The 5th Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon was held on Saturday October 26, 2013. It was a point-to-point race-which means the start and finish locations are different. The half started at Trentadue Winery in Geyserville, CA and ended at Lake Sonoma Warm Springs Recreation Area in Healdsburg, CA (part of the Sonoma Valley). Transportation was provided to/from the start/finish (even spectators!) at four designated locations.
After a delicious pre-race dinner at the girl & the fig, I stopped by the Whole Foods across from my hotel (how convenient). I picked up some of my morning staples: water, banana, an English muffin, and almond butter (thank goodness for Justin’s single serving size of Maple Almond Butter-yum!!).
Even though the race started at 7:30am, I woke up at 4:30am because I was staying in downtown Sonoma for my friend’s wedding. Downtown Sonoma is about 30-45 minutes south of downtown Healdsburg (where I elected to catch the shuttle). I got dressed, prepared my breakfast and headed towards Healdsburg.
I arrived in downtown Healdsburg at 5:30am and there was plenty of parking. The shuttles were located right outside the parking lot and they had volunteers directing runners towards them. I hopped on the shuttle for the quick 15-20 minute ride to the start. In hindsight I should have waited in my car a little longer…because it was COLD outside! I believe temps were high 30s-low 40s. In addition to my tank and tights, I also wore my zensah sleeves, running gloves, thin long sleeved shirt and jacket.
Some optional pre-race yoga…. I opted out and took pictures instead 🙂 The sunrise was much more spectacular in person!
I dropped off my long sleeved shirt and jacket at bag check and followed the above path to the start.
Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon
Because the run is held close to Halloween, runners were encouraged to dress in costume. I wish I took some photos of the costumes-I am always amazed how creative people can get (especially converting running clothes to costumes). I saw a few Waldos (you can spot their heads below-Where’s Waldo? haha) and several superheros.
Ready for the start! Note: no assigned corrals-okay for a smaller race
The course is….HILLY (see above for the map and elevation map). Thankfully the worst, aka, the steepest hill was right after mile 1.5 (where I ditched my Brooks running gloves-I had nowhere to put them sniff sniff). Even though the elevation map looks quite frightening, I thought the rolling hills were gentle and the 20+ vineyards we ran by certainly distracted me during the inclines (1 vineyard even had samples outside their entrance…I ran by that one).
The first 8 miles felt great! By the time I reached the Dry Creek Road portion of the course, it was probably 50 degrees-perfect running temps! I was certainly running faster than three weeks ago, but I could feel myself tiring during the last 3 miles or so. Luckily I started chatting with another runner named Jennifer and the last 30-40 minutes went by much faster. When I turned the corner towards the finish line I knew I would have a PR, but unsure of the time…..2:56:53.
The last time I was under 3 hours was in 2007-my half marathon split during the MCM (which was actually faster at 2:45, but since it was not a half, I do not consider it my PR). During that season I trained at 13:00mm for long distances and 10:00mm for shorter distances-it was nice to see my average minutes per mile back in the 13’s.
Post Race Festivities
There was a Wine and Music Festival with over 20 wineries at the finish line. Runners received a tasting glass as part of the race fees and could purchase additional glasses for their friends/family. I ended up skipping the festival because I wanted to get some rest before my friend’s wedding. I did end up trying Zico Coconut Water (dark chocolate flavored) and loved it! It was a tasty recovery drink.
The gorgeous (and huge!) medal.
- Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful course!! I think I would rank this half at the top of my list along with the lululemon half I ran this past August
- If you are not a fan of hills, this may not be the race for you
- Loved the medal (doubles as a coaster-but I will be hanging it up)
- An excellent destination run-plenty to do in the area
- A wine lover’s delight!
- Quasi walker friendly at a 16:00mm course limit (my mother could walk this)
- The registration fee is on the higher end $100+
- I liked the smaller race field (~2000 runners)
I would definitely recommend this race and would like to try one (hmmm or all?) of the other halves put together by Destination Races.
Wedding and Around San Francisco
A few hours after the run I attended Sean and Brittany’s wedding-it was a beautiful ceremony for two of the nicest people I know (I went to business school with Sean and they both use to live down the road from me while we were in school).
The next day I headed back to San Francisco and had the chance to hang out with one of my best college friends, Rosie and her family.
Rosie, Jon and Lyla hanging out in Lafayette Park (public parks in SF are so nice!)
Because I was taking the red-eye back east, I also had a chance to meet up with another b-school friend-Kay!
I had a wonderful long weekend and so happy I was able to see some of my dearest friends. So long Cali, I will be back!