Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Runnin' Loops at the Napa Wine Country Marathon

Having ran an Enviro Sports marathon before, I knew that this run might not live up to what I thought it would be. In some ways this was true, but in others it was better.

Napa Wine Country Marathon - 4:54:11 (11:19 pace; 14/24)

I signed up for this one because all my friends wanted to do a run in Napa. Originally it was the half marathon, so I signed up for the marathon. I mean, why not sign up for the longer event if I was going to be there anyway? So the marathon I did, but all my friends ended up signing up for the 10k. So now I had to work out how to meet up with them since I was the numb nuts who signed up for something that would take a lot longer than everyone else.

Backtrack: I arrived the night before and checked in to my hotel room. All my other friends would arrive at different times. Kind of strange. We all live close together and yet we all drove separately! Anyway, after seeing my friends Sagar, Anjai and their baby Simran, I wound down and went to bed.

To be woken up by my other friends Steve and Lily, who showed up at 1 after a Halloween party in San Francisco. Not too fun being woken up from a sound sleep by a drunk friend. Wide awake, I got to hear him say how wide awake he was. Five minutes later he was snoring and I couldn't fall asleep.

Eventually I got to the park in Calistoga and met two more friends, Carla and Brian. This was fun! Having all my friends together doing something I love, sharing something that I know they would love as well. The marathoners were first to take off. It was a small crowd as we all began the climb. Yup, the first 2 to 2.5 miles were steep. Did I say the hill was steep? Oh yeah, steep it was as we trudged on up. We were on a fire road for about a mile before turning on to beautiful single track trails. As we rose ever higher the temp rose, until we got to the top and crossed a rocky ridge that had heat waves coming off of it. (The temp would eventually reach the low 90s.)

Eventually we turned back down to have some extremely steep descents. Some so steep you had to walk, and that even was enough to make me almost fall. Anyway, a babbling creek was a nice surprise as we crossed over it and by it several times. Amazing how the temp would drop when you neared the running water.

Did I mention this was a five loop course? Anyway, I came in from the first 6 mile loop, refilled my gatorade, and went the opposite direction for a different 4 mile loop. This one was nowhere near as dramatic, being an out and back: uphill halfway to the out, then turn around and run back to the end of the loop. As lush and cool as the first loop was, this one was the complete opposite, being dry and brown, and nowhere near as steep. I finished this loop twice before returning to the 6 mile loop for another two times.

This was where it got difficult as I started walking a ton more. The steeps were really steep when tired. And I wasn't eating as much as I should have. I did have a good moment that made me smile. I came upon a woman who was dragging her feet and walking slowly. Whenever I come across someone like this I always offer some electrolytes and shot bloks, but runner's pride always makes them say thanks, but no thanks. Anyway, she accepted. We went our separate ways and I figured I would see her at the finish line. With a half a mile to go I hear some feet pounding behind me. I turned and there she was, running just fine. I asked her how her energy was and she loved the shot bloks, giving her running a new life at the end of the race. As much as I didn't like a runner passing me during the last half mile, I loved that I was able to help someone who was crashing...

Anyway, overall the race was a good one. Great location, great weather until the end when the heat filtered in, and about what I expected for time and effort. But what I expected to find at an Enviro Sports run I was a bit confused by. The race, logically, didn't seem like it was 26 miles. In fact it seemed off. For example, the 4 mile loop seemed short as I ran it a lot faster than I thought I would have, especially for miles 7-14. Than my body screams at me as my legs, hips and calves feel as though they ran a marathon, not too mention a 4:54 time was about what I expected to run for a trail marathon with little training. So it was a wash, a feeling I don't know what to feel. I approached the race director after the 3rd loop to ask him about this "feeling", and before I could get two words out he cut me off with his loud and billowing voice as he cut me off. He seemed put out and angry that I would ask him such a simple question that I didn't even get to say! Mayhap other runners had questioned him before me? Who knows, either way I would recommend caution with their runs. If you want a fun run that doesn't seem too accurate, or makes you wonder at how far you were really running than stay away. They do put on a good fun run in great locations. I know I won't be running anymore Enviro Sports runs. I don't like the wondering doubt.

Over all I like the trails we ran on. In fact I loved the location. Decent results for the amount of training I have done recently. Not too mention that it is also my 3rd marathon or longer in 5 weeks. Time to rest and recover.

1 comment:

Bill Carter said...

Hi Brian

I really have my doubts that a lot of these courses are actually the distances they are supposed to be. My Garmin has always been really accurate and my last marathon was over a quarter mile long. I suppose we could say that I didn't run the tangents well, but I make every effort to hug the corners and run as little distance as possible. A lot of fellow runners had the course as long as 26.8 miles. I do get the feeling that if I approached the race director at Indianapolis he probably would have reacted the same way or at least stated that the course was "certified".

Congrats on Napa. I think that is an excellent time and considering how tough these courses that you do are, you have to believe your time would be much better at your average big city marathon.

Best of luck with everything and looking forward to seeing what is next for you.