Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Quest Continues - Two Days in Sonoma (sorta a race report)

When we last left our heroines, they were enjoying the fruits of Napa Valley. On the third day of their journey, they would investigate the harvest from the valley of Sonoma...

But before THAT quest could begin, the girls had to visit the Napa to Sonoma race expo, after all, they were in town for the race.


It was one of the first times we'd parked in an open field...smack dab in the middle of some vineyards this was going to be unlike any other race

OK... I'll stop with the third person heroic journey language...it's tiresome, but I say Harry Potter this week, forgive me...

In any event, on the third day, we went to the Race Expo. A word about the expo...it was small, but it's also the only expo I've ever been to where there was a wine tasting!


There was also a big blue chair

The only other obstacle we encountered was locating Betty's bib... Betty purchased a bib from another runner and did an official race transfer. As a homage to her previous attempt to purchase a 3rd party bib, she registered for this race using the pseudonym "tiger." She had forgotten about it. Thus, it took us awhile to figure out why she wasn't listed as "registered." and none of us thought to look for her under "Tiger


Forget you ever saw her real name...

After the expo, we wandered over to Sonoma and browsed the downtown square where the race would end. We decided to buy some sandwiches and find a place to picnic.


DramaGirl found her perfect shop.



They have EVERYTHING here....just everything...

I'd been reading on my iPad (BTW...an absolute MUST when traveling in unfamiliar territory... The GPS maps and The Google kept us from getting lost on multiple occasions and decreased the number of U-Turns by about 80%...really! I did the calculations!)... looking for a place to have a picnic, so when Betty started reading road signs out loud (which she tends to do) and noted the historical marker for Buena Vista Winery, I shouted "Turn THERE!" and we did. We had no idea that we we to come upon the best winery we would visit.


The herd, with our driver and chief photographer



It's an official historical place, but we are all teachers, so we like that kind of stuff...wonder if I can write this trip off on my taxes as an "education work-related expense.... Hmmmmm

At Buena Vista, we met Millie...and immediately we all hit it off, so we decided to name Betty's D2 after her.


Meet the Millies!!!!

I could do a whole blog about Millie. let's just say that she was fabulous, was an excellent wine educator, and we bought a load of wine from her. If you are ever in Sonoma, visit the winery and ask for Millie. Tell her you know the heffers from San Diego and that you want to taste Pinot "the right way." I suspect she will remember us.


Three Pinots, three vintages, side by side...Aka "The Right Way" to taste. I likes the one on the left.



Oh yeah...and we had a picnic too.

So...two days, five winery tasting rooms...our haul?


About four cases...good thing Betty is driving back to SoCal

Later that day, after the effects of "The tasting, we decided to leave a car in Sonoma for after the race the next morning...quite cranky, probably one of the best ideas we had the whole time!


Where we left the car.

The next morning, we got up for the race (oh yeah...that's why we were there) It started at Carneros Winery. Millie and DramaGirl dropped us off at the start...


Walking up to the start...a little cool...overcast...in other words, perfect running weather.



So...who thinks that two days of wine tasting befo a half marathon is a good idea?



I was standing in the Porta Potty line when I took this photo



Mandatory pre-race photo

And we were off. The first half mile had one relatively serious hill, but it was mercifully short, and then the rest of the route was all, gentle, rolling hills. I got separated pretty early from Elsie and Betty, who were walk/running, and speedy Mik. I was so distracted by the scenery that the first five or six miles just rolled right on by, and I was surprised every time I would pass a mile marker...something that NEVER happens to me during a race, or ever for that matter.


Elsie and Betty at Mile 6



I mean, can you blame me for being distracted?

I felt like my pace was pretty even for the first seven miles or so.
Mile 1 - 11:11
Mile 2 - 10:32
Mile 3 - 10:51
Mile 4 - 10:57
Mile 5 - 11:06
Mile 6 - 11:25
Mile 7 - 10:20


Around Mile 8 we crossed the highway (the main road that connects Napa and Sonoma Valleys. We had been warned in the race material that we might have to stop along the way to let traffic cross). I could see a gap in the runners and figured that I might get stopped if I didn't speed up, so I did, but then something weird happened, and my right contact lens fogged up...so I stopped for a minute at the Mile 8 water station and tried to rinse it out with some water...it worked a little bit.

The last five miles were, again, through some more vineyards and a residential area as we headed into Sonoma.

At the Mile 10 water station, there was, of course, wine.


It was white. Yes I had some with a water chaser. Awesome!

I felt very good for the last two miles, and for me, that was the goal. I wanted to finish strong. No walking in the last three miles. I even had some kick at the end.

Mile 8 - 11:47
Mile 9 - 11:06
Mile 10 - 10:14
Mile 11 - 11:34
Mile 12 - 10:20
Mile 13 - 10:17
Finish - 9:25



Unofficial "Garmin" time was 2:22:40 Official time was 2:25:52 which is respectable, but I'm not quite sure where I lost three minutes.



Post race...a medal and something I can use!



Mik with her new wine stopper

Usually after a race, we hightail it out of the crowd, usually to get some food, but this post-race expo included...you guessed it, wine tasting! So we hung out for awhile to get some good use out of our race swag.


Elsie and Betty, enjoying more wine



Mik was bummed because she finished at 9:15 and they didn't start the tasting until 9:30...she did make up for lost time by getting a taste and then immediately standing in line for the next...

After tasting for a little while, we decided that some food would be a good thing, so we walked about two blocks to the car, and drove back over the hill to Napa, where we found a little diner...


Elsie's diner attire

Our race morning concluded with watching the Women's soccer team lose to Japan. Betty should have left the room more often because every time she did, Team USA scored.


Apparently our cheering squad was not enough

I gotta send out props to the race organizer, Destination Races...this was a great event, and I'm not just saying so because of the wine. It was really well organized, better than many of the large races I've done over the years. All of the people involved were helpful and genuinely seemed to want everyone to have a good time. There were plenty of aid stations, mostly water, bit one had Hammer Gels (which I'd never tried before, and which I liked). I will definitely do one of their events again.

Next time: Betty, Alice, Millie, and DramaGirl go to Momma's cabin at Lake Tahoe (in other words...it ain't over yet).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Road Trip - The Road to Napa

Our brave heroines, Betty, Alice, newly named Millie (previously known as Betty's D2...a name she really did not care for. "Don't worry." we assured her, "at some point, a name will reveal itself" and it did) and DramaGirl traversed the state to get to the first stop in their summer odessey, Napa Valley.

"How was the drive?" You may ask.

Anyone who has spent any time on The 5 will tell you that it is one long-ass, boring drive from SoCal to NorCal via that particular route. It is, however, also the fastest route, so the lack of viable food choices would have to be managed.


Road Food

To be clear, when traveling with teenagers, it is essential that ground rules be established. Thus, these guidelines were set forth.
1. No texting when in public places or when it would ordinarily be expected to interact with others.
2. Do not bug Betty.
3. Do not put feet on the center console (added when someone with smelly feet put her feet up).
4. Have shoes on and be ready to exit the car when we stop.
5. If an adult tells you to do something, like put on a cummerbund, just do it.

The trip was long, and the hour became late, so the quartet decided to bed in a lovely hamlet called Livermore.


It was a little misty in Livermore...and the previous day's bug-capture had to be wiped clean

Upon arriving at their destination, they set about their first order of business, which was to get checked into their fine accommodations at The Doubletree, a pace which cleverly disguised its rooms from The Fates by naming them after animals.


Not our room, but it could have been

Our two running heroines set about exercising their legs.


Alice, I don't think we're in SoCal anymore

Our heroines' friends arrived, so they went on their appointed rounds...WINETASTING!!!!!


we found a place to nosh and consume beverages

This is also where the cummerbund rule was made as DramaGirl and Millie acted as designated driver and chief photographer and were required to dress appropriately. They were not necessarily happy about this.


DramaGirl was decidedly NOT pleased

Our heroines had no such issues.


At V. Sattui vineyards

They were too busy enjoying the fruits of this...


Really not SoCal

Next episode: genetics and driving practices and Day 2 of wine tasting.

(yeah...there was a race today, I'll get to it...)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lost and Found

You know...for the last year or so, most of my musings have been pretty repetitive. I run. I whine about the weather. I brag (occasionally) about my family. I try to capture (not always successfully) the adventures of the herd. I complain about how busy I am.

Pretty much the same thing...blah...blah...blah...

So for something different yesterday, I dropped the key to my car on a long run...somewhere along this route...
It's a really sad moment when you realize...after running about 9.5 miles, and are about .5 miles from your car...that you no longer have the key to aforementioned car in your hip pocket.

"Oh shit" is probably the first thing I said.

"Where the F is it?"

Unfortunately, at the moment of discovery, I was not running with Betty. She was somewhere behind me, so my first thought was that I'd run back to where ever she was to see if she'd picked it up (yes, I'd run 9 miles. It was hot and humid. I was not thinking too clearly). Luckily, in a moment of clarity, I realized that the most important thing was to get a key to the aforementioned car, so I called Walter.
Walter: Hello?
Alice: Hi honey! Whatcha doin?
Walter: Relaxing. How was your run.
Alice: The run is fine, but I did something bad.
Walter: (silence...for future reference, saying "bad" brings up thoughts of something REALLY BAD)
Alice: I dropped the key to the car somewhere.
Walter: OH! (apparently relieved that I had not crashed the whole car, or hurt myself...not necessarily in that order).
Alice: Wanna bring me the spare key?
Of course, he did...

My Walter...my knight in shining armor, here to save the day!
So...they key, not any old key, but it's one of those newfangled, don't even need to use the key, key that is electronic and costs about a gazillion dollars to replace, so we went back to try to find it.

I thought I might have dropped it here when I stopped to take a picture of the gorgeous day. I run with a Spybelt for my phone.
Sevin-ish miles in. Wouldn't you have stopped?
...but that didn't really make sense because I keep my key in a separate pocket from my phone because I know I'm going to take the phone out to take photos and I don't want to LOSE THE KEY (DUH!)

So Betty, Walter and I backtracked a few places where I might have dropped it. Running over the lawn in Mission Bay seemed like it might be a likely spot because I wouldn't have heart it hit the ground.

Then Betty walked over the lifeguard tower on the off chance that someone had turned it in...and GOOD KARMA...

Someone DID!

YAY!

I'm pretty sure it slipped out of my pocket when I ate the last of my Gu at a drinking fountain. It's a pocket with a zipper, but since I didn't put anything back in my pocket, I didn't zip it back up...and the key must have just slipped out...maybe the belt from the Spybelt pushed it out.

Anyway, thank you to whoever the good Samaritan was who saved me a few hundred bucks for a new one of these...
Easy to see how it would slip out of a pocket...no?
_________________________

So...I spent A LOT of time at the beach last week. I know that many people think that if you live in San Diego, you live your life at the beach, but we really don't, or at least I don't. Sure, I run at the beach or coast pretty often, but I don't pack up chairs, umbrellas, towels, coolers and all that gear more than three or four times a summer, which is what I did last week. We live about 10 miles inland, so getting to the beach requires driving, and in the summer, unless I get to the beach early, I'm not interested in fighting the beach traffic.

Even locals have to trek their own gear. I swear I was carrying stuff too!
Betty's version of "beach food."
Luckily, this week DramaGirl was in Surf Camp, so I had a good excuse to get down there early.

Being on the beach is pretty entertaining, lobsterized tourists, men who make you think that speedos should be outlawed, or at least require a license. But on Thursday, I had to take a picture of something I hadn't EVER seen before...
It was the biggest UMBRELLA I'd ever seen!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First of all...

WTF is going on with Blogger. I know it's been over a week since I last wrote, but all of a sudden it looks completely different in compose mode and nothing is where it's supposed to be.

Again, I say WTF is going on here?

Which is not really what I intended to write about. What I did intend to discuss is how I was NOT going to do a "so what did Alice do for the last 10 days" kind of post. I'm sorta sick of those.

Instead, I'll bitch about the weather because THAT would be SO VERY NEW.

In a nutshell, it's been HOT, damn HOT and HUMID, really STICKY, ICKY, HUMID.

These are NOT things that a SoCal girl is used to.
Temperature on Tuesday afternoon
Despite the STICKY, ICKY, HUMID, HOT weather, I've been quite active this week. I've run twice already AND rode 18.5 miles yesterday.

On Tuesday, it was about 4 miles in the heat and humidity after I dropped off DramaGirl at a Surf Camp at Mission Beach. It was a pretty slow run, but not too bad for running in the heat.
Tuesday morning at the bay - I'm glowing at 8am, can you tell?
The problem with running on the bay side in the morning? No shade. Not one iota. Not at 8am.

On Wednesday morning, Betty and I rode around the bay (again after dropping DramaGirl off at camp).

OK...this is sorta turning into a "what I did this week sorta post" but at least it has a focus and a theme!
It's really a rather incomplete map...we actually rode around the entire bay (about another 6 miles) but I stopped my Garmin after we got off Fiesta Island and forgot to start it again.

Sometimes when you're on a bike you notice things that you don't notice when you are running.
I have run at the bay countless times this summer, and had never before noticed the pirate watching. I need to look up more often!
After our ride, Betty and I hung out at the beach for the rest of the day.

Lunch at Saskas
This morning, you'll never guess what I did...go ahead...guess...
Yep...went running again. This time, down the beach side walk at Mission Beach, then back on the beach. I got to see DramaGirl, but she wasn't surfing when I ran by.
DG...in yellow
I was playing with Hipstamatic on the iPhone this morning, so all the pix look like this.
After my, even slower than Tuesday run (blaming the run on the sand, which is always enjoyable but is often slower, I hung out at the beach and watched the tourists. Actually, it was rather windy at the beach, so by about 11am, I left to head east.

By the time I got home about 11:30, the temperature gauge in my car read 97ยบ. I probably should have stayed at the beach.

I've got some blog reading to do tonight. I hope everyone is staying cool and is enjoying their summer as much as I have been!