As I prepped for our 9th Anniversary Party at Ceja Vineyards on Saturday evening, my mind kept coming back around to the half marathon I would be running the next morning. As I cleaned and polished, set out wine, printed signs and made sure everything was just right for the 200 guests to arrive, I lamented that I, Wine Club Wendy, would not be partaking in any wine tasting that day! Alas, dehydration is the enemy. It is best to save the vino for the finish line!
I woke up early on Sunday, my alarm was set for 4:50 am, but the nervousness of missing my alarm (which I never do) had me up at 4:30. I tiptoed around the house, made my ritual coffee, had a bowl of Cheerios and mentally prepared myself for the 13.1 miles ahead of me. My training has been lacking for the past year, very sporadic and without discipline. I knew it wouldn’t be my best race, so I set my goal to keep it under two hours and to feel decent throughout the race.
The Napa to Sonoma is a spectacular course that winds through the vineyards in Carneros and ends at the Sonoma Square in Downtown Sonoma. The start is at Cuvasion Winery a couple of miles from my own work place, and the course passes through gently rolling hills filled with vineyards as far as the eye can see. At one point we passed by one of Ceja’s vineyards and I gave a little wave to the Pinot Noir planted there. I feel very lucky to live in a place where a run can be called a “Destination Race” because yes, it is just that good!
I started out a little farther back in the pack of 3000 runners this year and now I know this was a costly mistake, even if the event is chip timed. I spent the first 2 miles along with my fellow Vinerunners Eileen, Emily and Brian (the blocker), weaving and dodging through hundreds of runners to try and get out to some open road. I finally moved into some open space and settled into my pace. I didn’t have a watch on, it has been missing for quite some time, and I didn’t really have any idea how to keep track of my time. So instead, I just pushed myself a little harder than a regular run, and I was delighted to find that I was passing people the entire race! I couldn’t gauge how fast I was going, so I just kept chipping away at the miles. At mile 10 I gave out a holler and the gal next to me concurred, 3 miles? 3 measly miles? I could do that in my sleep. Around mile 12 (oh how I love mile 12) a group of friends were there to cheer me on, and it was nice to have a little encouragement to get through the final mile and pull me into the finish line.
I crossed the finish line and forgot to even glance at the clock. I was trying to get my bearings, have my timing chip removed, grab some chocolate milk (have you read that it is the new Gatorade?) and stretch my legs before the soreness set in, when it finally dawned on me that I had no idea of my time. I had seen a teammate somewhere in the last few miles and figured he couldn’t be too terribly far from me, so I went in search of Mark to try and determine my time. We guesstimated somewhere around an hour and 50 minutes, and we were pretty much right on the money. I tried to smile and nod as everyone congratulated me, but the 10 minutes slower-than-last-year time didn’t sit too well with me. Nonetheless, I had finished the race and was glad to see Amelia and Martha Ceja pouring wine over in the tasting area. Marta bravely gave me a hug (sweaty) while Amelia handed me a chilled bottle of Ceja Vineyards 2008 Bella Flor Rosé. Now this made it all worthwhile! ¡Gracias Amelia!
Next year I hope to improve greatly upon my time, more training(!), a watch, and situating myself closer to the starting line should help! I never thought I would say this, but in the words of John “The Penguin” Bingham, waddle on, my friends.