Wow, what a weekend!
I signed up for the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon a while ago. It is part of a series put on by Destination Races and they have races in Santa Barbara, Napa to Sonoma, Virginia Wine Country, Oregon Wine Country, Kelowna Wine Country, Healdsburg Wine Country and Temecula Wine Country.
I think it’s pretty darn smart to have races in destinations where copious amounts of wine can be consumed before and after a half marathon. I am a fan of wine drinking and running, so this race really appealed to me!
I’m going to preface this race review with the fact that I was/am still recovering from a wonky ankle and somehow hurt my shoulder by simply picking up my bag on Thursday. Who does that?!
We decided to drive down to Solvang on Friday to pick up our bibs and t-shirts. We got there around 4pm after making some road trip pit stops for lunch and then a quick toe in the ocean at Pismo Beach.
Once we got to Solvang, we headed to the expo at Hotel Corque. The expo was small, nothing too exciting to see there. We debated on buying a wine glass that we would be able to use for tasting right after the race, but came to the conclusion that we probably wouldn’t be able to drink wine RIGHT after running 13.1 miles. A good call, since I may have gotten sick at that point…lol. Though A LOT of people were doing it, so it may have just been me that couldn’t do it…
After we picked up everything and said hello to the announcer Whit, who we know from the Xterra race world, we walked a bit around Solvang and then decided to go check into our hotel.
We stayed at the Marriott in Buellton. I picked that hotel since they had a complimentary shuttle to the start and a shuttle from the finish back to the hotel.
After checking in we grabbed dinner at the Actors Corner Cafe in Solvang. SOOO YUMMY! We highly recommend if you’re in town.
Once we were done, it was time to set up for the morning and hit the hay.
4:45am, we were up! We caught the shuttle at 5:30am and got to the race start at around 6:00am. We had an hour to use the potty’s, there were a good amount, get warmed up and head to the start line.
Fun fact: out of the 3,000+ people there, 71% were women! So amazing, right?!
So, the start was delayed by about 5 minutes for a last minute bus load, I think, and at 7:05am, we were off.
The first 5 miles or so were rolling hills. I saw a turkey right around mile 1.5 or 2-ish. So many beautiful hills, flowers and horses along the course.
Even at the start, I wasn’t feeling fantastic, but I tried to shake it off. I got through the first 5-6 miles okay. They actually had a wine stop right at mile 5.9-ish. If it was at mile 13 I so would have drank it. BUT, as 6 miles, I wasn’t even halfway done and you just never know what gastric catastrophe can happen even without wine, so I decided not to risk it.
At mile 6 we began corkscrew hill. Oh my. It was an uphill switchback, that just continued up…and up…and up. I did a walk/run and made it up to the top (which had beautiful views) and then came the downhill. Weeeeeeeeee…
After that, it was back to the rolling hills and my legs were feeling it. I did a walk run, point to point, pretty much to the end. I was not feeling good and at mile 12, I hit the wall.
I wanted to stop, I started tearing up, ready to start crying, but I kept it in and pushed forward. It was hard. I don’t know what the heck happened, but the emotions were getting difficult to hold back.
Finally, I got to mile 13 and I saw Rob. He started cheering for me and I just looked at him and shook my head. The course had gotten to me. He started yelling, “You’re almost there! Finish Strong!” So, I shook it off and got to the finish.
Once passed the finish line, I got an awesome medal. Got a little bag of snacks and found Rob again. Neither of us PR’d, but we both finished, which, in the end is all that matters.
I really enjoyed the course, even though it hurt and I didn’t do the best ever, but I’m always excited when I finish.
I would recommend this race and I kind of want to do it again to conquer corkscrew hill! And maybe take that wine shot at mile 6…
QOTD: Would you drink wine in the middle of a half marathon??