Wine Country 1/2 Marathon 2022
Ohhhh this race was so awesome and terrible and perfect!
I’m going to try to be concise in hopes that helps you read and get an idea of the race/course/my experience.
Going into this race, I wanted to use it as a training race for Eagleman 70.3 in 4 weeks, but I also had trained enough to do decent and feel solid going into this half. I hadn’t done this course before, was just very HAPPY to be going to do a fun run and then hang out with friends, and felt excited to push myself. I was worried about the weather, but I was fully committed to running it even if it ended up raining since I didn’t go last year due to a huge rainstorm during the event. Didn’t want to do that 2 years in a row.
Race week I felt HORRIBLE. Exhausted (had a few nights of not sleeping), and my body was so so tired and my breathing was terrible (either from being overtired or allergies or maybe just typical for a taper week?) So, this led me to worry a bit. I was very loose with my training plan- skipped a little of my plan in order to just get more rest.
Race morning, it was rainy during the drive, even though my weather app called for no rain, grrr… Sprinkled a bit during packet pickup and about 20 min before race start, started LEGIT raining, kinda cold. I wasn’t thrilled. This is what treadmills are for😊 It was cold and I Just wanted to begin. Rain tapered a little as we began, but the first mile I thought was “grose”.. like my feet felt wet in my shoes already, mud on legs all over, puddles, the first 3 miles were mostly all on gravel roads (mud roads). And within first 3 miles BIG HILLS! My splits weren’t super duper strong because all the hills, but I knew it was still strong and appropriate for the course and conditions. I also had a terrifying early pitstop in a port o pot at mile 3. Why so early, grrr. Usually I at least make it to mile 7-8.
Mile 3-8 were strong, but still hilly and I had another pit stop behind a bush on the course. Luckily that was the last!!
The course was not my favorite because we basically were at the finish line around mile 8, but had 5 miles left, so turned and BACKTRACKED 2.5 miles that we had already come, and back. So, that meant we were on these little country roads that were mostly 1 lane size, with runners in both directions. (along with potholes filled with puddles and mud). **yes, my ankles are sore today from the terrain, which I actually welcome as a nice little training effect.
This is where the race got really challenging, both physically and mentally. Physically, the hills from mile 8.5-10.5 were SO hard going back. So hard that I was grunting, making sounds, saying some words. It was so hard. A guy behind me yelled at one huge mountainous hill- WHAT IS UP WITH THIS COURSE!?! I screamed back “THIS IS RUUUUUUUDE!” It was terrible. PLUS, then it started to become mental- like where int eh WORLD was the turn around. Since we had already been on this road, for some reason it felt to me like we should have been at the turn around, and it just wasn’t coming. I misjudged like over ½ mile thinking it was right around the corner and so it became frustrating that it wasn’t ever there and we kept having to go up up up up up.
It was during this time that I got passed by another girl runner. At the time I thought I had been in 3rd, so when she passed me I was like “shit- that takes me out of top 3.” I kinda wanted to be in top 3 in case there was any wine as a prize, etc!! But at the time, on those hills, there was nothing I could do. I just kept plugging along, making my sounds and saying my words. We were FINALLY about to be at the turnaround and I saw the girl who had passed me coming the opposite way. She was near a guy who said to a guy I was running near, “come get me.” So, I kind of took that and when we got to the turnaround, I said to the guy I was near, “let’s go get them.” I normally like to stay within myself, compete at this point in a race just with where I am, and not make it about anyone else. But, for some reason I felt like I wanted to be a bit aggressive and try to stay “in it.” He kind of glanced at me unsure, but then he started to pick up his pace and I start to trail behind him and try to keep up also. Then, I was like, shoot, I don’t think I can, but I already said this to him, so now I felt stupid. So, I kept my effort and somehow it became ok to maintain. We kept pulling closer and closer to them. By about 11.5 miles, I knew I was gaining back on her and I could definitely get to her. I had planned to get to her and kind of hide behind her for a bit, but before m ile 12, I Just passed her, thinking, do it now while you can and then just try to see if you can keep plugging more time away. So, when I passed her, I had over a mile left to keep the lead, and I kinda hate that because then I’m being chased. I’d prefer to do the chasing. But, I said to myself this is 4x around the track, take it little by little, stay focused on form, being smooth and efficient. I didn’t turn around at all, so I was hoping I was putting some distance in between us. But last ½ mile I heard someone behind me, and I knew someone was right there, and I was like shit go harder. I knew how close we were, we turned the corner into the winery and ¼ mile left. I literally could HEAR these footsteps and I’m like SHIIIIIIITTTTT and went all out, literally just 100% of what I had, and this is on very tired legs. Less than .1 from finish a guy passed me and I Was like maybe that was the footsteps and she is not there, so I may have let up slightly because I thought I was going to maybe die of effort. I made it to the finish line and she hadn’t passed, so I thought I had top 3! I was super happy for that, but mostly for my EFFORT and FIGHT! I don’t normally fight and play “strategy” like that, and I had kinda fun doing it! She ended up being 19 seconds back, so clearly she hadn’t given up either based on my last mile split which was strong and also she had to be working pretty much as hard as I was!
I ended up 5th overall, and first in my age group. I don’t know where the 2 other girls were that finished ahead of me, since I didn’t really see them during the race, and I saw the men who were in front of me since there were so many out and backs I only saw 2 women in front of me for the whole race, so it’s kinda strange, but honestly I don’t care because I know I did my 100% . Literally, it was every single thing I had. I’m super proud of it and it was exactly what I Needed- a huge kick in the behind, a big training effect for my muscles. I am sore today in quads, calves, hips, ankles and even kind of my shoulders and traps😊 I kinda love it.
It was so much darn fun. I sat with 3 friends for a few hours after and we had beautifully yummy wine and huge laughs for hours. It WAS LITERALLY the BEST.
BEST BEST BEST. I loved it so much.
I may not recommend this half marathon as a first time ½ marathon for someone. But I would DEF recommend the 5k and 10K. The 10K is still a challenging course, don’t get me wrong, but since you don’t have to backtrack and do half of it over, it makes it better. Plus there were tons of run/walkers and walkers for both of those!
I’m set up perfectly to finish a big training push and then taper for Eagleman on June 12! Super happy that I committed to this race. It wasn’t ideal- it was prom for Phoebe, so I knew I’d have to come back at some point to be available if she wanted me for any help, but we had a great 5 hours of fun, and I know without a doubt I am more fit than I would have been without committing to this race!
Here are my stats and splits:
8:33 (bathroom stop)
9:33 (this was the BEAST OF HILLY MILES)
1:47:24 total time, 8:09/mile pace.
5th OA, 1st age group.