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Run Napa, Run Happy

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Hi guys!  I ran a marathon this weekend, which is something I swore I would never ever do again.  Crazy how that works, right? 

I ran my first marathon in San Francisco in 2008. I knew so little about running strategy or tools that make runs and recovery nicer.  You just run, right? Nutrition? Body glide? Compression socks?  None of these were something I used.  Real runners only pause for a moment at a water fountain!

This was my summer of 2008. It is also a wonderful book by Mark Remy.


I trained in the heat of summer in the flat, flat valley–it did not occur to me that there would be hills until my friend mentioned it on the drive up to the race. I HATED HATED HATED it with the fire of the thousand blazing suns that made me miserable for four months of godforsaken 4 am wake ups to run 2-3 hours 4x week. (Cross training? What?) 

Accurate depiction of me most mornings that summer.

I was so inspired to take on another one after seeing so many people train last summer–I considered running Santa Rosa last August, but couldn’t pull the trigger because I would have had zero IRL support on the day of the race–I envisioned myself immobile on park bench, hoping the stranger I gave $20 to would return with a burrito to help me pass the time until my SIL’s flight got in and she could help my sorry sorry self. 

My main goal was to enjoy training, and I did. I enjoyed it immensely. I used an app that  automatically synced to my phone’s calendar (to give me a sense of what to do when) and then modified the runs to suit me (long runs were based on time, and I replaced it with mileage goals)
I was LAZY about this training. I hit every long run with progressive distances (building up so I had time for three 20+ milers), but I did blow off a significant number of midweek runs and replaced it with spin. The cross training kept me sane and injury free, but did nothing for my speed.  

So many sunrises!


So the race! After a fitful night of sleep, I woke up, got dressed, and grabbed my oatmeal and coffee, and drove to the parking (about a half hour filled with a show tune sing along), and rode the bus to the start.  The air temperature was below 40, with an   ice cold monsoonal wind and rain that briefly picked up as I left the bus to hit the portapotty. That part of the storm passed quickly, but I remained chilly.  

Flat runner!

I truly don’t remember much of the first 13 miles. It was so enjoyable. I met up with a local friend about mile 9 and ran with her for a bit. I started doing run/walk intervals in earnest about mile 14 (4 run, 1 walk). I can’t decide if I should have started them sooner (most training runs I began with them at mile 6/7) or just held off. 

Mile 3 selfie


With the varying weather, it was super hard for my body to regulate my body temp. I wore a long sleeve over a tank, and kept switching. 

About mile 19, my nutrition started a war in my stomach (puking would have felt so good), but I think it was largely a product of being overheated and uncomfortable–when I took my wet, heavy long sleeve off, I felt less claustrophobic and my stomach calmed down. 

Wine wine everywhere and not a drop to drink at the plentiful water stops


I did a lot of math on the long hill between 19/20. I figured that if I could hit mile 21.5 at the 4 hour mark I could have a chance at hitting my A goal of a sub 5. As I got closer and tilt of the road continued to beat up my left hip, I hit the fork in the road–hit my A goal of a sub 5 race (I was on track if I could hold a 12 min mile, which was a stretch and would HURT. See, the great Tiburon Half shit show of 2015 (where I completely fell apart emotionally because I could not hit my goal on my exhausted legs despite my best efforts) or I could let go, embrace the walk breaks, and do everything I could to make the last 5 miles happy (a la the great Two Cities  Half redemption run of 2015, a mere 28 days after Tiburon)

Don’t let this victorious leap fool you. I was miserable at the end of the Tiburon half. I was upset, heartbroken, and toting around a great big bucket of failure.


I chose to run happy. It was the best. 
Except Mile 22 which was f***ing cold. Enjoyable, but cold. 

I ran it in to find that my brother, SIL and 3 year old niece were waiting for me with a sign. It was so awesome, and my niece was so excited.* 

* The excitement could have been for the chocolate milk.

I finished under my c goal (<5:30). I haven’t looked at my time, but don’t really plan on it. It was such a wonderful weekend–everything I hoped it would be. You could feel the love, joy, sadness, support, everything so acutely. 

Oh, and I was suckered into signing up for the Santa Rosa marathon in August with their $20 off registration and bottle of wine offer at the expos. Bottoms up! 

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About spinrunsew

I’m a spinning enthusiast, once-a-year half marathoner, and I can sew damn near anything. The rest is filled with the husband, the puppy, the chickens, and one massive garden.

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