Otherwise known as the tale of 8 seconds.
I registered for Wine Country knowing that it might not be the best idea given my recent hamstring issues. But, it being the very first half marathon I ran, I really do love this race, hills and all. I wanted to run it partially because of that and partially because it was year number 5 for me and you can’t break that streak right? That said, I was going into it with low expectations. I had a rough week with troubles sleeping. I pushed too hard on Thursday’s run and was feeling it in left leg. Plus the weather was predicted to be hot and cloudy. I was ok with the hot forecast but not so much with the cloudy. Clouds = moisture = asthma. So, very low expectations. Which I was ok with as I have been having some thought battles with myself while running lately. But more on that next time.
Saturday- So not a restful day before the race. I worked in the morning and had a full afternoon of errands and tire rotations. Lunch was mostly skipped due to that- smoothie for the win! In fact I ate less on Friday and Saturday then I have in weeks, let alone leading up to a race. I tried to catch part of the tennis team’s match but it was seriously over 90 and there was no shade at the courts so I only lasted 20 minutes. I picked up my bib and swag and did manage to drive the course. Yes, I know it well but I wanted to make sure there were no surprises. The plan was to update my playlist and go to bed early that night. Ha! I have been having troubles with my phone and it crapped out on me. It took me 2 hours to get it running again and by then it was late. So no new playlist. I ran to a mix of Fall Out Boy, Set It Off and Papa Roach.
Race morning came all to soon. Since it was so close, I slept as long as possible before heading out. The lane to the grass lot where we park always backs up so I briefly thought about parking in a little lot about 1/4 of mile from the start line. I figured that wouldn’t be a horrible warm up but nah. I parked in the grass lot and wound up a stones throw from the start line. Literally, I could have thrown a rock and hit it. I ate nothing prior to the race and when I could have gotten out and warmed up a bit I stayed in my warm car. The morning had dawned a little cooler than expected. I was just feeling meh. It was kind of nice not being nervous. 🙂 While I had low expectations, I had told my mother I was aiming for 2:15, but really thought it would be more like 2:20. The plan was to text her at mile 10. I headed to the start about 3 minutes til. I met up with H real quick to say hi and then we were off!
Miles 1-3- 9:36, 9:13, 9:15
And I went out of the gate too fast, what else is new? There is fairly large hill at the end of this race so I always intentionally positive split this race. A slightly fast start is one thing but this was ridiculous. There was no way I was maintaining that. Annoyingly enough, I had to stop and tie my shoe during mile 1. Ugh. The hills start in mile 2. I kept telling myself to slow down but my legs would just not listen. I even went so far as to try and bottleneck myself. I tried to intentionally run behind groups of people in an effort to slow down. No luck, but first hill done.
Miles 4-6- 9:19, 9:27, 9:28
Still too fast. I caught up to H around mile 3, it was a nice little check in. I admitted that I was going way too fast for my current fitness but had decided to just go with it. I figured I would hang on as long as I could but knew I was probably going to hit the wall hard at some point. But I was enjoying the views, the vineyards and the clouds and the morning sun and was having fun so I decided to go with it. My breathing was on point, so I figured why not? Just past mile 4, we turn onto the airport road. The road is Trashed. It makes the pic I posted the other day look like a walk in the park. After running this race so many times, I had a plan. I hopped onto the dirt shoulder and ran there for the next 3 miles. It was shale and slightly uneven but it was awesome. I lost H around mile 5. Miles 7-9- 9:25, 9:05, 9:03
Miles 6-9 are a series of rolling hills, I guess all my hills are finally paying off. Where the heck did those splits come from?! I was still feeling good but lost all math computing skills. I hit mile 8 at 1:15. Looking at my watch, I quickly did the math and knew that if I maintained a 10 minute pace I would hit the finish line around 2:07. However that didn’t take into account the big hill at the end so my math told me there was no way I was PR’ing or beating last year’s course time. I was really ok with that. I felt great and was having fun running and rocking out to music and that was the point. Do you see the problem with my math?
Miles 10-12- 9:44, 10:09, 9:34
Oh hello wall, nice of you to join me. My breathing had gone from nice and easy to labored. My left leg was feeling tighter as well. Both in my hamstring and my IT band. I took a walk break, texted my mother, and used my inhaler and then pushed on. I also used that walk break to restart a particular song. I have developed a weird fascination with Why Worry by Set It Off, I deliberately started the race with it and used that break to start it over. Guess it helped because look at mile 12.
Mile 13- 11:01
Damn hill. I walk this hill every year. If my math is right (ha!) the hill has an elevation grade of 10+%. It kicks my ass just walking. My heart rate usually increases so I end up walking more at the top too. But I know that going in so seeing an 11 minute split was fine by me. A girl ran past me on the way up, telling me not to give up and just keep running. Nope, I knew what I was doing worked for me. She started walking about 10 feet later. See, the hill is just a beast. I started running again but I was tired and it was so much harder than before. I pushed on though because I was so close to the finish. I really should have paid more attention to my watch. It didn’t occur to me until I was crossing the line what time it was. I crossed the finish line at 2:06:05.
Are you FREAKIN’ kidding me?! My PR is 2:05:57. 8 seconds. 8 seconds.
This race gives you a medal and a wine glass and a bottle of water at the finish. I always feel like I am going to drop something. My mother usually ends up rescuing the wine glass. 🙂 I had seen H a little ways behind me during the tiny out and back so I knew she wasn’t too far behind me, so we waited for her to cross. After chatting a bit, she headed off to find her co-workers and I headed off to stretch in the grass. I can think of 2-3 places where I could have shaved off 8 seconds. My math had been so off from mile 8 on and I just didn’t pay enough attention to my watch after that to know how close I was to my PR. Partly because I hadn’t thought I had a shot in hell of getting anywhere near that time. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me. That said, I am damn proud of how I ran this race. Yes, I started too fast but for the most part, I managed to maintain that. I ran the hills smart and I think running in the dirt for so long was a huge help. I also finally ran the freaking tangents! Which for the windy part meant running along the center yellow line. I just had to dodge a car every now and again. 🙂
Hills, hills, and more hills, I still love this race. Great set up, great views and always a good crowd. Did I mention that the male/ female winner gets their weight in wine? I will be back for another Wine Country.