Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rambling near Woodside

We love doing races that are close to us here on the Peninsula. Last weekend we had Summit Rock just outside of Saratoga, and this weekend we had an embarrassment of local trail running riches: Zoom/Coastal's Bay Trail (which I've run the last two years and has my Marathon PR) and ITR's Woodside Ramble. In the end, we just couldn't turn away the glory that are the single-track trails out of Huddart Park, so Mrs Notthat and I chose to do the Half Marathon there. (In a couple of weeks we'll be doing Coastal's Crystal Springs 22 miler out of there. There's also a PCTR race out of there in between.)

Mrs Notthat had somewhere she needed to be at 1:00, and showing up in her running outfit would not be OK. Since the race started at 8:30 that meant if I finished in three and a half hours (which sounded about right for me) we should be able to leave the park around noon and make it in time.

Except that our race didn't start until 9:00. (Note to self: Look at the website a bit more carefully next time. And not just at elevation charts and course maps.) That meant my three and a half hour finish would be a half hour too long. I considered dropping to a shorter distance, but decided to take the risk and shoot for a three hour finish. That would mean taking far fewer pictures, spending less time at the aid stations, and, well, just plain moving faster than I have been lately.

"You're afraid of banana slugs and want us to protect you from them?"  
KDub is going to hate me for this picture, but I get a kick out of trying to think up what sort of request would cause her to make such a caring, empathetic face.

KBacon on the other hand is looking forward to her day at an aid station, keeping track of who's been naughty and nice.

An action shot of Mr ITR.

It was really cold (our car said 35 as we drove up) before the race, but it doesn't take long to warm up once the race starts. You have two choices: take off your bonus layers before the race starts and be extra cold for a few minutes (which is what I do), or keep your bonus layers on and remove them once you warm up during the race (the Mrs Notthat strategy).

I was pushing pretty hard and keeping Mrs Notthat more or less in sight when she stopped and started peeling off her jacket. Nehpets (not his real name) happened to be with Mrs at that point, and volunteered to help her stow it in her backpack. When I caught up to them, I had two choices: I could be noble and stop and relieve Nehpets of his jacket-stuffing duties, or I could be non-noble and blow past both of them and revel in the rare occurrence of me being ahead of them.

As that picture shows, I chose to be non-noble. I even cackled a bit as I went by.

If you look carefully you can see runners facing different directions as they go up the switchbacks.
She passed me back a few feet later though, so my revelry was very short-lived. This course starts with a bit of downhill, then you spend the next four or five miles heading steadily uphill. It's not steep, but it never seems to end.

For the Half course, this was our only tree issue. Many went over it like this guy is doing, which turned out to be not nearly as easy as it looks. Once he got over, he told me that if he had it to do over again, he'd go around the right end instead, so that's what I did.

Eventually you really do make it to the top of that hill and see the pink flamingos signaling that an aid station is near.

Half runners head out from this aid station on a short out-and-back and then you see it again. These two were great and even had festive Thanksgiving or Labor Day music playing in the background.

The blur on the left Mrs Notthat. The guy coming up the hill on the right is volunteer Mas (not his real name) who was taking pictures and being perky. I tried to trip him as I passed him.
I was still a bit behind Mrs Notthat, but was making pretty good time. From that aid station though, the course is largely downhill, and Mrs thrives on downhill. I was a bit shocked though when after a few miles I caught sight of her not all that far ahead.

I got so close at one point she even managed to get a picture of me! Alas, I think this startled her bit (or she decided she was bored toying with me) and she took off and I never saw her again until the finish.

There are many races run on these trails, but ITR is the only one* that has a Half Marathon course. (Coastal is the only one with a Marathon distance. All of them have a 50K distance though). To get the Half distance right, and to change things up a bit, they take you to the finish line in a completely different way than the others; instead of finishing on that easy (but kind of paved) road they take you onto some nice trails.

The problem is that the trails make you do some more climbing. I stood for a second at an intersection looking longingly at the main trail heading downhill, decked out in blue ribbons (which is their code for  "None Shall Pass") and apprehensively at the uphill trail cheerfully decked out in yellow ribbons. I figured I had a bit less than a mile to go and just under 15 minutes to cover it to break three hours.

But I was gassed.

I wound up missing the three hour mark by a bit over three minutes. Mrs Notthat beat me by only 94 seconds - I had no idea I was so close to her. (Mrs got first and beat two others in her wildly unpopular age group while I got eighth in my wildly popular one.)

It was a fun event with lots of friends, but it was sad to have to dash off right after I finished. (Mrs Notthat made it to her thing, but barely and without the benefit of a shower. I think the odor of a freshly sweaty runner beats all the perfumes hands down, but that might just be me.)

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

PPS: Since Mrs Notthat and I both got into Way Too Cool, and I am determined to beat Brazen's Diablo 50K, and we are also planning on a possible attack of the Grand Canyon in May, I have recently started doing some real midweek training. That probably had more to do with me keeping up with Mrs than anything else (although I'm still thinking she was showing me at least a bit of pity).

PPPS: Since the 50K and 35K races started at 8:30, I went down the trail a tiny bit and shot a video of them as they all flew by. You can see it here.

*Late breaking bulletin - Coastal's Crystal Springs race (Jan 5th) now has a Half Marathon distance! Very cool!

1 comment:

mary ann said...

I got cold just looking at the photos!