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”.
* 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!