Monday, July 26, 2010


I know I'm a little late on getting this post up, but here it is. Last Sunday I was in Napa, California for the Napa-to-Sonoma Half Marathon. My friend, Joe, and I drove up the coast from LA to Napa enjoying the sights and relaxing before the race. Saturday morning, we got up to do some wine tasting, lunch at Bouchon and the race Expo. Now, I've only been to one race Expo so I was really excited for this one. (By the way, the only one I've ever been to is Houston and it has an amazing assortment of vendors.) We picked up our bibs and race packets and I have to say I was a little disappointed. The swag-bag only had a Clif bar in it and a few fliers. Lame. The merchandise table had quite a bit of stuff but mostly cold weather gear - which I don't need since I live in Houston. Needless to say, I didn't buy anything. There were only about 6 booths setup outside for the vendors - sunglasses, sunscreen, book signing, belts, etc. We did however, find this cool sign that we took goofy pictures in front of.

"We're gonna rock this race!"

We woke up Sunday morning to a hotel lobby full of other runners getting ready for the race. I spent close to 15 minutes walking up and down hallways in my pj's to find the ice machine only to finally go to the front desk and find out that there aren't any on the first floor. But the nice man working the desk filled up my bucket from the bar so I could have my prerace shake. I don't know what I would have done without it! Finally, we were dressed and ready (shake in hand!).

We got dropped off at the starting line (or close to it) at 6:15am and headed straight for the potty line. It was pretty chilly (around 50 degrees). We lined up at the starting line at 6:45 only to be told that the course wasn't ready and we had a delayed start time of 7:15am. The sun was out already and it was starting to warm up. I know I'm from Texas and it's hot here, but I'm not used to running races in the heat. Eventually the countdown began, I swallowed my first GU and we were off.

See? It was really sunny at the start.

The first mile included a steep, 1/2 mile uphill climb. Most of the racers walked it, but I used it as an opportunity to pull ahead from the mass of people. For only 2,500 runners, we sure crammed together in the beginning. I felt great - although a little sweaty for the first 2 miles or so. The scenery was truely beautiful and I just enjoyed taking it all in.

By mile 3, a cloud cover had rolled in from the ocean and cooled us off again. I had to remove my sunglasses, but otherwise it became a comfortable temperature for a run. With the little breeze here and there, I was actually a little cold. I looked at my watch and noticed I'd been keeping up with an 8:30 pace. I felt great, but knew I should slow a little because there were still 10 miles to go.

The course was void of any spectators, but full of gorgeous views. And loaded with rolling hills. I have been doing lots of hill training with HF and boy was I glad I had. I managed to keep powering through them and even think I might have been close to my 10K PR time (based on my Garmin) but can't be sure since this race did not record any splits.

At mile 9, we went up another steep incline. At the top, I felt a pain in my right ankle. I'm pretty sure my run had just turned into a limping jog. It felt sprained and hurt to put any weight on it. But I refused to walk. I told myself that if I saw a medic, I'd stop and have them look at it. I didn't see one - I only saw one during the entire race and it had been around mile 5. About the time my mind is telling me just to walk, a lady noticed my shirt and started talking to me about Houston. We talked for a little over a mile and she encouraged me to finish strong (since she couldn't being injured). I knew I could do it for her, so I picked up my pace a little and the pain in my ankle went away. All that was left was fatigue.

By mile 11, my stomach was hurting from the last GU I'd consumed, my legs were exhausted from the hills and I was just plain done. But the sun came out and we passed more and more spots where there were spectators cheering us on.

I did everything I could to keep one foot in front of the other and keep my pace steady when all I wanted to do was collapse. Somehow, I still managed to make that last turn and sprint to the finish. When I crossed the finish line and saw the clock I was completely surprised the I was so close to my PR! I had a massage and some chocolate milk while I waited for Joe to cross the finish line behind me. She shaved 20 minutes off her previous time! After we rehydrated and snacked, we hit up all the wine tents for free tastings.

My final chip time: 1:59:52

Seven seconds slower than my PR! I can't believe with such a hilly course and for being so exhausted at the end that I did so well! It was definately a kick in the right direction to get me pumped up about my FULL marathon in October!


  1. Excellent show out there girly and your pics are great! If you came close to your PR on that hilly course just imagine what you would have done on a flat course! Congrats!!!

  2. wow, great job powering through an ankle injury, never easy...I know, my ankles are made of silly putty and I roll them all the time.

  3. Thanks! Great race photos! And great job!!!

  4. Nice PR! I'm impressed with anyone who can sprint at the end! Thanks for linking my giveaway!

  5. Hi Kellie,
    Awesome job on a wonderful half marathon finish!
    I absolutely loved this race! I have run in over eight half marathons and this Napa to Sonoma is my favorite...hands down:) Seeing your pictures makes me miss wine country and my time spent there! The funny thing is that I can in just a little bit before you. You should go to my blog and see it you see any pictures of yourself. I took a ton of the race:) Do you think you will do this race again next year? I am signing up as soon as registration opens:)