Race Report: Grape Stomp Half Marathon

Another wine stopper medal to add to my collection! The cool grape looks like a unwrinkled California Rains. Which makes sense, since raisins are dried grapes…

This morning, I ran the Grape Stomp Half Marathon in Livermore.  I know this sounds completely contradictory to my last post about taking a break from racing.  So here’s the deal…

A few months ago, there was a schwaggle deal to register for the race for only $39 so I impulsively decided to sign up.  I planned to treat it as a fun run and I figured it would be a good way to ensure that I got in a longish run every once in a while during the fall.

Last weekend, I ran slow 10 miles but otherwise, I haven’t run farther than 6 miles since Vineman.  Before the race, I expected take it easy and cruise along at about a 9:30/mile pace.

Fast-forward to this morning, the race start was delayed and I was standing around freezing, I seriously contemplated getting back in my car to drive home and go back to sleep.  Fortunately, my cheerleader/sherpa/personal heater BF was there to thwart my escape plan. As we were wandering around the start area/expo, the start of the race was announced and without much warning I started my 13.1 mile journey through the Livermore wineries.

With the usual congestion at the start, the it felt like I ran the first mile at a snail’s pace.  Soon the mass of bodies thinned out and I started to cruise along at a sub 9:00 pace without much effort.  I changed my strategy to focus on heart rate, keeping it between 160 and 170 bpm, regardless of pace.  Around mile 10, I realized I could set a new half marathon PR if pushed a little harder so that’s what I did.  Fortunately, the rest of the course was downhill and I hauled ass to the finish.  I crossed the line at 1:56:22, 2 minutes faster than the PR I set at Rock Roll San Jose last year, which was a much flatter course than the Grape Stomp.

I was pleasantly surprised at my performance today.  As I was adding this race to my results page, I noticed that today was the 5 year anniversary of my first half marathon,  which I ran 2:46:53.  It was very satisfying to see that my hard work is paying off!

Photo credit: Evan Pilchik Photography

The course

Elevation, pace, and heart rate data

Mile splits

UPDATE: Oops!  I completely neglected to discuss my nutrition before and after the race… When I woke up at 5am, I ate a sprouted wheat bagel with avocado, tomato, and a generous sprinkling of sea salt.  I ate a banana when I arrived at the race site around 6:30.  During the race, I carried a water bottle and two All-In Almond Picky Bars, taking a bite every mile.  This worked pretty well as I didn’t feel hungry or have any cramping.

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