Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Wildcat doesn't go "meow"

After the previous weekend's Quicksilver 25K, Mrs Notthat ended up having to sit out the Brazen Wildcat race, where even the 5K includes serious climbing. That left it up to me to run the Half Marathon. I was feeling pretty good and was confident that I was going to beat last year's Wildcat Half time.

I told them I prefer non-posed pictures. Sheesh.
It was clear and sunny at the start. It wasn't warm yet, but it promised to get warm soon.

The race starts with some rolling hills but very soon hits a serious climb.

From a cumulative elevation standpoint, Wildcat is the second easiest of the Brazen Half Marathons that are part of their Ultra Half Series (only the races at Lake Chabot - New Years and Bad Bass - have less elevation). So it always amazes me how slow I go during and how tired I am after Wildcat. There are three big climbs, but they are not huge. The last climb is late in the race, and the downhill after it has some very steep bits that I generally end up gently walking down rather than running.

But still, it shouldn't be that hard.

The first aid station is early - at mile 1.5 since it is the 5K turnaround (and is at the base of that first hill).

After that aid station there is a stretch with rolling hills. And a Brazen Rabbit out marking the trail. It seems sometime yesterday some morons took down a bunch of the course ribbons, so she had to go out and remark that stretch of trail. (The morons were not very athletic, thankfully, and stuck to vandalizing the relatively flat bit of the course.)

The second aid station is at about mile 3.3. It is where the 10K runners take a left and start their way back to the finish (up that last hill on the above chart). The Half runners keep heading out, knowing that they will be back much later to take their turn up that last hill.

The Half runners have a short out-and-back they have to complete before they head up that second hill. I like how you can see the runners out on the out-and-back in this picture - WAY ahead of me.

The Bermuda Triangle of this course. The out-and back is on the right, the second hill is through that gate being guarded by the brave volunteer, and the bottom of that second hill comes in on the left where you head back to that second aid station and the last hill. (The purple is courtesy of the sun glaring on my lens. Or maybe it had something to do with today's Ultima flavor.)

Lots of volunteer paparazzi out on the course!
I like this out-and-back because you get a chance to see a lot of the runners both ahead of and behind you. As usual, there were a LOT of them ahead of me and only a few behind me.

At the end of the out-and-back you start up that second hill, which is particularly mean since it frequently looks like you can see the top, only to get there and find that it's not nearly the top. It's also mostly exposed up this climb, and by now it's getting a bit warm.

The third aid station, where I was soundly taunted by my arch-nemisis - Yram (not her real name).
Eventually you make it to the top and get to head back down, with about a mile or so on pavement.

Even the cows, of which there were many along the course, looked at me with taunting expressions.

These two guys were from Guadalajara, and were a lot of fun along the course. This creek crossing is more challenging than it looks. Mrs Notthat can tell you all about it from last year.
After going along the pavement for a bit, we turn off onto the best part of the whole course - a stretch of downhill single-track that spends a lot of time in shady trees.

All good things come to an end though, and we finally make it back to the second aid station where we have to now make a right and go up that last hill.

Heavy sigh.

By now it is pretty warm (but not really hot, and there is a nice breeze, but still, the sun is relentless) and the rest of the course is almost all exposed. But we are at about mile 10 here - less than a 5K left.

But it's a doozy.

"Hey Nerak (not your real name) - how high is this hill?"

There were many amazing views along the course. I paused often to take pictures of them, especially while climbing that last hill.

The Brazen Rabbit making sure no one missed this turn. I wanted to test her, but I REALLY did not want to miss this turn.
If you stick with it though, you eventually make it back to the top of that first hill, where you make a right and head down to the finish line.

I paused at that point and looked back nostalgically towards the hill I had just come down. I made a rude gesture then turned and headed to the finish.

An amazing sight. A WAY less than amazing finish time.

Photo by Not a Canadian. I seem to be listing a bit.

I finished, and I wasn't dead last. (But I was pretty close.) I did not beat last year's time, but I wasn't that far from it either. I like this course and am determined to one day not let it beat me down. It was sad seeing Mrs Notthat sitting on the side while letting her legs heal (she has since done a couple of test runs and it appears she is nearly recovered from the Grand Canyon thing).

It was great getting this race done (number three for me in the Brazen Ultra Half Series) and I'm looking forward to the much easier Brazen Nitro Half next.

Guaranteed wildcat-free!

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

you are listing, but just a bit...