When it comes time to do a race recap I never quite know what to say. Everyone has a different race experience, but I always feel like no one is really gonna wanna hear mine. But if you are all ready here then you are probably prepared for what could possibly be a long-winded/silly/boring/semi-interesting/drawn-out race recap. So without further ado….
Race morning start at 4:30 am. We had to meet our team in the lobby at 4:45 am for pictures before we boarded the buses at 5:15 am for the 45 minute ride to the race start. Lauren and I took a couple shots together while waiting for the rest of the team to show up.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to get 19 people together in the same place for pre-race pictures…. at 4:45 in the morning?? It is very hard. I think we were finally all there and ready to take pictures at about 5:10. So much for 30 minutes of picture taking. Oh well. We got the pictures we needed taken and boarded the buses to the race start. Even though I wasn’t too excited about having to ride 45 minutes to the race start, at least I wasn’t the one having to drive. We were able to relax (ha!) and take in some of the sights (once the sun started to come up) on the drive out.
The race started at the Cuvaison Carneros Winery in Napa. It was a little cool that morning and I went back and forth about whether or not to wear my jacket. I finally decided to leave it at the hotel and was very happy with that decision once we got there. We made the slight trek up the hill to where everyone was hanging out waiting for the race to start. I decided to make a last minute trip to the porta potty lines before we made our way to the start. It was probably one of my best decisions of the day. It kept me from having to make a stop along the race course. Go me!
Finally around 6:50 they had us make our way back down the hill to the race start. It was kind of a neat feeling at the race start. With only around 3,600 participants it was one of the smallest 1/2 marathons I’ve run. Also, there were no spectators at the start – just runners. At first I thought it would be kinda weird, but it was neat because we were sort of left to our own devices. Everyone there was “in the zone” and getting ready to race. When the race finally started I said good bye to my teammates (some were much faster than me and others were slower). Unfortunately no one from the central Florida team was really racing at my pace. Since I wasn’t too concerned with my time I just went for it.
The first, and supposedly only, hill was as soon as we turned left out of the winery. It was bigger than we had seen in Florida (of course) but not as terrible as I expected. Having it right in the beginning was really nice. I was still pumped up and ready to rock!
I took my time and stopped whenever the urge hit me to take pictures. Around mile 5 I wasn’t feeling too hot and started to walk a little more than I wanted to. It was on this walk break that I met Brandi, a Team Challenge member from Illinois. It was her first 1/2 marathon and she had never even run before she signed up with Team Challenge 4 months before. I don’t what it was but I felt like that is where I was supposed to be. There with her. So we stayed together and finished together.
We walked, we ran, we talked (a lot), and stopped often for pictures. At one point she said “It is almost like I have my own personal endurance coach now!” I laughed at the thought of ME getting someone else through their first 1/2 marathon. The more I think back on it the more I realize that THAT was one of the best things about that race. I encouraged her at mile 8 when she felt like we should be much further along than we actual were. We drank shots of Guinness at mile 9 and then wine at mile 10. We ate wild blackberries and raspberries on the side of the road while taking pictures of alpacas (that were for sale by the way). And I made sure that she RAN across that finish line with a great big smile on her face. It was awesome standing there with her as she accepted her medal (“We REALLY get a medal?!”) It was awesome.
I saw Lauren and Layne as I was crossing the finish line and couldn’t wait to see and talk to them. We checked in at the Team Challenge tent (so that they knew we were off the course) and then went to get our wine glasses (so we could check out the wine tasting later on). I was so wrapped up in the after activities that it took me a little while for it to really hit me that I had just finished my 4th half marathon. IN NAPA VALLEY CALIFORNIA!!!
My finish time was a little longer than I wanted it to be, but this race about my finish time or getting a PR. It was about the journey that got me to the race. It was about traveling to California to run the Golden Gate Bridge AND a 1/2 marathon. It was about taking time to enjoy the course. It was about helping raise over $2.4 million for the CCFA. It was all about enjoying the journey. And boy did I enjoy it!