The best part about this race is the super fast start -- you run down this steep, winding hill and pick up a whole lot of speed. Last year I started kind of far back and had to dodge a lot of slow runners/walkers, so this year I stayed near the front (even if I wasn't the fastest person there).
As my friend Derek pointed out, the first heartbreak of this race comes right away -- after flying down that hill you hit the first roller immediately and then you're like oh yeah, this is going to hurt. From there you make a left and do most of the run on a quiet country road. It's pretty exposed mostly, but it's early enough (in the day and the season) that it doesn't get too hot. Right after making the turn we ran right by a giant flock of sheep baa-ing at each other. Sheep are neat!
I was feeling OK -- not great, but not bad -- the first couple of miles and for once didn't have any urge to take the easy way out at the 5k turnaround. It's hard to tell my pace early on since the first hill sort of screws me up (it's not like I want to rein myself in on that glorious downhill). I pretty much stopped looking at the Garmin right away.
The course is pretty much a constant series of small rollers, but the hills were taking it out of me this year, more than last year, I think. My stomach was also bothering me (could be the coffee, but more likely it was girl-related stuff, so nothing I could've done about it) -- not enough to be problematic, but enough to be distracting.
I didn't really expect to PR in this race, but I was at least going to try. But at some point fairly early on -- I think before the halfway mark -- I just sort of turned off the mental game. I saw Derek a little bit before the turnaround and figured he was about seven or eight places off the lead. We waved and cheered each other on, which was really nice.
I was passed by the weiner dog guy maybe a quarter mile after the turnaround; last year he passed me a little farther along, maybe around mile four? I yelled out "Nice running, weiner dog" and the dude said thanks and added that his dog has kept him going all these years. I told him he'd passed me last year and he actually turned around and said in this very apologetic voice, "I'm really sorry about that." I had to laugh and I told him no worries, I'd been looking forward to seeing him. The guy runs in a T-shirt that says "You've just been passed by a weiner dog" on the back. Hee.
About a mile and a half from the end I played a little leapfrog with a guy who decided to chat me up. He was making some jokes about me being royalty and how if he finished first he'd be sure to lay out rose petals for me at the finish line. Yeah, I have no idea. He was nice, though, and it was a good distraction. I lost him at the last water stop.
Then we got to The Hill. Last year I'd been really nervous about the hill and worrying about conserving some energy for it; this year, not so much. I just hit it and didn't even think. The only time I looked up was about halfway up, where Derek and his family were posted with a cowbell. I love cowbells! They cheered for me, which felt great. I hit the steepest part of the hill soon after that and noticed I was the only person still running -- which felt great, except that at least one of the walkers was moving faster than me.
I picked up the pace a little at the top, mostly because it felt great to run on flat ground. I passed my friends with only a couple hundred yards to go and Shizu yelled out that I could make sub-53, which would be a PR. That made me pick up the speed a lot, but then I glanced up and saw the clock at the finish line and it said 53-and-something so I eased back up. Heh. Not the best finish!
What would you do differently?:
Not much. I wish I would've pushed harder, I guess, but I felt under-trained and my heart just wasn't in it.
I grabbed a bottle of water and walked back toward the gang. They all did so great! It was Shizu's first stand-alone 5k, Martha's first race in years, and Jack's first race EVER. Shizu and Jack both ran about 30 minutes (I think Shizu finished 30 seconds ahead of Jack) and Martha was about 39 minutes, which she was thrilled with. They all ran the entire hill! Martha said it was one of the best days she'd had in a long time and she was so glad she'd come along. I could tell they were all really happy with their race.
We met up with Derek and his wife and son and chatted a bit. Shizu, Martha and I got our free wine glass and wine and toasted a great race. Then we got our pancake breakfast and sat down for the awards and raffle. Shizu won a book and some olive oil. Someday I'm going to win a raffle!
What limited your ability to perform faster:
Lack of training. Which is funny, because my weekly mileage is actually higher than it was before last year's race, but I felt a lot more out of shape for this one. I had to take some time off after my marathon for an injury, and then work got crazy and I just haven't had the time or energy for solid training. But that's all changing soon!
I love this race! There are enough competitive folks to make it interesting, but most people are super low-key about it. The run itself is beautiful, starting at the top of a hill with gorgeous views of the valley and then running along a quiet road next to rolling hills and vineyards and trees and cattle and sheep. And of course I love the pancake breakfast.
Last updated: 2009-02-09 12:00 AM
Napa Valley SFAVA Association
Overall Rank = 101/368
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 16/79
I'd been looking forward to this race for a long time, hoping to PR it after all that marathon training, but a slight injury and general weariness sidelined that plan. Still, I love this race! And this year I convinced three friends to do the 5k: Jack, Shizu and Martha.
I went to bed about 1 a.m. and woke up at 5:30 a.m. Jack and Martha, who lives in St. Louis and was staying at my house while she vacationed in SF, DID NOT want to get up, and neither did I. But we made it out the door by 5:50 a.m. and picked up Shizu at 6:05 a.m. We made one bathroom/coffee pitstop along the way and still made it to the race well before 7 a.m. I had to park farther down the hill than last year and we took the bus to the start line. Pre-registration was a snap and I took the gang around to the front of Artesa Winery, where the race starts and ends, to take a look at The Hill. It didn't look too intimdating from the top and they were all pretty unimpressed. Ha.
For breakfast I had coffee, a Clif bar and some water.
None. I probably could've/should've run a bit but I decided to just hang out with the friends instead.