Thursday, November 3, 2016

Healdsburg Half Marathon race report

Posted by Rachel

Ok, so I know I didn't finish my 'exercising in France' series, but I have to interrupt that for my race report before I forget the details of this past weekend. Wine will do that to you.

This is my 7th (?) year running this race and it is always one of my favorites for the social part. Each year we register a big team, Running for the Win(e), and ever since a couple of our good friends moved away this is one event that they regularly return for. So no matter what happens in the race, it's always great times with great friends! The fact that the race is located in one of my favorite areas of wine country is just an added bonus.

In terms of running, I wasn't quite sure what to expect this year. I had a great summer of triathlon racing, but had a nice bout of shingles in August followed by 3 weeks in Europe in September. I ran through all of that, but just not very fast. When I returned I had 5 weeks until the race and I diligently did my speed and tempo workouts. I had a couple pretty terrible "long" runs, but more or less I figured that on a good day I should be able to be in the neighborhood of my PR from last year (1:35:37).

The day before the race I fueled up with an oreo milkshake, a nostalgic drink that I used to have before big swim meets when I was a kid (I told my mom it helped me swim faster, ha!). My rebellious husband fueled up with wine, brandy, and beer.

The key to fast swimming. Jury is still out on whether that much dairy the night before a run is a good thing.

The morning of the race was a little rainy but not too cold. After a short warmup we were off! At first I just ran a comfortably hard pace and I seemed to be in the ballpark of last year, if not a few seconds per mile faster. I met a girl, Lauren, who kindly introduced herself after she realized we were running the same exact pace for the first few miles. Not that we had the energy to chat, but she seemed really nice and running with her helped me keep pushing the pace for the majority of the race. Little did I know that my own husband was only yards behind us, using us as pacers. You're welcome ;)

Feeling good...a solid thumbs up for the photographer. Disclaimer for anyone who doesn't know us that guy behind me is NOT Travers.

There was a timing mat at the halfway point and I looked down at my watch, and I was at 47:27. Innnnteresting. An even paced race would land me a 1:34, barely. Idea planted. Unfortunately I was also getting tired, but I tried not to think about that :p

A weak thumbs up to the photographer, but I am starting to fatigue...

Sometime in mile 9 Travers caught up to me and my new friend Lauren - he said he had been trying to catch us for miles. I introduced them and we chatted very briefly before the hill at mile 10. The hill was WAY more miserable than I remembered. I ran up it with Travers in silence, suffering. As we neared the top, there was a guy vomiting his guts out for at least a minute, but all of a sudden he was done and just kept running. A terrible sight but much worse for the guy I'm sure. I thought that was the top but it wasn't. The slope eased up but the hill kept going and going and going. A strange sensation considering I've run that course 3 times before and didn't recall this much misery. When the course started angling downhill, Travers started pulling away. I felt like death. Maybe I should've fueled with beer and wine and brandy!

Miles 11.5 to 13 were really, really hard. I wanted to walk but knew I was treading on breaking 1:35. I started talking to myself and asking myself hypothetical questions: "If you come in at a 1:35:00, are you going to look back thinking you left 1 second on the course? If so, RUN HARDER." I tried to run harder by pumping my arms, but I think in reality I was just flailing wildly. I wish I had a video of myself running at this point because it would probably look ridiculous and I could caption it "A swimmer trying to run", which would hopefully explain my random arm movements. When I got to mile 12.5 I just tried to think about the hardest 800 I've ever done and kicked it in. There is a final turn and then a long straightaway to the finish chute. I looked at my watch...1:33:high...can I run that far in a minute? I was sprinting so hard and coincidentally also closing in on Travers. After another minute of misery, I finished the race in a 1:34:51 - a 44 second PR!!!!!!!!!!!! and 3 seconds behind Travers.

This face says it all - the joy of a PR wrapped up with the misery of a 13 mile tempo run

One really cool thing was that Meb was in the finisher chute giving high fives. WOOHOO! I felt kind of lightheaded and really spaced out so I said thanks to him and congratulated him on his Olympics and babbled something about him being inspirational. Hopefully I wasn't the only nonsensical babbler that had come through.

After the race it was the best part - WINE TIME. It's always a bummer when it rains during the wine festival because they move everything indoors and it's quite cozy, but it was awesome to hang out with everyone. We had a team of about 16 people or so and a few additional fans. During the awards a couple of really cool things happened: (1) my first running podium (3rd place AG) and the award was a bottle of wine! and (2) a first place team victory for Running for the Win(e) and the award was a half case of wine!! Talk about a great day!

The reason I run this race

Getting my award wine (ie. standing next to a girl who is WAY faster than me)

Running for the Win(e) teammate won his age group!

Our crew had two rental houses, and later that night we had dinner at the other rental house. It was an isolated house on the Russian River with a comically harrowing drive. Parking wasn't close to the house and the walk to the house was like something out of the Blair Witch Project, but we survived and had a great time with friends.

Wine country. Fall. The best.

It was such an awesome weekend, and we have quite a busy social calendar ahead in November! This means I'll be taking it easier on the running & exercising front, but I'll be picking up cycling and a stricter training routine again in December. But maybe not too strict because the holidays are a time for celebrating :p

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