Closing out the first season

It occurred to met that I had never posted anything about the Napa-to-Sonoma half-marathon. I really am a dreadful blogger, never blogging on a regular basis! So on to the story.

First of all …

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Yep, I finished the Napa-to-Sonoma race, in a quite respectable 3h 48m 15s. That’s a 22 minute improvement over the Kona race. I was very proud of myself.

The day started early, as usual, but luckily I was able to start 30 minutes ahead of the runners. They allowed a small group of walkers to start at 6:30AM so that they could be done in a reasonable time to let the roads open again. It’s not something they advertise and we needed to get our coaches to sign a release form about it (that you won’t suddenly do a 9-minute pace or something) and I was so thankful for that. I wasn’t the last one to finish but I was down near the end (#2,852 out of 3,000, to be exact!), but I finished.

The day started out a bit chilly, but that was fine with me. I’d rather be chilly and warm up than be hot and have to try and cool down. It was slightly overcast, which is typical for a Northern California summer. We started the day by taking a 45-minute bus ride from our hotel to the starting point, a winery in Napa. I thought I’d nap a bit on the bus, but I was too excited to even drowse a little.

The beginning of the race takes you up “Butt Burner Hill”. I tell ya, I’d been dreading that ever since I’d first heard about it. But you know, when you’re a walker, it’s probably not as “butt burning” as it is for a runner. I made it to the top without feeling terribly winded (hills are still my kryptonite) and it was a great start to the race.

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This is me just after walking up Butt Burner Hill. That’s some view!

I’d love to say “from here, it’s all downhill” but that wouldn’t be 100% correct. It would be better to say “From here, it’s all rolling hills”. The terrain in Napa and Sonoma is lovely. We walked along some beautiful vineyards, spotted some llama, goats and sheep, waved to some locals who came out to cheer and just had a grand time.

Being that walkers started early, we got to see the leaders of the race run by us about 2 miles in (runners started at 7:00AM). The eventually winner was a long lean runner, with a stride so long and graceful I felt like I was watching a cheetah pass me by. He finished the race in 1h 4 minutes (that’s a 4:54 per mile pace!). Kind of puts my 17m pace into perspective, LOL!

As opposed to the Kona race, I wasn’t overheated at all. I had changed my race regimen from Clif bars or gels to Sport Beans (made by Jelly Belly). I’d also changed my hydration gear from a hydration belt to a Camelbak backpack. That was a really good move for me. I filled my Camelbak with ice, no water. As the race went on, the ice melted and I had cold water for the entire race. The Sport Beans kept my energy up and while I was tired and winded by the end of the race, I didn’t feel as “kaput” as I did after Kona.

Once again, racing with Team Challenge is a joy beyond compare. The camaraderie is amazing, from the “inspirational pasta party” the night before the race, to every coach (whether you know them or not) coming by and cheering you on. I can’t say enough out the coaches on our South Bay/Peninsula team. Coach Ken walked the last 3 miles of the race with and that support just inspires me. Coach Anna was on her bike, going up and down the race, making sure each of our team knew someone “had their back”. I liked the team atmosphere so much, I decided to become a mentor for the Las Vegas half-marathon, which we’ll race in November.

Looking forward to more Team Challenge fun!

Coach Ken took this pic at about Mile 10 of the race. Still smiling!

Coach Ken took this pic at about Mile 10 of the race. Still smiling!

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