Sunday, January 6, 2013

22 miles of Crystal Springs bliss

Back on Black Friday, Coastal Trail Runs had a race sale. It makes me nervous to sign up for races too far in advance since so many things can go wrong before race day, but Mrs Notthat and I were pretty confident that we would make it to the Crystal Springs race - we love these parks and this course, and since it's local, we couldn't pass up the deal. I was in for the 22 mile distance and Mrs Notthat was in for the 11 mile distance.

Then two things happened:

  • Coastal changed the 11 mile distance to be a Half Marathon (YAY!). I'm pretty sure if this had been the case when we signed up, I would have went for that instead of the 22 mile distance.  
  • Mrs Notthat managed to swim her way to a sub-six hour CIM finish, and boldly and awesomely put her name in the Way Too Cool lottery. Which she won. Her longest trail race up to this point was the ITR Santa Cruz 30K. So she decided to upgrade to the 22 mile (35K) distance at Crystal Springs. This was now a serious training run.
Photo by Sirhc (not his real name)
It was cold at the start (and during and after the race, for that mater). On the left is Haiasi (not his real name) who lives out near Nevada or so. He stayed at Weird Haired Mom's place for two nights so he could do this race and the DSE 10K on Sunday. His eyes are closed because he's trying to will that thing off of WHM's head. I'm trying to eat my pre-race PB&J while practicing my game face.

The course is a mix of loops and out-and-backs. After a tease of a first mile with downhill and level trail, you spend about five miles going uphill, with a nice fakeout at one point where you think you are done climbing only to hit the steepest trail of the race.

I drafted off of Team Stockton for the first half of the race.

In the last three weeks I've now done two races here (this one and the ITR Woodside Ramble) and volunteered at a third last weekend (PCTR Woodside). Part of the reason is it's fairly close, but a bigger part of the reason is that the trails are just plain awesome. I cannot resist them.

At mile six we hit the first aid station, Club Drannyl (not its real name).

Love these Twizzler trees.

On the 22 mile course, there was only one downed tree of note. Here, a member of Team Stockton shows one approach to dealing with it.

Another Team Stockton member admires a very fuzzy green tree.

A fun bit was seeing Ynnep (not her real name) on her way to a jet-lagged win for the Marathon. I started asking questions about her trip, her choice in socks, and whether she knew the lyrics to any Abba songs. In desperation, she distracted me by pointing and saying "Look! A rabid banana slug!" and bolting away.

Shortly after she sprinted off, I saw another runner coming towards me, and he had a camera out.

Photo by Ttocs (not his real name), who looked absurdly fresh even though he had gone almost twice as far as me.
Ttocs has a great blog that is a must read, especially for Bay Area trail runners. I'm often told that I would be significantly faster if I didn't take so many pictures during these races. But Ttocs proves that you can be ridiculously fast and take a lot of pictures at the same time.

I was too slow in recovering from the Ynnep deception to get a picture of Ttocs from the front, but I did get a picture as he sprinted away.

The 22 mile course has a long out-and-back bit to get to a turnaround point. This meant I would be able to see Mrs Notthat and get a good idea how far ahead of me she was. The answer was "not far", but it might as well have been a mile since I still had to go up that hill that she is coming down here.

A friendly wave. She's not fooling me - she's taunting me. And beating me. Again. 

At mile 11.7 I finally got to the 22 mile turnaround point, and Club Thgiwd (not its real name). Thgiwd had nobly tried to hold up Mrs Notthat until I could catch up, but she's too smart for that. Team Stockton was doing the Marathon, so they kept on going while I smiled, wished them luck, turned around, and headed back to the finish line.

There were a lot of creeks along the course, which added a lot of ambience and helped drown out the creaking noises my body was making.

At the end of the out-and-back is Club Drannyl again. They were thrilled to see me, mostly because it meant I hadn't gotten lost or fallen off a cliff. This is about mile 17.4 - only 4.6 mostly downhill miles to go! Drannyl told me I was about three minutes behind Mrs Notthat. This surprised me since I had been dragging getting back to this point.

A great sight at the end of a trail race.

Mrs Notthat beat me by a bit over nine minutes (downhill is her thing, so she easily widened her lead over that last stretch).

The longest trail race Mrs Notthat had ever done was a 30K back in August. This 35K was her new longest trail race. I had wild hopes of a five hour finish, but knew a more realistic time would be a bit under six hours. Mrs finished in 5:25 and I finish in 5:34 - not stunning times, but not bad, all things considered. And good enough for her to get first in her age group.

A runner I hadn't seen for a while, Hconah (not his real name) took second in his age group in the 50K.

Ogiad (not his real name either - sorry but this amuses me) with his 50K coaster and a cold beer. Sirhc is drinking a diet soda. And is coaster-free (although he did do a very quick Marathon).

And then Team Stockton came storming in! I learned later that this was the first trail Marathon for all three of these primarily road runners. Between the hills, buffets for aid stations, mud, and banana slugs, I don't know how they could ever go back to road races. (Well, other than being from Stockton which has WAY more roads than trails.)

This was a lot of fun. The rain held off, and even though it was a bit cold, it was fine for running. And there was a nice heater and hot soup waiting for you at the finish line. And a LOT of running friends.

This looks like the last race out of Huddart Park for a few months. Next up is a race out of Pacifica in a couple of weeks, where we have never run before.

Maybe by then I'll be able to keep up with Mrs Notthat. (Or more likely, by then I'll be able to think up new reasons for why she keeps beating me.)

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.


Rachel said...

Mr. Sunshine, it was an absolute pleasure to run with you yesterday and meet all the wonderful trail runners. I am officially HOOKED on trails! "Team Stockton" will definitely be seeing you out there on the trails more often.

- Rachel

mary ann said...

Love the twizzler trees and Mrs. Notthat's happy wave and your funny tattoo arms

Lia said...

Great write up, as usual. Love all your photos. And who is team Stockton!?? There are others I don't know about?!!

notthatlucas said...

Oh man Lia - I didn't think of the Stockton connection (of course, I had no idea you were there, but still). Jesse, Jenni, and Rachel all drove over from Stockton to do the Marathon. I'll be a bit stunned if you don't know them.