One of the items on my bucket list was to visit Corks N Canvas. Well, we can scratch that one of the list! Here is a video recap of my experience…
As you all know (or if you don’t, refer to THIS post), I began running a little under a year ago with the understanding that I would be allowed to sign up for and run in the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon. Well, folks, it was well worth it. The race took place on July 17, 2011; coincidentally, it was also our one year anniversary as a married couple. So really, it couldn’t have been better timing.
The months leading up to the race were, sadly, not used as training time for the ever-approaching half marathon. To be honest, it actually snuck up on me. This being my first summer as a runner, I’ve found that it’s an odd season to train for a number of reasons, but for me it boiled down to the heat and traveling. Luckily, I have friends in several local running groups that hold me accountable and keep me motivated. Even so, I missed more group runs than I would like to admit – in fact, I’m embarrassed to disclose that my longest run pre-race was only three and a half miles. Eek. Also, Kevin was having problems with his legs, so he wasn’t giving training his full attention, either. We decided to be positive, do the best we could, and at least enjoy the beautiful scenery.
I’ll save you from the details, but let’s just say our flight to San Francisco on the Friday before the race was a less than pleasant experience. Between delayed flights and unaccommodating airline employees, we were just happy to get to California in time for the race. We spent the night in San Francisco, got up early, and headed to Napa. Upon arrival, we headed to the race expo to pick up our packets. They were cooking food and serving wine – so, fun was had by all. As we were walking out, I had the pleasure to meet Dane Rauschenberg who wrote the book See Dane Run: One Man, 52 Weekends, 52 Marathons - I’m sure based on the title you can deduce the topic of the book. He was such a genuinely nice guy AND informed me that he would be running the Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon in 2012. So, fellow Red Stick-ers be on the look out!
That night we went to the pre-race dinner at the Gloria Ferrer Estate. Before the dinner, we were welcomed to sit on the wrap around patio area overlooking the vinyards and drink their delicious champagne. When it was time for dinner, we were lead down to the wine/champagne caves for our meal. I’m not sure how many of you have eaten in a cave, but it is not a terrible experience (the food wasn’t too shabby, either). After dinner, we were joined by runner extraordinaire, Dick Beardsley. He not only spoke to us about his infamous 1982 Boston Marathon “Duel in the Sun” with Alberto Salazar, but how and why he became a runner. I honestly left after Dick’s speech, got in the car, turned to Kevin and said, “I feel like I could run a marathon right now.” His attitude was so incredible. I was completely able to relate to him – now, don’t get me wrong, Dick had a lot more going for him when he began running than I do, but his story was so…normal. His positivity made me feel like a runner should the night before a race.
We woke up the next morning, put on our #RunLA shirts (courtesy of @katieRUNSthis), and headed to the race shuttles. The weather was…PERFECT. It was overcast and about 55ish degrees – I was in heaven. The race began in Napa at the Cuvaison Estate Winery. As the shuttle headed toward to drop off point, I couldn’t help put notice the lovely hill that was to the left of the entrance. About this time, Kevin informed me that the gigantic hill I was staring at was the beginning of the race. Awesome. We began lining up with the other 3000 half marathoners and settled in for the start.
At the gun, Kevin sprinted off ahead of me, not to be seen again for another two hours and fortyish minutes. I pressed play on my iPod and prayed that I would at least make it five miles before I began walking. About two minutes later and a quarter of the way up, I was just hoping to make it up the hill before I began walking. Geeeeez. At the hill half way point, I actually began listening to my music and the chorus to One Republic’s “Good Life” began streaming through my ear phones.
” This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life…”
I’m looking up the hill, surrounded by a few thousand people just like me, and suddenly (without warning) I’m hit with a burst of emotion. Just under a year ago, I began my running journey and couldn’t run a mile. So many things have happened in the last year, good and bad (mostly good), but all of those moments lead me to this point in my life. I am married to my best friend, I’ve developed closer relationships with my friends and family, I have found my niche in a new city, and most importantly I am a stronger and happier person than I could have ever imagined. Things aren’t always perfect, but they aren’t supposed to be. It really is a good life. That’s when it, or more accurately they, happened – the tears. I realized I was crying. I’m half way up this endlessly steep hill, surrounded by thousands of strangers, and I’ve got tears running down my cheeks. It was hilarious and so, I laughed – I figured If I was going to look crazy, I might as well go all out.
After I pulled myself together, I pushed my way to the top of the hill, and boy, was it worth it. I was surrounded by the most beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen, and that is not an exageration – miles of vinyards and mountains in every direction. So, I just gave in to that moment and started my way to the finish line. I ran by mile marker one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven like I was floating. I don’t think I have ever or will ever float through seven miles again, so I’ve got to pat myself on the back while I can. At that point in the race, I’m thinking to myself, I can run this entire half marathon, which is ridiculous considering my training, but at that point, I wanted it so badly. At mile seven and a half I began climbing a hill (which was not gently rolling, as Kevin had described the course’s hills before the race), and when I got to the top I saw a glorious sight: down hill for as far as I could see, which seemed pretty far. So, for the next mile I ran down hill…and then there was another giant looming hill. I couldn’t bear the thought of running up another hill, so I gave up.
For the next few half miles, I walked then ran then walked. This brought me to mile marker eleven and I was fed up with myself. I was tired, but not so tired that I couldn’t have physically run the mile and a half that I walked. Also, every time I started walking my legs and feet would scream at me. I just needed to mentally check myself back in and decide to run, and I did. I could see Kevin waiting for me at the turn to the final straight away, as he had finished somewhere around two hours and five minutes. I could see the worry on his face as he tried to asses what race state I was in (hoping not to experience THIS again), and I thought to myself, gosh I love him. I gave him a smile and a wave, and immediately the worry melted off of his face. We took the turn together and he ran the last three tenths of a mile with me. He was singing my praises the entire time and I just wanted to hug him and tell him how important he is to me, but let’s be serious – I was pretty delirious at this point, so moving my legs was about the extent of what I had going for me. I crossed the finish line and received my awesome wine stopper medal (which, by the way, I got hasseled about by airport security later in the week).
After the race, I was feeling a bit nauseous since I hadn’t eaten and Kevin was jonesing to watch the Women’s World Cup Final, so we headed back to our bed and breakfast. My body was a bit sore, but it passed within a day. All in all, it was such a fantastic experience and I am still so shocked and proud of myself for getting through the race, especially considering I hadn’t trained and was just hoping to cross the finish line before night fall. I’m so proud that Kevin and I were able to celebrate one year of marriage by completing this incredible feat. Every time I take a step forward in my running journey, it just makes me ache for that next big step. Maybe a marathon?………ha! Just kidding!