Saturday, February 27, 2010

A walk fit for a kayak

This morning's San Jose Stay Fit walk was at Calero County Park and Water Slide Preserve. Mrs Notthat did not go since she had already made plans to visit some daffodils. Coach Luap (not his real name) did not go since he needed to be a good husband.

In any case the weather was very nice - it never rained on us and even hit us with some sunshine occasionally.

We start with the first true porta-pottie shot we have had in a while (that's Coach Werdna - not his real name - primping before we get started.

While Werdna was getting his walking face on, the rest of the group waits. From left to right, thats Eve (sigh...), Uidualc, Nna, and two guest coaches, Wel and Ekim.

Any doubts about whether the previous day's rain would leave the trails wet were dealt with right away.

We then came to the first of the rain-swollen creeks we had to cross. It was impossible to cross without getting your feet wet.

As Eve crosses, Coach Ekim helpfully points out a crocodile (or at least a fierce looking rock).

You know it's a nicely muddy trail when you see everyone in single-file on the grass along the side.

For the first time in a month or so, we had enough coaches to be able to split into a longer group and a shorter group. At this point, most opted for the shorter route. That left Coach Werdna, Uidualc, and I as the long route walkers.

A lot of the trail was like this - narrow and more of a small creek than something you would walk on. And I forgot to mention that there were a lot of uphill sections.

Look at all that blue sky! (If you can get away from looking at the maps.)

We then came upon another creek. The first one was narrow enough that you at least felt like you could jump over it (which I don't think anyone successfully did), but this one was obviously too wide to cross that way. So we all took off our shoes and waded.

This was a bit heart-wrenching for Uidualc since he is an actual bridge engineer. He looked around a bit, but could not find any likely bridge-building bits laying around, and so took his boots off and waded across.

After putting our shoes back on we went about 100 yards further up the trail only to find the creek needing to be crossed again. One thing that Werdna and I discovered when we took our shoes off for the previous crossing was that they were already pretty soaked, so we both just left them on for this crossing.  (Werdna, caught up a bit in the Olympic spirit, thought about using his walking sticks to vault across, but  wisely changed his mind. That would have made a great picture though.)

A quick look at the map showed two more crossings ahead, so Uidualc chose to leave his boots off. Naturally, both of these crossings turned out to use culverts and no wading was necessary.

As a reward for his cleverness, Uidualc found an old horseshoe that he is going to make into a medal for this walk. (No, I cannot explain why he is wearing his hat that way, but I'm sure there is a good reason. It's probably a Romanian thing.)

The last moderately interesting thing on this hike was this Bat Inn. That building on stilts is filled with bats. No word on whether there were any robins as well. Or the Batmobile.

And here is a final amazing thing - after that long, muddy walk/swim, Uidualc jumped on his bike and rode it five miles to his house. (Note that the hat is now back to a more traditional position.)

It was a fun, if wet, walk with beautiful views, wild turkeys, and several deer. But next time Uidualc has promised to bring his kayak.

That's it - move along...

PS: Once I got home and started watching the second half of the Kansas/Oklahoma State basketball game (which was won by the wrong team), I ended up finding two ticks behind my right knee! Yikes!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Catching up on some pictures

Following are a bunch of mostly unrelated pictures that I have been meaning to post, and since it is raining out, this is a good time to post them.

Darci's school, Orion here in Redwood City, has the kids create something for "100 Day" - the one hundredth day of school. Her and Grandma Betty made this from 100 flower petals. (Later she said she needed 100 coins in a sock. That sounded suspicious.)

The grandkids enjoying an unusually dry day out in the treehouse.

We installed a bird feeder. Riley was a bit disappointed that dozens of birds did not immediately show up.

Darci likes making large piles of leaves. The tree in our backyard doesn't understand the concept of fall - instead of losing all its leaves before winter, it just grows new ones in the spring and loses the old leaves as the new ones come in. That way it is always green, but it means we have to deal with dead leaves in the spring.

Riley and Darci enjoy the new deck furniture.

And of all things, they like climbing inside the coffee table.

The Boy took this picture showing the difference between the Race Car and his Jeep. And this is before he installed a lift kit on the Jeep.

The grandkids have a great time terrorizing Irbua (not her real name). Actually, so does The Boy. Sophie, Irbua's fluffy dog, is amazingly tolerant and stands guard.

Everyone acting very grown up.

Darci planted a bunch of pumpkin seeds which, bizarrely, are growing into baby pumpkin plants. This makes me start thinking about getting the garden in order (which will involve pulling a LOT of weeds and such that have taken over this winter).

And that's about it. It feels good to get (mostly) caught up!

That's it - move along...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bay Breeze (rhymes with Freeze)

Weird Haired Mom (WHM, mother of the grandkids) and I joined 622 other people at the Brazen Racing Bay Breeze event in San Leandro, along the shore of San Francisco Bay. (Mrs Notthat had a previous engagement and was unable to come along, although given the cold wind, she would have been miserable there.)

I picked up WHM at 7:30. I knew she had done something "special" to her hair the night before, but this was my first real look at it. Weird Haired Mom indeed! (But she was easy to find in a crowd.)

The medals table. Everybody gets a finisher medal (actually, they ran about 3 or 4 short - I think there was a bigger turnout than expected - a much bigger turnout than the previous two races I have run with them). There are also medals for overall winners as well as medals for the top three finishers in each age group. Bling for all!

Yak (not her real name) volunteered at the t-shirt station. I took this to prove that she really worked hard at this station. Volunteers score a t-shirt and a free race later.

Uidualc (who did not officially participate, but did go along for the walk just for fun) and WHM returning from putting our goody bags and shirts in the car.

This is a hacked together view of the area where you picked up your bibs, timing chips, shirts, and food. As usual, everything went smoothly - the lines were quick and everything was waiting for you. (By the way, I completely failed to get a porta-pottie, or any kind of a bathroom picture.  I know how heartbroken you are. Sorry.)

Number 345 is Anert (love that name with my super-secret code!) who is also from San Jose Fit. Each race (half, 10K, and 5K) had different color bibs this time, which was a nice touch. Anert walked the 10K and WHM the 5K.

The walking SJ Fitters - me, Anrol, Ahtreb, and Anert.

Notice how perky we all are. That's mostly because this is a massively fun thing to do, but it's also because we are in a sheltered area and don't know there is a cold wind ahead of us.

Nod is also a walking SJ Fitter, but he was keen to get started and was already at the starting line.

Also joining us were Aicram (number 56) and Aleakim (not in this picture) who you might remember from the Jan 2nd New Years Run at Lake Chabot. The guy on the left was a friend of theirs who I promised to give a hard time to since he did not hang around for Aicram to finish.

The Half Marathoners getting ready to head out.

Aicram and Aleakim both started out running, which meant they were way ahead of me. Aicram started walking after a bit, and I managed to pass her. She was still going at a pretty good clip though.

The trail was dry and fast. The mud to the side of parts of the trail really reminded me of the Bear Creek event. I swear several runners looked longingly at this mud.

Coach Luap (to the left) also volunteered for this race, manning the aid station at the 10K turnaround point. He was very busy slinging water and sports drink when I passed by.

The only vaguely muddy spot on the whole trail.

Finally a picture of Aleakim. This was an "out-and-back" trail - she was flying at this point, already having turned around and streaking towards the finish line.

Finally I reached the turn around point. I grabbed a handful of M&Ms (which I swear were frozen solid). Most of the trail along the shore of the bay is unprotected, and was hit with a fairly bitter, cold wind. While that was annoying to us runners/walkers, it was worse for the volunteers at the aid stations who had to just stand there and could not do much moving to warm up.

Once I turned around, I started seeing the others that were behind me. Here is Uidualc. I'm pretty sure he had not even noticed the cold.

The next person I ran into was Aicram. She was still going strong and perky, but was having a bit of pain. (That face is the result of the cold - sorry Aicram).

Then came Nod, who also did not appear to notice the cold.

Then came Ahtreb, who is impervious to the weather.

And then there was Anrol - the only one smart enough in our group to wear gloves. I was intensely jealous (and a bit stupid since my gloves were sitting in a nice warm car - I was sure I didn't need them).

My wildly optimistic goal had been to finish in under three hours - my time turned out to be 3:00:35! I can't believe I got so close (although I cheated a bit by jogging for the last few hundred yards). In any case, Anert and Yak were waiting at the finish line.

WHM then joined me at the finish line. Note her yellow shirt - the men got gray shirts and the women got these yellow shirts.

After the picture, WHM quickly put my Jayhawks sweatshirt back on...

...and ate another donut. There was a nice spread at the end of the race (as usual).

Next to finish was Nod.

Then came Ahtreb, still perky.

Followed by Anrol, also perky, and inexplicably carrying one of the mile marker signs as a souvenir.

A cool thing was that all the SJ Fitters (along with some of the Brazen people) hung around to cheer for everyone as they finished.

And last (but by far not least) came Aicram. Word had gotten to us that she was struggling and in pretty severe pain. But she was determined to finish standing up, and she did. It was a great moment when she crossed the finish line, as you can see on Aleakim's face.

And that was it. Here is the men's shirt and the medal (WHM noticed there was both a pink and a blue sea creature - one for each grandkid!).

The event was a LOT of fun, although I will add "a cold wind" to the list of things that walkers/runners care about at these events (the others being hills, rain, and mud).

Ahtreb cleverly came up with this being the "Bay Freeze" event. What made the cold a bit harsh was that it was relatively nice at the start line, so many did not take as much warm clothing as they would have if they had known how cold the wind would be. We should have guessed that though - it's cold along the bay even in the summer.

I was thrilled that WHM had a good time and is looking forward to doing this again.

That's it - move along...