Monday, June 3, 2013

Race Report: Wine Country Half Marathon

It's funny how a half-marathon feels like a vacation.

Or maybe just the weekend itself was? A few months back, the hubby invited me to join him and Team Zephaniah Winery for the Wine Country Half near Leesburg, VA and I happily obliged. After all the longer races I've been doing, I welcomed the opportunity for something a bit shorter and faster and to get back on the roads! Not to mention it was a great reunion with all of our Winchester running friends! We also invited my mom and dad to come up for the race, even better.

Morning sunrise over wheat fields as we approached the race... looks flat enough, right??

While I had definite plans to run my best race, the biggest goal of the weekend was to represent team Zephaniah and have some fun! I knew with the forecasted warmer temps and hilly terrain late in the race that it would be a tough day and it was. I cruised through the first half until the heat, humidity and hills (and probably early pacing) caught up with me. There's no doubt the back half of the course was much harder than expected, and I was especially taken by surprise by the gravel road from miles 5-9. I was able to pushed through the conditions until mile 9 where I suddenly felt like I was standing still. I didn't have the mental focus or drive to push through the last few miles, or maybe the heat fatigue was a little more than I could handle. Either way, I think the heat took its toll on most everyone as I was still passing folks up until the end, despite my own slowing pace. I finished to earn a new PR, finally breaking into the 1:30's for a half marathon! My last half "PR" was during the Rock n' Roll USA Marathon in Washington D.C. in March 2012, where I split a 1:42 for the first half, and before that was waaaaay back in 2004.

Immediately after finishing I was brought to the medical tent because I was dizzy and sat down. The team was quick to swoop me up, pull me in the shade and give me an ice pack. I'm very thankful for their help, even the fact that they held me hostage until my husband was available to escort me away. We then waited for my dad to finish, reunited with the team and set out to enjoy the post race festivities.

Post-race we received cute little goodie bags with food but more so I enjoyed unlimited Naked juice samples. Yum! There was also a wine tasting party, which seems like a wonderful idea except that wine after a hot race did NOT sound appealing to me at all. And alcohol for someone who is likely dehydrated and was just in the medical tent less than an hour earlier... hmmm, maybe not a great idea? Yet somehow Jordan and I found ourself in the VIP area chatting with a few friends (because he knows just about everyone) and I was handed a glass for free at which point I was not about to say no! I took a sip for good measure and handed it off to my mom, who is much more of a wine connoisseur and was kind enough to drive 4 hours and then wake up early up to see us all run :D

After a quick cool-down, stretching and general relaxation in the sun,  the awards ceremony started and we cleaned up well! The hubby and my dad won their respective age groups while I took 2nd for females 25-29. Team Zephaniah also won the winery team competition (2nd year in a row) with an average time of 1:28 (top 5 runners scored). I was our 5th runner to score so I'm glad I could contribute to the win!

25-29 y.o. age group winners
My dad (right)... I won't give away his age ;)
We were 20 athletes strong!
They gave away bottles of wine from various vineyards
across Loudon county as awards
Wine & my new Brooks Pure Flow shoes!
Post-race I enjoyed the afternoon with my family, chipotle for lunch and some shopping at the  Leesburg outlets until my legs rebelled and decided I needed to stop moving like NOW. We returned to the Zephaniah Farm Vineyard and were treated to a tasting of their wines followed by a potluck cookout with the team. This was without a doubt my favorite part of the weekend! The race was over and we could relax, catch up with friends and eat some delicious food! It was neat to learn more about this family owned and operated vineyard, which is built upon a strong foundation of integrity and tradition. It was a wonderful evening and I felt quite spoiled! So a big shout out and thank you to the Hatch family!!
Blurry family pic

Celebrating a new PR and team victory!
Sunday morning (after a rare full 8 hours of wonderful sleep) we woke and took a morning stroll touring the property before heading out. We weren't moving fast but it was nice to loosen up the legs a bit before sitting through another 4 hr drive. I'm glad we did too, the property was beautiful.

At last, it was time to head home but not without a quick pit stop. On our way we opted to make an impromptu stop in at the finish of the Old Dominion 100 (only a mile off the interstate near Woodstock). I mean, why not? We made it in time for the awards ceremony (it started Saturday morning) and to cheered this man across the finish line for an unofficial (past the cut-off) finish time of 29 hrs and 45 minutes. While the drop rate for this particular race/day was 45%, he roughed out the tough conditions to finish regardless and deserves MAJOR kuddos!

Maybe one day?! ;-P

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your PR, 2nd place finish, and your team win (and to your hubby and dad, too)! You guys had a great day! I thoroughly enjoyed the race, despite the heat and trip to the medical tent...


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