I've never run a standalone running race before, so I wasn't sure what my strategy should be for this. I wanted to do really well and push hard, but I didn't want to blow all my energy at the start either (especially knowing that I'd end it with a huge climb). I've basically never put everything I have into a run, so this was new territory for me.
The run started off *fast* as everyone took off down the giant hill. It was really fun, actually, because there was a lot of weaving in between runners (and walkers) -- sort of like an obstacle course. But it was only a few minutes before I hit the bottom and the rollers started right away. That first uphill really throws you off after the speedy descent.
But I really like rolling hills, so all in all it felt nice. You couldn't ask for a better run location -- wide roads among the vineyards with these amazing views surrounding you. It's not very shady, but it was early enough that the sun felt fine. We were running through a valley, and I heard a couple runners complaining that valleys were supposed to be flat. Heh.
As usual, it took me a couple miles to really feel comfortable (that 5k turnaround looked tempting...), but I never felt bad. Well, not until the very end. I was definitely passing lots of people, and kept my eye on a couple of women up ahead I wanted to catch (one of them I did, the other one finished a few seconds ahead of me). For the first half I focused on keeping a faster-than-usual but not uncomfortable pace.
A few minutes before the turnaround I saw Derek pounding by me -- man, those first few runners are insanely fast. Derek and I waved and called out encouragements. That was great because Derek is awesome and was totally one of the race leaders, so I felt like some kind of superstar with him cheering me on. I'd seen that he had three people ahead of him though and it looked unlikely he'd be able to catch them, which makes it two years in a row that he's come in fourth.
At about mile 4, as I was running through an aid station, I heard some volunteers cheering for a dog behind me. Then this guy passed me with a tiny dog -- the guy was wearing a T-shirt that said "You just got passed by a weiner dog." Ha! I'd actually heard of this guy so it was kind of a treat to see him.
As I was nearing the end I started thinking more and more about the giant hill coming up. I was holding back just a little bit, wanting to save some energy for the hill, although on the last downhill I pushed it just to try to get some momentum. Ha. That lasted about two seconds. There were definitely lots of people walking the hill but I kept pumping through it, and as long as I kept my head down amd my arms going I felt OK. Derek and his wife and son and some of their running friends had staked out a spot at the top of the hill and I could hear them cheering for me from quite a ways away, which was awesome. Derek said I looked great (he reiterated that later -- said I looked a lot stronger than most of the other runners, which was nice of him to say), and I did feel pretty good at this point.
As it turned out, the hardest part by far was the short, flat stretch from the top of the hill to the finish line. As I told Derek's wife later, when I hit that point I was basically like, sprint or puke? Which is it gonna be? I managed to sprint it, mostly, but it was a close call.
This ended up being a great run for me. At first I was a little tiny bit disappointed that I wasn't in the 8:20s vs. the 8:30s, but looking at the overall results, yeah, I kind of kicked ass. *g* Clearly there are some tough hills on this course, and I'm super happy that I still blew away the 9-minute-mile mark and felt great doing it.
What would you do differently?:
Nothing really. Since I'd been training for an oly on the same day, I was really well prepared for a standalone 10k. I'm looking forward to doing this run again next year.
I grabbed a bottle of water (I didn't have anything on the course for such a short race) and walked partway down the hill to meet Derek. We wandered around a bit and I got in the long line for my goody bag. There was a pancake breakfast, but I decided to leave before I ate because I had to meet my parents.
What limited your ability to perform faster:
This is a really fun race. It's a fundraiser for the Carneros Fire Department, and the firefighters make pancakes for everyone after the race. Plus, every finisher gets a glass of wine with a sample from Artesa Winery, which is pretty awesome.
Last updated: 2008-04-04 12:00 AM
Napa Valley SFAVA Association
Overall Rank = 92/392
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 7/88
It as a pretty last-minute decision to race, so I ate pretty poorly the night before and went to bed late. Plus, I slept badly -- only got about three hours of sleep before waking up at 5:30 a.m. I do fine on very little sleep, though, as long as it doesn't go on for days at a time. I grabbed a Clif bar and some water and ate on the drive up to Napa. Made great time, despite a stop for coffee along the way, and got there early enough that I found parking close to the top of the hill. I registered, texted back and forth with Derek a bit, and then just walked around the grounds enjoying the *gorgeous* view of the sun coming up over Napa Valley. It was really incredible.
Not much. It was pretty cold before the race so stayed in my pants and sweatshirt for a while. Derek joined me about 15 minutes before start time and we hung out with his running group. Derek's super fast (he came in fourth place overall with 6-minute-miles, sheesh), and he did nothing to warmup, so I shrugged and figured I'd follow his routine. He nudged to the front of the line before the start time but I decided to hang back a little bit. In hindsight, I probably should've gone up front too -- they start the 10k and 5k at the same time, and there were quite a few casual walkers at the front of the line, which made it annoying to start.
As an aside, I got a kick out of looking at everyone's shoes. I have Asics and I almost never see Asics anywhere -- at the gym or even at the tris I've been in/watched. I know they're a popular shoe, but I'm guessing they're too expensive for the regular gym crowd and, for whatever reason, they're not too popular with triathletes. But they were everywhere at this race. Ha! This made me very happy. Yes, I'm a dork.