I ran the Napa to Sonoma half marathon this past weekend with a few girl friends from college. This was our "girls/destination race weekend". The weather Sunday morning was perfect -- probably in the low to mid 50's at 7AM. We got to the start (Cuvaison Carneros Winery) with about 30 minutes to spare -- but the bathroom lines were extremely long, so after using those, we pretty much walked to the start line and they started the race. No time to sit around getting nervous!
I started the race with the 2:00 pacer. I wanted to keep her in my sights for as long as possible. If this race was anything like my previous ones, I knew my pace would slow down the last few miles, so I wanted to have some faster miles at the beginning :)
Pretty much right out of the gate we had to head up "butt-burner hill". I have to admit, I was a little worried when I got to the top. I was concerned that it might have zapped too much energy too soon. But -- I stayed with the 2:00 pacer and kept pushing. My first mile was FAST -- even with the hill. I was feeling great.
The course was a series of rolling hills through wine country. Very scenic - checking out all the sights helped to keep my mind off the race. I think it was around mile 7 that I started thinking that I could possibly beat my best time. Being an engineer at heart, I kept doing the calculations in my head of mile times for the remainder of the race and what my finish time would be. That kept me busy for a few miles :) Miles 11 and 12 were kinda brutal -- I was getting a side stitch, and just couldn't get comfortable or catch a full breath. But, I knew at that point that unless I completely screwed up, I would end up with a PR. The question was, by how much?Entering the city of Sonoma gave me an extra kick. But that didn't last long. After the last turn, the finish line was in sight --- however it seemed like it was still a mile away (it was probably more like a half mile). I wanted to walk for a few seconds to catch my breath. I figured if I did that, I would be able to finish strong. The girl next to me (who I had been running with for the last mile or so) looked at me and said "GET MOVING! You can do this!!" I have to admit -- I was completely shocked that she was calling me out... but I looked at her and said "Thank you -- that is JUST what I needed" :) So --- I picked up my pace and pushed as hard as I could towards the finish line. I have never been so tired in my life! I crossed the finish at 2:05:16 but my chip time was 2:04:34 --- about 5 minutes faster than I have ever ran a half-marathon. I am by no means a fast runner --- but this was a huge accomplishment for me!! I grabbed some snacks/water in the finish area and walked back to the final stretch to cheer on the rest of the girls. Here is the happy crew after the race:Notice the wine glasses in our hands? Well -- one downside of the race was that there wasn't much food/snacks to refuel afterwards. There was however 25 wineries and a few breweries in the park giving free tastings for a few hours. T-R-O-U-B-L-E!!! That was a dangerous combination!! Here is a picture of the crew after enjoying a little too much wine :) Needless to say, I slept the remainder of the afternoon to recover from the race and all the drinks!!
Here is a video from the race -- some more pictures, too. The announcer says my name after I cross the finish... I think you can kinda tell how much pain I am in... I can barely run!! The Pearl Jam guy they mention (Mike McCready) ended up crossing about 8 minutes later. I thought it was kinda cool that they include a video like this for all of the finishers :)