Monday, August 27, 2012

Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon

Over last winter, Brian brought up a great destination race - The Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.

We discussed among friends. When registration opened, Brian was the only one who registered. The race sold out in a few hours. A few months went by. After some research and good luck, I found Rudi. Rudi had signed up to run the race but wouldn't be able to make it. Suddenly I had an entry. I was heading to wine country in July.

Brian and I joked about our perceived success for this race. Was it realistic to think you're going to PR when encircled with wine? We decided going in to the race that we'd have PW (personal worsts) for the distance. This race would be more for fun and the experience than racing to race.

In the weeks leading up to the race, Brian planned out our schedule - we would spend a few days in San Francisco where we'd eat some incredible food, see some sights, eat some more food, and then have drinks. After we'd covered all that was San Francisco, we'd head to wine country.  We'd spend Saturday at the expo, touring some vineyards, then getting a good night's sleep before the race on Sunday.

San Francisco went pretty much as planned. Wine Country was flying by the seat of our pants.

We checked in at our hotel and headed to the expo. Small race equals a small expo, so we were out of there in about twenty minutes. Now on to wine. We arrive at our first vineyard. What was to be a two hour experience turned into the rest of our day. After making friends with the ladies serving us, they offered us concert tickets to see Five for Fighting at the Robert Mondavi Winery. It sounded like an experience we couldn't pass up. We canceled our dinner plans and headed over to the concert. The concert's set up was a lot like Ravinia, but in a vineyard. Which, of course, meant more wine. We left the concert before the end and make a stop at a store like Target to get some race day essentials. Back at the hotel, we had a late night snack with some gatorade, then on to bed...after one a.m.

A few short hours later, our alarms went off. We drove over to a hotel in Napa to board a bus to the start line. The Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon is a point to point race which starts, of course, in a vineyard. On the bus ride, we went over our evening before. Maybe we had hit the nail on the head when setting ourselves up for a PW in this race.

The race started by climbing a rather large hill. This caused concern as to what lay ahead, but by then we were running and committed.

All joking aside, the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon ended up being a great race for both of us. The field was around 2500 runners. How doesn't love a point to point race format? At the last aide station, sips of wine were handed out in addition to the standard gatorade and water. The race was quiet and scenic with beautiful rolling hills. As we ran into Sonoma Plaza, the crowd grew as we closed in on the finish line.

After crossing the finish line, we were handed a wine glass and walked into a wine festival. Would you expect anything else from this trip?

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