Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A nice day to go for a swim

On Saturday, Mrs Notthat and I did the Brazen Wildcat Half Marathon - this is a tough race that for some reason is much harder than its 2200 feet of elevation gain gives it a right to be.

We knew a LOT of runners at this race - this photo by World Famous Etep shows just a small herd of them that we could gather quickly.

Mrs Notthat said she was going to take it easy. So naturally she beat me by half a day, even after taking a (spoiler alert) swim break.

I took up my spot at the back of the pack once the race started. Mrs Notthat is one of those specs WAY ahead of me already (this is maybe a quarter mile into the race).

At the top of the first hill, about three-quarters of a mile from the start, Weird Haired Mom and the grandkids were waiting to direct the runners. I decided to test Grandkid Second Born and headed the wrong way, which caused him to charge at me with the intent of a fierce tackle.

This is how Mrs Notthat was greeted when she reached the top of the hill. Grandkid First Born did a dance move, or maybe a complicated cheer. (Picture by WHM.)

Mrs Notthat ended up carrying both grandkids for the rest of the race (they wish!). (I love how the other runners are laughing at this.)

Weirdly, I passed my arch-nemisis Yram fairly early, so I ended up chasing Alegna for most of the race. Here she is leading me into the first aid station - the 5K turnaround at about mile 1.5.

Other than the swimming hole, this was the only real mud on the course. The hills are still a bit green, but are well on their way to golden brown for the summer since we've had no rain for a while now.

This is the second aid station, which is where the 10K runners take a left and us Half runners are on our own. (We will see this aid station again in a few minutes/hours/days.)

The Bermuda Triangle. The Half course has a mean little out-and-back that is straight ahead - when we get back we head up a hill, do a loop through the swimming hole, then arrive back here for a third time. The guy standing in front of the shrub had his work cut out for him keeping it all straight.

(Odd aside: Two years ago I tried to run the Half, but did the early start; I think it was the first time Brazen tried this kind of start. After doing the out-and-back, I, and a number of other early starters, missed this turn because a) I'm a bit map-challenged, and b) the guy that was to do the traffic directing wasn't here yet. I saw that guy heading out here later, carrying his cone. It was none other than World Famous Etep, before he was World Famous. I had no idea who he was or that I had missed the turn when I got this picture of him.)

I love how it looks like he is carrying a roll of toilet paper.
The out-and-back gave a great opportunity to see how I was doing related to some of the other runners.

Mrs Notthat and Ytsirhc were significantly ahead of me (naturally). Mrs Notthat is looking summery. Like she would like to go for a swim. (Cue spooky music...)

At the end of the out-and-back was The Brazen Rabbit! For the most part, she didn't have much to do - normal runners had no intention of going one foot more up this hill than they had to. She gave Alegna a hug.

Yikes! My arch-nemisis Yram turned out to be only about one hundred feet behind me! And instead of a hug, The Brazen Rabbit knew that Yram might need to be tackled to keep from charging up the hill.

After our second pass through the Bermuda Triangle, we had a long, hot climb up this hill. When I turned to take this picture, the guy in yellow, following the Trail Runners Creed, started running for the camera. And he kept on running and beat me by a lot. Readers with good eyesight will note that, unbelievably, I am currently ahead of Alegna!

The third aid station and the ever-perky Yrrek! This began a long stretch of pavement with rolling hills.

And cows. LOTS of cows, some of which were really close to the trail.

After the pavement we were rewarded with some nice single-track trail (although it was challenging due to deep ruts and hoof prints that were eager to tweak your ankles). The highlight of this stretch was this tiny creek that even the grandkids could easily step over. This is where, moments earlier, Mrs Notthat went for a swim, falling face-first into that little bit of water. (For those of you that were worried, her iPhone appears to have survived the dunking without harm.)

Actually, it really was tricky to cross this stream since you had to navigate slippery rocks in and out of it. And she was fortunate to have not been hurt more seriously, and ended up more embarrassed than anything. And yes, I will use this as motivation to keep up with her during these races so that I can better document these fun events.

After the swimming hole, we passed through the Bermuda Triangle for one last time, hit the second aid station again, and then headed up the last Hill That Never Ends. It was warming up (although there was a nice, cool breeze) and this stretch was very exposed, but had a lot of great views. Not that we cared about the views - by this time we all just wanted to be done, and looking ahead and seeing tiny little dots that were runners WAY ahead of us did nothing to make us perkier.

Eventually I made it back to where WHM and the grandkids were stationed. Except Grandkid First Born was no longer there, having paced Mrs Notthat to the finish line.

Grandkid Second Born paced me to the finish line, although what he mostly did was make me feel even more tired as he galloped with glee down the hill.

And taunted me for being so slow. I'm pretty sure pacers aren't supposed to taunt the runner they are pacing.

Remarkably I finally made it to the finish line in time to see Mrs Notthat getting a massage.

And trying real hard not to bleed on the massage table. Her swim left her with some impressive scrapes and bruises.

And that's about it. The race was fun and I love that I finally finished a proper Half here. The hills are tougher than they have a right to be, but the trails are good and the views are great.

I did manage to beat Yram, but was soundly trounced by just about everyone else, including Alegna.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see more pictures I took here.


Etep said...

great write up, as usual! i love how you included that picture of me from two years ago when we didn't know each other. i remember that it got warm that day and that i was way overdressed - and seeing that picture of me in a black track suit only confirms the memory. :)

mary ann said...

Sheeeeesh, that looks like a v. difficult race! Good thing you had the grandkids to help you guys, and
the cows, of course...

Beth said...

You guys always have such a good time no matter how difficult the course, and from what I hear, that 13.1+ is very difficult!
Mrs. is one tough cookie! Hope the grandkids got some ice-cream, they were very encouraging when we passed them, Sophie stopped to chat w/Darci for a bit : )