Sunday, November 25, 2012

Trails and Turkeys go well together

There are a lot of turkey-based races in the area on this weekend. You might have a bit of a challenge trying to choose which to do, but if you like to stay off the pavement and you get a kick out of fun medals, the choice is pretty clear - you have to do the Brazen Double Gobble races.

On Thursday morning, just under 1000 runners (not counting the hundreds of kids that once again trounced the Brazen Turkey) filled Point Pinole Park. The sold out event is also a food drive and an excuse to wear goofy costumes.

Yes, Weird Haired Mom did manage to stab Ynot (not his real name) at least once during this process.
The night before the race, The Endorphin Dude showed up to get some last-minute help on his costume.
The family that GUs together gets sticky together.
Weird Haired Mom made these awesome GU packet costumes with Thanksgiving-based flavors (not that I recall ever having "Spiced Beets"before, but I'll let that slide). Dove is the sensible one in the banana suit.

Eibbed (not her real name) turns out to be a bit of a math geek with her pumpkin pi shirt.

The coolest costume of the day by far.
The most disturbing costumes of the day by far.

The real highlight of the day for me is the kid's race against the Brazen Turkey. The race is free and the kids get medals and goody bags. And the Brazen Turkey gets to be last. Again.

The first (and second) aid station.
Eventually the normal races start and the trails are instantly flooded with runners.

The weather was perfect and the trails were in great shape, with only a few mudholes to deal with.

Photo of a nearly done speedy Mrs Notthat by a Brazen volunteer. 
Photo of a not nearly done and slightly deranged Mr Notthat by a Brazen Volunteer.
I decided it would be fun to dress as a chef and carry a pretend meat cleaver for the 10K race, yelling "where's that Brazen Turkey"whenever anyone would listen. I spent a lot of time on my own on the trails. Not sure why.

"Water!" "Sports drink!" "Water!" "Sports drink!" That was still stuck in my head a day later.
The third aid station was one of my favorite ever. Mostly because they had PIE!

Eventually even I managed to find the finish line. And the real hunt for the Brazen Turkey was on!

Found her! 
Uh oh. Mrs Brazen tells me to leave the Brazen Turkey alone.
Somehow the tables turned and the Brazen Turkey convinced me that a burger would make a good dinner. Especially if it was made of tofu.

There were anAMAZING number of fun runners and volunteers out there today. This event is always a highlight for me.

And a huge thanks to The Endorphin Pilgrim for doing this little dance with Mrs Notthat - this gets me off the "you never take me dancing" hook for the next year at least.

The shirt and paraphernalia from the race. Including the first piece of the Double Gobble medal.

The second part of the  turkey race-based weekend was on Saturday and took place at the parking-challenged Quarry Lakes park.

Mr. Brazen, weeks before the race: "We have nearly two thousand runners coming early on Saturday morning. You guys good with that?"

Mr. Quarry Parking Guy: "We're professionals. We know what we're doing. This ain't our first rodeo."

Mr. Brazen: "We only have one turkey. This isn't a rodeo. Just be ready for a HUGE crowd."

We've done several races at this park, and one of the best things about it is that there is a LOT of parking. But for some reason, the park has a knack for making it difficult to get in to the parking. And on Saturday, they turned their knack up to 11. 

This was not a great way to start the day, and I know a few people gave up in frustration - thankfully Brazen delayed all the race starts by 15 minutes so that more runners could make it in, and I think that helped a lot.

As on Thursday, the day started with a kid's race against the BrazenTurkey. And also as on Thursday, the Brazen Turkey again failed to beat even one kid.

The Brazen Turkey high-threeing the runners as they head out.
Mrs Notthat ran the Half Marathon. I was supposed to run it as well, but I was weirdly having motivational issues and had forgotten my knee brace, so I moved down to the 10K race.

The first and third aid station.
The weather was once again perfect and the course, while not my favorite in that it is mostly flat and non-threatening at all, was in great shape and was perfect for this race with its wide trails.

The second aid station at the 10K turnaround.
Before long I was at the 10K turnaround, where I ate some pecan pie and headed back to the finish.

I run on trails. Running on plants sound dangerous, especially if poison oak or cacti are involved. 
By this time, some of the faster Half runners were going by. Weirdly, I managed to catch a few other Half runners who had taken advantage of the early start and were enjoying the morning.

Eventually we were back in the lake area and could see (and hear) the finish line.

Picture by Brazen volunteer.
The GU family was there again, but they didn't run in their costumes this time. Grandkid First Born was determined to get an age group medal and ran a serious race. (Dove couldn't care less about medals, and was happy to wear her banana suit again.) GFB ran a 36 minute 5K and got second place, beating fourteen others in her age group. Yikes!

Picture by Brazen volunteer.
I left the meat cleaver at home and instead brought some credit cards to hopefully get some shopping in while wandering around the course. (My back had a sign that said "Black Friday's over???" And sadly, there was no shopping to be had.)

Picture by Brazen volunteer.
Grandkid Second Born doesn't care about age group wins, but he does care about fishing. And there were a lot of people fishing around these lakes, and I suspect he asked each one what they had caught so far. In any case, I ended up passing him just before the finish.

Picture by Brazen volunteer.
Since Mrs Notthat was doing the longest distance, she was the last of us to finish. Me doing the shorter race meant that, for the first time in a while, I got to see her finish.

A cool thing - as I was waiting at the finish line, Brazen held a second kid's race for those that missed the first one. Making this the first time the Brazen Turkey was DLF twice in one day.

Ahtreb and Werdna (not their real names) viciously sharing an It's-It ice cream sandwich. 

Sprite had finished his Half a while ago, so he went out to wait for Mrs Notthat. She got him to pace her in to a glorious finish.

There were a lot of running friends out here again today, and several had milestones. Such as this being Ytsirhc's 52nd Half Marathon of the year, which moves her up to Sun status in Half Fanatics. (That's the highest you can get. This is an amazing accomplishment by someone who I used to be able to beat. Not anymore.)

This was the first time Sprite has ever had a giant turkey sit next to him.

This was the first time Not a Canadian showed me her flamingo impersonation (do they really stick their tongues out like that?).

And finally, just in case anyone missed it, The Endorphin Dude left the Pilgrim outfit home (thank you!) and managed a PR in the Half Marathon. (This is another guy I used to beat. Not anymore.)

And that's about it (finally!). The medals (pie!) were awesome. Both races were a blast, with Saturday's having nearly 1500 finishers (not counting the kids who once again, made the Brazen Turkey look like a, well, turkey).

Around a ton of food ended up being donated to the local food banks (which sadly, is also about how much I ate between the aid stations and the finish lines). The weather was stunningly good for both races. The volunteers were awesome as usual. In other words, this weekend was a blast!

The next chance for a Brazen double-medal are their New Year's Eve and New Year's races. These races were very popular last year and will likely be even more so this year.

No turkeys will be allowed though.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my Nitro pictures here and Quarry Lake pictures here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

An impromptu visit to Monterey Bay

Mrs Notthat got home from a punishing week at some resort near Cancun late Thursday night. I felt a tiny bit guilty signing her up for a potentially wet and muddy trail race on Saturday, but then she topped me. "How would you feel about driving down to Monterey after the mud run so I can run the Big Sur Half Marathon?"

We've been married for nearly 30 years now, so you would think this sort of thing wouldn't surprise me anymore, but it still does. She likes to travel, and given a shot at running the race, there was no way she would miss it.

We arrived a bit after dark, checked into our motel, then headed out to do some carbo loading. I found a parking spot, we got out, and the first place we saw was a Korean restaurant. They had noodles, so it worked out fine. (A bit scarily for a Saturday night with thousands of hungry people in town for a big race, the place was empty. Maybe Korean food isn't such a popular pre-race meal after all.)

Not actually a group of homeless people, but fine-tuned athletes trying to look like dorks. Warm dorks, to be sure, but still, dorks.
Weird Haired Mom and a friend of hers were also running the race and staying at the same motel as us. We stood around waiting for a fourth runner, who turned out to be a bit challenged navigating the mean streets of Monterey at six in the morning.

Haiyr (not her real name) eventually found us and we all wandered down to the start line. It's nice being able to walk to the start/finish line.

When we went to bed, the forecast emphatically said it would rain all morning. We felt like we had dodged a bullet at China Camp, weather-wise, so we were OK with having to deal with some rain for this race.

Except (I hope you are sitting down) it turns out the forecasters were wrong. Not only did it not rain, there turned out to be a brisk market for sunscreen along the course.

I love how Mrs Notthat nearly cold-cocked that guy when she waved to me.

After watching the runners at the 1.5 mile point, I moved over to watch them come in at the 12.95 mile point. Seriously - the sunshine was nearly lethal!

You can see a lot more pictures I took during the race here.

The grandkids fooling around with running shoes. They are maybe taking the loose fit rule to an extreme.
The night before the race, we decided to go ahead and stay a bonus night. That meant we could calmly walk to the room after the race, shower, and have a nice relaxing evening.

But before that could happen, WHM and her friend Arik (not her real name) and half a dozen kids all followed us to our room and showered (Mr WHM bravely stole a bunch of towels off the maid's cart - don't tell him but he actually grabbed a bunch of bath mats).

The ocean view from our room. It actually was not bad. Especially since it wasn't raining.

Eventually everyone was showered, fed, put into proper shoes, and pointed in the direction of home. Mrs Notthat and I decided to have an early dinner at a place called the Alvarado Seafood and Steak House (it was awesome!). In a day filled with surprises, Anrol (not her real name either) was also staying over a bonus night, and joined us for dinner. (It turned out she was staying in the same motel as us, but a different building. How could we not have known this?)

Monterey has two piers; one that is aimed at tourists ("Oh look mommy! 400 flavors of saltwater taffy! And Hello Kitty! And is that a mime? And…") and the other that is for normal people. Etep and Nire (not their real names, but not bad) who also stayed over suggested we eat at Loulous on the real pier.

You have got to love a cafe that makes pancakes the size of a Buick while at the same time filling all your bait and tackle needs. Honestly, it was maybe the best meal we had the whole trip.

Heading back from Loulous. That's the real pier in the background.
That's the tourist pier off to the left.

What a difference a day makes. This was the finish area yesterday for the 6500 or so runners that ran the race. The only evidence was the top off of a GU packet.

Eventually it was time to hit the road. We made three shopping stops along the way home ("Sigh. Yes, we pass by the Gilroy Outlets. I guess. If we have to.")

One fun stop was at Zombie Runners where Mrs Notthat got a new pair of Hokas.

We also stopped at Icebreakers in Santana Row in San Jose to pick up our free shirts, courtesy of ITR and the China Camp race.

OK - the shopping wasn't all that bad and we still got home at a decent time. But this is the lasting image of the trip.

Mrs Notthat, fresh off her week of teasing Mexican cabana boys, returned to run two consecutive Half Marathons. And could have run a third. She has informed me that we will be signing up early for this race next year (apparently there are a few jaw-dropping views along the course).

And the thing is, I really do like salt water taffy.

That's it - move along…

PS: A Massive THANKS to Nahgem (not her real name) for making this weekend possible! You know what you did, and we will get even somehow.