A friend of mine donated this race bib to me a couple of months ago, and I was so excited to get to run a race again. The last race I signed up, I failed so miserably at training and preparing that I didn’t even show my face at the race start. I really love racing, and this race reconfirmed those feelings. Leading up to this day, my training was definitely not where it should have been, but I was still determined to have a great time, and to see how I could do with minimal training.
The morning of the race was so chilly in the hills of wine country at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, CA. So cold in fact that I actually started the race with my jacket on. Before I got to the start of the race though, I must tell you about one of my favorite parts of this race.
Before the race started, the pre-race festivities were so lively and exciting, that no matter how sleepy, cold, and/or nervous you were, you couldn’t help but get energized. DJ Gamma Ray really had the dance music cranked up to get the party started. Since I’m a people watcher, I really enjoyed seeing how everyone got pumped up about running, and their enthusiasm was contagious.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this race and location were the hot air balloons. Temecula is known for their wine country and one cannot visit the area on a weekend morning and not see hot air balloons taking to the sky as the sun rises. In fact, Temecula even has an annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival that is held over three days in the end of May. Hot air balloons look so cool from far away, but they weren’t far away this race morning. They were right over our heads at the start!
So the gun sounds and were off! Now let me tell you, this was definitely not one of my strongest race starts, and with good reason, and I quickly discovered that when I came across a sign that said 2 miles.
Seriously?!? Only 2 miles? I felt like I had already had at least a third of this race down! I was already getting hot with my jacket on, and I knew that at this point I had to get serious. This race was not going to be a walk in the park as I may have imagined. So I pulled over to the side to take off my jacket and get situated. Anytime I have to stop during a race, it just frustrates me. I don’t like watching people get in front of me, making me realize that I have to work that much harder to find my spot in the crowd. I get myself back to the pace that felt most comfortable, and then I see it. The first hill.
Three days before the race I was sitting in my organic chemistry lab, checking my emails while waiting for the professor to make her appearance. I came across the final instructions for race day, and in that message were the words, “This is a very hilly course.” Well, that’s great. If I didn’t train too much for this, I definitely didn’t train on hills.
Here I was running towards the first of many hills. I had to somehow keep myself moving forward. I dug into the back of my mind to a little piece of information I would use when training, especially on hills. Keep your arms moving. The rest of your body will follow. I didn’t realize it the time but I would be using that bit throughout the race of the race.
Part of the race was an out and back, which I don’t particularly like. I like to see new things when I’m running. Sometimes though an out and back can be good if you’ve studied the details of the course. You would then know, how many miles out until the turnaround, allowing yourself the ability to save your legs for the remaining number of miles until the end of the race. Since I didn’t study the course (as previously mentioned), this detail only lingered in my mind that I wasn’t even halfway through. And all I can see are hills! After reaching the turnaround, I developed a different mind frame. I was now running to be done, with mixed emotions. I loved that I was running and racing, and the scenery was so nice, and the hills kept my mind engaged, and allowed me to make up time while flying down the backside. I was also so tired of running in pain. The steps were hurting me, and I even got to a point where it became more painful to walk than it was to run. That alone kept me running.
At mile 11 I came across a tarantula walking across the path. It’s not everyday you see a tarantula. I wished that I could have stopped to take a picture, but knew I’d mess up my stride.
Coming up to the finish is always exciting. The cheers and signs of support from people whom I don’t even know always get me going a little faster. I always appreciate those who show support for us runners. I would say I had a pretty successful day. I really enjoyed the course (hills and all) and thought the turnout was great. The day turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, and I got to go home with another medal.