So I’m back again, this time with another race recap!
I think I had forgotten how many awesome races there are to do in the spring in New England and it becomes really easy to sign up for a different race every weekend! Case in point – I ran Harpoon on May 20th, the Run to Remember Half the week after, and this past Sunday, I ran a Wine Run in North Dartmouth, Mass!
I ran the Run to Remember super easy, just treating it as a supported long run. The Wine Run was supposed to be another casual fun run. I had signed up to do it with a friend months ago, in the dead of winter. It sounded like a blast – a 3 mile run through a vineyard, followed by a wine tasting, buffet dinner, and live music. Not a bad deal for the price of the race registration!
In the week or so leading up to the race, they sent out a participant information guide, and I noticed that all age group winners received a free bottle of wine! Well, the wheels in my head started turning, and my plan to take this easy evolved into “let’s see if you can win your age group!”. Haha, whoops.
The race was a little over an hour outside Boston at the Running Brook Vineyard. My friend and I arrived with about 30 minutes to spare to pick up our bibs and warm up. However, the check-in process was taking FOREVER and I started to get a little anxious. It eventually became clear that the race was not going to start on time because there were still plenty of people behind us in line who also still needed to get their bibs. After a good 40 minutes of waiting in line (not exaggerating), we finally got our bibs and were able to get settled and ready for the run.
I knew the course was going to be interesting. It was more of a trail run, looping through the grassy field and then zig-zagging through the aisles of the vineyard. Ideally, I wanted to run fast enough to place in my age group, but slow enough so that I wouldn’t trip and break an ankle. It was a pretty small race, probably around 400 people and I felt like winning my age group would be doable.
The “map” of the course –
Right before the start, the race director warned us to be careful of our footing and remarked that the course was a little short – around 2.7 miles instead of the advertised 3 miles. ‘No problem‘, I thought to myself, I was ok with running a little short. Then, with the blasting of the air horn, we were off!
I started towards the front of the pack, with two other fast looking ladies in front with me. Within the first quarter mile, the group settled into single file as that was about as wide as the track allowed. My early thought was to settle in behind the other women and then push later in the race. I didn’t stick with that plan long.
By about half a mile in, I was essentially on top of the first woman and felt like I had the energy to pass her. So with some trepidation, I passed on a slightly wider part of the trail, moving into the spot of first woman and third overall. At this point, my thought process was a little something like, “Oh shit. You better commit to this pace now. Don’t get passed!” Not exactly positive self-talk, but oh well – that’s still a work in progress.
At this point in the course, we started the weaving through the vines. I had to really focus on my footing and making the sharp turns at the end of the aisles. They had arrows directing the course, but there were a few spots that were a little confusing with me and the second place guy almost going down the wrong way.
I hit mile 1 in 7:20. I was a little surprised to see I was able to manage that time on this terrain, so I celebrated it as a small victory and kept pushing. Finally, after no less than 8 hairpin turns, we were done with running through the first vineyard and had a brief straightaway to recover on. I tried to soak it in and took a moment to assess where the nearest women were. The first woman I had passed was a ways back, but a different girl seemed fairly close, about one length of the vineyard aisle back. I would have to hold it together if I wanted to win the race outright, which by this point was the new goal.
I hit mile 2 in 7:20. Hot dang, only another .7 to go! Or so I thought. We entered the second vineyard and started running through the aisles with the sharp turns again. Ugh. I was so ready to be done with all the zig-zagging. In this stretch, I was clearly able to see where the second place woman was and the fourth place guy behind me. While this should have been a positive, I felt like it just heightened my anxiety about getting passed in the late stages of the race to know exactly where they were.
I was working pretty hard by this point – harder than I had really wanted to run, but I HAD to hold onto first. My watch hit mile 3 in 7:35. Wait, what? We were still running down the aisles of the vineyard, not near the finish yet and it was clear the course was NOT 2.7 miles, but actually over 3!
I had a moment of grumpiness, but it was relieved by finally finishing with the loops through the second vineyard. All that was left was a stretch of straightaway through a grassy field, onto a dirt road and into the finish. Without all the hairpin turns, I was able to pick up the pace again, running 7:06 pace for the last .37 of a mile, nearly catching the second place guy. As I came around the final turn up to the finish, I was surprised to see the race organizers pull out a finish tape – which I got to break!! It was such an exciting moment for me, never having won a race before!
(There were race photographers there so I am hopeful that a good picture was taken but as of this writing, no race photos have been published yet. I’ll update this post to include some if they ever go up!)
The first and second place guys congratulated me, and we all stood around catching our breath and chugging some water. Not too long later, my friend finished and we celebrated by grabbing our wine glasses and bee-lining it to the sampling.
Overall, this race was a ton of fun and I’m not just saying that because I did well! Even with the troubles with bib pick-up, the run and post-race party more than made up for it. And I am SO excited to now be able to say that I have WON a race! Now please excuse me – I’m going to go have a glass of my wine. 🙂