After two hours in traffic, we were finally parked around 8:15. We found the start line and immediately hopped in the potty line. They had roughly 20-25 porta johns's for races (there was a half marathon and a 5k) with a combined total of nearly 4,000 female runners. Fortunately there were woods nearby, and ladies made very liberal use of them. Of course, while we stood in line a guy in blue jean came out of one of the porta john's in front of us. Seriously!? It was all I could do from saying something. Everyone's nerves were frayed enough as it is.
As we stood in the bathroom line, we continued to listen to the announcer estimate when the half might actually start. First he said 8:30, then about 8:50. Finally, at 9am, we were off. Yes, a 90 minute delay, and nearly 3 hours since I had eaten breakfast. Not a great combination.
Now, I admittedly knew nothing about this course. The description online simply said “The route starts and finishes downhill and is softly rolling in between with only 2 areas of uphill running where you will gain less than 90 feet over 2 miles in each of these two sections.” I looked at the elevation chart online and it seemed pretty manageable. Admittedly, hills generally don't scare me off. A friend warned she had heard that there were large sections of gravel roads. Surely the race organizer would have mentioned this, right?
The first clue something was amiss - the start was actually uphill, now downhill. It was rolling hills on a narrow dirt and gravel road. Even being the back of the pack didn't spare us from the crowd. It didn't even begin to thin out until we were past mile 1. About mile 2.5, I looked ahead and saw one of the largest and longest hills I've ever run before. It was full of a sea of pink going up it. I muttered "Oh, shit." under my breath. Betsy heard and wanted to know what was the matter. Not wanting to freak her out, I just said "Oh, nothing. Nevermind."
It was clear when we got to that hill that our run/walk intervals were out the window. It was time to stick to walking up the uphills and running the downhills. The good news is that we did actually get to run down this hill as well, and make up some time. That was just the start though, because then the gravel came.
The roads were not heavy gravel, more like dirt with some loose rocks. They were uneven though. It was hard to find a flat surface, and the angle was immediately making my plantar fasciitis unhappy. I did my best I could to run down the middle of the road where it was least rutted. Fortunately, the field had spread out significantly by this point, so we had plenty of room to move around. I hated weaving like that though, knowing we were just adding to our overall mileage.
We kept to our intervals as best we could, and when that didn't work went back to the walk the uphills/run the downhills plan. Finally, by around mile 8, everything from the morning hit us. Walking the rest of the way was the name of the game.
The scenery in some places was gorgeous. I definitely would like to spend some more time exploring the area and the wineries. However, we spent about a mile and a half (roughly 10-11.5) in a large subdivision. While many of the neighbors were out cheering, and really encouraging, this made already hard miles extremely BORING. My cousin found a bonus to this situation though, hoping into the model home to use the bathroom. Smart woman. Betsy and I were both mentally and physically done.
Finally we were out of there and back on the road leading to the winery - the one we had sat in the car on for so long. The plus side was that we knew the mile 12 marker was fast approaching. Soon we were turning into the winery, and back onto gravel roads. We soon discovered that the finish (on a different part of the winery grounds than the start) was of course uphill as well. At mile 13 we were given a boa and tiara to wear as we crossed the finish line.
We crossed, and it was over. Waiting for us were sparkling cider, green bananas, stale bagel halves, and chocolate chip cookies (which I couldn't eat). Keep in mind that we hadn't eaten since about 6am and it was now pushing 12:30. There was also no fuel options of any kind on the course.
Betsy and I met up with the rest of our group, chatted for a bit, and then it was time to venture back to the hotel. We were already over an hour past checkout time.
We hoped in the car and began our next adventure.
To be continued....
Miss Part 1? Find it here.