Highlights from the Napa Valley Marathon

Saturday March 3
Going up to Napa on Saturday with Sonja, a one hour drive from Marin was the beginning to a wonderful weekend. We went to the expo, got our lovely lime green (and smelly as Sonja declared-I kept mine, wasn’t that bad) swag duffle bags. I was thrilled to get a refund for the pasta feed ($30) that I had no intention of attending now that I had a group of friends with me running this marathon.

Lunch at Angéle in Napa by the very dry river front followed by a slow stroll (I was trying to be nice to my strained calf) through this section of Napa. I ate this yummy sandwich (not the salad, which was a bit salty, which I would normally have eaten, except I was limiting my fiber intake for race purposes) only to still be hungry afterwards. I satisfied my sweet tooth with a giant peanut butter cookie half dipped in chocolate and a chai latte from the Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company down the street.

croque monsieur ou madame

The Inn at Southbridge in St. Helena was a lovely place to stay. They catered to the marathon runners by providing turn down service which included a GU for each runner. They also provided breakfast at 5 a.m. and a shuttle that brought us to the start of the race (in Calistoga) and also back to the hotel post race. They even extended our checkout time to 2 p.m. so we could clean up post race! Our rooms also had complimentary water and apples! I would stay there again just for fun or most likely, next years marathon. Shanna and Maurizo stayed there too just next door to our room! I had dinner with them at Cook just down the street, ordering my usual pre-race fare of pasta and seafood which we asked the chef to create especially for us since it wasn’t on their menu. We inhaled our meal as if we were in a race. Seriously, we were done in 30 minutes!

Getting a surpise text message from Athleta’s sponsored athlete Jeri Howland, (who is an incredible and accomplished athlete-check her out!) saying:
“Rooting for you-don’t worry abouta little pain! You will do it!”
That message meant so much to me, I carried those words with me throughout the race.

Sunday March 4 Race Day
Getting to sit in the shuttle van to stay warm for a while before the 7 a..m. race start. It was 40 degrees!

Taking care of business in the porta potty (a first for me!) and thankful to have that off my plate of things to worry about during the race!

Running the first two miles with Sonja and Maili, knowing that they could run much faster than me with my strained calf. I slowed down and let them go. I didn’t want them to run with me. It was hard to watch my team mates go ahead and for me to stay behind, but I had to think of my injury. I wasn’t even sure I would get that far. I watched them move further and further away and knew this race was going to be run alone.

Meeting Julie, who was running a few feet to my left. I figured she was injured like me as she had one compression sleeve on her right calf too. I had KT Tape under my right sleeve and I always wear my Zensah sleeves on both calfs. Julie, out here from Chicago, was running her first marathon too. Her husband was running somewhere up ahead. She injured her calf five weeks prior to the race. I injured mine two weeks prior. I think she had it worse than me. I asked her what our pace was and she said somewhere in the 11 min range. That was faster than I thought I would be running. Julie is a nurse, and a mother of two. I just remember her saying… it’s just a muscle (the calf), and not bone, so it’s not broken. We ran together for a while (I was hoping to run more with her), but then she said… I’m done. She meant, done with keeping up our pace. I knew I had to keep going they way I was running and we bid farewell. I hope she finished. She is a rockstar running this race injured.

Running past a gal wearing the same outfit I wore at the Spartan Race. I so wanted to pull out my iphone and snap a pic of her from behind. It was so funny.

Seeing Jim (a race volunteer) at the mile twelve aid station. We connected a few weeks back from an online fitness dating site (he’s a runner) and met for lunch the very day I strained my calf muscle just two weeks ago. I was not myself that day, and wasn’t sure how I felt about him. Nevertheless, he gave me words of encouragement and said “see you at the finish!” I said yes! and hoped to make it that far.

Running past the 13 mile marker. The first half was done (and went by rather fast I thought) and I was just so happy I had made it that far! My calf was tight and fighting me the entire way. I had to focus on it completely, the way I landed each foot strike careful not to push off with the ball of my foot.  It was time for the Ibuprofen. Sadly I had lost a few and only had one. It would have to do.

I stopped to take a photo, as the surrounding landscape was incredibly beautiful. Stopping proved to be a mistake for my calf, but the photo was pretty. The other pics I took were while I ran, afraid to have that happen again.

Hearing one man on the sidelines shout out my bib number: “Go 548! Great job!”
There were small crowds of people cheering us on when there was an intersection that crossed along the Silverado Trail. There weren’t many of these intersections, so it was great to see them and hear them say “great job.”

Constantly repeating in my head, “push through the pain!”

Constantly repeating in my head, “you can lay in bed all day tomorrow!” (which I’m not… yet.)

Repeating what Becky, my manager at Athleta said from my last half, “you can do anything for 2 hours.”

Thinking of my co-workers and the hardships they are working through and knowing that my calf pain is nothing in comparrison. I dedicated this run in my mind, to them, Michelle, Jenny and Colleen.

Thinking of my running mates Team Kick Ass… and wondering if Shanna beat Maurizio (which she did by a few minutes), and Maili, wondering how she was holding up, knowing Sonja would be there for her.

Thinking that I knew I would run this marathon alone and that I’m ok with that.

Having bananas at the later aid stations. I walked every aid station, filled up my small hand held bottle with gatorade and walked for maybe a hundred yards to give my calf a short break.

Running up the entire hill at mile 19 while most the participants around me were walking. I think this was my proudest moment of the race.

Rewarding myself at mile 20 with music. I told myself if I made it this far I could start the juke box, my iphone. Of course the first song on my Napa playlist was Kelly Clarkson’s, What Doesn’t Kill Us (Stronger). That was my theme song for this race (and last month) and it was poetic that the playlist shuffle chose this first.

Having people say they want to run with me when they heard the music. I felt like Forrest Gump in the running scenes with the group behind him running, even though I am sure I didn’t have one.

Making funny poses for the camera men when I saw them near the finish of the race.

The last two miles… they were brutal. It felt as though I could barely lift my legs.

Repeating what Becky said with a slight wording change, “you can do anything for 15 minutes.” That was all that I had left to run.

Seeing Jim again as I rounded the corner in the neighborhood just adjacent to Vintage High School where the race concluded. He shouted “you made it!” We high fived, and I thought I should reconsider going out with him again. So nice of him to be there. It spurred me on to finish strong.

Seeing Mom and Dad at the finish shoot holding up this sign.

Not even caring what my time was, just glad I finished. I never looked until later.

Seeing the first of my teammates, Jack (we hugged) right after I got my medal.

Getting my photo taken and having the photographer tell me to strike a pose like Beyonce! Can’t wait to see that!

Seeing Shanna (I cried), then Sonja (I cried harder) who squeezed me so tight I thought I was going to stop breathing. She was so incredibly happy that I made it. I think she couldn’t believe it, but also knew I would. She stayed with me while they got me on a massage table, got my sweat bag for me and some food. I could barely walk at this point, the relief of the race being over, my body was done.

Thank you to Andrea who gave me a gentle massage.

wish i had taken this at the beginning of the race when i was fresh and pretty.

Post Race
Meeting up with my team and their families at the Silverado Brewery Co, knowing that we all kicked ass at this race. Each in our own way.

shanna, maurizio, me (w/bad post race hair), sonja and maili

Having gelato (my reward for the run) with my mom and dad.

chocolate, caramel, and white chocolate... yum!

Coming home and proudly being able to put the 26.2 pendant that Maili gave me days before the race on my chain. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to get to do that.
Thank you Maili!!

I am so glad I pushed through and ran this race! It wasn’t the race I had initially hoped for, but the sheer fact that I ran a full marathon with an injury makes this journey even more meaningful. I want to run this marathon again. The Napa Valley Marathon was very well organized with a small field of participants and a beautiful course. Since I was moving slow and not caring about my time, I actually got to enjoy that part of it. The best part is, next time, or the next marathon, I am bound to PR!

Thank you to all the volunteers and spectators who were there to make this a truly great experience!

not too bad for a challenged runner

Now it’s time to get some well-deserved rest (I hear the couch calling me), rehabilitate my calf and then “get my run” back on!

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5 thoughts on “Highlights from the Napa Valley Marathon

  1. I am sooooooo happy for you! I told you you would kick ass! I didn’t think I would cry, but the emmotions were CRAZY! You were not alone in the waterworks dept. I still tear up when I hink about it. I wish we all could have finished together, too, but I have a sneaky suspicion there will be more to come 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    good job nice narrative

  3. A huge congratulations on running through the pain and completing your first marathon (of many more to come??)… Very excited for you. Great recap and memory, too. I constantly think of things during races I want to remember to write about…and most of the time my memory fails. All the funny signs and t-shirts especially, but I can never remember.

    • Thank you! I’m so sore today (can barely walk or move my legs) that I can’t imagine doing another full for a while! I’m still remembering even more parts of the race, but when it comes to writing about it, it’s tough to recall everything. It was a great experience!

  4. Sonja says:

    Ha, I’m glad I didn’t cut off your air supply!! It’s funny, everyone else’s finish meant way more to me than my own 🙂

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