Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Water to Wine Half Marathon
Healdsburg, CA
August 12, 2012

The finishers medal.
Back in April, I decided to take a vacation to CA to visit with my mom. So of course I looked for a race that I could run while out here. I found this half marathon, about 3 hours from my mom's house. It looked to be a nice course with average low temps in the mid 50s. I figured the low temps would make up for the rolling hills I would encounter. It seemed like it would be a good course to try and PR on and I wanted to make my 40th half marathon a memorable one. :)

The ride up north was no fun. I made the mistake of driving up the 101 freeway. It drops you off in the middle of San Francisco. I figured I could stop on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge for some photos before continuing on. I missed my turn in the city. This mistake added on about 30 minutes. Once I managed to get back onto the main road that would lead me up and over the Bridge, I hit massive amounts of traffic. The bridge was covered in Fog, so I didn't even bother making a photo stop. The rest of the trip involved lots of stop and go traffic. In total, it took me 4.5 hours to make the trip, which should have been just over 3 hours. I got to the little expo at the Winery by 4:45, 15 minutes before it was over. I then headed over to my hotel, made a quick trip to the grocery store, found the Starbucks next store and then headed back for a quiet night.

Feeling pretty good! :)
I was up super early the next day and at the Starbucks when they opened at 5am. I got my coffee and then made the half hour drive to the race start. I was one of the first few cars there and I was able to get a spot right near the start line. They had lots of porta potties and a real bathroom, which was nice. I found a couple of half fanatics before the race started, so ran over to get a photo, then I put my phone back in the car and stood in the start area, waiting to go.

We got going right at 7 am. I could tell right way that this was a fast group. I was carried along with them, but the pace felt fine, so I thought I would try it out for a while. The road we were on for the first few miles was very slanted and hilly in parts. I tried to stay on the flattest sections, even if it might add time on to the total. I didn't want any issues with my ITB. We passed by a few different wineries, one had a beautiful, large building. I thought it would make a great photo with my medal. So I thought I would go back after the race. Just before mile 3 we hit the first water stop. I had brought one 10 ounce bottle with me, but decided to walk through this first stop and take a drink.
Miles 1 through 3 - 8:25/8:22/8:45

We were now off the main road and now running on a smaller, two lane road that we would be on for most of the rest of the race. I've got to say that even though it was beautiful countryside, it got kind of boring. I focused on my PR goal and powering up the hills. Every time I would look up from the road in front of me (the road was not in the best condition) I would look around to see yet another row of grape bushes or another small hill approaching or another curve in the road. It was still pretty cold out, the fog stayed with us for the entire race, so I pushed ahead, trying to get to the end faster so that I could get warm. I felt fine with my pace, which ended up staying pretty consistent. :)
Miles 4 through 10 - 8:44/8:40/8:41/8:43/8:42/8:47/9:06

Focused on the finish!
By mile 10, I knew I would get my PR. I had 32 minutes to finish the last 3.1 miles. Unless I totally fell apart, I would get my sub 2 hour half. It's something I've been wanting to do for a few years now. I put the possible fear of falling apart out of my mind, even though I could feel my pace slowing a little. The hills were getting harder to power up. Even the flat sections seemed to have a slight rise to them. I forced my self to not look at my garmin so much to see how much further I had. I thought about the book I had recently finished. It's called "Wild" and is about this woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Her story was so inspiring. Thinking of all the crazy things she encountered on her journey, helped to keep my mind off of my discomfort. Thankfully, just before mile 13, we turned on to a main road, which I knew would lead us to the finish. There were lots of people around now, cheering us on. My right calf was starting to tighten up, so I focused on keeping my form and getting to the finish. We turned to the right and then another sharp right onto the winery property. The finish was in sight! I kicked it in strong to the finish. I was so happy to see my sub 2 hour finish time!
Miles 11 through 13.26 - 9:01/9:11/9:05/2:07
Finish: 1:56:25

I brought some wine back with me. Couldn't drink
the sample I got, so I poured it into my water bottle
and brought it home. :)
I got my awesome finishers medal and headed over to get something to drink. I found the tent with our wine glasses, got that and then headed over to the local running store tent. They had foam rollers and the stick out for people to use. I got down on the grass and rolled out my calves as best I could. It hurt, but also felt good. :) I then went to check out the food tent. They had rice, black beans and bread. Um, not what I wanted at 9am! I had a Marathon Bar in my bag back in the car, so I just decided to head over to the buses and get back to my car. Our bus driver was speedy, getting us back to the start area in good time.

Overall, I would recommend this race. It was well run, the weather was perfect and the t-shirt, medal and wine glass goodies were great.

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