Napa Valley Marathon - RunMarathon

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Napa, California
United States
Napa Valley Marathon
50F / 10C
Total Time = 4h 23m 55s
Overall Rank = 1006/2000
Age Group = 45-50
Age Group Rank = 101/138
Pre-race routine:

We left for Calistoga on Saturday, and arrived in Calistoga around noon. Bought sandwiches at the local market, and then headed up the Silverado trail to find a spot to eat them. Stopped at a little winery with a picnic area, had lunch, and then did a little wine tasting there (I just had a "sip" of my wife's tastings.

Drove the rest of the race course on our way to Napa, and stopped at a couple of other winerys along the way. Found the Marriott, and sign in was a breeze - probably took less than 15 minutes total. For some reason, the expo did not interest me much this year.

After signing in, headed back to Calistoga, did some shopping, checked in to our hotel, and headed out to Bosko's for dinner. Had a great dinner, and called it an early night, went to bed around 9:00.

I've been fighting a cold for the last 3 weeks - now it has turned into a pretty constant cough. This night was no exception, as I fought a cough all night long. Ended getting 4 or 5 hours of very restless sleep, woke up before the 4:30 wake up call.

Got up, took a shower, had a bagel with peanut butter and grape jelly, a cup of gatorade and a cup of coffee. Gave all that a couple of hours to digest, and then headed out the door. The sweet thing about staying in Calistoga is the race start is less than a 1/4 mile away - so you literally walk from your room to the starting line.
Event warmup:

No real warm-up other than walking over. Stripped off my sweats and jacket about five minutes before the start. They had a mickey mouse PA system, that no body could hear unless you were in front of the speaker - then an awfull rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and the Candian Anthem. My only bitch about this race is that they really need a "real" PA system if they are going to try to talk/sing to the runners.
  • 4h 23m 55s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 10m 04s  min/mile

This was a very interesting run for me. The first mile was really, really slow, as it took me almost 30 seconds to get thru the starting line, once the gun went off (no chip timing). Then the roadway was packed with runners, and they all seemed to be content with a 10 min plus mile pace. My first mile was 10'37", and I knew that I was going to have to do much better than that if I was going to hold my goal pace of 9'45" per mile.

Once the field finally opened up a little, it was much easier to pick up the pace. There is a 15 to 20 mph tailwind, sometimes coming at an angle, but almost always helping to push us along. This made a huge difference, and I was able to drop my mile times down into the 9'30" range for miles 2 & 3. Miles 4 and 5 I picked up the pace a bit, dropping the time into the 9' 10" range.

At this point I was feeling really good. I had gotten myself back on pace, I was fueling well, with a GU every 30 minutes, and some peanut butter crackers and a mandarin about the hour point. I was carrying my own gatorade bottle that I had frozen in the hotel, so at the aid stations I was just getting water, to wash down the GU's.

I held a really good pace up until mile 12, then my mile times started to slip a bit. I averaged around 10'30" miles from mile 12 to 18. At mile 18, I met up with my wife, exchaged water bottles, got a red bull and a sweaty hug from her, then continued on my way. All was good and uneventful thru mile 20, then mile 21 was a killer - a long, gradual uphill, followed by a long steep downhill. That downhill trashed my legs the last time I ran this course, so I was very conservative, and even walked some of the steeper portions.

Once I passed the 21 mile marker, I knew that this was going to be a good race - my legs still felt pretty fresh. I needed something to help me pick up my pace, so I decided to see how many people I could pass between mile 21 and the finish. This worked pretty well, as it helped me drop my mile times back into the 9's for miles 22 and 23. Lots of people were doing the marathon shuffle at this point, and it felt really awesome to blow past them, mentally keeping track of how many I had passed. I was up to around 85 or 90 runners I had passed at mile 24, when it starting getting harder to get around people - meaning my pace was slipping again. By mile 25 it was a real struggle to keep moving, as my legs were telling me it was time to be finished.

Finally passed the 26 mile marker, the streets from here on in were lined with lots of people yelling their support, then went past my wife and her group of new friends, they all yelled and screamed at me as I went thru the chute. Made it past the finish line, and a nice lady took my arm and walked with me, making sure I was alright. I guess I didn't look too good, cause they brought a wheelchair over and asked if I needed medical help - I told them no, just needed to walk a bit. The trouble was that my knees really hurt once I stopped, and walking was quite a challenge. Finally got up to the medal girls, they put the medal around my neck, gave me a bottle of water and headed me to the finish line photo spot. Got my picture taken, then very carefully shuffled over to meet up with my wife.

As with my first marathon, the finish is very emotional for me. I gave my wife a great big sweaty hug when I saw her, and really couldn't talk for the first minute or two. I finally calmed down, and we shuffled over to the soup line for a cup of soup and a sourdough roll.
What would you do differently?:

I lost some time starting out behind the pack at mile one. Probably spend a little too much time walking the aid stations, but then again, that may have been what helped me pick up the pace on the back half.

I did almost all of my training in the hills, and that helped a lot!!!

I was able to trim 16 minutes off my previous marathon time on this course, to a new Personal Best of 4 hours, 23 minutes and 55 seconds. I had really been hoping to come in under 4 hours 15 minutes, but I guess that will have to wait for another day.
Post race
Warm down:

Walked over to the soup line, then headed to the gym for a much deserved shower. Walked back to the car, loaded up and hit the road, destination Jamba Juice, Vallejo. Once we did that, I settled into a warm blanket and soft pillow, and cat-napped the rest of the way home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Being trapped in an old body, that is not biomechanically nor biologically built for running fast.

Event comments:

This is a great race, well run, with lots and lots of smiling volunteers. The hills make it a little more challenging than your "run of the mill" 26.2 miler, but the scenery makes it all worthwhile.

Last updated: 2007-11-30 12:00 AM
04:23:55 | 26.2 miles | 10m 04s  min/mile
Age Group: 101/138
Overall: 1006/2000
Performance: Good
Splits: 1 - 10'37" 2 - 9'26" 3 - 9'30" 4 - 9'09" 5 - 9'10" 6 - 9'26" 7 - 9'27" 8 - 9'12" 9 - 9'27" 10 - 9'49" 11 - 9'42" 12 - 10'18" 13 - 9'27" 14 - 10'42" 15 - 10'03" 16 - 10'30" 17 - 11'31" 18 - 10'03" 19 - 10'43" 20 - 10'35" 21 - 11'35" 22 - 9'33 23 - 9'56 24 - 10'20" 25 - 10'20" 26 - 10'48" - 2'16"
Course: Up the Siverado Trail, from Calistoga to Napa, ending at the High School
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5