Sunday morning, I ran the Napa Valley Marathon (NVM) in you guessed it Napa Valley. The race is known as the “Biggest Little Marathon in the West” since it only accepts 2,400 entrants though it is very well organized.
From the start, the race feels different. Unlike some other races, bib pickup is very convenient extending late till 8PM on Saturday night and available for free on Sunday morning for those that want. As a sweat bag, runners have a choice of a duffel bag or a backpack. And then, there is no additional fee for the bus service from the finish line to the start line. Of course, you could think that I ended up paying for all of those anyway, and you might be right. I just don’t like feeling nickeled and dimed for something that you have to get anyway.
Right, back to the race. As you may know, it was raining non stop since Saturday morning and it did not end before after 10AM on Sunday. Most of the race was done under some form of rain and I ended up running drenched the whole 26 miles. The course is nice, scenic with great views of the many vineyards along the Silverado trail. It is more hilly than I thought it would be.
I had a good first half marathon, running on pace around 7:25/mile and except for the fact that I was soaked from head to toe, I was feeling good. I was drinking well and eating my gels as planned. The next few miles went OK and the rain even seemed to stop.
And then, at some point, the landscape opened more than usual and I hit a somewhat strong face wind that was definitely punishing. So much so that when I passed another runner, he jumped in my stride and enjoyed the protection for a while. I did not think much of that at first. I mean, he was running a bit close to me for my taste, but that was it. But then, I started noticing a squishy sound every other step. Squish… OK, the guy must have walked into a puddle or his shoe had a hole… no big deal. Squish… Hum, that is a bit annoying. Squish… Don’t you think. Squish… Exactly, I accelerated a bit to leave Squishy behind and luckily, he was either too tired or too smart to keep my pace.
Almost 20 miles. Still going though I had been gradually slowing down to around 7:35/mile and knew my goal time was out of reach.
And then, it hit me right around mile 20. The dreaded wall. Right in the face. If I had been on better pace, I think I would have found the strength to overtake it. But I was not and I slowed down a lot. By mile 24, I was feeling pretty wasted and the little good form I usually have was all gone (as you can see on the pictures above). I walked/ran the last 2 miles at 10min/mile.
Overall, I still finished with an OK time, 3:28:51, and I enjoyed most of the race but no BQ for me yet.
Back to the basics: Need more speed… and now, more endurance :).