Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Off the vine: A taste of ZOOMA Napa Valley {a race recap}

On Friday, June 27, I traveled to Northern California to participate in the inaugural ZOOMA Napa Valley half marathon, which was Saturday. This post is one of several about the trip. 

Gratitude. I could not begin to write this post without thanking the generous and kind ladies at ZOOMA. As you may know, I won the raceation giveaway from Run With Jess, which entitled me to airfare, two nights at the host hotel and a race entry. It was incredibly generous of ZOOMA to offer the prize, and I do not take for granted that I want it. Beyond that, they made sure that I felt welcome and had a good time. I feel incredibly blessed - a word that doesn't appear frequently in my vernacular.

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Source: ZOOMA

Course. I'll admit that I was a bit dubious upon reading the course information about the race.
The course starts and finishes near the Napa Valley Marriott at the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church and runs on (mostly) flat roads along the Napa Valley. You’ll run past vineyards and see awe-inspiring views of the mountains to your left and right as you run in nearly perfect race conditions. 
So we'll be at a church and vineyards, and I'm not going to run hills. Hmm. Interesting.

But it was the truth. Nearly immediately, we were treated to views of the mountains with vineyards flanking either side of the road. It was stunning, and I really tried to take in as much of the scenery as I could.

The course did feel flat, too, despite the elevation chart. I can't remember a point where I felt like I was climbing or struggling to reach a summit. In fact, my only gripe was that part of the road near the end was chewed up and my legs paid dearly for it in the past few miles.

A note, too: My Garmin measured 13.15 for the half, the closest I've ever been to the official distance in a race. For that alone, I think ZOOMA deserves mad props.

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Execution. My goal for this race was to show myself that I am in shape, capable of a good race and to run sub-2. I was going to start out slower than I did in Athens by sticking with the 2:00 pacer in the beginning and gradually picking up the pace.

And, let me tell you, I worked it. WORKED IT. I held back when I wanted to go. I kept an eye on my watch and made sure I was doing what I had planned. The miles ticked off.

Until they didn't.

I was good. I was on point until mile 9, or even mile 10. 9:03, 8:50, 9:00, 8:52, 8:52, 8:53, 8:50, 9:09, 9:56, 9:09. And then I lost it. Big time - 10:16, 10:47, 9:59. I just couldn't dig. I don't know whether it was the heat, a dry but sunny 70; my fueling; physical ability; a mental glitch. It's frustrating because I feel like I'm doing the work to be a consistent sub-2 racer and I'm not.

Post race. Those ZOOMA folks are clever gals, I tell you. They encouraged everyone to park at the host hotel, Marriott, and take the shuttle to the start ... which means they had to take the shuttle back to the hotel, where the after party was.

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There was wine(!), food and Muscle Milk set up around the deck of the pool on the Marriott's fabulous patio. Massages and yoga were available, and vendors were set up. I had a glass or two of wine and made sure to stop at the Another Mother Runner booth.

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My favorite sweat shirt was for sale (I have the 26.2 version), along with lots of other goodies. I ended up with the "I am stronger than I thought" tee as I am not letting myself get the 13.1 sweat shirt until I can get my feet out of my butt and PR the distance. Bitterness aside, it was totes awesome to talk to Sarah as she was kind, gracious and personable.

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ReNUUNion. One of the highlights of this race was getting to meet up with two of the ladies with whom I ran Hood to Coast - Karen and Kara. (I guess only teammates with names beginning with "K" could come!) I had a lot of time with Karen on the trip last year but didn't get to hang out with Kara as much as I should have. And I tried to make up for it.

Note: The perk of staying at the hotel mean I could change before hitting the post-race festivities! No worries, though. I didn't shower, as to not rub it in.


  1. What a fun experience!! I would love an expense paid runcation. Always up for anytype of runcation. Napa valley would be beautiful

  2. I am so glad you had a great experience regardless of not getting that sub 2 half. You will get there!

  3. I am so happy you got to do this, and even more, that it was all expenses paid!!!!

    I hope you figure out why you crapped out at the end so you can get that PR in the fall! :)

  4. So much fun! Glad you enjoyed! I think 70 degrees (even dry) is far too warm. I'd be crapping out too.

  5. Awesome!! Sounds like a great race. Maybe you should start even slower?? So you can really kill it at the end?!! What a fun thing to win!!!
    I really wanted to go and race. It just wasn't in the cards. I could have been a non-K teammate!! :)

  6. Great race report! Love that you won that prize.

  7. I loved reading this! First of all, I think ZOOMA rocks! I got to be an ambassador for their Amelia Island race in January and fell in love with them. Not only are there great women running the company, but they think of small details that are important. My experience at Amelia Island was wonderful (as was the course) and I am absolutely dying to run this one. Also, the AI course was 13.11 on my watch, so wonderful!!! I'm also jealous you got to see Kara and Karen. So, so fun. I'm glad you enjoyed the weekend! xo