RUNCATION! Who doesn’t love a destination race? I mean, really. Also, I live in Oklahoma, I try to get out a lot. When my friend Jen mentioned that she’d like to run a half marathon in wine country for her birthday, I was on it! It also meant that I could go spend some time back in the Bay Area. A nice getaway, indeed. I was able to visit with friends, work from the San Francisco office – which includes sitting my old cube, and visiting with my colleagues, and then an amazing trip up to wine country for the half marathon.

I’m getting this race report out late, and I’ll try to remember everything!! I ran with Jen, Cat, and Angela, and they all have amazing race reports too. So, first let me say, in signing up for this race. I didn’t really know what to expect from myself. The half-marathon would be three weeks post 50 miler. I didn’t know if I would be broken and hobbling through, or if I would feel okay and push through the race. Spoiler, it was the latter.

Three of us drove up on Saturday afternoon, a not too horrible 2 hour drive from Hayward to Healdsburg. The race expo was just a couple of tents near the town hall, and one vendor from Healdsburg Running Company. I did buy a BOCO trucker hat (although not the one pictured below.) We also ran into Amanda and Matt, who had rode a metric century earlier that day in Sonoma.

After packet-pickup, we made a quick stop to grab some food, and then up to our AirBnB in Geyersville. I have to say, Geyersville is super-adorable, and our rental was walking distance to their main drag, which housed wine shops, and restaurants, a coffee shop, some antiquing. Really adorable, and only about 15 minutes north of Healdsburg. We had dinner that night in Geyersville, at Catelli’s and it was delish. I had a clam, calamari, and sausage pasta in a spicy marinara with a glass of wine. I think we were all pretty impressed with our meals. We then headed back over to our AirBnB to turn in early.

Race morning! Let me jump in and talk strategy, for all of us. Jen and Angela were running Healdsburg as part of a longer training run. They are both training for CIM in December. For Cat, this was an A race, and she was aiming to PR. I still wasn’t sure how I would feel on race day. I thought I would maybe tag along with Jen, her goal was to run the half as a progressive, she would be doing a 3 mile warmup, and then hitting the starting line. A progressive sounds good.

At the starting line, Angela and Jen started early to get in the first part of their long runs. Cat and I intended to run a warm-up, but we happened on a wedding. A wedding!! We were busy spectating the bubbling bride, wearing a short white dress and running sneakers. The couple would exchange nuptials and then run the half marathon, it was kind of cute. The bridesmaids and groomsmen wore matching shirt with cupids. The groom was late, he hung around a bit too long, and missed our own warm-up.

I’m not really sure what happened on race morning. I mentioned I was three weeks out from Run Rabbit Run. I had taken nearly an entire week off, and then started a reverse taper to get mileage back up. Most of my runs had been super slow, although, Jen did get me to do some speed-work earlier in the week, and I nailed 2000m repeats at about an 8:30 pace. How would I perform when I started running?? I had recommended to Jen that she start around 9:15 to 9:30 and then work her way down to 8:50. Maybe in recommending to her, I was really planning my own race?

The race started, and I tried to keep my pace around 9:15 to 9:20. I ran faster than that. I was hovering around 9 minute miles and feeling good. So, I went with it. I was rocking along, but then I was regretting not hitting the port-a-potty one last time before the start. During the run, I found a port-o-potty with a short line around mile 3.5, so I hopped off the course. Post potty, I brought that pace down a little more, and worked to just keep going. There were rolling hills to keep it interesting. And the scenery was beautiful. I didn’t take any pictures, too busy running. Running fast felt good. I felt good. I kept pushing.

Temps were great and that probably helped. I hit a climb around mile 9.5 and kept pushing. The sun was coming out, and I was ready for the half marathon to be over. In the last mile or so, we turned off the road, and onto a greenway. I pushed, and pushed. Just before the finish, I passed a lady runner, and she was fading. I challenged her. Told her to race me. She picked it up. She and I sprinted to the finish, and yeeeesh! it was tough.

Photo finish of sprinting in with my new friend (and of course my eyes are closed)

After crossing the finish line, I found Cat just beyond the finish. She was a bit crushed not to have beat her PR, and we walked to find food and drink and wait for our friends. Angela and Jen came in shortly after us, and then we all milled around a bit. The finish line was festive. We picked up our beer or wine glass, our free food, we goofed around with a cutout of another friend that couldn’t make it.

I think all in, we all performed really strongly. For me, Jen, and Cat, this was our third fastest half marathon. I think that’s great! For Jen and Angela, they nailed their training run. Jen running a perfect progression, and Angela coming in with a strong finish on a 20 miler. I was kind of surprised by my performance. That 50 miler training didn’t hurt my speed as much as I expected, and I feel that I probably could have run that half faster. Here’s the link to my strava entry for the Healdsburg Half. My splits were: 9:09, 8:50, 9:01, 10:08, 9:01, 8:57, 8:43, 8:26, 8:33, 8:39, 8:24, 8:09, 7:30, and 6:37 (.01). This was my third fastest half at 1:54:26, and my fastest 1 mile split at 7:18. I left this race feeling good about my overall fitness, and hungry to break some PRs.

finish line
The five us at the finish line (note Kate over my shoulder).