Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paparazzi at Pacifica

I have wanted to do a trail race out of Pacifica's San Pedro Valley County Park for a couple of years now, but something always came up and it didn't happen. This year, I was determined to get it done, and even sent in my registration WAY early just so I wouldn't have any excuses.

And then I came up with an excuse anyway.

So I decided to spend the day taking pictures of the runners while Mrs Notthat and Weird Haired Mom ran the race. While it's not as much fun as actually running the race, hanging out and capturing all the smiling runners (most multiple times) was a blast.

But first, a bit about the course. One thing to know is that it had very little flat - you were either going up a hill or down one.

To help explain the course, I came up with this simplified (!) outline. As a runner, you could run one of the following races:

10K: Pink course.
Half Marathon: Yellow course then pink course.
30K: Yellow course then pink course then pink course again.
Full Marathon: Yellow course then pink course then yellow course then pink course.
50K: Yellow course then pink course then yellow course then pink course then orange bit and more pink course.

Got that? The end result was that there was a sweet spot where I could stand and have runners coming at me from three directions, and each of those directions was picturesque.

Boredom was not much of an issue for me.

Leo giving Mrs Notthat an enthusiastic hug.
Leo giving me an enthusiastic thumbs up.
The weather was a bit cool at the start, but was remarkably clear and gorgeous.

The traditional planting of the La Sportiva flag! Let the games begin!

This was the one-year anniversary of Inside Trail Racing's first race. So there was cake. A LOT of cake.

I love how Htenaj (not her real name) is protecting the cake from early grazers while smacking this poor innocent runner.

The yellow course runners (all but the 10K runners) started first, so I wandered out a bit to get pictures of them as they flew by. I didn't have to go too far to find a spot that was fairly level and with a nice backdrop.

Once they were all past, I headed back to the start so that I could do something similar for the 10K start. And was met by these three ultra-perky runners. Knowing that they had a tough 1900' climb ahead of them, I figured they would have all the perky used up by the time I saw them next.

I headed out on the pink course to find a nice spot to take pictures as the runners streamed by, but it was pretty much all uphill (it's not considered good form to point a camera at a runner struggling up a hill - it's much better to capture them running down a hill). I found a reasonably level stretch and got all the fresh 10K runners as they headed out.

I then headed out to my perch for the rest of the day. It had the runners finishing the yellow course, the pink course, and runners heading out for a second lap of the yellow course. By the time I was done, I would see each runner twice, and some (the 50K runners) as many as seven times.

Mrs Notthat showing how to look cool finishing the yellow course.
This was my view towards the runners finishing the yellow course. (My biggest problem was the camera sometimes focussing on those leaves to the left.)

This was my view looking up at the end of the pink course. Runners finishing the pink course ran on switchbacks past that amazing tree. It was tough duty to stand here and watch them do that.

I tried to get pictures of the runners as they passed under it, but missed on a lot of them during the busy periods. I did get a picture of Mrs Notthat though.

After a short bit, the pink course runners would show up down by where I was standing, and join up with the yellow course runners.

Mrs Notthat done with her pink course and storming towards the finish line.

Oh wait, here come the ultra-perky girls! And they are still ultra-perky! Maybe even perkier! They've still got the pink course ahead of them, so maybe that will use up some of that perky.

The last view I had was of the runners heading back out for their second lap of the yellow course. Not all of them read their mail while heading out though.

One of my favorite moments was when Naw (not his real name) was finishing his pink lap - he was being chased by two kids that I had earlier seen heading up the trail with their mom.

The kids had decided to race Naw down the hill to the finish, and were having a great time doing it (as was Naw). I'm pretty sure none of them knew each other - it was just a spontaneous burst of fun that broke out. That kind of thing happens a LOT at trail races.

I love this - this is a kid having just a tiny bit of fun. (The kid's mother showed up a minute or two later and asked which way they had gone. "They smelled cake" I said as I pointed to the finish line.)

And here are the ultra-perky girls again, still ridiculously perky. I'm deeply jealous. 

I love that so many of the runners were able to smile and wave as they went past me - this was a very tough course, but a pretty one with lots of views. The great weather also helped to keep everyone happy, even while facing yet another long uphill slog.

The view from the parking lot. I'm not sure if that's the mountain the runners climbed, but I'm going to pretend it was. 
I had a lot of fun taking nearly 2000 pictures. Once Mrs Notthat and WHM were done, they were ready to go get lunch (you can only eat so many pieces of cake). Weirdly, I seem to have picked up some poison oak - I had gloves and two layers of long sleeves on, and yet my left arm and hand are keeping me busy itching.

I should have several more opportunities this year to run a race here, so I'll be fine. On Saturday I'll be taking more pictures at Brazen's Coyote Hills race and on Sunday I'll be slinging water at the Cardiac aid station at Coastal's Steep Ravine race - both of these are races I've done before and really wanted to do again. But I'm going to give my Achilles one more week of rest then test it out at the ITR Fort Ord race the following weekend.

I love how many trail racing choices we have here in the Bay Area. And I can't wait to get my sweat back on.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see all the pictures I took on the ITR Picasa site here.


mary ann said...

wow, I'll never call it Pathetica again! Good shots (and colorful)

Lia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lia said...

You got great shots, love the super perky runners...I definitely was not feeling like that!

notthatlucas said...

I don't know Lia - you looked pretty perky at the end of your second pink lap. (Being that close to the finish line does that to people though.)