Last weekend I had the privilege of running the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon with Destination Races as a member of their blogger team. Coming off a tough race at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon the week before, I didn’t have any time goals expectations. My goal was simply to enjoy the race and make some good memories!
Friday before the race I was sitting for my ACE Personal Trainer exam in Sacramento, which is about two hours from the packet pick-up location. I successfully passed my exam and can now officially say that I am a Personal Trainer! Following that exciting news I had to go into the office in Roseville and work before heading back to Santa Rosa to pick-up my packet and race bib. The day got away from me quickly and I was running late. I barely made it to get my packet right at 6pm, when all the expo booths were shutting down. I can’t complain too much because as a VIP entrant I got an amazing bag of swag from the race partners! Treats galore!
I was also attending the pre-race dinner which began at 6pm at Kendall-Jackson Winery about 10 minutes from packet pick-up. I hastily got back in my car and made it to the dinner around 6:30pm. I missed the tour of the gorgeous winery, but made it in time to socialize before the dinner began.
The race sponsors definitely know how to treat their guests! We were given a delicious healthy dinner, great company, tasteful dessert and a selection of wine. I don’t personally drink wine, but I got feedback from the other racers at my table that they had selected excellent varieties for the dinner. I’ve never felt out of place when other people are drinking and I am not, I feel like those drinking often feel more out of place, though I have never understood why. My point is, that even as someone who doesn’t have an extensive knowledge of wine, I still loved this event! The food was to die for, the bread and special olive oil’s complemented the meal nicely and the company was excellent. Whether you drink or not, I highly recommend these events!
Dinner was incredible! Eggplant, squash, salad and mushroom pasta were my favorites. There was also a selection of fish and chicken.
Then of course, there was dessert! The presentation was absolutely amazing and it tasted even better!
During dessert we were also treated to a talk from Dean Karnazes, an ultra marathoner who recently ran the original Marathon route in Greece! Notice his awesome gladiator costume. The race, being so near to Halloween, encourages participants to run in costume. I just wasn’t creative enough this year to put one together, but perhaps if I run this race in the future I’ll join in on the fun! Following the dinner, which ended around 8:30 I had an hour drive home (silly me for not booking a hotel)! I got home and put my race gear together.
With the first rain in months occurring on race day I dug around my closet and found my long running tights, waterproof shoes and wool socks from Feetures! I layed it all out and made sure I had some PocketFuel with me for mid run fuel. This course has plenty of water stations (and wine tasting stations), but you need to bring your own food or gels. I usually do because I am such a huge fan of PocketFuel. I also threw in a long sleeve just in case it was cold in the morning. I was so glad I did as I ended up wearing it the whole race.
Race morning I woke up at 4:45am, put on my race gear, got my husband in the car with a blanket and pillow so he could sleep while I ran, and began the 45 minute drive to the race finish area. From here, participants were bused to the start line. I arrived at the start about an hour early and went to the VIP area. Here I was able to find a covered area to stay dry, have a pre-race bagel and cream cheese and get coffee – which I more used to keep my hands warm! It was so cold and a bit windy that morning. I also loved the private bathroom feature in the VIP area, no lines! The race started out cold, wet and cloudy. It rained for the entire race, which was perfect for this Oregon native.
Pictured above is a photo of me crossing a beautiful bridge about halfway through the race. I need your vote to let me know if I should buy this photo! The cheapest price is $14 for a 5 x 7 print. I actually kind of like this one, and that is saying something because I usually never like my race photos. Is it worth it? I was feeling pretty strong at this point in the race and it even looks like there is still some spring left in my step. The race got harder and harder as the course went on. There were a surprising number of hills. In fact, the very first mile of the course is a steady uphill climb. Throughout the whole course the hills rolled up and down and through country roads and beautiful vineyards. The views were breathtaking.
Around mile 11 I really started to struggle, but I pushed onward! It rained a little harder the last few miles so that was tough to deal with. When I finally could see the finish line I added some extra spring to my steps and “sprinted” to the finish. I saw my hubby right after the 13 mile marker and he snapped a few photos for me! I was so happy to be almost done! I had started to feel some plantar fasciitis in my left foot and was in a bit of pain. I crossed the finish in 2:11:35, far from a personal best, but definitely one of my more fun races.
After snapping another photo with my husband and supporter I did a quick sweep of the finisher are and we decided to head out. I had really wanted to check out the finish area more, but I was freezing and feeling a bit sick. When I get cold it is really hard to get warm again and my clothes were soaking wet from the rain. Luckily I had brought warm, dry clothes to change into and we went to find a nearby Anytime Fitness gym where I could get a quick shower. This was seriously a lifesaver! I was also having trouble walking on my now injured left foot. Luckily, the pain has gone away, but that day it was hard to put full pressure on the foot without feeling excruciating pain. Hopefully, it was just tweaked and I’ve avoided long-term damage.
After grabbing a huge breakfast of berry pancakes and eggs we headed home on the hour long drive. I needed to sleep, rest and recover. I curled up in blankets and slept all that afternoon and a lot the next morning too. My body just needed to recover.
I was planning on attending the post race dinner from 2-5pm that afternoon following the race, but to be perfectly honest my body would not let me. I was exhausted and rest was all I could think about. I think if we had a hotel room and I could have rested and then attended the dinner, I could have made it happen, but living an hour away I didn’t have the energy to wait to attend the VIP post race dinner. I really regret not going, but I know it was better for my body to skip it. Sometimes, you have to make tough choices and as a runner, following the needs of your body is one of the most important things to do.
I have to offer a huge thank you to the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon team for inviting me to attend this race and giving me the opportunity to experience all the VIP events. I am truly grateful! I hope to be back next year and race a much stronger race time!