg from the Florida Keys who kindly helped me get through this danger and the upcoming cliff we had to climb.

Once we got to the top though, the views were stunning.

The only place I had any kind of an issue on the trails was when we showed up at this horse-infested barn. Nosyerg and I both missed the turn and were guided back to the right trail by this cowpoke. (This added maybe 100 feet to our race, making this an ultra 30K, right?)

Photo by ITR volunteer paparazzi

Meanwhile, while we were talking to the horse lady, Mrs Notthat was steaming across the dam and heading to the finish line, doing MUCH better than either of us had expected.

Photo by ITR volunteer paparazzi
Ytsirhc and her finished at nearly the same time, with Mrs Notthat getting second in her age group! Her reward was a LONG wait for me to finish.

Meanwhile, Nosyerg and I made it to the third aid station, about 4 miles from the finish. One of the best things about this aid station was that it meant there was little serious climbing left to do - we would shortly be back on pavement (sigh) and be smelling the finish line. Nosyerg had a greater sense of smell than me, and took off at this point. (His wife was doing the 50K and he was determined to finish his 30K before she finished. He did.)

The lake finally reappeared!

And I finally found a tiny bit of mud to stand in! (You could easily go around this puddle, but why?)

With the marina in sight, it was time to pick up the pace and finish strong. I chose to start tapering and take more pictures and talk to the fishermen lining the shore. (I didn't talk to a single person that caught a fish.)

The finish line!

Photo by nationally renowned Etep

And here I am heading to the finish, being paced by a flock of pink flamingos (who, as you can see, easily beat me).

Mrs Notthat and I relaxing while waiting for Llib to come in. His wife had this great iPhone app that precisely tracked him around the course, although since it often showed him wildly out of place, such as approaching the Oregon border or in the middle of San Francisco Bay, it was of dubious accuracy.

In spite of that, soon Llib was charging by the flamingos and crossing the finish line, and our group was all done.

The shirt was great, as was the age group medal that Mrs Notthat won.

The race was a lot of fun, and I really liked the new trails we ran on. The trails were marked reasonably well, although there were times I started to wonder when I wouldn't see a ribbon for a while. The intersections were all nicely marked, and it's likely if I had been paying better attention, even the issue at the horse barn wouldn't have been an issue.

The 10K out-and-back race was apparently the victim of vandalism, with many runners not knowing where to turn - some adding significant extra distance while some just turned around at the first sign of confusion. 

That was the biggest blemish on an otherwise fine race. Good aid stations, good finish line food, great weather, lots of free pictures to download, and a fun overall flamingo-based atmosphere made this event a blast.

And it was a great final race for me with Way Too Cool coming up in two weeks. Yikes!

That's it- move along...

PS: I've got a bunch more pictures here.


footfeathers said...

Thanks so much for coming out to our race. Congrats on a great run!
Tim L.

ken michal said...

Really enjoyed your report, Allen! It's funny, I never noticed the two rocks... on both loops!

Nice work on your 30k!

All Day!

Christy said...

Fabulous report as usual!

Ytsirhc (not my real name)

Brazen Rabbit said...

I really need to stop reading your reports while drinking morning coffee. Spray painted my computer screen again! Lol. Seriously though great job! And now I'm on the hunt to find 2 Rocks! What fun!

notthatlucas said...

I'm going to feel really stupid if someone goes up there and finds a majestic rock formation that I completely missed. (I feel confident though, that these are indeed the Two Rocks.)

And Ytsirhc, you need a simpler name. I had an awful time trying to type it after using my super-secret coding scheme on it. Maybe "The Nut" would be easier, and everyone would know who I meant.

DAK said...

Looks to me like Too Cool is 50K! But that's just a warmup for the two of you.

mary ann said...

You guys are amazing. I loved the Two Rock story and photos too. And the pink flamingos, of course.

Meghan said...

Awesome write up :) I love the discovery of the two rocks!!

Franck Bossuwe said...

Fantastic report and spirit! Way too funny. I love my new name too!


etep said...

nationally renowned? i'm honored! :)

great write-up, Allen - as usual!