Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Napa to Sonoma Part Deux...really long review in pictures

So after our late night Friday night, we slept in Saturday then woke up and got a good look at the "cottage" where we were staying. Essentially it was a mobile home park where they had taken mobile home/RV type thingys, removed the wheels, and covered them in some sort of siding. We had a 1 bedroom with a sleeper sofa because there were four of us. It was a little cramped for 4, but it got the job done. One of Richard's best friends from childhood and his wife, Charles and Erin, were joining us on the trip.

The expo was nothing to write home about. It was very small and in an unairconditioned tent so we did not stay long. After the expo, we went to a winery and olive oil tasting at Jacuzzi Vinyards and The Olive Press. The Olive Press is amazing, and I highly recommend any olive oil lovers to order something from their website. They have various organic oils (not all are organic), flavor infused oils such as blood orange and lemon, and dipping sauces. We went there last summer, and ordered bottles for several people as Christmas gifts and loved it so much we had to go back. Then we found a little jazz festival and killed an hour or so there. We were the only people under the age of 70 there. This pic is of one of the bands that played, the Natural Gas Jazz Band. They have been playing together for 40 years.

Here are Rich, Erin and Charles enjoying the tunes.

There was a dance floor set up, and let me tell you...these old folks could dance. It was definitely not their first rodeo. I couldn't resist getting a pic of this woman in her fringe black mini, bright red lipstick and parasol. You can see some people in the background holding hands doing some sort of dance in a circle move.

After the jazz fest we had dinner at Uva Trattoria in Napa. They had great, light, gourmet pizzas and we ate a yummy meal and worked on hydration (yes, with water for once!). Then we went back to the cottage, layed out all our gear for Sunday morning and hit the hay.
Sunday morning we got up around 4:30. I slept in my recovery socks both Friday and Saturday nights as per the recommendation of a guy at our favorite running shop in Charleston. This shot is of me taking one last horizontal break before driving to catch the shuttle bus. By the way, if you haven't tried some form of recovery/compression sock, you need to. They rock!

Here are Rich and Erin fueling up on G2, coffee and peanut butter bagels on the cottage porch (ie metal platform attached to the side of the RV).

The race started at a winery on the top of a hill. This is right where the shuttle bus dropped us off at the base of the hill.

The vinyards are just gorgeous.

The view from the top of the hill. This is just a stunning part of the country.

Another shot of the view. You can see all the runners on the road down towards the starting line, which is that red balloon arch. I could have looked at this view all day, but I had a race to run!

No prerace photo collection is complete without a bathroom shot. The lines were insane. The porta-potties are over on the right side of the pic, and the lines extend all the way down into the vinyard. This was the only race I've run that people have not been peeing behind every shrub/car door/telephone pole they can find. I guess they didn't want to pollute the grapes?

I ran with my camera, which was really easy. I wore a running skirt from and the camera fit perfectly into the side pocket. This shot came out blurry (guess I'm not a very smooth runner) but you get the idea...running through the vinyards with rolling hills. The course turned out to be warmer and hillier than I expected. I knew that there was a pretty good hill in mile 1, which with adrenaline and fresh legs was a piece of cake. The rolling hills throughout the rest of the course were what really wore me down.

Rich and I ran the first 2 miles together (oh side note: I had to pee at the start but didn't have time for another trip thru the porta-potty line, and the lines on the course were so bad I had to wait til mile 9 to find a porta-potty with no line!), then he started taking some walk breaks to protect his knee. I knew this was not going to be a PR for me, so I decided to use that as an excuse not to pace myself. I wanted to just run as hard as I felt like from the beginning and see how it turned out. It was hard! Miles 1-7 were great, and were pretty fast for me. I don't have exact splits but there were definitely on par for a PR had I been able to maintain them. Mile 8 I started slowing down, and by mile 9 I was taking walk breaks. The walk breaks became more frequent, and I even took one around mile 12.7. I know what you're thinking...12.7?? You were almost there. Well my reasoning was that I wanted to look good and strong in my finish line pics, so I walked to about 12.9 then hauled a$$ the last my relaxed, easy look in the finish line pics is all an illusion:) I also ran with my phone in one of my pockets and I immediately reached down for it after finishing and realized it was gone. I knew it must have just fallen out, and luckily about that time the finish line announcer said "And we have a pink blackberry." Sweet, got my phone back! I was trying to make my way back to the spectator area to wait for Rich to finish when he tapped me on the back. He was able to run more than he expected, so he was finished already. My official time was 2:26ish (previous PR in March was 2:20:02) and Rich's was 2:35ish (previous PR in March was 2:15ish). After meeting up, we grabbed more waters and then got in line for our wine glasses for the post race Wine Festival.

About 15 or so wineries set up tents and poured up their finest. It was kinda tough to choke down tastes of the reds, but the cold whites and roses really hit the spot.

I'm pretty sure that's the first time I've ever drunk wine while wearing a medal.

One of my favorite things about the day was getting to meet up with my blog/Twitter buddy and inspirational runner extraordinaire, Aron. It was also great to make some new friends, Maritza and Tara. These girls are so cute, and they are all speedy, awesome runners.

After a little while, we got a text from Charles that he and Erin were almost finished so we walked back on the course and met them for the home stretch. It was Erin's first half, way to go!

The rest of Sunday was pretty lazy. We caught the shuttle back to Napa from Sonoma, took naps, ate Mexican food, watched some Whale Wars and went to bed early.
Monday happened to be Erin's birthday, so we started the day with brunch and mimosas to celebrate. Then we drove up to Calistoga for massages and to visit a couple wineries.

Here we are at one of our new favorite wineries, Honig Vinyard. They had delish wines, and are working hard to be sustainable and more natural. Like they plant flowers around the grapes to attact bugs to the flowers to decrease pesticide usage, and they use solar panels for some of their energy. We liked them so much we joined their wine club. We joined one club last year, and it's so fun to get your shipments in every few months. Our favorite regions is the Dry Creek Valley/Healdsburg area because the wineries are smaller, with a more family feel instead of being huge and commercial. We ended up buying about 15 bottles total on the trip.

Tuesday morning we all got up early because Charles and Erin had to drive back to San Francisco for their flight. Rich and I went to the Jelly Belly factory and took a really neat tour. It was interesting to learn about the history of Jelly Belly, and to see how they are made. And...of course we loved buying beans in the gift shop. My favorite flavors are strawberry cheesecake and buttered popcorn...yum!

Wednesday morning we got up, dropped or wine purchases off for shipping, and drove back to the airport for an uneventful trip back to Charleston. The wine arrived a few days later in great the hard part is saving them and not drinking them all this year.

I cannot recommend this destination race enough if you are a runner and wine lover. We have our sights set on another trip to wine country next fall for the Healdsburg half marathon.


RunningLaur said...

Congrats on a great race - you were really close to your PR on a hilly course! Sounds like such a great destination race.

p.s. The fiance and I are looking to move to Charleston in a few months if I can find a job there. :)

Marlene said...

Looks like a fabuous weekend overall. Bummer about the 'cottage' but I guess you weren't spending too much time there anyhow.

Congrats on great races all around!

Mmm, wine!

Carolina John said...

sounds like a blast! good job amanda.

Caitlin said...

Congrats on the race! Loved reading your recap...:)

Jess said...

Sounds and looks like it was a unique, fun, and scenic race!

kristen said...

Great race report. I really really really want to do one of these winery races. Thanks for all the great links to hot spots you enjoyed.

p.s The "natural gas jazz band" what a perfect name!!

Alisa said...

Healdsburg/Anderson Valley are two of my fave wine regions, besides the Shenandoah Valley (where I got married). Healdsburg Half is a great race, you'll love it. Also, lots of rolling hills but nothing too horrible!

Awesome pictures, great job on the race, you nearly missed a PR!

MCM Mama said...

Looks like a really fun race and a great weekend!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

Sounds like an awesome race and an amazing weekend! Great pics.

Lindsay said...

sounds like such a fun weekend and race! loved all the pics - wow that jazz fest! :)

lol about your 12.7 walking theory - definitely a good excuse in my opinion too!

congrats on another half and special congrats to erin in her first! i hope she's been 'bitten'.

Jeri said...

Looks like a really awesome race and a fun weekend. Congrats! Def going on my race wish list. :)

Aron said...

it was sooooo fun to meet you guys!!! you MUST run healdsburg! its way better in my opinion :) congrats on a great race!