Monday, September 9, 2013

That Time I Could Barely Run But Signed Up For A Marathon Anyway.....

Yes, I know. In the age of ultras and trail races and Ragnars and Ironmans and Half-Ironmans and those races where people shoot paint at you, this news does not particularly rate. The lowly road marathon, once King among Horrible Ordeals People Put Themselves Through Voluntarily, is now a mule in a land of unicorns and dragons and whatever this is. I get it.

BUT. It's kind of a big deal to me because it's the first time I've ever signed up for a marathon with some level of trepidation. Even before I signed up for my first one, I already had multiple twenty milers under my belt. I wasn't worried about the distance or finishing or the training. So this is really the first time I've signed up for a race at a moment when I was physically unable to run that distance or anything even close to it, which feels a bit....unsettling.

I just keep reminding myself that it's nearly six months away. That helps a little.

So why Napa?

  • The date (Mar. 2) falls nearly two months before we leave for London & Italy (Apr. 29), so if something terrible happens to me, I hopefully won't be totally disabled by the time I get on a plane.
  • It doesn't involve a plane trip or soul-crushingly long drive.
  • It's in a location where I have a good chance of convincing my wine-loving boyfriend to come along & be my pit crew.
  • Odds are good I'll have some other friends there as well, either because they are running or I have pressganged them into spectating.
  • It's a relatively small race (bigger than M2B, but smaller than CIM).
  • The course is rolling but still net downhill (a net 300 ft drop over 26 miles, as compared to 360 ft for CIM & ~700 ft for M2B).
  • They let you prep your own bottles ahead of time & put them out at whatever aid stations you want. (This is a pretty big draw in my opinion, though I'll admit I'm nervous about the logistics of locating & grabbing my bottle amidst all the others. I suppose you can always just grab a random one & hope there's nothing gross in it.)

As always, there are a few cons.

  • A bit overpriced. Like everything else in Napa. ($250 for a night at the Best Western. I am not kidding.)

Truer words, my friends.

  • I had to get a hotel room. In Calistoga. (See above.)
  • The course is on Silverado Trail. It's billed on the site as providing "world-class scenery," but I've spent enough time running and driving around on it to know better. For the most part it's just a rolling, wooded, badly-cambered-in-places country road. I'm not saying I'd kick it out of bed, but really, a vineyard is a vineyard, and once you've seen three or four, you've pretty much seen them all.
  • I am *slightly* concerned about the weather, just because Napa has the potential to be WICKED hot, even early in March, even early in the day. (Of course that's the case in lots of places, so I'm trying not to dwell on it too much.)
  • I'm a little concerned about my ability to train solidly through the holidays. In the past, the advantage of running CIM was that it's three weeks before Christmas and taper basically falls around Thanksgiving. I think it's doable -- I'll just need to do a bit of planning and expectation-managing in advance.
  • March 2 is a little earlier than I wanted. I was hoping to find a race I could get excited about towards the end of March / early April, but most of my top pics were late April or May. On the other hand, having Napa early means that if it's looking like I want another few weeks, I can probably get a Mar. 23 Modesto bib (or possibly Oakland) for not too too much.

Q: What Am I Doing For The Next Six Months?

A: Getting my ass ready to run a fast marathon. And I do mean my literal ass. There is so, so much work to be done. Right now, that work looks like an October 10K (Brazen 510 10K), a November half (Berkeley Half Marathon), & a February half (Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon). I'm excited about the two East Bay races because they're inaugural events, and about KP because I love that race & haven't run it in years.

Here & now, I would settle for not having another week like this past one. I didn't sleep almost at all Monday night, and thought I got up & made it to the gym for some strength work Tuesday morning, I felt absolutely terrible at work all day & knew what I really needed to do was go home & get a nap. For the most part I've defeated the "Ugh, I'm too tiiiiired to ruuuuun..." monster, but that is a totally different thing from legitimately worrying that you might fall asleep on the freeway.

On Wednesday I got my strength work and karate in, did strength work plus an easy five miles on Thursday, and another easy five on Friday afternoon. I actually would have liked to have gotten in a short run on Saturday, but since we spent the morning and and early afternoon at a wedding & late afternoon / evening at the Stanford-San Jose game (34-13 bitches!!), I just didn't have time (plus I'm trying to be disciplined about using Saturdays as rest days so that I'm fresh for my longer Sunday runs).

My dojo cleans up pretty good.

On Sunday I had plans to run eight miles, but about an hour after I got up my hip flexor started to hurt for the first time in over a month. I gave it a few hours of errands & housework & hoped it would settle down but it never did, so I opted not to tempt fate by trying to run on it. Thankfully, as of Monday it's feeling normal again; I have a feeling that six hours of standing / walking / going up & down stairs in heels plus another good bit of walking before & after the football game just wigged out the muscles a bit.

So 10 miles for the week it is. Which is fine really; things have been going pretty well, and a cut-back week every few weeks never hurt anyone. If I can get in 20 this week including an 8 miler on Sunday with no drama, I'll be right on track.


  1. I have never heard of dropping your bottles at water stops in a race. That is interesting.

  2. I think a marathon is always exciting, even in an era where ultras, etc. are a thing. Marathons are no joke!

    Yeah, the logistics of having personal bottles at aid stations would freak me out too much to use them. But if they can figure it all out, that sounds like a pretty sweet deal!

    1. THANK YOU!

      Yes, I think I definitely have to do more research into how exactly the bottle thing works.

  3. I participated in the 2013 NVM and had an amazing experience! It is the most expensive race I have run, but you do get a lot for your money. I think getting a hotel room is VERY smart..I drove out there the morning of the race from San Francisco and ran on 45 minutes of sleep. This has been my only full marathon so far, but I hope you enjoy your experience as much as I did!

    1. Yes, getting a hotel is a lesson I've learned the hard way! Always worth it. :)

  4. Woohoo! Exciting! Maybe Cathryn and I will drive up and spectate! (right, Cathryn??)

    1. YES DO! We can drink wine before! And after!

    2. Woo, party in the vineyard!!!

    3. I am all for this! Except we have to find another driver because I want to drink too!!

  5. There's no better place to make your fierce return! Sounds like a great race for a comeback :) I signed up for Healdsburg Half instantly because of your post. Running through wine country is a dream!

    Good call listening to your body this weekend. You'll hit those 8 miles next time.

  6. Really glad you chose Napa...6 months is a LONG time, I'm sure you'll be healthy, fit and fired up enough by then! And actually...if you'd BQd this year, you may well have not go in, it feels like everyone is running it if they can this year. Next year, you'd stand more chance!!

    And I am totally coming up with Jen to drink wine on the sidelines and wave banners for you! Jen can drive ;)

    1. Yay!!

      Heh, you're probably right, especially since I would've been in the very last round of people trying to register. Next year hopefully everyone will be over it. :)

  7. I've run Napa twice and definitely recommend it. The steep price is about the only bad thing I can think of in this race. Both years I ran it, it was lovely and cold at the start but hot the last 6 miles. There are rollers to keep you honest but I feel it is a fast course and since you train in GGP you won't have any problems. It is easy for spectators because they can drive on the road parallel to the course and jump across to see you easily.

    1. That's good to hear! I'm really curious to hear how the bottle dropping works. How easy is it to find your own among all the others? Are they organized in some way?