Recap | 2017 Napa Half Marathon

A month ago, I ran the Napa half marathon with my cousin B + his girlfriend  M.

We signed up on a whim. I hadn’t really planned to run another half marathon after my half in SF earlier this summer, but I had dared my cousin (and his girlfriend!) to run a race with me, after I got them both to start running over the summer, so I joked that we could run the “Napa Half” when they are here in September.

I mean, what a perfect opportunity to run a race together. Running in wine country and getting a bottle of wine at the finish line, besides the usual t-shirt and medal, were some extra perks.

I only half-expected my cousin to jump on the idea, but he instantly did! And M had to go along with it. So, I guess I was going to run another half in September after all.

I knew B was going to be much faster than me (he’s 26, physically fit, and a guy, so…!), and since this was going to be his first half marathon, it was going to be an automatic PR. First, he had offered to pace me, but I know and understand that you also wanna give your best at your first race, so I told him to run his own pace and get that (real) PR! M, who had just started running this last summer, was ‘only’ going to run the quarter marathon, but still that was going to be a huge accomplishment in itself!

So I decided to just have fun and do my best at that half that I didn’t really prepare for. I had kept up my running schedule after my half in July, but I also didn’t specifically train and also didn’t taper right for this race (due to our travels), but I knew that just having this experience together was going to be worth it.

We left Sacramento at 5:45 a.m. to make the 50-mile drive to Napa. Luckily, Sunday mornings around that time, the I-80 is pretty empty (usually not the case!) and it only took us an hour to get there. We had more than an extra hour to spare before race start, which was kind of nice.

We used the port-a-potties (twice), had our bananas and some water and then got warmed up just in time to head to the starting line.


The race was medium-sized (600 entries), so there were no corrals or anything. Everybody just started running at the same time. Since we were all running ‘our own races’, we headed out and settled into our paces.

B was gone before I could even attempt to keep up for a little while, M started somewhere behind me.

The course was hilly, but not terribly so. For every incline, there was an equal decline, which felt nice. I settled into a good pace and kept plugging along. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to hit the < 2 hour mark (which honestly I wasn’t even attempting), but I was still on track for a decent race. Cramping in my right calf hit me during the last 2 miles of the race, which I had never happened before and it sucked. I still managed to snag a PR though. Boo-yah! I didn’t really expect it, so this was awesome.

Especially because this meant I got a PR and B + M also got PRs (since it was their first official race) that day.

B ran an awesome race in 1:45:07 (7th in his age division (20-29)). He got an official shoutout on the website, too, because he (and M) were one of the few international participants!

I finished in 2:06:58, which shaved over 2.5 minutes off my previous PR (6th in my age division (40-49)). M finished her first quarter marathon in 1:13:43 (18th in her age division (20-29)).

We collected our medals, t-shirts and wine bottles, took an obligatory picture in front of the ‘race wall’, got some drinks and snacks and then got in line for a massage. We all needed one :)


After we recuperated for a bit, we decided that we deserved brunch at the Fremont Diner * again. We had been there the previous day on our Napa Wine Tour, but heck, we were so close, why not go there twice. We did a quick FaceTime call with my parents and when my mom offered to sponsor the brunch, it was decided.

We headed over to the Fremont Diner proudly showing off our medals and rewarded ourselves with a pre-brunch milkshake while we were waiting for a table. Perfect post-race refueling snack, am I right?


I opted for yogurt, granola, and coffee, B and M had the Farmer’s toast and a side of bacon. Yum. After we filled up our bellies, we headed home. We were all ready for a nap.


I wasn’t kidding when I told B + M during our planning phase that we should keep Sunday afternoon open for recuperating. We were all beat.

So, yeah, that was the Napa half marathon in September… aka “that time where I just wanted to have fun and ended up with a new PR”.

I am linking up with Erika, Patty and Marcia  for Tuesdays on the Run.

* On a site note, I am so happy to report that The Fremont Diner was not damaged in the Northern California fires. They got pretty close, but luckily never reached the diner!

  1. That sounds like such a cool race! A free bottle of wine at the end? Perfection!! Your brunch treat looked delicious too! Congrats on another great race!

    1. Thank you. It was a great experience and fun day… and yes, a free bottle of wine at the finish line! I mean, the “I run for wine”-shirts don’t exist for nothing! :)

  2. That is my kind of race right there! I am in awe of all of you runners – I can’t run because my spine held together with metal and arthritis and prayer….eeeks! But I see all of you hitting the road at all hours of the day and I am inspired by your determination. Be proud of you and all the work you do! It’s amazing! Incredible what your bodies can do!

    1. Oh, I am so sorry you can’t run…. you know, every day I head out and don’t really feel like running, I remind myself of what a privilege it is and think of the people that can’t run. This will include you from now on <3

  3. I had a half like that last year! Sometimes not having goals totally works. :) I’m glad you were able to enjoy this before all the fires. :(

    Even though I don’t drink, Napa is so lovely . . . I’m having a tough time deciding on a CA half! So many great ones there.

    1. Yes, sometimes not having any goals TOTALLY works :)

      You know, I have to admit, I usually don’t drink either and I know nothing about wine, but Napa is still always worth a visit :)You definitely should do a CA half sometime… we do have quite a few beautiful races here!

  4. You all did a great job! Sounds like a fun bonding day too – though, I’m SO not a runner, so I’d have been waiting at the end. LOL


    1. You know, my cousin’s gf said initially that she was going to wait for us at the finish line… and then she decided that she’d rather earn that bottle of wine herself. Never say never to running! ;)

  5. Congrats! I think running in Napa would be a win all around !

    1. Yes, that’s what I thought… who would say no to running in Napa? ;)

  6. Those are the best races, when you go into it just wanting to have fun but then surprise yourself with a great race. Way to go on that PR! That was the perfect post race brunch!

    1. I am thinking of just always going into new races planning to “just have fun” and then see what happens LOL

  7. Congrats to all of you! How great to snag a PR when you’re not really trying for one. Good to hear the diner was not damaged by the fires. I’m just sick about all of that. So sad.

    1. Thank you! I love snagging PRs when you’re not really aiming for one… good strategy, right? ;)

  8. That sounds like such a fun race!! Congrats on the shiny new PR when you’re least expecting it. I love Fremont diner- your post makes me want to get back to Cali stat!! it has been too long.

    1. Have you been to the Fremont? It’s such a fun place, isn’t it? Let me know when you’re there next time… I’ll come and meet you there. I’ll take any excuse to go there :)

  9. Looks like a beautiful day for a race! a 1:45 half for your cousin’s first half marathon is definitely not bad at all! I’m no runner, but my husband is, so I go to a lot of races, and his last few half-marathons have been around the 1:41 mark…but he doesn’t like half-marathons very much. 10ks are so much faster, and the fun post-race breakfast comes that much sooner!

    1. Dang, you have a fast-running husband… 1:41 is definitely a great race time! :)
      I definitely understand the appeal of 10ks… they’re over faster and post-race brunch comes that much sooner!

  10. A bottle of wine AND a PR?!?! Awesome! Congratulations!

    1. I’ll take both, please and thank you :)

  11. Great job! I would love to run a half marathon but I have never been a big runner. Perhaps if I got a bottle of wine at the end of each race, I’d be more motivated. :)

    1. Hey, the bottle of wine definitely added some extra motivation… I believe you can totally run a half, just put your mind to it. You can do it!!

  12. Love the t-Shirts…. Might have to think about a race in Napa – the wine bottle Is pretty tempting :)

    1. Riiight? I would totally run with you, you know? ;)

  13. I definitely need to put this one on my list! I’m actually a little jealous that you live that close and can “on a whim” decide to go run a race in Napa! haha

    1. I admit, it’s a pretty neat arrangement ;)

  14. What a rockstar! Congrats on the race! xoxo

  15. That’s amazing that you PR-ed at a race you were just going to run for fun. You’re a running beast!

    1. Haha, thank you friend… nobody has ever called me that…

  16. Congrats on the PR! Sounds like it was a nice race. That’s about the perfect size for a half marathon.

    1. I agree, the size of the race was perfect! And thank you :)

  17. You talk so much about this diner… I really really wanna go there. Some day maybe. And congrats on the PR. I personally never liked running so this seems so out of the way to me. It is such an accomplishment. Happy Saturday, Tobia

    1. Yes, if you come back to California, you have to go to the Fremont Diner :) And thank you… it was such a fun race (and just FYI, I never thought I’d become a runner, so there is hope for you :))

  18. Nice work on the PR – especially considering you weren’t able to properly taper and had a leg cramp at the end! Well done! I bet it was fun to race together, even though you all ran on your own. And the best part is the post-race brunch of course! Milk shakes were the perfect treat to have!

    I am glad the Fremont Diner wasn’t damaged by the wild fires. I know how much you love that place.

    1. The best part is the post-race brunch…. EXACTLY :)

      I am so glad too that the Fremont Diner wasn’t damaged… it’s such an iconic place.

  19. Congratulations on the PR, lady!! That’s fantastic and always an awesome feeling when it comes as a surprise. Also, YOU GOT WINE?! I mean, it makes sense – it is NAPA, BUT STILL.

    1. Haha, yes, wine at the finish line… fitting, right?

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