Friday, April 18, 2014

Grandkids and puddles at the Annadel Half Marathon

Programming Note: I just looked - it's been a month and a half since my last post. That's absurd. I'm going to try to fix that.

A bit less than a year ago, the Weird Haired Mom family moved to Charlie Brown-infested Santa Rosa. For whatever reason, Mrs Notthat and I had not managed to make a trip up there to see the new joint yet. So WHM made us sign up for the Annadel Half Marathon (she knows the way to our travel hearts) which would finally get us up there.

And it worked!

Mrs Notthat and Rasta Chuck!
Mrs Notthat and I drove up the day before the race and picked up our race bibs and shirts. From there we headed to the Casa de WHM.

The gecko-filled Casa de WHM.

Above is Grandkid First Born and her gecko. I have failed as a grandpa since I can't remember its name ("lemonade" is in there somewhere).

And here is Grandkid Second Born with his gecko (I think "speedy" is in its name somewhere). The grandkids had an awfully hard time understanding why I didn't want to pet these things, but they didn't let that stop them from trying.

After a delightful Thai dinner ("anything's fine with me, but I don't eat spicy the night before a race" is what I intended - and was then served the hottest seafood dish I've ever had), we headed to the motel to prepare for the next day's race.

If you haven't heard, California is in a serious drought. It is aggressively shattering records. The odd thing is that we have been getting a lot of rain recently - it rained most of the day before the race.

You could fairly easily dodge most of the puddles, but why?
The sun shone, well, not exactly brightly, but at least dryly on race day. However, the trails were very moist.

The course was a lollipop, but the all-day sucker kind with a tiny stick and a huge candy bit. The mile long stick bit was about half paved and half gravel road/lake.

About half a mile into the stick I saw this sign - I loved it! The funny thing was that I had decided to wear my Blerch shirt for this race. (If you don't know what a Blerch is, you need to read this. Then find a case of delightful purple beverages.)

A tiny bit later on the trail I saw this sign:

I then knew who had put up the signs. I didn't know when (it turned out they put them up about an hour before the race started), but I was wildly impressed.

The above aid station was at the end of the stick - once we left here, we were on a large loop. And on fine single-track trails.

And I mean FINE single-track trails! The race's website had mentioned the trails were a bit technical, and they certainly delivered. The trails weren't always rock-infested baby creeks, but the best ones were.

The course was quite well marked, but just to make sure, there were volunteers at most of the trail intersections to point you in the right direction. I would ask them "which way do I go" and they would look at me like I was a bit dense, then see me point the camera at them. I love these shots!

They could have just said "follow the rocks."

It was hard to not turn around and stomp through this a couple more times.

The aid stations had the normal perky volunteers, hydration stuff, and chewy blocks of goodness.

Which way? (It occurred to me later than I should have asked them to point in different directions.)

The course was not flat, but the modest 1350 feet of climbing was hard to miss. And, again, these trails were just amazing.

Most of the aid stations were not easily accessible, so the volunteers had to run or bike in. (I assume the supplies just magically appeared.)

This guy, whose name I found out later was Cram (not his real name), was standing at the top of the biggest climb and was very enthusiastically cheering on the runners. "It's all downhill from here!" he cried. (Shortly after passing him we had to climb a bit of a hill, but it was small and it really was mostly downhill from here.)

I could not talk the ranger into renting me his ATV.
I want what they had for breakfast.
As I was "running" down the hill, I kept hearing what sounded like a group of over-caffeinated cheerleaders up ahead of me. I kept expecting to get a pom-pom thrown at me at some aid station that I was almost at, but the aid station seemed to keep moving.

And then I caught up with these four amazingly perky women. They were having WAY too much fun - I loved it!

Shortly after this aid station, someone who may or may not have been involved with the race wrestled my camera from me and took this picture.

Yes. That's a fine-tuned athlete.

Eventually I made it back to the stick, and halfway down it I came across WHM, GFB, and GSB (now lizard-free!). WHM said a lot more runners got her Vulcan-based sign ("Run Long and Prosper") than the Blerch sign, but everyone loved the grandkid's sign ("Hurry. We are tired & dirty.").

It was great to see them there, and it was swell that the grandkids got out of the huge puddle off to the side long enough to enthusiastically wave that sign at me. (HA!)

One last "which way do I go?"
The race finished with a mad dash (at least it was a dash in my mind) across a grass field.

The finish line! I made it!
Kind of a fun thing (if you are really bored) is that you can go to this website, enter "Lucas" in the search field, select one of us, the Video tab, and then watch a movie of us finishing.

Mrs Notthat beat me (no surprise) but only by a bit over three minutes. But that was long enough for her to fill a plate with pasta and start chowing down.

I grabbed my post-race beer and plate of pasta, then basked in the glow of the sun.

That's not a tan.

This was a very cool race! I loved the trails, the organization, the shirts, and the fun medals. I would easily recommend this race to others - just beware that it sold out (400 runner cap) about a week before the race, so you shouldn't dawdle.

And be sure to watch out for geckos - they aren't as cuddly as they look.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

nice tee shirts and so nice to see the grand kids again!