Two weeks ago I was heading to Napa. I had been dreaming about that half marathon for four years. Basically, since I started running, that was the one half marathon that I really wanted to run. The first time I tried to sign up, I waited too long. That race fills up within 20-30 minutes which I now know. When I was a novice to half marathons, I didn't understand the importance of registering for races when they open. I thought I could wait.
I convinced two of my friends to join me. I had some contacts that arranged wine tasting tours and a place to stay, too. I have been fortunate in the people that I have met along my current path. I try to share these connections with my friends, too. Why wouldn't I take advantage of staying at a winery guest house if I had the chance?
The trip was too quick. I felt that we arrived and then I was being taken back to the airport to fly home. Of course, many meals were enjoyed, wines drank and then there was the half marathon itself. My friend, the Goddess, dropped Sara Jo and I off at the start line. The most convenient way to run a race. Skip the shuttles or random parking lots. Just be dropped off and picked up at the start and finish. Way more convenient. Of course this required one of my friends to not run the race and to instead spectate. I love running with the Goddess and so it is doubtful that this ideal situation will repeat itself. Her training had been nonexistent due to work and other things. Still she wanted to join us on the winery weekend and I encouraged her to meet us.
The race started and we were off. Overcast day. We couldn't have asked for more perfect race conditions. Initially, I was kicking myself for not bringing a throwaway long sleeve shirt or jacket. But within a mile, I felt fine. The course was beautiful. A little hilly. Every two miles there was an aid station and porta potty grouping. At mile marker 7.5, they offered a refreshment that I was thrilled to see--Guinness. Yes, a little shot of beer perked me right up. I had forgotten to pick up my typical race day fuel and was not looking forward to what that would create for me and my digestion. However, the guinness helped followed by beef jerky and then a little shot of white wine provided by Gundlach Bundschu. I was thrilled to see that winery along the course. We went slow and steady as neither of us had adequately trained. I mean, running at 5280 or 7000, in my case, did help us run the course, cardiovascularly. It was the lack of running that would slow us down. Last year, we did the Santa Barbara half and I can honestly say it was my worst effort in the training department and actual event. I was sore and hurt. Mile 9 was pretty much the end for me and so we walked the remaining 4.1 miles. It sucked. And the next day, I was sore. I never want to put myself in that position again. It was horrible and I was lazy.
Although we were slow, we finished on a positive note. We cut 20 minutes from last years half and I could walk, easily, the remainder of the day. Our friends met us at the Expo and then we found a restaurant to have bloody mary's. Yum! Perfect way to finish the race. I do understand why this is the flagship of the Destination Race Series. It was well supported with potties, aid stations and yes, wine. The Expo offered 20 wineries pouring two wines to celebrate the event. There was music and typical expo stuff--things to buy, improve upcoming races, etc. I just skipped straight to the wine. I do hope to run this race again. I enjoyed the course and the expo. The shirts were great too. They add a new race, annually, and so I think, next year I will head to Oregon or to Southern California to check out one of those races. That is, if I am unable to register for the Napa Half. I really loved that race. Now, I must decide what other race to run this year. There is an interesting race in ABQ that I am considering in September. Or, there is always Vegas. I think two a year are doable and something that I would like to commit to.
Happy Saturday! Enjoy your day as I know that I will even if I skipped the run to enjoy coffee in bed....