Grape Stomp Half Marathon Recap

I can’t believe I’m just writing this recap now, this race happened nearly a month ago! Whoops. You can also read about it on the Santa Cruz Endurance blog.

The weekend of October 20-21, I ran my 2nd of 3 half marathons of the fall (so much for taking it easier with my racing schedule!). My friends and fellow SCE runners, Elise and Leslie, joined me as we journeyed to Livermore for wine and running.

We headed out mid morning on Saturday and after a few detours (missing an exit due to distractions such as a car on fire and some confusing map directions), we finally made it to Livermore. None of us had been to the town before and we were all pleasantly surprised. The downtown is very cute and filled with tempting restaurants and bars. We had a hard time narrowing down our lunch choice the following day.

We checked into our hotel and headed out to the first of two wineries we visited. Concannon was a beautiful winery. It appeared to be a relatively new building with office space and shops as well. Our wine guy served several delicious wines. After I had instagramed a photo of our wine, a twitter/dailymile runner friend suggested we head to Fenestra. They had great wine but the woman serving was a little rude (we were also served by a very friendly man that made us enjoy our visit more). Both wineries had delicious but I was good and only bought one bottle. During our second wine tasting we met up with Leslie’s friend of a friend. It happened to be her birthday so we joined her from sushi, one of my favorite pre race meals (carbs: check, protein: check, delicious: check!). After dinner, we headed back to our hotel to rest up for the race the following morning.

The Grape Stomp half marathon, 10k, and 5k is held in a large park in the outlying area of Livermore. The half marathon course follows a bike trail through local neighborhoods then turned around, paralleled the start line and covered rolling hills through the vineyards. The 10k (which Leslie ran) was an out and back on the bike path. We arrived at the start with a little bit of time to spare but faced long bathroom lines. I was worried I would miss my start time. But a series of unforeseeable events pushed back the start time by about 30 minutes. I made some friends with a couple women at the start line and before  I knew it, we were off.

My game plan had been to take the first 3 miles easy: use them as a warm up and avoid starting too fast. Then I planned to run the final 10 miles at marathon pace (approximately 8 minute miles). Uh, yeah. I did not do that! I started out with 3 fast miles (7:30ish range). I finally slowed myself down at mile five (8:10) but never really stayed with my plan. I felt strong and wanted to race. I did try to pull back a few times, and if I hadn’t I would have PR’ed. At approximately mile 3 or so, I saw Leslie running her 10k, holding first place for women runners. It was great seeing her and knowing she was going to place well. I continued along my course easily passing runners as I neared the halfway mark, the second turn around, and even in the last few miles. I finished at 1:43:43, 40 seconds slower than my PR.

Leslie finished her 10k as first overall woman (no surprise there!). She won a nice wine glass and bottle of wine. I ended up coming in 16th overall woman and 10th in my age group. Elise, who was overcoming an injury, had volunteered and helped runners have a smooth race experience. It was a great race weekend and a nice checkpoint to see where I was in my CIM (California International Marathon) training.

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