Sunday, November 28, 2010

Summer leafs us (sorry)

This past week saw the end of summer and the beginning of winter. Hopefully fall will manage to work it's way into the mix, but for now, it appears to be cowering in Arizona with no intent of visiting us.

We've had several frosts and threats of snow on the surrounding hills.

So Mrs Notthat took the hint and swapped out her summer clothes for winter clothes, an all day process that I promised not to make fun of.

So I headed outside with the grandkids to see how big of a leaf pile we could make.

It wasn't a very big pile, but it was big enough for them and Selma to have fun with.

They tried diving into it, but it was a bit crowded.

Then the real fun began when they decided to redistribute the leaves around the yard.

Riley thought it would be fun to redistribute some leaves on The Blog.

The Blog had a slightly different opinion. (Observant readers will note that the cherry tree still has a LOT of green leaves on it. This means you still have LOTS of leaf infested pictures to come in the weeks ahead.)

As a punishment, I gathered the leaves back up and buried the kids in them. Note how badly this made them feel.

Darci taking an ill-timed nap.

Darci showing off her mad puzzle skillz. (I think she was hoping to get the puzzle built on top of her. Hey - it worked with the leaves, right?)

That's it - move along...

Friday, November 26, 2010

The turkey pulls a hammy!

We could have spent Thanksgiving morning watching football and going through the Black Friday ads, but instead we spent it watching the grandkids race a giant turkey before most of us ran a 5k or 10K race at the Brazen Nitro Turkey event.

It was a clear, calm, and cool day. Perfect (unless you are a mud fan).

It was about a 1K to get from the parking lot to the starting area. Darci did not want to burn herself out early, so she managed to convince Uncle Jesse to carry her part of the way.

There were barrels set up to collect non-perishable food items for a local food bank. Jesse had to take Riley back out of the barrel though when it was decided that Riley was reasonably perishable.

The grandkid's dad, Ryan managed to get the kids bibbed.

The morning started with about 200 kids racing the Nitro Turkey. The Nitro Turkey claimed to have been working out intensely in the weeks leading up to this event, but there were doubters in the crowd.

And the doubters were proved right when the Nitro Turkey pulled a hamstring (yum - turkey AND ham together!) and barely managed to finish the 100 yard race.

All the kids received medals and goody bags. The plan was for me to take the grandkids over to the playground while the adults did their 5K and 10K races. As a complete surprise though, both of the kids wanted to go with their dad and Aubri on the 5K course. So I headed out about three quarters of a mile to both take pictures of all the runners streaming along the course and to provide a drop off point for the kids since there was no way they were going to be interested in going the whole 3.1 miles.

There were a LOT of 5K and 10K runners (around 600 total, not counting the kids and dogs that came along for the ride). Here is Jesse running past me.

And then Diane came flying past. She forgot her walking sticks at home, so she decided to try a bit of running.

A bit later Aubri and Riley showed up. Riley stood by me for about five seconds, saying he was going to stay with me, but before the words were out of his mouth, he was gone, chasing after Aubri (who probably really did want to hang out with me at this point).

Shortly after that Ryan and Darci showed up. Darci was seriously dragging, and I was sure she would stop. But she didn't. I knew that if the kids didn't stop here, they would have to finish the race since they were approaching the halfway point, and there were no shortcuts to get back. It was like a guy that swims halfway across a lake, decides he can't make it all the way, so swims back.

Once all the runners got past me, I cut across a field in time to catch many of the runners coming up on the three mile marker. Jesse was still looking very strong (and ended up running nearly the entire 10K, finishing with a great time of 1:01:11 - love the binary-ness of that number!).

Diane came by a bit later, also looking strong and feeling good. She finished with an impressive 1:30:54 time.

One note: When I do these events, I love the encouraging words and such from spectators and volunteers - they can be a huge inspiration. What does not always help though, are things like "You're almost done!" when you know good and well that you are not even halfway done.

At this point, both 5K and 10K people were running past me. Some had yellow bibs while others had blue bibs, indicating which race they were doing. I have been around a dozen or so Brazen events, and know that yellow bibs are always for 5K, blue for 10K, and red for Half Marathons (which they did not have today, so red was used for the kid's race).

But my brain somehow convinced itself that the blue bibs were 5K and yellow were 10K. Which meant I was the guy yelling "Almost done!" to the 10K people and "Almost halfway done!" to the 5K people, both of which probably thought I had been hanging around the Nitro Turkey a bit too long. Fortunately, I figured out the colors after a bit.

I wondered how the grandkids were doing. Then I could hear them. Darci yelling "We can't let a 3-year-old beat us!" among other things. Darci was hanging with another girl, and each was keeping the other going. Riley was full of energy though, and was still going strong. They all finished and finally got to attack the playground. And pie. And It's-It ice cream bars. And...

Jesse actually finished his 10K just ahead of the incredibly patient Aubri and Ryan, who managed to get the grandkids to their 5K finish line. We went out and came in with Diane.

Diane had a theory about who the Nitro Turkey actually was.

I have no idea, but was surprised that I didn't see Brazen Marie until really late in the morning.

To nobody's surprise, this was an amazingly fun event. There was a huge turnout, lots of giggling kids, a number of dogs, several costumes, and LOTS of pie! Mr and Mrs Brazen work very hard to make these events fun for the family, but they (and all the volunteers) really outdo themselves on this holiday.

A HUGE thanks to Sam and Jasmin for all their efforts putting on these events! Hopefully the two of you and the kids managed to find a few minutes to relax later in the day.

And managed to look the other way when it came to the Black Friday ads.

That's it - move along...(to Summit Rock!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rocking out, picking out, and getting goosed

Some fun things from our weekend...

A brave group of us went for a hike to my favorite place on Saturday morning - Castle Rock State Park. It was 37 degrees and foggy when we started.

This was the parking lot. We had very little competition on the trails.

Large parts of the trail are very rock-infested. Above are Mrs Notthat, Llib, Akna (Uidualc's wife), and Uidualc (not their real names) strolling out of the fog. (Note: I am not going to mention that Werdna stayed home in a nice warm bed. I will mention that Laup had an actual excuse for not being there.)

A rare shot of me out on the trail (thanks to Llib). Note that I'm the only one wearing shorts - it's possible my brain might have it's laces a bit too tight. Or loose.

Mrs Notthat and I posing. (While I may have used questionable judgement by wearing shorts, I did think to wear a rain jacket. Also, I thought to bring gloves, but Mrs Notthat didn't. Note who is wearing the gloves. I am nothing if not a gentleman. Sort of.)

It rained on us for the last half of the hike, but since rocks don't get all mucky and muddy when they're exposed to a bit of moisture, we didn't get very messy. I was too cold to be disappointed (it warmed all the way up to 39 degrees by the time we were done).

On the way home in the driving rain I got to pass the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile on the freeway. That made up for the lack of mud.

One fun thing - I have this week off! Not that we are dong anything productive with it, but not having to go to work meant I got to be home today when the grandkids came over.

We are supposed to have a strong frost either tonight or tomorrow night, so we went out to pick all the tomatoes, whether they were ripe or not. Darci found a non-tomato item that should not have been in the garden.

Riley admitted to putting that non-tomato thing in the garden.

Once the tomatoes were safely in the house, we mowed the lawn and got out the croquet set. This is the closest they have ever come to actually playing something that vaguely resembles croquet.

Then The Boy and I headed out to Bayfront to run a few hills. Here he is bravely challenging a goose. (There were a LOT of geese out there. We passed one gang of thug geese that hissed at us, which rattled me a bit. Just before we headed up this hill, The Boy told me that if the geese turned on him, he was going to fly back down and I would be on my own. Like I would let him get by me.)

When we got home, Darci, dressed quite formally, and I baked pumpkin cookies. She made sure I didn't sneak in any broccoli.

We then spent some time discussing race strategy. On Thursday, the grandkids are going to race a seven-foot-tall turkey. They are both determined to win. (Mrs Notthat, The Boy, his girlfriend The Big Wind, and the grandkids' dad Needs Cool Name will all then take part in a proper race afterwards while I hang with the grandkids, trying to keep them from hurting the turkey.)

This week could turn out to be quite blogable. Hopefully.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Memo to self: next time bring a scraper

Today was the Brazen Racing Mt Diablo Trail Adventure. Today was also the first time in a while that it has rained here. This made for a challenging and fun day (which I can say now that I am home, warm and dry).

This was one dirty race.

It never really rained particularly hard, but it was steady and a bit cool, especially when the wind kicked up. Mrs Notthat drained two cups of steaming hot coffee before the race started.

Mr Brazen is explaining to a caller that, yes, the race is still going to happen. Considering the conditions, there were an amazing number of people that came out to play in the mud.

It was great to see a number of kids out to splash around in the muck.

Originally, Mrs Notthat and Ann were signed up for the Half Marathon, but both wisely chose to switch to the 10K race. I'm not nearly as wise so I stuck with the Half. (I was deeply envious and getting a bit wiser by the 10K turnaround though. But by then it was too late.)

The volunteers were stunning - they spent a LOT of time in the rain keeping us hydrated and fed, not to mention the ones that somehow managed to get everyone ready to go so the races started on time. A great job in way less than ideal circumstances.

Also, races in Mt Diablo State Park end up involving lots of search and rescue people keeping track of the runners - my guess is that there were at least 7 times along the course our bib numbers were noted - they were very determined to not let anyone get lost. Or drown.

The course was mostly fire roads (most of which did not hold up to the rain very well) with a lot of stunning single-track mixed in. These trails were a blast.

I tried to get a picture that captured how hard it was to move in this mud. I even tried taking movies, but nothing really worked. It would clump on your shoes in a heavy, sticky glob. You could try to shake it off, but it wouldn't work and you might end up falling over.

People would try anything to get the mud off their shoes. Sturdy sticks were treated like gold, with runners carrying them for large chunks of the race. An enterprising kid with an ice scraper would have made a killing.

And to make things interesting, there was a tree across the trail.

The course is famous for its creek crossings. Normally at this time of year, most are dry or barely running, and this was the case yesterday. Today, some were flowing a bit, but they were pretty easy to cross without getting wet. However, many figured out that going through creek water was a way to get some of the mud off your shoes.

A great sight - the finish line! The race was amazingly challenging. It was a bit humbling to get to the 4 mile marker and feel like you should have been at mile 8 or 9 - carrying all that mud on your shoes takes its toll. But it really was fun. You could practically skate down the hills. It was impressive to see people running through this muck.

Mrs Notthat and I with our medals.

The back of Mrs Notthat's legs.

The back of mine. Nobody came through this cleanly, but I saw nobody fall (but did hear of a few). I was amazed that I stayed upright the whole time - the last time I did a muddy race like this, Bear Creek in January (you can read about that here), I fell several times. Falling in mud doesn't hurt, but it is a bit messy and difficult to look graceful while doing it.

We brought a change of clothes that were kept dry in a large garbage bag. It felt great to change into them before getting in the car and heading home (I swear I heard our car whisper "Thank you").

And just to prove us racers weren't the only looney ones out in this weather, we saw these two.

The next race is on Turkey Day and will involve a lot of kids racing a giant turkey. The grandkids will be going (and have been talking strategy) as well as most of the rest of the family.

And I'll be bringing a scraper or two.

That's it - move along...

PS: Hey Andrew - aren't you impressed I didn't mention how you wussed out from doing this race? Mrs Notthat yelled "In your face!"