Saturday, October 4, 2014

Race Recap: Brutal Beast AKA The Napa Half

When I signed up for the Napa Half, I was fresh off a fabulous PR at Napa to Sonoma in July, truly believed I would be running the Santa Rosa Half Marathon in August, and had utterly forgotten how wiped out I get when starting a school year.

Still, I genuinely wanted to run! I kept telling myself that mostly because I hadn't really wanted to run the Santa Rosa Half Marathon by the time the weekend rolled around, and that's the weekend the earthquake hit.  I wanted to run this race so that there wouldn't be another earthquake. That makes sense, right?

I buckled down and got to business. I did my 10 mile training run.  I set out my race outfit (complete with my favorite new running shirt, my souvenir from the Zooma 10K. I actually remembered to charge my watch. I panicked because I couldn't find the bottles that fit in my race belt...then remembered they were still in the refrigerator from the Santa Rosa Half.

Calm down, Sarah.

Friends drove in from San Francisco to run with me in the morning. We settled in for the night.

And here we go.

Up at 5:45, showered, lots of food, because...hills. Lots of hills.  I ate probably 50% more than I usually do on a race morning (and, incidentally, ate about 50% more than I usually do during the race, too - hills are hungry making).

We drove the whopping one mile over to the race starting point, barely had time to stretch - getting to the start line of a close race is sort of like pulling right into in a really big spot instead of parallel parking...somehow it's never as easy as it should be.

And off we went on a nicely overcast morning - because, seriously, if this race had been hot, I am not sure I could have finished.

Did you win?  

That's what my students always want to know when I limp into my classroom on a Monday morning and explain why I'm broken. 

No. I ran faster than my first race and slower than my PR. I consider that a win.

I do know people who win - or who win their age groups (in fact, my best friend's husband, one of the friends who drove in from San Francisco, got third in his age group), but I don't run to win.

Back to the recap.  The race began on a quick uphill that turned into many more uphills.

We ran a part of Napa that only ever really goes up - there was a pattern of biiiiiig uphill followed by a slight downhill and then more uphill. I felt this race more than ever before. By the second mile I couldn't carry on a conversation with my best friend anymore, and I can't run with her without talking to her, so I told her to go on ahead.

I walked for a bit, remembered how to breathe again, and kept running.  I established a pattern of run 10 minutes, walk 2, from that point on, and I was able to maintain a very steady pace and keep breathing, so, cool.

The first water stop - and can I say the volunteers were some of the sweetest I have seen on a course? So encouraging! So happy to hand me water and nuun! Yay!  Anyway, I gratefully took some water and turned onto yet another uphill.

By the sixth mile, my body hurt. This doesn't usually happen to me until mile 9 at the earliest, mile 11 on a good day, so I knew this was an intense race.

Around mile 8, after the deadliest of hills and after reconnecting with the first half of the pack for about 1/2 a mile, I saw a good friend on her bike, riding around taking photos and cheering for people. That put a pep in my step, and I kept trucking along.


At mile 10, they had run out of water :(. (Incidentally, I told the race coordinator at the end, and she got on the phone to solve the problem, which I have never seen in a race before)

At mile 11, they asked if I was finishing or turning, and this time I was finishing, so off I went to run uphill some more.

At mile 12.7, I saw a good friend and her sweet, sweet dog, and they ran with me for a bit while I focused on not dying.

Then, the finish! I saw my friends, my husband, my son, all there cheering, and finally it was over.


I hit the time I expected and was ready to recover!

Off we went for showers and milkshakes.


Once I'd stuffed my face with a patty melt and felt like a human being again, I could reminisce about the race. The course is gorgeous - foggy vineyards during harvest have a certain romance to them. The course was intense, far more intense than the first half I ever ran, and I crushed that time.  I feel proud of my run, and I'm ready for inspiration to strike and encourage me to sign up for my next event (I smell a Turkey Trot in the near future...).









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