Inside Trail Racing's Reservoir Dogs race was the first one to get access to the trails that loop around Briones Reservoir, which made this race pretty exciting and a "must do." To loop around the reservoir though, you had to sign up for the 35K distance (the longest offered). Mrs Notthat and I were not quite feeling up to that, so we both did the Half Marathon, which turned out to be an Ultra Half, and more than enough for us.
This picture, taken just before the 35K start, has two interesting bits:
1) A woman is trying to pull up a tree while a guy feebly tries to hold it in place. I forgot to verify whether the tree was still there later.
2) Another woman, the amazing Enibas (not her real name, in the purple calf sleeves, red shorts and yellow shirt) is carrying what appears to be an emergency backup runner on her back. This 35K is just a tuneup for an upcoming event where she will run across most of Iceland, and the pack is to simulate the pack she will use for that, when she must carry all her food, clothing, and sleeping bag with her. Emergency backup runners are optional.
Once the 35K runners were sent on their way, we had 30 minutes to prepare for our Half start. I figured I wouldn't be able to keep up with Mrs Notthat, and I knew I had no shot at Nerak (not her real name), but I thought that, just maybe, if all goes well, I could possibly keep up with Alegna (not her real name either). You can see how worried they all are about my chances.
Also note the sunshine. It actually wasn't all that warm at this point, and the sun felt good, but we also knew that it would soon warm up. We really had no idea what to expect from the trails - were they exposed or shaded by lots of trees? We would soon find out.
I love this picture - does Mrs Notthat look like a stud trail runner or what!
This is only the second race that I have worn a hydration pack, and I wouldn't have worn it here except I was still recovering from some sore spots on my lower back from a past run with poorly adjusted shorts. Wearing a pack messes with me mentally and I think it slows me down a bit. At least that's the story I'm going with.
As it turned out, a lot of the course was through trees, with a lot of fun single-track trails. There were hills, but they weren't as bad as the elevation chart made them look.
|Go Mik (not your real name) Go!|
|Aynwat (not her real name) greeting me with a smile and fluids!|
|A very tempting bench and nice view.|
The cool thing about an out-and-back is that you get to see all the runners - those in front of you ("Hi Mrs Notthat!") and those behind you (very few in my case). Mrs was not as far ahead of me as I had expected, but I knew my chances of catching her were slim since most of the way back is either downhill or flat(ish).
|Nowhere did the course description mention a creek crossing.|
This is how close I got to her - that's the turnaround at the red awning. She yelled a bad word and sprinted away. (It does not go well for your ego if you get geezered by me.)
For a proper Half Marathon, the turnaround should be at mile 6.55. This turnaround aid station ended up at just under mile 7. (Yes - I paid for 13.1 miles and ended up with nearly 14! Booyaa!) Note that the 35K runners kept going straight from here to do a lap around Briones.
I didn't spend much time here since I still felt I had a chance at catching Alegna, and I headed back down the trail.
Leaving that aid station was a bit of rolling trail before the last real climb, which was reasonably mild and would be followed by a lot of downhill that was very runnable. This could happen!
But it didn't. My left knee acted up a bit at about mile 20 or so during Brazen's Dirty Dozen the weekend before. For this race though, I figured it would be fine since it was a relatively short distance, and so I opted not to wear my knee brace.
Bad decision. Once I hit the top of the hill and started down, the knee yelled at me a bit and I knew catching Alegna was not going to happen. So I resigned myself to walking the downhills and enjoying the views.
This is looking across the reservoir at the 35K runners going across the dam on a long, exposed bit of trail. By this time it was quite warm and I knew that couldn't be pleasant.
I made it back to the first aid station, ate some fruit, and stumbled down the trail that I had long been dreaming of flying down.
|I had no trouble imagining how the others had floated down this trail. Heavy sigh.|
This sign made my day. (Well, it and that little yelp from Alegna.)
My goal had been a sub-3:30 finish, but I ended up settling for a sub-4:00 finish (barely). I was quite happy to see the finish line regardless of the time.
It was a great event! I loved the trails and getting bonus distance for my Half Marathon dollar! I do think the 35K is the ideal distance though - I heard that the trails were pretty good around the reservoir (other than that flat, exposed bit along the dam).
There should have been more dogs though.
That's it - move along…
PS: You can see more of my pictures here.