Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Napa Valley Marathon (March 3, 2013)

Napa Valley Marathon
March 3, 2013

Since things did not quite go the way I wanted to at the California International Marathon (CIM), I signed up for the Napa Valley Marathon (NVM).  I heard good things about the Napa Valley Marathon including that it was  beautiful run and that the course was a fast course.  And, it definitely was beautiful and fast!  :) 

The Race

Diane Wurm and I get up early and onto the school bus that would shuttle us to the start.  We get dropped off near some vineyard in Calistoga.  We wander to find the porta-potties.  I am also trying to find my friend Adam Davis.  This race is Adam's first marathon.  Prior to the race, I had asked Adam what his goal time for the race was.  Adam is a little bit of a faster runner than me but I have more experience doing long distances with him.  So, he said he would like get under four hours but we'll see how it goes.  I suggested we run together since that was around where I was hoping to do as well.  

We find each other at the start area.  We then start wandering to the start line.  

I see various runners on the side lines getting themselves ready to start and just a small crowd standing at the actual start line.  I look at my watch and note I still have a few more minutes.  Then, I hear what sounds like a count down.  Is the race starting now?!  What?!  I normally expect to see all the races crowd at the start line, possibly the national anthem would play, and then a big count down.  

But, I faintly hear "3-2-1" and then the gun goes off.  Adam and I start walking briskly to the start line.  I think everyone is a little surprised the race has started.  

We cross the start line timing mat and start running.  I run along with Adam at a pretty decent pace and we chit chat.  We hit a hill and run up it no problem.  We talk about how some people were "concerned" about the hills in Napa.  But, Adam and I are trail runners who run the hills/canyons in Auburn.  The hills in Napa are easy compared to the hills we have run.  Adam comments on how he's glad he's run in Auburn on those hills as this hill now is no problem.  

We crest the hill and start running on a nice down hill stretch.  Our pace has naturally picked up.  I just let the legs roll feeling comfortable.   

It is nice having Adam's company in the race.  I have run with Adam only a handful of times prior to this and never such a long run.  So, as we run, we share a lot about each other...about our jobs, how we got into running, future goals, Adam's baby, etc. . . . At one point, we are talking about last year's CIM and the weather.  Another runner passing by hears this and says "you must be talking about CIM."  The runner is from the Sacramento area and knows who I am.  What a small world the running community is.  

Adam and I continue running along.  The miles seem to pass by quickly.  We hit a couple small roller hills but we mostly seem to be running downhill.  And, it is gentle downhill so I do not feel like I am thrashing my quads but I sure can run fast with ease.  I run by a person holding a sign that says "Pain is temporary, Internet Race Results are Forever."  This gives me a good chuckle.  

The Napa countryside is beautiful.  It is nice seeing the misty fog over some of the vineyards.  Adam comments on how we are getting the scenery of a trail run but the speed of a road run.  How true! 

At one aid station we pass, I see them holding out orange slices.  I am hungry and grab a couple.  The oranges taste wonderful.  I like having a bit of real food on my runs.  I can only eat so much GU.  

In what seems like hardly any time, we hit mile 15.  Adam comments on how we have run a very steady 8:45-ish pace this whole time.  I think it helps that we are running together.  I feel more inclined to maintain the pace when I might have slowed down if I was alone.  This feels comfortable for now.  We'll see if I have enough energy to kick things up at the end.  

Some girl with a gold-sequin running skirt eavesdrops on some of our conversation and interjects herself into our conversation for a bit.  To me at least, she has a know-it-all tone in her voice and I kind of find her annoying.  She asks if this is our first marathon and I tell her it's my fourth but Adam's first.  She comments on how she's been chasing me this whole time.  Okay.  

She passes for a bit.  I don't know what I find her annoying but I do.  We pass through an aid station which has a lot of friends/family members out cheering so that's nice.   I see the gold-sequin skirt girl run to the side yelling to a guy on the side that she needs Advil!  She sounds kind of bossy.  The guy runs along trying to get something to her.  I pass her during this exchange.  

She passes me and I can hear her talking to another guy ahead of me.  I feel the urge to pass this girl with her silly gold skirt.  So, I pick up the pace and I pass her.  And, she does not pass me again.  Adam continues running along next me.  

At mile 18, we near Yountville.  Adam comments about the last hill though I hardly notice a hill right now.  Adam is starting to feel a little tired.  But, as we pass Yountville, Adam sees some friends of his out cheering and he shouts towards them.  I think that gives him a little energy boost.  

We continue running along together for a few more miles.  We are both a little tired now.  We are less chatty with each other now.  We are just running.  

Around mile 22, Adam starts to pick the pace up.  I look at my Garmin and see w are going sub-8:00 min/mile.  I know I cannot hold that kind of pace for four more miles.  So I slow down a little and watch as Adam get farther and farther ahead of me.  

I run along at the same pace I had been going.  As I go along, I see Adam ahead and I see that the gap between us is narrowing.  I see he is slowing down.  And, around mile 24, I catch back up to Adam.  My legs are feeling pretty good but I think Adam is not feeling as well as me.  He admits it was stupid to try to kick it up earlier.  I told him in a marathon, four miles to the finish is still a long way to go.  

We run along the last few miles.  The last couple miles are when I like to slowly pick things up.  I start to pick things up a little.  I pass by a girl handing out sorbets in little cups.  I grab one.  It tastes delicious and refreshing.  

Then, we get near Napa.  I can see the town now.  I start to pick things up.  Less than a mile to go, now I can run sub-8 pace.  I can see Adam is giving all he's got to hang on with me.  I tell him we are almost there.  

We take some turns through a neighborhood towards the Vintage High School.  I run a little faster and faster.  Then, I see the school and I start my sprint towards the finish.  I lose sight of Adam for a little bit but know he's right behind me.  I see the finish line and am giving it my final kick.  I have my eyes focused on the finish and sprinting towards it.  I hear the announcer say my name and then Adam's name.  And, just as I am about to cross the finish line, I see and hear Adam hurl himself ahead of me and cross the finish line just a split second before me.

I finish with a marathon PR!  3:48:45 (Adam got 3:48:44...an amazing first marathon time!).  

Post-Race Comments

The Napa Valley Marathon was a great race.  A great race to redeem myself after CIM.  I am very happy with a new marathon PR!  

The weather was perfect and what a fun, fast, beautiful course.  I like it wasn't too crazy crowded.  It had the small race vibe, which I like.  The organization and support were great.  All the volunteers were wonderful.  As soon as I finished, a volunteer was next to me to make sure I was okay and she helped walk me around to cool down.  Another volunteer was with Adam for awhile post-race making sure he was okay.  Nice to have folks out making sure all the runners are okay.  

The race swag was pretty nice too.  I got a really nice duffel bag, a nice long-sleeved technical shirt, and a pretty cool looking medal.  :) 

I definitely had a blast and it was a lot of fun running with Adam for most of the race.  He definitely kept me on pace.  At moments when I felt a little tired and wanted to slow down, I didn't because Adam was there. And, I am very proud of how well Adam did in his first marathon.  Congratulations Adam and thanks for company the whole race!! 

My friend Diane finished not too long after we did.  She said she had a great race out there too.  Congratulations Diane and thanks for carpooling out to Napa with me!  It was great having your company before and after the race!  :) 

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