Saturday, June 28, 2014

Race Recap: Zooma Napa Valley

"I just hit a PR while practicing this course," she said, "want to run with me?"

As my good friend Steph offered to be my running partner for Zooma Napa Valley, I worried for a minute. After all, we know I'm afraid to be fast. Then, she showed me her PR. Just a smidge faster than my previous.

I needed someone other than the little voice in my head to motivate me. "Yes," I said, "let's do this thing."

I didn't sleep well the night before, whether from nerves or from the all too recent memory of the hissing opossum my dog cornered on the porch. I pushed that all aside, because I was going to run this to the best of my ability, no giving in to the low hanging fruit of excuses.

Race morning arrived, and we gathered with close to 1,000 other runners, mostly women, in a church parking lot and bounced and stretched.  I walked with M, another friend, a walking, training and just general other awesome bits of life friend,  greeted other runners we knew, women we trained with, women who inspire us, and we anxiously waited for race time.

We talked about our race plan.

It consisted of this.

"We will run."

Got it.

In our excitement talking to others we knew, we almost missed the start, but butterflies in my belly, we got going across that finish line.

We started behind the 10:41 pacing group, knowing we could go faster, but wanting to get through the first mile or so before breaking out from the pack.  The Napa sun shone gloriously down on us, and we pounded the pavement. I breathed cautiously, having discovered this past year that, duh, even breathing means an even pace.  We finished the first mile in 10:44.

We both wanted to go faster, so, after the turn on to Orchard around mile 1.5, we took the opportunity to swoop around the pack and go for it.

"Do you want to know your pace right now," Steph asked.

"Not really."

"Are you sure?"

"Fine..."

"We're running a 9 minute mile."

"Oh."

Mile 2, thanks to a lovely downhill bit, during which I chanted to myself, "Let gravity do it. Give in to gravity," we finished in 9:35.

We kept trucking through the water stop and around the mile turn around - I didn't even look at my watch but saw later that Mile 3 was 9:28.

Somewhere in here, I got to cheer for M, as she head towards finishing the first half of her first 10K.

During Mile 4, Steph started to feel some pain. I slowed my pace to see if she could loosen it up and keep going.

"I have to listen to my body, and you're going for a PR, keep going."

Somewhat reluctantly, I left her behind. Downhill in the first half meant a slight incline in the second half, and it showed.  Mile 4: 10:23.

Last drink of water, final push.

"You'll set a PR if you can finish these last two miles in 20 minutes, I told myself."

Mile 5:  10:26

"You can do this. Let go of the fear. Just. Keep. Running."

Mile 6: 9:32

"Your baby and husband are waiting at the finish.  One last push. Do this."

Suddenly there were my handsome husband and adorable son.

I pushed across the finish line. They called my name and said, "...from Napa....actually, one of the first finishers from Napa." My heart soared! I doubted I would finish at the top of the pack generally, but to finish toward the top of any pack felt phenomenal.

I met my family at the finish, shared my banana with my son and went to watch my friends finish.

Steph finished just a couple of minutes behind me, with her adorable daughter running with her. M met her goal time as little man and I ran across the finish with her.  And our half-marathon running friend, Miriam, came sailing across the finish around 1:45 as we shouted her name.

I've never felt such joy at the end of a race - I saw familiar faces, ran in my own town, and allowed myself to run unfettered. It was a good day to be a runner.

Final Time: 1:02:31
Average pace: 9:58/mile 






Goal? Met. I set a new PR by just under two minutes.  I really wanted to run an average of sub 10 miles. I know that I can actually get myself to run every mile under 10 minutes. That's my next 10K goal.

See that, fear?  I'm letting you go.

PR Times Make Good Photos...Smiles with Awesome Runners and Cute Toddlers Make Better Ones.

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