Sunday, November 1, 2009

Healdsburg Half Marathon Race Report

The Healdsburg Wine Country Half was by far one of my most favorite of races! It was definitely worth the 14 hours of driving....! Yup. 14 hours of driving in 72 hours.

So..... let's start from the beginning!

James and I took off early Friday morning for our seven hour drive up the 101 to Santa Rosa. I have never been that far up North in CA before, and I was excited to explore a new city.... and drink some wine!

Upon arriving in Santa Rosa, we headed straight to the race expo. Though the expo was small and quite boring, it still is the coolest expo I've attended because..... they were serving wine! Awesome. Can't think of a better way to kick off a wine country race.
Another highlight of the expo are the free massages being offered. I got a great 5 min massage.
Saturday: Race Day

We woke up bright and early cold and dark on Sat morning, ate, and drove over to the bus pick up for the race.

Holy Moly.

Nor Cal is cold.

And dark.

And cold.

We had to wait around for an hour before the race started. It was so dark and so cold I could not feel my thighs or any of my fingers/toes. And my goodness! The sun didn't come up till 7 am!
Though... when it did, it sure was pretty!
I am so spoiled by the warmer climate in Santa Barbara. I have NO idea what you are supposed to do when your toes go numb. Or how to pee in the porta pottie without freezing your you-know-what. I just couldn't wait to start running already so I could finally warm up!

The Race:
I was so thankful to start running and get the blood pumping again.


Holy crap!

I seriously don't understand how this cold weather thing works!

For the first three miles, I couldn't feel any of my toes or any of my fingers! I mean.... how the heck is the whole concept of RUNNING supposed to work when your toes, an essential component of the sport, are numb?

At least there were a whole bunch of funny costumes to look at! I was impressed at how some people went all out for their costumes. I saw a whole team of "The Incredibles", Raggedy Anne dolls, Lady Bug, Ultimate Warrior, Big Booty, pumpkins, men in tutus, a banana, and my favorite:

na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na Bat Man!

Yes, I made sure to sing that theme for them as they ran past. Actually, I sang it to them multiple times while simultaneously crying out "Bat man!!!" I hope I didn't annoy them! haha

The course was absolutely breathtaking. It was 13 miles of rolling hills through the vineyards in Healdsburg. It was sooooo beautiful, with the sun coming up over the horizon and slowly burning off the morning mist. The vineyards were amazing; we ran past merlots, zinfandels, and all sorts of other grapes.

The rolling hills made kept shit interesting, and I didn't mind them at all. There were no major climbs, and each uphill was followed by a downhill. I heard a bunch of people complaining about the hills, but I really didn't mind them.... and especially since I was always able to pass people on the climbs!

The highlight of the race came at mile 6 when we approached what I thought was an aid station...
It was the best surprise ever! A wine aid station!
I tried one of the white wines, and sampled two spoonfuls of their grape compote.

It was hella delicious. (hey I'm in Nor Cal so I'm allowed to say that :) )

The race was going really well until about mile 7. I had been running super conservatively trying to nurse my left knee/calf. But by mile 7 I started having sudden, sharp pains. The pain was honestly quite horrible.

But I was in such a good mood I honestly didn't care too much. I wasn't racing this time, and I didn't give a hoot about my finishing time. I was just having a fun time chatting with James, looking at all the pretty vineyards, stopping to take photos, looking at people's costumes, and just enjoying the run.
Soooo beautiful!
I even had time to take a couple of videos during the run as well. I took my camera along with me, in my brand-spanking-new Spibelt. (this thing totally rocks my socks off, btw)

Here's a taste of the Healdsburg HM:

Although my knee hurt like hell all the way to the finish line, I truly enjoyed this race. I LOOOOVED being able to run the entire thing with James. I know this totally sounds tacky, but we finished the crossing line holding hands. I can't wait to see the photos!

And the funny thing is, even though I ran this thing super conservatively, stopped to take photos, go to the porta pottie, slow down to take movies, I still finished only a minute slower than my first HM. I couldn't believe it. Have I become that much faster/stronger as a runner? On a hilly course???? :) It was a huge confidence booster.

The best thing about the race is the wine festival at the race. A whole bunch of wineries from the area come out, and you are allowed to taste as much wine as you want! It's put on by the same people as the Santa Babrara Wine Country Half Marathon that I ran in May.

Seriously. Knowing you can have wine at the end is a HUGE motivator :)

I loved James' costume. He had a bloody knife and a severed foot. He got quite a few laughs.

I really truly enjoyed this race. I definitely want to do it again next year!

My knee/calf still hurts like a b!tch, but I think the problem is that my ITB is tight. It's just been super tight and tense since the 20 miler. I think a couple of sessions on the foam roller and taking it easy this week should do the trick. I'm staying hopeful.

Look at the views of San Fran/Golden Gate Bridge we saw on the way back:

It was a whirlwind trip, but every moment of it was fun :)
What were you for Halloween?

And thank you so much for all your kind words last week about my cat Mii-chan. It really cheered me up to read your comments. I'm glad I was able to run as a cat, and I feel at peace now. But honestly. Thank you so much. It means a lot to me.


  1. That looks like an amazing race. Wow a whole lot of DRIVING!! I could have used some wine at my race UGH!!

  2. WHAT A FUN RACE! Sign me up if they're serving wine. ;)

    Great costumes and congrats!!!

  3. wow, that sounds like a perfect place for a race, worth all that driving, love the wine shooters photo! Hope your knee feels better soon!

  4. Ah, SO FUN! These Wine Race-Directors have the right idea. Motivating runners with a little drink afterward usually works pretty well ;) Congrats on another HM and finishing with James!

  5. OMG I totally know how you feel! The first 5 miles of Chicago I couldn't feel my toes either and it was so weird!!! I felt like I was running with foreign objects as toes! I was so relieved when they finally warmed up!

    Awesome race girl! Looks like a blast and major props for only being 1 min behind your last race! You are becoming quite the little speed demon!!!!

  6. What a great race!! Nice job girl!!

  7. What a fun race! Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. That race sounds awesome. And I love that you shot a video!

    I think I have to plan my next destination race around wine :)

  9. What a great idea! Looks like you and James had fun running together! I love both of your costumes!! Great job on another HM!!! How much longer till the full?!?! :)

  10. Goodness, you're adorable with your costume. :o)

    Those NoCal folks don't mess around with that wine, do they?

  11. I'm so jealous I couldn't get up there to run that half! It looks like it was an absolute blast and a beautiful race!
    It's definitely going on my list of races to try and do next year!
    I'm glad you got to run it with James - that makes the whole thing even better! You two are too cute!

  12. GORGEOUS! If only the race was a week later, I could have cheered you on!!



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