Saturday, November 1, 2014

Running with the tarantulas

Eight years ago, a trail race was started to help promote the Los Vaqueros (Norwegian for "cuddly spiders") reservoir and watershed area. For 2014, Brazen Racing added the race to their ever-expanding empire.

Brazen tweaked the course a bit (I heard mixed responses as to whether it was now harder or easier), and the Half course was now a lollipop with a mean hill and many ornery rolling hills. And it was all sun-drenched (in spite of the predicted clouds we were supposed to have).

I came home from work a few days earlier to find this on the dining room table. I was puzzled since one of the last things Mrs Notthat would be doing is letting dough rise to bake bread. (Unless there is such a thing as kale and brussels sprout bread. And that's a joke - please don't send her recipes for this.)

I had forgotten that the day before I had left this thing on the table. A certain someone REALLY does not like spiders, even fake ones wearing leg warmers. This guy was going to run the race with me.

Don't let that smile fool you - this spider had already stolen the shoes off of four kids, and wanted more.
A fun thing about this race is that it has a kid's race. Not A Canadian made this wonderful spider thing to charm and entertain the kids. (Mrs Notthat spent the whole pre-race time trying to find a towel big enough to cover it up.)

Occor (not his real name) very bravely volunteered to direct the kids. That is a smile of terror on his face.
First up was the kid's race. These are the most fun, with a mix of older kids gunning for a win and younger kids gunning for candy. 

And they're off!

Since the kid's course was a loop with the potential of a wrong turn or two, Sirhc (not his real name) was the rabbit. How hard could it be to run ahead of the kids on a short loop? Pretty hard, it turned out. He had to really push it to keep ahead of this lead kid.

Occor offering to pace in one of the runners. In the background, the Brazen Spider was struggling with cramping issues. (You think a leg cramp is bad - try being a spider with eight legs!) 

Once the kid's race was done (and Sirhc was revived after the sprint), the Half started. The first couple of miles were reasonably flat with a few hills that were not too bad. (On the way back though, those hills would be brutal.)

Enjoy this shade. That's about it.

Racso (not his real name) and son were stationed near the bottom of one of the small hills grabbing pictures. 

I love this picture he got of Mrs Notthat a bit ahead of me - she is flying so high it really looks fake, like a bad Photoshop job. That kid likes herself some downhill!

In my picture, on the other hand, there is no air being caught. But at least I didn't fall.

A little bit further along we were treated to this sight of what was ahead - that's a lot of very exposed climbing.

You know it's a fast race when they have to put up "No Drafting" signs.

Eventually you reach the end of the lollipop stick, cross the road, and start up the real hill.

My kind of runner, stopping to get a picture taken.

The views did their best to make the hill climbing worth it.

Looking back down on the start area.
It wasn't really all that hot out, but that sun was relentless and took its toll on us.

The first aid station, about mile 3.6, was a great sight, mostly because it meant we were nearly done with that hill.

Looking back once I reached the top of the hill.

The hill climb was followed by a long, gradual, downhill dash. Which is what turned out to nearly be my doom.

The Wednesday before the race, I had tripped on a curb while crossing a parking lot at work, trying to get out of the way of an SUV, and ended up in a shrub. Unfortunately, on the way to the shrub, my right shin smashed against the curb. It hurt a bit, but there was little blood and I didn't think much about it.

Going down that long downhill though, I started thinking about it. A lot. My shin was not amused by my attempt to run this downhill, so I was not able to go quite as quickly as hoped.

I never saw a tarantula, but I did see my first snake of the year. I wanted to say it was eight feet long, but the footprints give away that it was maybe 18 inches. I think an angry tarantula could have taken it.

I don't pass many people during these races, but I did manage to catch up to Nerak (not her real name) and her amazing hat. (It's hard to tell from this picture, but that spider on her hat is wearing a red hat, just like hers, with a little spider on it! So cool!)

I was at about mile six and could see the next aid station up ahead. The problem was that that aid station was still two miles away. (Note all the shade trees. Sheesh.)

A huge surprise was catching up to The Endorphin Dude. He was struggling a bit, coming off his 50M Dick Collins race the previous weekend and still fighting a rib injury (the result of him being outsmarted by a timing mat), so I had a bit of pity for him.

But then I said "screw it - you're going down Endorphin Dude!" and took off, leaving him in the dust. (I would pay for that later, but beating him is a big deal for me, even if he was only firing on every other cylinder.)

I finally made it to the second aid station, about mile 8.2. The course from here on looks pretty flat on the elevation chart, but in real life, there were some small hills that took great delight in trying to break you.

A short bit after that aid station, we were VERY close to the finish line, geographically speaking. Brazen wisely had this volunteer pointing the way to keep going. Away from the finish area. By a lot.

The top of that sign has real blood on it. Spiders need to be taken seriously!

As the trail followed the road for a bit, we ran into Nivla (not his real name), taking pictures from his hidden camera.

This is the picture he got of Mrs Notthat when she came through much earlier. Still getting air.

This is the picture he got of me. No air being grabbed at all.

The course basically just follows the road for about a mile and a half or so. Along the way we hit the third and final aid station, at mile 10.4. Racso had relocated here to take pictures of the runners slogging along this stretch.

Racso's picture of my spider (and the dragonflies on the hat). 

Eventually we got to the lollipop stick again, crossed the road, and headed back to the start. These hills were not particularly fun for me since my right shin was pretty upset. But the end was near.

I caught up to Rehtaeh (not her real name) who was starting to have her own pain issues. Rema (not his real name) is well aware of the devastating effect of getting beat by me, so he came out to give Rehtaeh a pep talk and to distract me a bit.

Rema grabbed my camera to get some action shots, but if you look up ahead, you can see that Rehtaeh now has a solid lead over me. I wrestled the camera back and continued plodding to the finish.

Mrs Notthat showing off her age group award. And soaking up the sun. On purpose.
Not everyone takes getting beat by me as hard as The Endorphin Dude does. But they should. (And no, this had nothing to do with a timing mat.)

This is a fun race. The inclusion of the kid's race is a nice touch. I was sad not to see any real tarantulas (although they actually had a few in the finish area that you could hold and, in some cases,  scream at). The course is really not that tough - the hill takes forever to get up, but it's not a steep climb and it's followed by a lot of downhill. There's very little shade, but there are some nice views.

In the post-race shower, I tried to wash my right shin, but it was tender and the dirt didn't want to come off. It turned out that running this race caused the shin to bruise and to hurt a lot more than it had previously. It's possible that I maybe should have done a shorter distance.

I did drop to the 5K at the following weekend's race, so I'm not a complete moron.

Just a partial one.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

PPS: This was my first race running solely with Tailwind Nutrition. My stomach is very fragile in races where there is any heat involved (hi Rocky Ridge!), so I finally decided to give this stuff a try. The idea is that it provides everything you need; salt, calories, good running form, all in a simple drink. I was dubious, but was really hopeful. I didn't think this race would be a particularly good test, since it wasn't supposed to be all that warm, but it turned out to be a great test. And the stuff worked! It has a sweet/savory taste that takes a bit to get used to, and it's also much better when it's cold than warm, but I never felt hungry and it was great to not have to remember to take a salt cap every 30-60 minutes. My hopes are pretty high for this stuff now.  (They are also a great company to deal with.)


Nafets said...

Did you see a doctor for the bruised shin? Thought you wanted to see a doctor after the 5K. Hope all is fine and hope to see you for the Nitro Turkey and Quarry Turkey.

notthatlucas said...

Nafets - yes! He almost hurt himself rolling his eyes when I told him I had dropped to the 5K the following weekend. He said it was no big deal but to try to rest it for another week or two. It's feeling (and looking) much better now.

Nafets said...

Oh good. I am glad you feeling much better. So you had your resting day today. You missed the NYC Marathon, the SF Half and Brazen's Diablo Trail Adventure HM. The weather was just perfect, the view outstanding, the course hard.

notthatlucas said...

I did slow flat runs the last two days. Saturday there will be a real hill, but only five miles at Coastal Lake Chabot. That will be a good test. (Diablo would not have been good for me today, except maybe the 5K.)