Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey race take two

This was the day many had been waiting for. Ever since Brazen announced a second turkey-based race and a special medal to commemorate it, the excitement has been mounting.

The day started with another Kid's Fun Run against an inexplicably cocky Brazen Turkey. Not only has this turkey never won the race, it has never beaten anyone. (Yes, it occurs to me that if was able to enter, its chances would improve dramatically.)

These kids are very competitive and really push it. Grandkid Thing 2 is giving it his all.

Grandkid Thing 1 is also flying. Both finished strong and nicely warmed up for their upcoming 5K. The Brazen Turkey, sadly, just barely finished at all. (Click here to see a movie I took of the race. It's rated "F" for "Furious." Click here to see the Nitro kid's race.)

Weird Haired Mom and Thing 2 stayed together for the 5K race. And don't let this blinding exhibition of speed fool you - Thing 2 was determined to walk the whole course. But he understands that you have to run for the camera.

Thing 1, on the other hand, did a LOT of running. This was her first race where she was able to head out mostly on her own, and she loved it. She made friends with probably half the runners on the course and finished strong.

Meanwhile Mrs Notthat and I did the Half Marathon course. This is an easy course - flat, a lot of pavement, little chance of getting lost - which is another way of saying I would normally hate it. But I was nobly willing to overlook all that and focus on the medals.

Mrs Notthat was strong and fast, which was amazing considering she was having serious tummy trouble and probably should not have been out there at all.

These porta-potties at about miles 3.3/10 were lifesavers. (She asked me to apologize to anyone that tried to use these after her.)

For the first time in a couple of years, my right knee started acting up. Dr. Nahom (not his real name or profession) whipped out a bottle of that magic stuff used at all the World Cup matches and sprayed some on my balky knee. I don't know if it or the ibuprofen worked, but within 30 minutes or so the knee was significantly better.

While the course is flat and a lot of time is spent running along a "creek" next to a lot of backyards, there is also a lot of time spent running around Quarry Lakes, which were quite pretty today. Those with good eyes will note the Brazen arch - so close yet so far.

Not only did I get my nifty finisher medals, but I also got a bottle of wine (for wearing that arrow through the head thing on Thursday) and, coolest of all, Marvin the Paranoid Android, made by the awesome Yrrek (not her real name). She's very clever and talented and I NOW HAVE A MARVIN! (While this had nothing to do with the race, I NOW HAVE A MARVIN!)

Momma Woof was also there and again won an age group medal. Ultra Woof did not win an age group medal, so Thing 2 picked her a yellow flower.

This is what the grandkids walked away with after these two turkey races: A medal from each Kid's Race, a medal from each 5K, and a bonus medal to tie the two together. They loved showing people how they went together like a puzzle. They also loved sounding like a herd of cows as they walked around with all of these on.

The somewhat frightening Brazen Rabbit and Not the Canadian - that is one of the greatest costumes ever seen in a trail race!

Who says trail runners aren't competitive?

Or athletic? I have no idea who the people in the above pictures are, but they are typical of what you will find at these races. And they, along with all the fun and enthusiastic volunteers, are what makes these races such a blast, which is why I can't resist doing them.

It was a great set of races and a great way to spend a couple of mornings.


That's it - move along...

PS: You can see more pictures I took here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Don't these people know there's football on?

Turkey Day races have become very popular, and why not? On a day known for food (and football), what's not to like about getting in a bit of exercise to help offset what you are about to eat? (Granted, for what I was about to eat, I'd have to do at least a 50K to put any kind of a dent in it.)

We, along with about 600 others, did the Brazen Nitro Turkey race last year and had a blast. There was no way we were going to miss it this year. And then Brazen upped the ante by adding a second turkey-based race and AWESOME bling for those who ran both races - a medal that's a puzzle!

So today, nearly 800 runners came out, braving a threat of rain (it didn't rain on the race, but the early setup people got pretty wet) and skipping a football game so that they could grab the first of the medals.

The Boy has his game face on, as well as my arm sleeves from the Golden Hills Marathon. It was fairly cool so he wanted to try them out (I think he got warmed up and pulled them off around the first mile marker, which is what makes them so useful. The style aspect is just a bonus.)

One of the best things about this race is that there are a LOT of families that show up. I've seen Nivek (not his real name) at dozens of other races, but today I got to meet his family! It was a blast seeing so many kids and others that had probably never done this sort of thing before show up and do the race - lots of walkers (like I was, mostly) enjoying the trails and fun and great post-race food. Well, and the medal.

There were a lot of people with dogs as well, including us with Kaya. It was her first race - we had no doubt that she would handle the 10K fine, but were unsure how she would do around so many other people and dogs. (Spoiler alert: She did great!)

The grandkids, Thing 1 and Thing 2, did the Kid's 100 Yard Fun Run, which involved racing the Brazen Turkey (who really needs to get off the couch and hit the trails - the BT came in last for the third straight year). The race was free and the kids all got medals and goody bags.

The grandkids, along with their parents, then headed out to do the 5K race. Here, Thing 2 (wearing his headband - Thing 1 refused to wear hers due to it not being very aerodynamic) and his dad Needs Cool Name caught up to Kaya and I at about mile 2. Thing 2 was explaining the science of squeezing as much goody out of an aid station as possible.

The startlingly domestic looking Not a Canadian, who had finished her 5K much earlier, was helpfully (HA!) standing at about mile 3, waving a bottle of wine and box of chocolates at the runners, warning them of a slippery muddy stretch just ahead.

I caught up to Ultra Woof and Spammy at the 5K/10K split. We were competing for the coveted Dead Last Finish and by this point were pretty sure we had no other competition.

Kaya made sure I got a good shot at DLF by twice making me grab a bag and clean up her trail gifts.

Ultra Woof took this shot of me at this cute little porta-pottie. (BTW, in case you are curious, the arrow through the head thing worked out great. I mostly forgot it was there until I would see a kid staring at me with grave concern - I had to take it off to convince one boy that it wasn't real.)

Spammy is a born trail runner, making absolutely no effort to avoid puddles. Kaya, on the other hand, mostly avoided them, even though I showed her how it should be done.

I never saw Mrs Notthat after the race started, but fortunately there were several volunteer paparazzi scattered around the course that caught her as she streaked by. She finished the 10K in great shape and had to be restrained to keep her from doing another lap.

Weird Haired Mom and Thing 1 finished together. Thing 1 ran almost the whole 5K, and has declared that her goal is to be able to do exactly that. She's caught the bug.

NCN and Thing 2 finished together. Thing 2's goal is to figure out how to clean out an aid station more effectively.

The Boy, who also did the 10K, just missed setting a PR and finished just under one hour (two seconds under).

And finally, Kaya and I finished. (I love how it looks like I was breaking a ribbon, but actually, I was DLF and the ribbon was from the finish line being taken down.)

We got a nice group picture of our family, the Woofs, the Htenajs (not their real name), and Eam (not her real name) posing with a very tired (but still photogenic) Brazen Turkey.

Momma Woof did the 5K and again scored an age group medal.

To everyone that worked this event, from the Brazen people to all the volunteers, a huge "THANKS!" I know you all must have had your doubts while setting up in the rain. This event was just plain too much fun - lots of runners, lots of cheering, lots of food - what more could anyone want?

Well, the other bits of that medal. See you all on Saturday!

That's it - move along...

PS: Click here for a lot more pictures.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kaya(k) update: wonder dog or not?

We have finished two weeks with Kaya(k) and we know a few things we didn't know before:

When she's not going 100 miles per hour, she can do a passable impression of a pancake.

She has a strong aversion to dog doors. The first night she was at our house, I got her to come in twice through this door (I had to hold the flap open, but at least she would go through the hole). Since then - nothing.

She has learned to use the flaps as a doorbell, bumping them with her nose over and over again until we finally open the door and let her in (or out). We've tried treats, squeaky toys, promises of uncountable bones, but she will just stand there looking like this. Once in a while she will stick a leg through, only to quickly pull it back. She knows how it's  supposed to work, but she really does not trust that flappy door.

This morning was a 10K DSE race on the Embarcadero. (Riley and Darci are "helping" direct runners. Riley helped one runner so much he smacked him with the flag. [Not really - he was just holding it out and a runner ran into it. It's a lot more fun though to picture Riley trying to spur on some runner that was slowing down.])

Diane wanted to do the race, so I bravely offered to drive her and Kaya(k) up there, drop her off, park, and meet her at the finish line while Kaya(k) and I got in a nice walk. But the drive through the city did not go as planned, took way longer than was expected, and resulted in Kaya(k) giving back her breakfast on the floor of the van.

I think she likes driving in that city as much as I do.

But things were made all better by a belly rub from Darci.

After the race, we gave Ultra Woof and her dog Spammy a ride back to her car, which provided a test of Kaya(k)'s ability to tolerate another dog in tight quarters. Mostly, it went fine, although there were some tense moments when Spammy started showing off his mad surfing skills. (It's a long story.)

After dropping off UW and Spammy, we headed home, and Kaya(k) did her best impersonation of a GPS system. ("Ruh Roh" was her most helpful comment as I navigated tight traffic past Candlestick Park and masses of rabid 49er fans.)

Riley and Kaya(k) really like playing tug-o-war. Kaya(k) was actually pulling Riley across the room.

The one loser so far has been Jesse's cat, Shadow. The cat is amazingly skittish under the best of circumstances - toss in a hyper, overgrown puppy and that cat rarely makes an appearance anymore. Kaya(k) is very curious about the cat, but has not been hostile. The cat has hissed a few times, but hasn't actually tried to kill the dog. There is hope, but it might take a year or two.

So, is Kaya(k) a wonder dog? Hardly. Is she Idiot Dog Kaya(k)? Possibly. Mostly though, she's just Puppy Dog Kaya(k) on a crusade to squeeze as much goody as she can out of every day.

And she's a really good squeezer.

That's it - move along...

PS: Click here to see more pictures from the DSE thing this morning. Click here to see pictures from a dog walk we went on last weekend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Turns out it doesn't always rain on Mt Diablo

My last two Brazen races on Mt Diablo have been moist. REALLY moist. Ridiculously rainy and muddy. So I knew that the third time would be a charm and Sunday's Brazen Diablo Trail Adventure would be dry and pleasant.

And then a series of storms lined up off the coast, laughing at how naive I was. It rained on Thursday and another storm was primed to crash the party on Sunday, except it jumped the gun and ended up doing its thing Saturday night.

Sunday morning was sunny, if a bit cool, and glorious. The trails were a bit muddy in spots, but nothing like my last two visits here.

There were a LOT of trail running friends at this race, but the coolest was Ultra Woof's mother - Momma Woof! This was her first trail race (she is a power walker that has done numerous road events) and by all accounts, she had a blast! (Helping the blast a bit was her winning second in her age group - two medals! She's now hooked and is looking forward to whipping that turkey at Brazen Nitro Turkey.)

This is the first time I've worn calf sleeves, and judging by how dorky I look in the picture, it's obvious that they aren't there for style. I have a nasty habit of picking up poison oak whenever I come near a trail race in the East Bay, and my hope was that they would protect me a bit. (I'll know in a few days how that worked out.) Meanwhile, Not the Canadian (standing next to me) is explaining how cool it would be if Brooks came out with a line of high heel trail shoes.

This is probably 100 yards from the start line and I'm already in last place. And I think I had taken half a dozen pictures of the course by this point.

About a mile into the race was our first aid station, where Weird Haired Mom and about 30 other volunteers, rangers, and search and rescue people were keeping us all hydrated and fed.

This is easily one of the coolest pictures of me on a trail ever. You can see that I'm about to ford something just a bit smaller than the Mississippi River. I'm brave. I eat nails for breakfast.

Or maybe I'm just goofy. This is a picture just before that creek (those of you with excellent vision and a bit of imagination can see Esoj - not his real name - with a camera crouching behind a tree on the right). Esoj did an amazing job with that picture of Brave Notthat, but as you can see, it's actually quite easy to go around the tiny creek. Not that I can figure out why anyone would want to do that.

Shortly after braving the creek, there was a very nice uphill stretch of single-track trail. A fun thing is that I got a chance to see a lot of other runners at this point - the 10K people (who started well after us) had caught up to me.

The second aid station. It was novel to get to eat crunchy crackers, chips, and cookies after the last two races here.

As usual at these Mt Diablo races, there were a LOT of search and rescue people waiting for someone to do something stupid. They always got excited when they saw me coming, and I hated to disappoint them, but they all ended up being largely bored. (But dry!)

The third aid station. I was really tired by this point - the trail mostly just goes uphill (with a short downhill break early on) for the first 8.5 miles. Not long after passing through this aid station, the climbing is over.

One advantage of getting to the top are the stunning views you get to enjoy. (Another month or so and these hills will be startlingly green.)

There were a lot of small streams to cross, and I tried to stomp through all of them. Here, Ytsirhc (not nearly her real name) is sneaking up on me. Yes - hard as it is to believe, I had actually managed to get ahead of 3 or 4 people. (Most passed me well before the finish line.)

Eventually I made it to the finish line. And the BBQ (even as late as I was, there were burgers, sausages, and soup to go along with all the normal Brazen post race food).

There was some debate as to what kind of bird that's on the medal. I think turkey and flamingo were ruled out. Maybe pigeon too.

This was a great event. The Save Mount Diablo people help put it on and do an amazing job, not only supporting this race, but preserving and protecting this wonderful trail-infested area. There are a lot of great trails in the Bay Area, but it's hard to find any that are more fun or with better views.

Especially when it's not raining.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see a lot more of my pictures (with snarky comments) here.