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Most people come to wine country to relax...not this weekend!
When we lived in California, we came up to Napa/Calistoga a few times to do the usual: wineries, mud baths, fancy dining. However, this year Napa was my winter target. I decided that I need an early season marathon to get things pumping for that first ultra in April. So with my work's HQ conveniently located 70 miles away, it was a good excuse. But the real perk was that I was going to get to run with 2 of my co-workers. Unfortunately, one (Luke) injured himself and withdrew about a week ago. So that left Glenn and I. Glenn has been running since the early 80s. With 30+ marathons under his belt and a return to the Boston Marathon next month for him, this was a "training" run. But luckily he decided to run with me and help me along. Show me some tricks I had been missing out on and general "keep moving!". I always run alone with my iPod so how would this go?
We had a nice dinner at Pasta Prego the prior evening. We woke up and left around 5AM to catch the buses at the high school. This is a point to point marathon so you get bused up to the start and then run back. Its always painful to see just how far the bus drives before they let you out -- knowing you have to cover that same ground going back but much slower!
The wind was wicked when we arrived. It was about 38 degrees and the sun was just starting to come up. We stayed warm in the buses as long as we could. Then we went out and huddled with the people until the start. In the mass of humanity, it was easier to stay warm. Felt very "March of the Penguins".
All of sudden it was 7 AM and people started taking off. Time to go! There as a good 10 MPH tailwind that was on and off all day. It was nice to get that extra boost especially on a hill. The hills were slight and rolling. Nothing hard and my hill training kept me speeding up them. However, I am not as fast at just letting go and flying down the hills. Need to work on that I guess.
The run goes from Calistoga to Napa along the Silverado Trail. Its not a trail. Its a road closed to traffic this morning. It runs along vineyards for 20+ miles. Its not growing season so it was pretty much all dead looking branches but you got the idea. Lots of the smaller vineyards are on this stretch. At the intersections, we had small but peppy crowds to provide the boost.
Glenn and I sailed through mile 20 with no issues. We took a 90 seconds bathroom break before that and it made me more comfortable. As we got past mile 21 or so, we got off the Trail and started cutting into Napa. Its hard to keep running at that point. I wasn't hurting but the voice in your head just tells you "walk...see that guy doing it". But that would blow my chance for my goal time on this perfect condition day. So I kept at it. At mile 23 and 24, my chest started hurting. Never felt this before. I kept speed the best I could but was afraid my day would be over instantly. But I kept pounding through it and it went away. When you get past mile 25, you just keep thinking about that last mile and that you are almost there. We cut into a subdivision and all the folks were out watching. Its motivation when everyone is watching. So we kicked it up a notch on the sprint to the finish and cross the line with no issues.
Overall, I felt like I was giving it all I safely could (for fear of slowing up) during 22-24 so it was a good max effort. But I could have sprinted another mile at the finish line no problem. Just need more experience to know when its time/safe to burn up the rest of the gas.
I thanked Glenn for his help and guidance and he continued to tell everyone that I PR'd the race like a proud father. It was nice!
So we met up with Glenn's wife (who had run the 5K that morning and provide me all these pictures!) and had a great lunch and then I headed back down to Silicon Valley. The funny thing is that when I got back and the sun was out, I decided to go hit some more geocaches and ended up walking about 2 miles getting those this evening -- and it doesn't hurt! I remember laying in bed all day after my first marathon. That is where the training pays off -- recovery!
I loved running Napa. Great early season race. Its small and kinda old school but that's part of the spirit there. Plus there are great diversions so you can turn it into a vacation -- with a jog.
Oh, and I beat Dean by a minute on the run...but then again...I drove to the start. He ran from San Francisco.