Disclaimer: I received an entry into Napa Valley Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Napa Valley. People, I live in wine country but it’s not Wine Country. Prior to running, I actually paid little attention to the hundreds (not an exaggeration) of vineyards in my area. My first half marathon was lined with vineyards and vines. I learned harvest patterns thanks to a house I run past with a couple acres of vines. Vines grew on me you could say.
I am so looking forward to running in Napa. I’ve thought about it for years but for some reason, don’t go north as often for trips. Oops. Napa Valley Marathon has been running since 1979. In 2018, they added a half. Which is what I will be running. The race course runs down the Silverado Trail from Calistoga to Napa. The half starts around the midway point. I do love a good point to point race. Throw in rows of vines along the way and I am in!!
Now if only I spend more time running than taking pictures. It’s a toss up. I am a picture hoarder after all. Also this may be half marathon #40. Or 41…. I do have a tendency to throw races in at the last minute.
Oh, did I mention this will be my time trying the VIP experience at race?????? I’m excited!!
Want to join me on March 1? Use code BIBRAVE10 to save $10 on registration!
While my fueling game is stronger than it ever was (Thanks Gatorade Endurance), my actual endurance is up for debate.
I had big plans for getting back on track post October chaos, but I swear the universe laughed and said hold my beer. November was more of the same plus some extra crazy which saw me changing my running MO. Actually still a work in progress, my week day running has been completely derailed. The farthest I’ve run in 2 months is 10k. And it wasn’t a walk in the park.
We finally said goodbye to lingering summer warmth and rain came for the first time since April. And hasn’t stopped. Don’t get me wrong, we need the rain as we are in a constant state of drought, but too much too fast brings along a new set of chaos.
Saturday is currently showing an 80% chance of rain.
25K is 15ish miles. 2ish giant climbs. The first one the hardest and the shale rock is tough on a good day… what will it be when wet?
That’s more than double the longest I’ve run in months. In less than optimal circumstances.
There is a 13K I could drop to but my pride stings at that. I set a half cocked goal for a 50K this year and if I dropped I wouldn’t even be completing half of that goal. But would pushing myself to finish the 25K just hurt my odds of training for a 50K in the first half of 2020? And training healthy at that??? The greatest fuel (did I mention I love it?) in the world won’t help me if I hurt myself.
So, decision time. Smart or stupid? How may Blackberry gels should I pack?
For more on Gatorade Endurance go HERE and learn on to Fuel Your Journey.
Disclaimer: I received an entry into Oaktown Half as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews.
Oh, Oakland, for being a flat city (that I’ve seen) you sure give me my ups and downs.
After a rough night’s sleep or lack there of, I was up early and out the door to make my way to race start. The perk of my hotel was that the start was only 2 blocks up. I thought there would be more runners there or out and about but there weren’t. It was kind of odd.
Picking up my bib and shirt were fairly easy. I got the feeling I wasn’t the only person whose expo in a box hadn’t arrived. I folded my shirt as small as I could then shoved it in my pack instead of gear checking. I then stood in the longest bathroom line ever only to discover the port-a-potties had no TP. What?!?
I met up with a couple other BibRavePros before heading to the start line.
Miles 1-3 10:09, 10:24, 10:50 I had loosely planned on taking it easy and just trying to run consistently, pace be damned. I felt pretty consistent the first few miles as we headed towards the Jack London part of town before turning back. This is also where I took most of the mural photos.
Miles 4-6 11:16, 11:00, 11:28 I was feeling ok and only walking through aid stations but it was getting warm. It felt very muggy. We were looping around Lake Merritt and as much as I was looking forward to running around Lake Merritt I knew I was about to hate it.
Miles 7-9 11:22, 11:36, 11:53 Oh my god, get me away from this lake. The lake was the mother of all out and backs- run almost all the way around it on the street then move to lake path and run all the way back the other direction. As pretty as the lake was, I felt like I was losing my mind. I did wave at another Pro when we passed each other on parts of the out and back. These were also the miles that I realized I was going to be beat by a 7 year old. Not that we were really racing but I was torn between being impressed and slightly chagrined.
Miles 10-11 12:00, 11:19 Finally off the lake, I never thought I would be so happy in my life. We were headed back towards downtown and I was lagging. My legs felt good, I just felt really hot. I also died a little inside when I saw the finish line but we turned right.
Miles 12-13 12:12, 11:47 Ok, no I really died inside when I realized there was another out and back…no make that 2 out and backs. I think this realization also slowed me down. I was so over the out and backs. I tried to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Fittingly enough, Skillet’s “Finish Line” came on with around 1/3 of a mile left to go. And I picked up the pace.
Fastest half in a year-not sure how I feel about that. Actually my body felt pretty good during the race despite the very flat terrain. I don’t know if I was mentally there. Also I felt really hot- I never checked the humidity but it probably wasn’t my friend. Especially now that I don’t work and run in a beach town. Ha!
While this route was more scenic than my last race in Oakland, the repeated out and backs messed with my head. Boo.
I had a horrible night of sleep so I was moving a little slowly as I got myself ready for the race. I headed out of my hotel to the shuttle stop around 5:30. Part of the reason I book this hotel is the proximity to the shuttles and the finish line. The lines seem so much longer this year but I was on a bus fairly quickly. Once dropped off I made my way to the BibRave Pro meetup.
Then I did a bad thing. I hadn’t noticed until I was preparing my flat runner the night before but my bib had my corral as 21. Wait, what? I know I’m moving slower than I used to but that didn’t make sense. Which was reinforced when I saw the 2:30 pacers in corral 14. Rock n Roll was enforcing corral assignments this time but I managed to sneak into corral 14.
Miles 1-3: 10:15, 11:07, 11:39 I love that .2 miles into the start there is a guy shouting on a bull horn. Every year. I was feeling rough from the get go. I was running but I knew it wasn’t going to last. I’ve never faded this fast before.
Miles 4-5: 11:34, 11:54 I was slowing, my pace does not show how much walking I was doing. I had nothing in the tank. The Mile 4.5 bar barely drew a smile from me. Then we entered the “Wear Blue” mile. All the signs of fallen military members and American Flags make me realize I should not be complaining. I went to pause my music so I could run the mile in silence when I noticed what was playing. The acoustic version of Papa Roach’s F.E.A.R- Face Everything And Rise. The timing of lyrics was eerie so I let it play.
Miles 6-10: 11:54, 12:41, 11:34, 11:46, 12:03 I knew I was done back in mile 3 and I stopped fighting it. My legs and body felt good, I just had zero energy. None. It was humid but not hot and while the humidity wasn’t as high as last year, my lungs were not having it. Asthma sucks. So I ran when I could and walked the rest. Miles 7 and 10? Lots of walking. A lot. I just tried to enjoy the neighborhoods I was running through, all the people who came out to cheer, and the literal cheerleaders every few miles.
Miles 11-13: 12:39, 11:06, 11:57 There was a new blowup at mile 10 instead of the guitar guy. I love the last 3 miles- there’s a good uphill, amazing downhill and a party tunnel as we head back downtown to the finish. I felt like I picked up the pace but the stats tell a different story. Ha! I had to take a walk break at the bottom of the downhill- say what? I never have to walk after downhills. So in other words- the hundred or so people I just passed now all passed me. 🙂
My slowest San Diego to date! I am not sure what happened out there- I went in worried about a hurt foot and instead slammed into a wall of exhaustion. I texted a friend after the race and said I had zero get up and go. None. I still love this race though and would recommend it to anyone who asks.
Disclaimer: I received free entry to Holiday Half as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Race start was a leisurely 8 but after a night of utterly horrible sleep, there was no need for my alarm and morning came too early. I knew I needed to get my bib before the race so we checked out first thing and headed for the Fairplex. The Pomona Raceway and Fairplex has more than enough parking but getting in was more challenging than I anticipated and took longer than I planned for. Once we finally parked, we booked it down to the race start where everything was clearly labeled and picking up my bib and race shirt was easy-peasy.
Then the clothing debate was on. I was cold so I was wearing a long sleeve with my BibRave tank over it and my black fleece vest over that. I had my beanie or trucker hat to choose from and had gloves. I still wasn’t feeling great and tend to run cold so I was thinking all the layers. My mother ended up taking the beanie and talked me out of the vest as well although I was whining about it the whole time. I ran with my old waist belt instead of my pack as well because I didn’t want anything heavy on my chest. So still feeling cold, I lined up at the start and under a dusting of fake snow, we were off!
Miles 1-3- 10:03, 11:33, 12:05 I knew this was going to be slower, I was thinking around a 12 min pace likely and figured I would pay more attention to my heart rate than my pace. First mile- oops but I was feeling ok as we wound out of the Fairplex and into the surrounding neighborhoods. I knew from the race website, it had some rolling hills so I made the early decision to walk them just because I had been sick. Then I had to forcibly remind myself of that on the first one. Mile 2, I was already tired, haha! And mile 3, I was overheating. The weatherman lied- how the hell do I get this undershirt off? I am going to melt! We also hit the actual drag strip which was cool and the main reason I slowed- I took a lot of pictures. 😛
Miles 4-8- 11:12, 11:34, 11:48, 12:12, 12:16 The track actually gave me a little bit of a second wind so I was moving a little faster than I had originally planned. Not exactly speedy but better than I had predicted. The course was winding us through neighborhoods and parks and campgrounds and I was just enjoying the view. We ran passed Raging Waters so that was kind of cool. There was a lake on our left for a good chunk of the miles so there was always something to look at. The pacers were making me mad though. At this point the 2:20 and 2:15 pacers passed me, which would have been fine, except they were running together! Ummm- that’s not how it works! Mile 8 brought us down into a park that we looped and then back out.
Miles 9-12- 11:32, 12:37, 12:27, 13:12 Things were going good until 9.5. Then my body was done. My legs and hips started talking back about the lack of miles in the last 2 months and I felt an asthma attack coming. I came to a halt and then walked. A lot, all the hills, most of the flats and only really ran the downhills. Bummer as this section leveled out and brought us back to the race track. Here another pacer ticked me off. At mile 11.75 and 2:18 in (yes, I checked my watch) the 2:40 pacer passed me- running. Wait, what? I know they started after me, what the heck are they doing??
Mile 13-11:29 This mile drove me crazy. I was trying to not have an asthma attack but I wanted to run and be done. This mile was mostly S-curving through the race track parking lot to pick up mileage as we headed back to the Fairplex and it was in full sun. Why????? I still walked portions but finally jogged it in to the finish. Where’s my snowflake? Oh wait, it’s a wreath.😛
I met up with my mother at the end of the finish chute and we hung out for a bit. It was a little bit of a party going on but in the end I was sore and wheezing and needed to sit so we headed back to the car.
I knew I wasn’t trained or fully healthy going into this race so I am A-Ok with my finishing time. It was even a little better than I thought it might be and still not my slowest. This was a great course though and I wonder what I could do healthy- those hills spoke to me.
Oh and the 2:40 pacer? Finished before me. 🤨
Oh- and I got a fancy finisher’s certificate from Athlinks!