Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dirty Dozen - Is the 5th time a charm?

It truly amazes me that this year was the fifth time that I've gone for 12 hours at the Brazen Dirty Dozen event. And it was going to be the fifth time that I started, determined to get to 50 miles.

History was not on my side though:

  • 2011 - 40.3 miles (and the first time I'd ever horked up on the trail, and the first time medical people looked at me with concern)
  • 2012 - 34.35 miles
  • 2013 - 40.44 miles
  • 2014 - 37.25 miles

But this year was going to be different.

For one thing, Mrs Notthat, due to her lingering injury, was not going to take part in the timed event, and instead, was going to show up in the afternoon and try out a 5K distance.

For another thing, I decided not to bring a tent. The idea of having a tent is that it provides a place to change and get out of the weather (especially if it was cold and windy). In the past, I've snuck into it and laid down for 20 minutes or so. Having a tent though adds to the setup and provides a mental challenge in that it's a place to hide out when things are not going well. This year, if things weren't going well, I was determined to work them out on the trail, and not while lying in a tent.

Nej, not her real name, was WAY too perky for this early.
I rode to Point Pinole with Not a Canadian. This meant getting to the race much earlier than normal, which I also figured meant I would have to stand around longer in the cold. It's always cold there in the morning.

Except this year. Look at how clear it was a 7AM - it was already starting to warm up a bit, and this was not good news for me.

Looping courses can be boring and monotonous. Dirty Dozen uses a 3.37 mile loop that has a bit of everything: Exposed trails along the shore, mild hills, and trails through the trees.

Last year, Brazen had managed to talk the park people into letting them use this short but great little trail in place of a short but with a nasty climb (at least it seemed nasty later in the day) bit of trail. Sadly, we had to switch back to the old trail since there was a tree down that was blocking the new trail.

This made me sad.

At least we still got to use this fun little bit of single-track trail - it was what I looked forward to on each lap.

Last year, the park people added that new bathroom (yay!). The end of the single-track trail had this "Y," and we were supposed to take the left trail. The left trail had an issue though, and that issue became increasingly less fun as the day wore on.

This picture does not do the issue justice - the trail had a quick drop of about two feet and then a sudden jump up about two feet to the top of that pavement. I managed to get through this fine, but only because I used extreme caution. I know a number of runners that opted for the right path at the "Y" - I doubt it was any shorter, but I suspect it was a bit less treacherous.

If you survived the "Y," you had a short bit of pavement (where you passed yet another set of bathrooms) and arrived at the midpoint aid station. This aid station is interesting - it seems like as short as the loop is, we don't really need an aid station here. But a lot of runners treat this as a road race and don't carry any bottles with them - they just rely on this aid station and the one at the start/finish. I'm slow enough that I have to carry a bottle with me, and had to stop here a number of times to fill it up.

My second favorite bit of the course was when we headed into the trees. Lots of shade made for some cooler running.

Once you left the trees, you had the most serious climb of the course along a very exposed hill top.

But the hill top meant you were getting close to the end of the loop. (If you look really hard, you can see the arch in the distance.)

I really can't imagine anyone making a wrong turn at this point, but just in case there was a volunteer to point out which way to go. (I got him to point in a different direction each time I came through. It amused me and made for some odd pictures.)

The festival area.
Once you pass under the arch, you are done with that lap and are officially already started on the next one. The area was lined with tents, awnings, chairs, and fun.

Some of the really smart runners ran as teams, which meant you would run a lap, then kick back for an hour or so waiting for your turn to come up again. These people smiled a LOT more than those of us in the individual category.

The last couple of years had a Clockie to motivate us late in the race. This year we had a Turkey doing Clockie duty.

One thing you could not do at this race was go hungry. There is a BBQ going all afternoon, but as a 12 hour runner, I really didn't want to pause long enough to take part in that (until I finally said "uncle" at the end). Which is why I love it when the pizzas show up.

I was using Tailwind for all my nutrition, and it was working well, but I can't resist a slice of pizza.

As the day wore on, I realized that 50 miles was not even vaguely going to happen. In fact, I started to doubt 20 miles would happen - the heat was getting to me and I was seriously slogging. But since I had no tent to hide in, I just kept going, one lap at a time.

My A goal was 50 miles, which I really do think is possible for me, but things have to really go well. My B goal was 40 miles, which I've done twice here, so I know it's possible. My C goal was a 50K (31 miles) - this is really the minimum acceptable distance for me, and I was determined to at least get that far.

It was rough, but I got there, and just in time to see Mrs Notthat finish her 5K.

She was hurting - this was a good test but it also showed she was still not nearly right yet. Seeing her though inspired me to go out for one more big lap.

The Racsos, not their real names, were guarding the entrance to the little loop.
When we get down to there only being an hour left, a small loop is opened up for us. The only miles that count are those with a completed loop, and in that last hour, it would be risky to head out on the big loop and potentially not finish it before the horn sounds. So the little loop, which is 0.6 miles, opens up for us.

I ended up doing three of the little loops before saying "uncle" and grabbing some BBQ.

Once the little loop opened, we had to make sure to go over the correct timing mat to get the proper distance credit. Hpesoj (not his real name) was there to explain which was the correct timing mat. We were tired runners by this point, so common sense was not abundant.

It's hard to believe that, after nearly 12 hours, you could have an exciting finish. But we did. A couple of runners decided to take a chance and try to get in one more little loop as the time ran down. They took off like rabbits. Here, Niwhsa, not her real name, was pushing extremely hard to got that last loop in. Racso Jr volunteered to be her rabbit, and she chased him around that loop. A couple of others also headed out for that last loop, but Niwhsa was moving the best and had the best chance of succeeding. From the start/finish area, you could see most of the little loop, and from the little loop, you could definitely hear the start/finish area, and we were all yelling and trying to explain that time was running out. Just in case the runners forgot.

In the end, Niwhsa made it by about a second, and Dyoll missed by about a second. All Day missed by about 10 seconds.

It was great once it was all over since we could relax and enjoy the food.

I ended up with 35.5 miles, which isn't bad, but not nearly what I had hoped. But given how rough the going had been early on, I'm really surprised I got that far. (For the record, the winner managed an astonishing 69.8 miles. I was 75th out of 140 runners.)

The red shows the main course - if you look closely near the green thing, you can see small red bit that shows the little loop cutoff.

This shows the start area and the little loop cutoff a bit better. You can also see that some bonus distance is put in at the start area as you wander around for food and bathrooms.

And this is the elevation chart. According to my GPS, I did a total of 1772 feet of climbing for the day, which is really pretty much insignificant (although it didn't feel so insignificant later on).

The event is a blast and offers a little bit of everything - individual timed races, team races, and 5K/10K races scattered throughout the day just to make things interesting.

I'll be back for number six next year, and the 50 mile mark will go down for sure.

Maybe. Well, at least the BBQ will go down.

That's it -move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.


mary ann said...

Good for you - I admire your planning and optimism (and BBQ) and 35 miles is damn impressive!

Fun Size said...

I love this event and I'm sad that I missed it this year so I get to live it vicariously through you. Not sad to have missed the course change back to that hill though. lol