Monday, August 18, 2014

Red, Red Wine: Running Through the Vines Race Recap

Let me start off by saying while I was not as trained as I should have been for this race I don't think I would have done well in this even if I had been REALLY well trained.

There were a couple of tiny decisions I made or did that affected the race and looking back I really, really regret them.

Just to give you an idea of the state of my mind and body on race morning...
1. Hubs and I spent Friday evening cleaning and disinfecting the basement. I made about three million trips up and down the stairs. My legs hurt when I went to bed.
2. I went to bed at 11:30PM. My alarm was set for 4:30AM. I got up at 1:45AM with a teething toddler and stayed up until after 2:00AM.
3. I wore underwear. This is an over share, but this one came back to bite me in the rear.

Registration/Packet Pick-up/Pre-race
This race was a little over an hour away from where I live. Packet pick-up began at 6:15AM. I met my friend and running buddy at a Tim Horton's at 5:00AM, got a coffee and a bagel, and we hit the road. We arrived at the race location around 6:20AM. Parking was super close and very well directed. We hung out in the car for a bit, then grabbed out packets and headed back to the car. It wasn't cold, just that morning coolness. In fact, the weather was one of the best parts of the race!

I wore a Sparkle Skirt and a short-sleeve tech shirt. Now normally I don't wear underwear when I wear my Sparkle Skirt. For some reason I did on race day and because of that the way my shorts fit was slightly different than normal. So I chafed. I chafed BAD. Luckily I didn't really notice it until after the race.

There were about twenty porta-johns at the starting line. We both took advantage of the porta-johns then hung out in the car for a bit. We were meeting up with one more person, a runner friend of my friend's. This particular friend, N., wasn't severely under trained, had never run further than four or five miles. She was originally signed up for a 5K but my friend S. had a friend who was sick and couldn't use her bib so N. decided "what the heck" and decided to run the half with us.

I do not recommend this to anyone, ever. I didn't find out about this until that morning because had I known I would have been all HELL NO. It was a bad idea but I was dealing with grown adults and as grown adults they were allowed to make their own stupid decisions.

The race was sold out, they must have allowed 600 participants, so it was a smaller crowd. We just sorta lined up behind the starting area, there were no corrals or recommended times posted anywhere. We stuck to the back and waited to start.

And then we were off!

The Race

Now, I live in a relatively flat area of the state. My training runs involve a teeny, tiny bit of elevation gain, but nothing you would call hills.

This race was hilly. My god, the hills. I wasn't prepared for them in any way shape or form. Unless you count running stairs. But, even with the hills we would have been in much better shape if it weren't for N.

I am not knocking her here, folks. You all know I am not the speediest person by any means. I run my race and try not to compare myself to the people lapping me. But N. was struggling after the first mile, struggling hard. And I knew she was going to have problems. There was a three hour and thirty minute time limit for the course. So we had to keep a pace of at least 15:30 min/mile, just to give us a bit of a grace period. We were running a 2:1 run/walk interval.

Here's my splits:
Mile 1 was good. We did a 14:00 minute mile and S. and I felt great. N. did not. There was a bit of a hill in that mile, nothing too crazy, but enough that it worked us and that knocked her out. I honestly believe that hill kinda screwed her for the rest of her race.

Mile 2 was 15:50, slower than we needed to be. And 15:24 for Mile 3. Between Mile 3 and Mile 4 was ONE porta-john. ONE SINGLE PORTA-JOHN. We waited in line forever to go to the bathroom and I forgot to pause my Garmin. And then after finally getting to go we started running and not a half mile later N. fell and rolled her ankle poor thing. It sucked. It sucked for her. Mile 4 was 22:57 and included the pit stop and rolled ankle. N. thought she was good enough to run so we started out again much slower. Mile 5 was 16:54. At this point, we were passed by two women from the race committee who warned us we had to be off the course by 11:00AM. They weren't very nice about it which I found off putting.

I started to do the math.

We were on track to get swept. N. was hurting, not running much. We had switched to a 1:1 run/walk interval but even then she had a hard time running on the run parts. In my head with my tired brain I figured we need to run at least 14 min/mile in order to finish before we got swept. And we weren't even close to that. S. let N. know. Because she was hurting and because she knew she couldn't go that fast N. threw in the towel. I give her credit for going another mile with her bad ankle. She shouldn't have, don't get me wrong, she should have just stopped then but I think she was embarrassed and didn't want to quit.

S. and I headed out on our own and directed some volunteers back to N. who was still walking.

The course was on a dirt road mostly, some parts open to cars, some not. Because it was a dirt road and somewhat isolated by this point there was NO ONE on the road except for us. No one. It was a bit of an out and back so we saw the same volunteers at Mile 8. But for the most part we were alone. At least we had each other. It was disheartening and a bit sucky but we made the best of it. S. and I upped the run/walk intervals back to 2:1 and set out on a really good pace.

Mile 6, Mile 7, and Mile 8 were all right around 13:30 miles. The pace felt good and we weren't suffering. Then the hills got worse. Mile 9 and Mile 10 were right around 14 min/mile. Again, not bad.
Pictures don't do the hills justice
When we had stopped for the porta-john and N.'s ankle at Mile 4 everyone passed us, EVERYONE. And because of our pace for a bit we never caught up with them. We didn't see another person after the aid station at Mile 10. No one else. At one point two paramedics went by us on a Gator, then came back. I think they were checking on the four of us everyone left on the course.

The last three miles were rough. We stopped following any intervals and just walked up hills and ran down them when we had the chance. Mostly we walked. The last 3/4's of a mile were all uphill. I was doing a lot of whining, I know and I am thankful S. didn't smack me across the face.
Almost there. Just ONE MORE EFFIN' HILL!
But, we finished. And we finished BEFORE the cut-off.

Official finish time: 3:23:52
Overall place: 592/594

The Finish

There was a photographer at the finish, there were volunteers with water and pretzels and there were still medals left so it was a pretty good finish. S. and I finished together. There were some people around, but the finish was weird, right before the vineyard. Her husband was there with her kids and the closest he could get to the finish was on the other side of the vineyard which kinda sucked. Not a very spectator friendly race. In fact, there were NO SPECTATORS allowed on the course at all.

The swag was nice. Ended up with a wine glass, a tech shirt (in white meh) and a medal that looks like a bottle stopper. It's nice.

Afterwards, we had three tickets on our bibs that could be used to get three separate wine tastings. I wasn't feeling any wine at all so I gave my tickets to my friend's husband. There was supposedly food set up somewhere, but again, I just ate the pretzels I was given at the finish line.

Overall Grade: B

I didn't love this race. There was an elevation and course chart on the website, but I don't know anything about elevation so I didn't think constant hills. I don't like hills. I did a ten mile race years ago, The Crim, and I have no desire to ever do it again. Hills are not fun.

There was no crowd support which can be boring. If I didn't have S. with me I would've probably panicked a few times because like I said, we were ALL BY OURSELVES for miles at a time.

And to have ONE porta-john on the course was ridiculous. There were 594 racers out there. I can't imagine what the line was like when the bigger crowds rolled through!

Unlike previous races, I have no desire to redeem myself. I'm glad I did this. I'll do the 5K in the fall and get my Thirsty Three race series medal hanger. And then I won't ever think about running this one again. Whew.

Next up, Detroit Women's Half Marathon in September. I ran this last year so I KNOW the course is flat. Thank goodness!


  1. Oh man what a weird day! But.. you freaking finished! I'm so proud of you! I'd be steamed about the porta potty (or lack thereof) also!

    1. Right? I did finish yay! And yeah, the porta potty situation is going to be mentioned when I email the directors.

  2. Oh my goodness...sounds like a racing nightmare. Your writing made me feel like I was there and I couldn't definitely feel your frustration. I am impressed that you finished :) Here's hoping the Detroit Half is much kinder to you!

    1. Thanks! It sucked but everyone has to have a crappy race at some point, right?

    2. Just saw your Motivational Monday on Runs for Cookies :) Fun!

  3. Bummer about N. I'm really careful who I race with for this reason. It sucks to race with *that* person and it sucks to *be* that person. Way to finish strong though!

    1. After this I will absolutely be careful who I race with for the same reasons as you. Live and learn, right?

  4. Dude! Tough race. But you have the medal and I don't, so pat yourself on the back, girlfriend. ;) And you finished strong when a lot of others might have given up. You rock!

    See you in October!!

  5. It is always awkward racing with others. My hubby and I already talked about whether we will stay together or not when we do a race, and we said "never" so that we can each play to our strengths. On some days I bet he would be faster and others I might be when it comes to 5Ks because we are sort of similar, but this way we don't have to worry about it. GREAT job though!

    1. It was definitely a learning experience for me. I'll stick with my tried and true racing buddies!

  6. I was just going to say, "Hey, Stephanie was hoping to do that race!" and then I saw that she commented here :) It sounds SO tough, and I can't believe they don't allow spectators! The spectators are my favorite part of a race, otherwise I might as well just run the course for free on my own ;) Great job getting through it!