Sunday, May 27, 2012

ITR China Camp Half Marathon

Mrs Notthat and I ran the Half Marathon at Inside Trail Racing's China Camp race at the threatened China Camp State Park outside of San Rafael. Neither of us had been there before so we were pretty excited about seeing it. And in a move that seemed perfectly in sync with the race, we had some great, spicy Chinese food the night before.

This proved to be a bad idea, at least on my part.

The Half course was really two 10Ks - a loop with what looked like a friendly hill and a second lollipop loop with a mean looking hill. There were LOTS of great single-track trails, trees, and views as you went around the course.

There was also a little bit of Crockett-based attitude.

And some great volunteers! Arak (not her real name) was absurdly perky at her station, guiding runners through a busy intersection (us Half runners saw her three times).

This is the friendly-looking hill. And it didn't help knowing that we would have to come back down this hill near the end of the race.

One interesting thing that was new to me at intersections were the blue ribbons on trails that we shouldn't be on. Between that and flour markings, there was little chance of getting off course. (And no, I'm not going to bring up how a few runners, led by a veteran trail runner - hi Irual! - mistakenly took a wrong turn and got a bit of bonus hill climbing in.)

I was shocked to actually catch up to Mrs Notthat, although it turned out to be due to a wardrobe malfunction.

Soon she was back to being way ahead of me, although that was short lived since she ended up becoming intimate with the trail not long after this picture.

She's not that far ahead of me! I could possibly take her, but then the spicy Chinese food raised its hand and demanded some attention.

I had smugly stood by while others waited in line at the porta-potties before the race. But at about two miles from finishing the first 10K loop, I would have given a LOT for one of those porta-potties. I could have gone into the woods and found a shrub to hide behind, but I knew this was going to be messy, so I slowed down and hung on for that two miles. It was great to see the race staging area. Finally. And I sincerely apologize to whoever ended up using that porta-pottie after me.

Photo by ITR volunteer Franck.
 While I only had eyes for the porta-potties, Mrs Notthat seemed to be trying to decide whether to fill her bottle back up. She ended up doing that (thankfully) and getting her scraped arm cleaned up a little, then taking off for the lollipop 10K.

Photo by ITR volunteer Franck.
After a LOT of quality time in the porta-pottie (and a bit of wondering whether I should even risk heading out for the second half of the race), I finally made it past the aid station and headed out to catch Mrs Notthat (HA!).

It turned out that the hill on the second lap was much easier for me. The trail was not steep, although it was infested with bike riders (most of which were great - I loved seeing so many people out here taking advantage of this park and having a great time; I told this guy I was taking his picture since I never pass anyone on a bike).

Coming down from that hill, however, was challenging with frequent scary (but fun) bits of trail.

Photo by ITR volunteer Franck. Again. He took a lot of great pictures.

These three, which Mrs Notthat named the Divas of Davis, had been switching places with me all throughout the race, but just before the top of that last hill, their turbos kicked in and they took off. Meanwhile, Mrs had started dragging a bit, but was inspired when the trio passed her and joined them for a sprint to the finish.

Happy to be done. Photo by ITR volunteer Franck.

I was thrilled to see Franck (and the finish line). And they were all thrilled to see me, since I was the last runner out there. Another DLF (Dead Last Finish) on my growing list!

Franck took a picture of me taking a picture of him.

We were twins! Mrs Notthat ended up finishing a little over seven minutes ahead of me. I feel certain that if I had eaten something less exciting for dinner the night before, I might have kept up with her. (HA!)

Her scrape is not as bad as the one from last Saturday's race, but it's not a competition. Hopefully next weekend will be spent totally upright.

It was a great race with a lot of fun runners and volunteers.

The park is a blast and seems very popular - sadly it is on a list of state parks to be closed soon as the state struggles to eliminate their budget deficit. The fact that this park and the others make up a tiny percentage of the budget and closing them would do little to help things makes it obvious that the politicians are choosing to do this only for effect.

My guess is that the closures won't happen (they will magically find a way to keep them open) since it is election season. And I really hope my guess is right.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see more pictures I took here. And more pictures Franck took here.


mary ann said...

what a beautiful spot ~ sorry about the porta potty time...

DAK said...

Please write a detailed report about the porta potty incidents and submit them to volunteer FRANCK for photo opps. I'm happy Mrs. That only has an arm scrape and nothing worse. Here in NYC nobody runs but everybody gets in your way.

Franck Bossuwe said...

I did a high-five with you when he reached the aid station after the porta potty! We just ended up using wipes that I brought :-)
Always fun to see you guys on the trail and taking pictures!
On the picture you took of me you can see my son ringing the bell for your finish :-)

notthatlucas said...

Franck - you were brave to high-five me at that point (and thanks for the wipes!). Your son was a great lift with that cowbell!