Sunday, October 23, 2011

Healdsburg Half ... more on the actual race

I've got to start this so I can finish it -- but what a crazy week it has been. (Didn't get this done on Friday like I hoped and now it is Sunday -- but here goes)

Alrighty then, this is my official account of what I did last Sunday (a week ago now).  But first off, a few opening thoughts on this race over all:  I LOVED IT.  Of the five half marathon's I've done this was hands down far and away my favorite.

1.  It was a small race -- 1065 for the half and 211 for the full.  I'm really finding that I love the smaller races.
2.  Beautiful -- it is hard to go wrong in wine country.  However, we did have to head back on a larger road -- but it wasn't bad.
3. The rolling hills were actually a bit fun.  Nothing was horrible or too fast so it just made it interesting.
4.  Wine and Beer at the end, along with rice, beans and chicken and totilla chips.

There was a group of eight of us coming up from SouthBay (for any non Bay Area folks, San Jose is considered South Bay and is about two hours south of wine country -- which is north of San Francisco. If I was really clever, I'd insert a map. I did just try to be clever and can't so it so here's a link to the map if anyone really cares).  Another woman and I were on the late shift and on our own so we went straight to the bib pick up and (very) mini expo.  Which happened to be at Kendall Jackson Winery (in my next life, I'll make sure I do better with the picture taking).  The winery was beautiful but we didn't do any tasting -- just grabbed our bibs and gender specific tech shirt (oh happy dance for gender specific shirts!  This one is nice and it FITS!) and cruised the (very) mini expo.  Not much there at all but that was fine -- we were headed out to the Healdsburg Bar and Grill to meet up with our friends and get our mid afternoon greasy food fix on.

Then we were off to the house we had rented -- and let me go on a bit about a great way to stay somewhere out of town for a race.  The backyard was beautiful.

It even had its own vineyard:

So we managed to spend some time just sitting and enjoying.  Some of the girls had a bit of wine but I just couldn't -- my stomach is so sensitive these days so I opted out (the night before that is -- I took well advantage the next day!).

After we enjoyed the backyard we moved into do cook the spaghetti dinner - and all of us were off to bed at a fairly early time.  I'm so not used to sleeping communally, I had a bit of a rough time so went to a couch and managed to catch a few hours.  5am comes very quickly no matter what but let me tell you that 8 women and three bathrooms works!  We all did just fine and were ready to head to the starting line (which was only about 2 miles away) by about 6:20 for our 7:00 am start.

The race starts right on time and uneventfully.  The first two miles were nothing super exciting.  We had to get out of the town and onto the back roads. As I mentioned in my previous post, the only thing I wanted to do was to negative split and finish strong.  But I wasn't sure what that looked like -- part of our group had driven the course the previous day and came back with tales of rolling hills and difficult course.  I hadn't seen it and there was no elevation map so I started off the race with goals that I didn't quite have an solid plan for executing.  I know that for a flat half, I should have started in low 9's and then just go down from there -- so I thought I'd see if I could do something like that allowing for the ups/down.  And I figured fairly soon I'd have a feel for how bad it was going to be.

Well to my delight, it wasn't that bad at all and my plan basically worked.  The inclines kept me at a reasonable pace but they were manageable and thus I didn't have to gain too much speed on the downhills.  It was really just a bunch of fun.  The first four miles went by in record speed (not reality but in my mind).  I was constantly paying attention to pace and how I felt -- and the miles still flew by.   Long about mile 5.5 I realized I needed to take a moment to look around (when running hard for me I tend to concentrate on the road in front of me and seem to miss a lot around me!) and it was beautiful.  But was really cool was at that moment it was so quite -- since it was a small race, the group had spread a bit but there was still a steady stream of runners and there were no talking pairs and many had music going (I didn't) so the only sound was that kind of a rhythmic beat of breathing and feet hitting the pavement.  I was exactly 'in the moment' right then and that doesn't happen to me often!

I finally ate a gu at about 6.5 miles and around the 7 mile mark started chatting with this woman from Denver -- she was lovely and it was fun running with her but I lost her at about mile 8 water station.  So from mile 8 on, I just kept telling myself to hang in so mile 9 could be wonderful.  I wanted mile 9 to be wonderful because that is where I lost it in SJRNR and I was a bit worried still about the big hill at mile 10 I'd heard about.  I hit mile 9 feeling fantastic so when the 'hill' (it wasn't much different that what we'd been doing) started at mile 9.5 I was feeling fantastic and decided to kick it in -- and started passing people going up hill (!!!!! which is always a fantastic feeling).  In hindsite I probably could have stepped it up a bit sooner but give the circumstances I think it went very well.  From 9.5 on -- I booked it as fast as I could on the downhill and pushed on the uphills.  Was only passed by one woman (probably in her 30's) and three guys in their 20's -- so all was good.  As I came into the finishers shoot I heard my name announced which actually almost made me stop -- it was unexpected so I thought someone was calling me.  DUH!

Anyway, I loved this race and I how I raced it.  It was kind of a 'A HA' race for me where a bunch of things clicked in my head.

I'm having trouble stealing pics from brightroom -- so I'll work on it and post them later -- there is one of the two sneaky guys at the finish -- funny really.

Anyway -- this race is definitely one I will do again.  And I encourage any locals to put in on their lists -- especially if you like non urban races.

And now on to the Big M -- plans to follow.


Anne said...

This sounds like it's worth adding to my to-do list, maybe for next fall. I love running in wine country, and it's even better when you aren't risking life and death with the trucks on the side roads. Glad to hear you had a fantastic feeling right through the end.

Terzah said...

Can't wait to hear your Big M plans! Again, I'm so glad this race went so well for you. And that lodging, perfect! I'm a little jealous. :^)

Paul said...

Nice RR...also looking forward to hearing about your M plans.