Water to Wine Half Marathon 2012 Recap

On this day in history, I ran the Water to Wine half marathon in Healdsburg, CA.  There was water, there was wine, and I didn't really drink any of it.

I finally got my first WIN (for women) after too many races than I can count of placing Second.  Eternally second place.  Silver is more my style than gold anyway.  Actually that's not true, I don't wear silver or gold.  My style is whatever that cheap stuff at Forever 21 is.

Winning was really nice.  Truthfully, I won because fast Bay-Area girls just didn't show-up, but I guess I will always be able to say that no matter how fast I get since there will always be someone faster. 

I ran hard, my left leg issues were present and painful and became an undramatically big-fucking-problem for most of the race, but I just sliced through the fog and the "rolling hills net downhill course" with a bathroom break and a calf stretching break for 13.29 miles at 1:29:47.

Despite the number of things that went wrong (body pain, bathroom breaks, I....forgot to put my BIB on) the race felt perfect once it was over.  It was nice to be the lead women by a big enough lead that I didn't have to focus on not being passed.  Instead I focused on the beautiful scenery and the never-ending hills. 

Picture this: a course is touted as "net downhill," so you show up thinking that this course must be a piece of cake, super easy, and despite some body ailments, you should be fine.  But halfway through the race, it becomes undeniably clear, that "net downhill" means you climb a mild-to-medium hill for a half mile, and then slam down a 200 meter short downhill.....then climb for a half mile, then slam down a brief and steep downhill.  I guess I'm not in hill shape, because man I really felt those hills.  All of them.  By the time I hit a steeper hill around mile 10, I might as well have been walking based on how little power I felt I had left.

With those pre-thoughts aside, here are the details.

Place: 1st of 522 women
           15th of 787 overall

Time: 1:29:47  
Pace:  6:51 official
           6:45 Garmin (for 13.29 miles).

I didn't sleep more than an hour or two, which is the norm for me in an unfamiliar place.  I woke up shortly after 5:30 with my FIVE awesome roommates: Beth and her boyfriend, Jessica and her boyfriend, and the Gentleman.  We all shared one bed.  Kidding.  There were 3 beds.  We did it right by rooming together at a Super 8, spending about $1000 less per person than most people staying up in fancy-schmancy Healdsburg.

Good morning iPhone (not mine)

Good morning purple heart socks (NOTICE who remembered to put their bib on at 6:15 a.m. and who did not).

The race started at 7:00, with a nice cool temperature and dreamy fog throughout the vineyards.  Jessica and I lined up behind maybe 6 rows of people, and I caught my groove with my slowest first mile in a long time (especially given the first mile was one of the few that was much more downhill than up).

Mile 1: 6:33
Mile 2: 6:28
Mile 3: 6:32

I saw the Gentleman at Mile 3.  Hi best friend!

Swinging around the curve

Already lonely at mile 3

I ate a lot of Mexican food and frozen yogurt the night before, and a normal amount of food before the race (banana, cherry juice, Gu...), and was really struggling with drinking or eating during the race while feeling so....saturated.  I could work on getting that balance of not eating too much the night before so I have a little room to fuel during the race.  I took I think two baby sips of water during the race, and I slowwwwlllly snacked on a Gu (it took me 2 miles to eat half of it, no joke, before I tossed it) around mile 9.

I put the headphones on at mile 4 and rocked out in the fog by myself.  I looked behind me at some point to see if I really was in no-mans land, and saw 3 guys about 40 seconds behind me.  They stayed there for a long time.

Mile 4: 6:34
Mile 5: 6:45
Mile 6: 6:50

As my paces slowed but my effort remained the same, I came to terms with the fact that this race was not the easy "net downhill" I had guessed it would be, and that I was indeed not in racing shape.  Forge ahead.

Somewhere around mile 5, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to put my bib on.  !!!  Thank goodness, I did put my timing chip on my shoe, but the bib was forgotten, and I felt so bad that the race photographers/spectators/volunteers all probably thought I was a bandit.  I ran nervously, hoping to see the Gentleman soon so I could frantically ask him to please get it out of the car and hand it to me before the finish.  I saw him at mile 7.5.

"HONEY, I forgot my bib!? Can you get my bib!?"

These boobs are why I will never win an Olympic gold medal

Thanks for the girl support, you cute kid!

I had to go to the bathroom from the very first steps of the race (something I didn't know until I started running....) and finally caved in when I saw a bathroom somewhere between miles 7.5-8.5.  I think I lost about 30 seconds? I'm pretty impressed with that speed, if I do say so myself.

Mile 7: 6:48
Mile 8: 6:49
Mile 9: 6:40

But, boo-hoo, upon my bathroom exit I saw that the 3 men who had been trailing me for the first 8 miles were now about 15 seconds ahead of me.  I gained my spot with two of them, and ran with them for most of the remainder of the race, but all 3 finished ahead of me.  They were very nice and congratulatory after the race.

I was experiencing some serious buttcrease pain, which was also causing the leg-lock I felt during last year's CIM, some knee and calf twinges in that same left leg.  I stopped during mile 11 to stretch my calf out for about 15 seconds, which was super necessary.  It was about to full-on cramp on me and take me out of the race for good.

I was also dealing with an absence of power in my legs for all the hills that just kept coming and coming, without the forgiveness of equally long downhills.  Slower miles, commence.

Mile 10: 6:57
Mile 11: 7:04
Mile 12: 7:08

I finally picked up a little speed for the homestretch which was easy to do since the hills finally freaking stopped, grabbed my bib from the Gentleman just before mile 13, and learned (for the first time during the race!) from the Gentleman that there were no women in front of me. 

Me:  "how many women are in front of me?"
Him: "none.  Now go win!"
Me: run.

Mile 13: 6:32
Mile 0.29: 1:52 (6:26 pace)

I was asked by a race director to pose with my winnings (for overall woman and age group = one huge bottle of wine and one regular bottle).  While her camera ended up not working, it turned into a photo shoot anyway for the rest of us purple heart sock girls.

Surrounded by roses, so appropriate...

Get it? Get it?  Suck it Ryan Lochte.

Beth, me, Jessica, Sesa

Jessica really going for the Angelina leg pose

So listen up, here's the deal.

I'm not even close to ready to running a sub-3 hour marathon right now.  Not even close.  A month ago, I thought my buttcrease/leg-lock issue was fading, I was feeling improvements at the track, I was feeling like it was totally manageable to be in sub-3 shape by December 2 or whatever day CIM is.

Right now, I have some serious glute strengthening, hamstring stretching, and general recuperation of my left leg to deal with before there is any chance I will even PR (sub 3:05).  I also need to hit the hills, hard, since last year at CIM the hills trashed my quads.  I need to build up my lactate threshold with tempo runs.  They work. 

I recognize that this was yet again a long course (my watch was on the dot through mile 8, then fell off particularly at mile 13 and the 0.1) and that it was on the tougher side in terms of rolling hills.  But I still feel like if I was approaching sub-3:00 marathon shape, this should have been an easy 1:26-1:27 race finish for me. 

I'll save the post-race fun for another post, since this is more of my face than I know you want to see already.  I'm gonna go do some donkey kicks and bridges until this glute learns a little respect for the rest of my body.