Sunday, October 14, 2012

Running the Redwood City Oktoberun Half Marathon

Saturday was the second road race in a row for us, although this one had the bonus of only being partly on roads, with some paved and some not-so-paved trails mixed in.

There were several other fun races also going on this day (Coastal Horseshoe Lake and the Golden Hills Marathon to mention two), but we get few chances to run a race that's ten minutes from our house and benefits the local schools like the spelling-challenged Redwood City Oktoberun does (that name frustrates the heck out of my computer's spell check - it is all but calling me a moron for allowing that spelling to live on).

Trail running thugs getting their goofy on.
Mrs Notthat and I ran this race last year, so we pretty much knew what to expect. Namely, a flat, out-and-back course with minimal dodging of traffic.

The one glitch today was the lack of porta-potties at the start. There were a few toilets available in the area, but a lot of the highly caffeinated runners really needed some relief. The race was held up for 12 minutes, and then we were sent on our way.

Some of the 345 runners that finished the Half Marathon, ready to head out.
The first aid station, which also served as the 5K turnaround.
Last year, Mrs Notthat was running the Nike Women's Half Marathon the day after this race, so we decided to walk most of the course, and ended up getting passed by the lead 5K runners just before we made it to this turnaround.

This year we were well past this point and neither of us ever saw a 5K runner (there were 605 of them that finished the 5K - nice!).

My shoes giggled when they came upon this short stretch of dirt trail.

The only change from last year was the stretch of road in front of the dealerships that had to be added  due to construction on the trail that runs behind them. This was also the only stretch where the runners were challenged by cars, some of which were VERY determined to get into the dealerships.

After that bit of road, we were mostly on paved trail for the next few miles. While the trail runs along the freeway, it does have some nice marshland you can look at.

Putting up a stop sign for the aid station seemed to be a bit of overkill.
At the end of that stretch of trail, we had the second aid station and another short stretch of road, this one being fairly calm as it passed by the San Carlos Airport.

I liked that the airport had their fire tuck out just in case one of the lead runners burst into flames.

At about mile 4, the emergency backup porta-potties provided some needed relief.

After that short stretch of road we ended up on the best part of the course - the trail along Steinberger Slough in Redwood Shores.

Even better, the trail turns into gravel a bit before the third aid station.

Mrs Notthat flying back after the turnaround. 
One big thing I like about out-and-back courses is that you end up getting to see all the runners, from the  absurdly fast to the one or two going slower than me. And so that is why I was able to work out that Mrs Notthat was about seven minutes ahead of me.

Having a motorcycle officer at the turnaround to chase any rebels that refuse to turn around seemed a bit extreme.
The three volunteers at the turnaround were awesomely perky and noisy - a great boost to the runners. I was halfway done, hadn't fallen down, and was ready to head back to the finish.

There were an amazing number of volunteers along the course, almost all yelling encouraging things ("Geeze dude, you sure you're all right?") and generally helping make this so much fun.

I felt a bit bad when going through the aid stations since my trail roots require me to carry enough water for half a dozen runners, and I never needed any of their cups.

Finally I made it to the finish line. My goal had been to finish in around 2:45 - my legs were still a bit tired from the previous weekend's San Jose Rock n Roll Half - but I somehow ended up beating last weekend's time and finished in a bit over 2:34. (Mrs Notthat was significantly slower than last weekend, and only beat me by three minutes - I picked up four minutes on her from the half turnaround point!).

Three happy finishers!
The Endorphin Dude wanting someone to hold his medal while he takes advantage of the  fashionably late porta-potties.
For reasons known only to him, The Endorphin Dude ran this race incognito (which is not easy for him).  The cool thing though is that he set a PR with a stunning 2:07 finish.

An accordion-based band playing many AC/DC and Black Sabbath hits.
A fun thing was that the finish line was right next to the Oktoberfest event. I would have loved sampling the many fun looking beers, but my calves were in extreme need of icing.

The race was a lot of fun. Again. The coolest thing though was that 78-year-old Knarf (not his real name) was allowed to finish, even though he was well past the four hour cutoff.

Knarf on the trail steaming along, with the sweeper behind him on the bike.
Knarf is not fast, and his running style is somewhat alarming. But I've done many races with him and I can only hope to be as cool as he is when I'm his age.

I know it's not trivial to support the slower runners, especially on a road race, but since I'm one of them,  they have a warm spot in my heart. And that this race let Knarf finish puts it in my warm spot too. (It's not as bad as it sounds.)

Thanks to everyone that made this race possible, from the organizers to the police and all the volunteers that helped make this safe and fun.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.


Beth said...

Looks like fun! You two are pretty speedy lately, and Endorphin Dude...2:07!! Wow!
Congrats to you all.

mary ann said...

That is such a pretty area!

Pauline Wiles said...

Congrats on a great race! Best wishes from all of us at aid station #2.

Yankeerick said...

Thanks for posting these terrific pictures. I'm the co-race director and have been stuck at the start/finish area the past two years, so I've never actually seen the course in action. Congrats on your race! I hope to see you next year. And Pauline, I heard nothing but good things about the aid stations. Thanks so much for helping all our runners.