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).
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