Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Did you say running AND wine?! Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received entry to Virginia Wine Country Half as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Doukenie Winery
I didn't really realize the full extent of what I got myself into until maybe a couple weeks before all this went down.  First of all, I had originally thought I was going to be doing about 21-22miles in the United Relay and for some reason I didn't really realize that the Wine Half was that same week (I'm not very attentive to details, oops).  So when Bibrave was really needing people to do the wine half, I said sure since I knew I was one of the closer pros to the location.  Plus, when I checked out the website I realized there was a wine party after the race, so umm yeah who doesn't want to drink wine at 10am?!
Beautiful even on an overcast day

If you read my last post about the United Relay, then you know I actually ended up running 37 miles and I did not finish running until after 3:30 in the morning Friday.  By the time I got home and showered, it was close to 4:30-5am when I finally got into bed.  Luckily for me, my sister wanted to go to Virginia with me so she was my uber for the ride down.  Originally, she was going to run the half with me but then she was having some running issues so she decided not to spend the money on a race she wasn't really ready for.  She had never actually registered so it was no big deal and I was able to easily sign her up for the wine tasting party since as a runner I could have up to 3 guests.
race center at the winery
We did not set off for Virginia until after 8:30pm Friday because Cindy had to coach swim practice.  I actually didn't get too much rest Friday even though I was off from work.  I had eaten a bit after I finished running but obviously at that time it was not a full meal.  I woke up around 8-9am starving.  Then I went to Niko's school for his end of the year pizza party followed by grocery shopping.  I did sleep probably the last hour of the ride down.  We got to the hotel around 11:30 so I was in bed shortly before midnight with a wake up time of 5am.  I knew it would be rough!

the walk from parking to race area
We arrived at the Doukenie Winery around 6:30 and the race was starting at 7.  It was a bit of a walk to the race start area but it was good to stretch my legs.  I picked up my bib super quickly and easily.  But I really needed to use the potty before the race was going to start.  There was a LONG line, I was thinking ugh I don't think I will ever make it in time.  Luckily a volunteer came rushing over shouting "There's 36 more potty's in the back behind the start line!!"  I raced back there and there they were!  I was able to get in one immediately, no line!  I was in the corral and ready to go by 6:55, perfect.

The race started a few minutes late, no big deal.  The beginning was a little crowded as we all had to fit down the driveway of the winery to the road but it opened up very quickly.  It was overcast and didn't feel hot but I noticed immediately I was sweating profusely.  The humidity was sky high.  I was soaked in minutes and I noticed everyone else was too.  I didn't have any goals for this race other than to just get it done.  Cindy said "I bet you can finish under 2 hours"  So that became my focus for the race.  Even though this was just ultra training, running lots of miles in a short period, it's always helpful to have something to focus on.
Start line
The race was pretty uneventful for me other than being dripping wet with sweat.  The course was pretty.  We passed farms and wineries.  It was definitely much hillier than I thought it would be, not that I had really looked into the course much before the race.  After the first 4 or so miles, there were some good climbs and lots of rolling hills.  Also of note, there is 3-4 miles of gravel roads starting around mile 5.  It did not bother me in the least but I know for some road runners, they were not happy about it.  I enjoyed the course alot but I do think it's definitely not one you would seek out to try to get a PR.  Between the hills and the gravel, it would definitely be tough course to run your fastest time.

Time went by pretty quickly for me and before I knew it, I was coming back down the winery driveway to the finish.  I saw Cindy waiting there for me and I came in at 1:57.  I was soaking wet but overall felt good.  I put in a good effort but I didn't completely exhaust myself which was the plan.  I felt very happy.  I received my wine coaster medal right away along with water and some snacks.  It was also nice to see there were water stations at a few other locations around the winery especially since it was so humid.  So when I had finished my water, I was easily able to get more.
so sweaty!  The wine coaster medal is removable from the lanyard so you can really use it!
After I was done, Cindy and I were quickly and easily able to get our wine glasses and bracelets for the wine tasting after party.   There was hardly anyone there yet so we were able to taste a lot of different wines in no time.  There were probably a good ten wineries there with multiple types of wines to try.  There were also a PT clinic offering massages and compression boots to try.  My legs definitely needed some recovery work after 50+ miles on road in about a 26 hour period.  So I was able to hop right in a chair with my glass of wine and enjoy the compression for about 10 minutes.  It felt WONDERFUL!!!  I wish I could afford to buy my own.
no words, just amazing!
We probably only stayed at the party about an hour because we were able to taste everything so quickly since it wasn't crowded.  We could have sat by the water and relaxed for a while but I did need to get back home to my family for some things.  When we were leaving it was definitely getting more crowded with some lines forming at some wineries.  Perks to finishing under two hours!

Cindy and I enjoying the wine in our Virginia Half wine glasses
Overall I thought the Virginia Wine Half was a great race.  At first I thought it was a bit pricey for a half.  It was $100 for just the race, an extra $25 for the wine tasting, $15 to pick up your packet day of and there was a few other things that I didn't opt in for that cost extra $.  However, after experiencing it, I think it is worth it.  The race itself starts/finishes at the Doukenie winery.  I'm sure it can't be cheap to have it all setup there and it truly was so beautiful.  Cindy and I both kept commenting how pretty the scenery was and they had so many touches that added to the ambiance.  There were mountains surrounding us and a pretty lake by the tasting area.  And of course the winery itself was beautiful.  Cindy also told me about other wine tastings she has been to that cost $10-$15 and you only get a taste of 4 wines.  This after race tasting allowed unlimited tastings plus the engraved wine glass so well worth the $25.  I liked the course and felt like it had more than enough water stops.  All stops had water and GU brew.  There were also a couple giving out GU gels.  All of the volunteers were very enthusiastic and super helpful.  It's definitely a race I would do again. 

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