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Wine Country Half Marathon - RunHalf Marathon

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Napa, California
United States
Total Time = 1h 54m 49s
Overall Rank = 360/1635
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 38/199
Pre-race routine:

I was staying with my friend Derek the night before the race, so I drove up to Napa Saturday evening. I'd signed up late for this race -- after it sold out -- but Derek got me in with his running team, which was great. Several members of the team came to his house Saturday and we had a wonderful pasta dinner. They were so much fun! I need a running team. We ate a lot and drank a bit of wine (well, some more than a bit). They all took off around 9:30, and Derek and his wife went to bed at about 10:30. That's super early for me, but I was tired and fell asleep pretty fast. I slept great (despite a few wake-up calls from their baby throughout the night -- I'm not a heavy sleeper, but if I'm woken up I have zero problem going back to sleep) and was up at 5:45. I had a bit of hot oatmeal (yum!).

We ended up leaving the house a bit late and I was feeling a little flustered. I didn't even realize that I'd developed a pre-race routine, but I totally have and driving to the race with a bunch of other people kind of threw me off. I like getting to races early to scope things out and then taking care of things like lubing up my feet and drinking some water and using the bathrooms. But I felt kind of rushed this morning.

I ate a Gu about 15 minutes before the race start.
Event warmup:

Nothing. I met a bunch of the other runners in Derek's group and then we all hung around trying to stay warm.
  • 1h 54m 49s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 08m 46s  min/mile

The race started kind of weird -- one second we were standing around talking, the next we noticed people in front of us were running. Good thing it was chip-timed so it didn't matter when we crossed the start line.

After a short downhill you get immediately to "Butt Burner Hill," which really isn't too bad at all. About a quarter mile up the hill I saw a guy puking off to the side of the road, and I thought, wow, tough race for that dude. Turns out it was one of the runners from our group. Ha! He later said it was one of the sugar bean things he ate before the race, but he did have a lot of wine the night before...

After the first hill it's a pretty long descent, and then rollers for miles and miles. I felt a little rough for the first four or five miles -- I don't think I ate enough, and I just wasn't feeling the easy, comfy, fast pace that I'm used to at the start of races. Usually I have to make an effort to slow down, but not this time. I wasn't going too slow or anything, I just wasn't flying. It made me nervous because if I was feeling off in the first part of the race, what did that mean for the rest?

The aid stations came every couple miles and I stopped at all of them (except mile 12, because really, no way am I stopping there). I would've liked Gatorade at all of them, but I think it was only at two? Anyway, I grabbed a cup of water at the first aid station and ran with it, but after that I walked the other aid stations. It was kind of a happy accident -- I usually don't like to walk aid stations because I hate starting up running again, but these very short walk breaks did wonders for my recovery, even if it was all mental. This was especially important at the end of the race.

I think I finally started feeling OK at about mile 6 or so. Somewhere around there I got stuck with two annoying runners. First, there was a chick who had a GPS/HRM that was beeping *constantly*. God, that was so annoying (it doesn't help that I'm really sensitive to constant high-pitched noises -- they drive me crazy). I kept trying to lose her, either speeding up or dropping back, but I swear she was pacing me for a while. She finally dropped me at an aid station and when I saw her a couple miles later the beeping had stopped. Second was a dude who was part of a Team in Training-type group. I think he was a coach or mentor, because he would run back, latch on to someone, run with him or her for a bit, and then run back again. He had a cowbell attached to him. So it clanged the whole time he ran. For about a mile he was right behind me, and seriously, no one needs that much cowbell.

By about mile 7 or 8 I was actually feeling pretty great, and I kept that up on and off -- but mostly on -- until about mile 10, which I'm very happy about. Unlike my previous half mary, the last two miles didn't feel horrendous. I mean, they were really tough, but mostly because I was determined to push myself and pick up the pace. In the previous race I was clinging to a 9-minute-mile -- this race, my last three miles weren't too far off from my first three (except for the mysterious miles 2 and 12). Yay!

For the second race in a row, someone tried to pass me in the finish chute. Bring it! I love that. I felt her coming up behind me and sprinted to the end, and we basically crossed together. The funny thing is it turned out she was part of Derek's running group. Ha.

Overall I felt so much stronger in this race than my previous one. My time wasn't amazing; officially, I shaved about three or four minutes off my previous time, but technically it was only maybe two minutes. But that's after only seven weeks of additional training. And I felt a lot better in this one -- I didn't get sore and stiff like last time, despite spending hours and hours after the race either lounging on the ground or sitting still in a car. I think the rolling hills helped. I'm not a great hill runner, but my legs do much better on the ups and downs than on a constant flat.

Although speaking of legs (sort of) -- God, my feet. Blisters like crazy. They didn't bother me during the run, for the most part. There was one moment when it felt like I'd popped a toenail off (I hadn't), but it felt more weird than painful and the weirdness went away. I didn't know what a wreck my feet were until after the race, but yeesh, I've never seen such blisters (including a couple of blood blisters), and they were everywhere. I think I'm going to hit the LRS tomorrow and beg for help.
What would you do differently?:

Eat more in the morning. I should've had more oatmeal and/or my usual Clif bar. Maybe some Gatorade before the race.
Post race
Warm down:

After the race they hand out wine glasses and have a wine tasting. I didn't do the tasting, but Derek's group had plenty of Champagne so I had a couple glasses of that. I mostly just lounged around for a couple hours and played with Derek's baby and snacked on the picnic stuff people had brought. We left a little before noon to drive back to Derek's house in Napa, then I took off for Windsor to catch the end of Vineman. Yay!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Just me. I'm getting faster, but it's a slow process!

Event comments:

Fun race! It started a few minutes late, but it wasn't too bad. There were lots of volunteers and aid stations (although I would've liked more Gatorade on the course), and the course was very well-marked. The post-race festivities were awesome -- lots of interesting booths, music, wine-tasting, very casual and fun. I'd definitely like to do it again!

Last updated: 2008-04-11 12:00 AM
01:54:49 | 13.1 miles | 08m 46s  min/mile
Age Group: 38/199
Overall: 360/1635
Performance: Good
Laps: 8:42, 8:17, 8:37, 8:49, 8:35, 8:52, 8:44, 8:46, 8:59, 8:36, 8:59, 8:47 Time is from my Garmin, so it's not official, but probably pretty close.
Course: First half is rolling hills, second half is mostly flat with one or two small hills. The course is beautiful -- you run along winding roads through vineyards (not that I appreciated the scenery much). It'd be tough on a sunny day, because there's almost no shade, but it was overcast and perfectly cool today.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2008-07-21 2:09 AM

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Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: Wine Country Half Marathon

2008-07-21 6:16 AM
in reply to: #1544747

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Wine Country Half Marathon
Super pace there!  Aesome job!
2008-07-21 11:46 AM
in reply to: #1544747

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Subject: RE: Wine Country Half Marathon
no one needs that much cowbell.


Great work, Erin. Good luck getting the feet thing figured out. Blisters suck!
2008-07-21 6:41 PM
in reply to: #1544747

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Liverpool, New York
Subject: RE: Wine Country Half Marathon

Great job Erin!

Sounds like someone needs to show that gal how to turn off the beeping noise - that would have driven me nuts!

Great pace

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