Happy Tuesday! I was exhausted Sunday after returning home, and I felt that I could produce a far better blog on a good night’s sleep and a day to get caught up. So here we are!
Over the weekend I was up in DC to run the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon – and oh, what a run it was. First of all, it was sweltering. I knew that going in and the best thing a runner can do in such situations is grin and bare it. But, heat index aside, this was by far one of my most favorite races. I certainly didn’t PR, in fact, I didn’t even break two hours – and I didn’t care. This race wasn’t about how fast I could do it or how hard I could run and, my God, it was awesome. To run a race and pardon my French, not give a shit, is the most gloriously liberating thing one can do following a years worth of pushing yourself.
We ran the race with J’s sister, E and her hubby, B. This was the first half for both J & B so the race was about as far from competitive for us as it could get. We were there to finish and drink some vino at the wine festival following our finish.
Now, as I was strictly running without a goal in mind except to hang out with J, I was able to take a lot of pictures (as you will see below). You could also find me dancing around mile 10, and probably much to J’s chagrin, singing. I drank wine, I walked, and when I crossed the finish line holding J’s hand, all sweaty and gross, I couldn’t have been happier.
And then I was given a Reidel glass to fill up with wine. Man, this race was a blast….
On to the recap!
Where: Diukenie Winery – Purcellville, VA
Date & Time: June 1, 2013 – 7:00 AM
Weather: Hot. Humid. Cloudless. Pretty much everything you don’t want it to be on a race day. The race began a little after 7, and the temperature was already in the mid 70’s and climbing. By the time we finished it was 86.
Best Mile: 6. The course switched over to a dirt road (which was much cooler than the paved blacktop of the roads) and for whatever reason, I surged uphill maintaining an 8:30 pace and losing J (thought not on purpose). I must have somehow subconsciously known that there was wine at the top of said hill and you best believe I stopped for a sip. I also stopped to pour water over my head and drink some *** and as I was sipping my various drinks, I saw J run past.
Worst Mile: If I had to pick one, I’d say 7. After J passed me, I hung back then booked it to catch up. When I did, That was when I started to feel a bit fatigued. Luckily, it dissipated quickly and I was back on track.
Fuel: Banana, Cookie Dough power bar, and some really bad hotel coffee
How did I feel: Despite the heat, wonderful. It was so refreshing to run a race and not care about my pace. I was all about enjoying the scenery, encouraging J, and staying hydrated. As for my toe – it was bearable (obviously). When the course switched to dirt, the uneven surface caused a few pangs of discomfort as did the several large rocks I kicked. Not the most ideal situation, but tolerable.
Best part of the race (besides the finish): Running it with J. It was amazing to have him next to me the whole time rather than waiting at the finish line. And he did me proud. Considering this was his first, and it was so, so hot out, it would have been so easy for him to stop and walk. I even asked him if he wanted to, but no. Typical male – he’d pass out before he’d stop.
Worst part of the race: The heat – something that was completely out of anyone hands.
Weirdest thing I saw: A guy running in swim trunks. I mean, I know it’s hot dude, but that netting can’t be comfortable.
The Hardware: Final Thoughts: I loved this race but I need to consider the extenuating circumstances surrounding my bliss. First of all, I was so ridiculously happy to not care about my time for once, and that’s a huge reason why I had such a good time. It was hot. Poor J, was pretty miserable and although he didn’t swear off another half, he did swear off any runs that take place between June and August. But weather is fickle and again, that’s out of anyone’s hands.
E & B were kind enough to pick up our packets the day before. She mentioned that the expo appeared to be closing early and they seemed a bit unorganized. As I wasn’t there I can’t vouch for any of that but it’s something to keep in mind.
Also, traffic was a bit of an issue. We left our hotel at 6. It should have taken us no less than 35 minutes to get to the winery and it took a little over an hour due to backed up cars. Thankfully they did start the race a bit later (probably not ideal for the people already at the start) but even so, our gun time was around 2:20 – ten minutes after the race started and we certainly weren’t the last ones to go through.
Due to the heat, I think they may have increased the aid stations along the route and they were all adequately maintained with, at the very least, ice water. We did, however have a hard time finding water at the finish line. It wasn’t distributed in our snack bags, and it wasn’t until later we were able to snag a few bottles from the winery’s tasting room.
But no matter, because I wanted wine. The festival was pretty crowded, but we made our rounds to a few of the 17 (!!) wineries offering their tastings. I freakin’ fantastic way to end a run if I do say so myself.
The race itself was one of the more expensive ones, coming in slightly lower than the Nike Women’s half at around $130. But you get what you pay for – a beautiful course through wine country ending with a festival full of free wine, a free wine glass, a pretty nice shirt, and a medal that doubles as a coaster. This is a race I would recommend to do as a group for enjoyment purposes only and would definitely consider running the California wine country races (Napa to Sonoma, Santa Barbara, or Healdsburg) if I ever get out that way.