Monday, March 5, 2012

Napa Valley Marathon Recap

I am still trying to figure out how I feel about this one.....

I guess we met my one and only stated goal - we finished!?

I can now openly admit that running this race was really not intelligent. I knew that going into it, and did seriously have doubts about being able to finish it. While I had posted here that the sharp, intense hip pain was gone, I chose not to post that there was still a lot of other pain going on. In the 2 weeks after our last long run, I only ran 2 runs of 3 miles each. By the end of each of those 3 mile runs, there was pain in the hip that took about 2 days to subside. I could tell the rest and rolling were definitely helping because the pain that felt like exposed nerve ends was totally gone. I also knew that each time I ran on it it was probably delaying the healing process, and that a smarter person than I would not run 26.2 on it.

As for Brian, he had been having achilles pain. He said it was fine, and not hurting anymore, although there was an obvious bulge in his achilles that should not be there. He assured me he was fine and ready to go.

So while I did not admit this here on the blog....I really wasn't sure how far into this run I would get. I figured since it was paid for, hotel booked, dinner reserved....we would go and see what happens. I was super excited for my outfit, and will admit that the spectator comments on the skirt totally helped carry me through the last few miles....yes, I'm a girl like that. I'm not sure where to stick this factoid in , so I'll put it here - I ordered and received just in time my first BIC band - that is a headband that does not move, it's backed w/a velvety material. It is purple and very sparkly, and I love it!! I knew to really enjoy the first 3 miles, since I knew I could get at least that far before things started to get uncomfortable.
The Race-

We got on a bus at the finish line that takes you up to Calistoga just after 5 a.m. We got off the bus to go potty at the start, and check our awesome race bags ( we got nice duffel bags again this year), then back on the bus to stay warm. The drivers handed out quilts and blankets to those who wanted. This is the first run ever that I have not been able to "take care o business" before the start, and that had me a bit worried. There was no problem, I am happy to report.

We started, and held to our 10 minute pace for the first 8 miles. The first 6ish are rolling hills, so I was happy to hold an even pace even if it was slower than we normally would start. We knew it would be in the mid 70's by the end, and one of the things they kept saying at dinner the night before was to start off slower than planned due to the heat in the last half of the run.

I had forgotten how sloped the first 10 miles are and was veering all over the place from side to side to middle of the road trying to find a flat spot. (picture a drunk sparkly ballerina) The hip was not liking the uneven running. Neither was Brian's achilles. We hung w/a runner friend this first bit and neither Brian or I wanted to say we were already hurting. We just ran and chatted and it went by really fast. Believe it or not the entire race went by super fast.

From about mile 9 on we progressively slowed a few seconds each mile. I started the mental telling myself that 10 miles is really half way because once you it 20, you know your going to finish no matter what, so 10 is half way to that....then after 10, I knew I would have liked to hit the 13.1 mat under 2:30. Normally this would not even be a question. We came up (it was at the top of a hill) to the mat and I saw 2:29:57 and hurried to step on it before it hit 2:30.

From 13 to the end there was a lot of run/walking. A lot. My next concern was making mile 17 by the cut off. We counted down the miles, 17 came and went, no need for concern on the cut off. Again, the mental game of "just make it to mile 20, then it's all gravy" game continued. Only 3 miles to go....right?? Mile 19 you start up a never ending hill, which we both knew and remembered well. Someone stretched that hill out this year! We walked all of mile 19. Waiting at the top of the hill is the 20 mile marker. That means the rest is in the bag, right? Guess what?? In a lot of ways, mile 20 is where all those things that make a marathon a marathon actually start.

Mile 20 was followed by 2.5 ish totally exposed, long, straight, flat, 75 degrees on pavement miles of bliss. Brian is a more reserved, refined runner. While I love dumping water over my head, Brian had never done so, until this run. His response..."wow, that felt really good!" He also peed in front of a lot of runners on this run since it was so exposed and there were no bushes/trees to be found when he needed maybe not that refined after all. Anyhow, I was super glad to be carrying the 2 bottles of fluids during this stretch.

Now, completely sun burnt, we made the long awaited for right hand turn, the first turn of the race, just before mile 23. This stretch goes by some homes and is more shaded, which was great. This is also the stretch w/home made sherbet!! It was so good.

Mile 23 is also where we start doing math, realize that if we could lay down 3 miles at 10 minutes each, we could stay under our worst 26.2 time of 5:27 (san fran). That was totally not going to happen. At mile 25 I was determined to run the last 1.2 miles, or at least keep it at a 13 minute mile so we could come in under 5:40....but our bodies would not cooperate. My hip was beyond toast, and Brian's achilles had a large bulge out the back and sides. Those last 3 miles ended up taking 45 minutes.

2 left turns and 2 right turns and we were running down a new and improved finishers shoot! We finished in a personal worst record shattering 5:45. I then was asked to pose like a ballerina under the finish line for the photographer. I cannot wait to see how that turned out, it's gonna be one ticked off looking ballerina! (not mad at him, mad at my own stupidity of running this thing).

I realized on the ride home a few things - nothing besides my hip hurt. Quads, hamstrings, lower back, shoulders,and most surprisingly my calves....nothing hurt. My calves usually start hurting mile 5. This is a huge victory for me and was a reminder that we did indeed train for this, and that the trail running and hills we have been doing has done wonders for our endurance. Despite a frustrating run, this put a huge smile on my face! I am confident that if I can get this hip figured out, we will be good to go for Diablo 50k.

I have to thank any and every person who gave a hollar for the purple skirt and or sparkly headband. None of you knew how much I was hurting or that your comments were such a welcome distraction and a reminder that if I'm going to be hurting, at least I don't look like it. (we will see if this is true when the marathonphoto pics surface!) To the blogger and her mom from across the country, thank you for saying hi!! I hope someday to run a marathon w/my girls!

If you are curious about what we ate/drank during this thing - gatorade - refilled the bottle once and also took some from aid stations, water - refilled bottle twice, and dumped ones from aid station over head, 2 orange slices, (they had oranges, bananas, and pretzel sticks the second half of the course, and gu, and the nice guy with the home made sherbet) and maybe 20 sour patch kids. That was my sugar of choice. Brian had jelly beans, which he ended up giving to a runner who needed sugar, and gummy bears, which he thought were his favorite until he had one of my sour patch kids....which are also salty and easier to chew and get down. I nearly tossed it all up twice. I also ended up w/6 extra strength Tylenol in me by the end of the run, and again, I say to you - dont' do this. It is not wise and is a gamble w/your kidneys. On the way home I still felt like I was gonna toss it, but also was craving a bacon cheese burger and decided it to be worth the risk. It was delicious and stayed put.

As always, this is a first class race. Everything is very organized, everyone is very friendly. Things happen exactly as stated, and at the times they are supposed to. There's enough of everything for everyone, whether that's the runners duffel bags, the goodies inside it, the shirts, buses, porto potties, medals...everything is more than sufficient. The dinner was nice and simple. Salad, pasta, water, coffee, cookies, and great speakers. This is one of the top marathons for more than just the amazing views, it is very well run.

If your still reading this....thanks for caring!
I will post pictures later today, it's just too long a post to do both in one.


  1. That's so great that, other than the known issues coming in, you did not experience any of the typical pain - you guys are in great shape! And your personal worst would be my PR (I don't know that I'll ever beat that since I may never do another road marathon, but who knows). Can't wait for the pictures!

  2. Hey you two are the bomb!!!!!!! Congrats on gettin 'er done! I am finally considering doing my second only lifetime marathon and it makes me nervous just to say that. Like the hubby said I too am happy for you that "normal" issues weren't issues at all. You both need to take care of your bodies and figure out what is gong on with the hip and achilles. I'm so happy it is such a well put on race. Nothing like a bum race to make it all seem not worth it. I sure hope CIM is done well. Well Allen has WTC this coming weekend and then 2 Brazren races coming up after that. So I guess we are off to the races. Congrats again and take care of yourselves.

    1. The Beast's first marathon was CIM, we went and cheered along the course at about 5 spots, it seemed like a great course, tons...really, tons of people cheering along the course, great finish area...their only complaint was the guys finish in one shoot, and gals in those of us who run w/a spouse would be kinda bummed not to finish together, but that aside, I have not heard any other negatives.
      You guys have some excited weeks ahead!!

  3. I swear we ran the same race! GAH. We were both toasted so early in the race and I feel your pain. Good job on finishing, it's all you have besides a new PW, which I have as well after Arkansas... GAH.

    1. GAH is right!!
      I read your part 1 and 2 and look forward to the race recap! It sounds so far like you guys managed to have some fun before race day....I'm sure, like my purple tutu, your amazing tiger hats helped keep you moving : )
      Hope you are resting and that IT band starts to let up!

    2. I wanted to let you know that I am the Volunteer Coordinator of the Napa Valley marathon and read your blog. I wanted to thank you for your positive comments on how the race was organized. Glad you made it in and hope the hip feels better. Rest rest rest!

    3. No, Thank You!!
      Were it not for volunteers there would be no race for us to enjoy : )
      I know there are hours, days, months of work that go into the expo and race day. I hope you know that all your hard work provides memories that will last us runners a lifetime.We've run Napa 2 of our 6 marathons and each time is an epic day of lasting Thank You, and ALL the volunteers!!