Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We ran 13.1 miles and all we got was this stinkin' wine glass.

Ah, but you know me too well. That beautiful glass was rarely empty!

Yes, we did it. Kerry finished her first half-marathon ever. Me? The most enjoyable race I've ever run.

And then ... we drank a crapload of wine.

One cannot fully appreciate the finish however, without first understanding the beginning and the middle. In a word, the whole weekend kicked big ass.

Let me start at Friday. Kim and I coordinated so that we'd arrive SFO at the same time and cab in to Kerry's pad. The mere fact that Red left her three kids in the dust and came all the way up from San Diego to watch us run still boggles the mind. She also came up for my marathon last year. Hands down the best cheerleader-slash-friend a girl could ask for. I heart her.

Going back to my neurosis about finally having a decent Brightroom photo, we decided to paint the town red.

Then on to dinner with Lynette and Renee.

The next morning, I got up early to take a quick jaunt through Pacific Heights. Kerry lives right near the Presidio, which - for those of you not familiar with it - sits on an enormous hill. Frankly, the whole damned city does, but the Presidio is a particularly steep puppy. It's a beautiful park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge that's a joy to run through. Now, Mike and I lived just blocks from the Presidio and we also got married there. But sometimes? It's like my 11 years out of the city has erased all memory of its topography. About a quarter-mile down the first winding hill it dawned on me: I have to run back up this mother.

After walking back to Kerry's pad, we picked up Peet's and scones (and if you don't know of these things, I simply can't explain bliss in the course of a short blog) and all headed up to Napa along with CC.

A quick word about CC.

CC is one of Kerry's college friends and although I have heard about her for years, I didn't really get to know her until quite recently. She is, in short, a totally down girl. Supportive, sweet, ten tons of fun, and - for being 8 1/2 months pregnant - has a wicked body with totally toned arms. I secretly hate her.

But when Kerry told her she was running her first half marathon, there was no pause before CC started asking about hotel arrangements. Because there was no way she wouldn't be there to yell very loudly for her. That's the kind of girl she is. And I know this because that's the kind of girl Kerry is. Red's right up there, too. Girlfriends who want to make me be a better girlfriend.

How in the world they still want to hang with the bitchy, judgmental person I am, I have no idea.

So this was the expo where Kerry and I picked up our packets and our badass numbers. Can you see that I am just a number off being James Bond?

It's a beautiful venue that also happens to be where CC got married. Which is why Kerry thought it was fun to re-enact her role as bridesmaid.

Well, she thought it was funny.

We headed back to the hotel in Napa to hit the pool:

And then a great Italian joint to carb load:

And oh yes. This is a pregnant woman with a glass of wine. Deal with it.

Race morning, 5am.

Kerry said she tossed and turned all night. I slept like a rock. She seemed nervous. I was calm, steady, and being the BFF I am, most likely mocked her. In any event, we looked way cute in our new Lululemon getups.

Please note the pigtails. I told you people I was shaking things up for this race. Black clothing and single ponytails be damned!

So here's where I should say a little something about my promise to provide video. Yes, it's still coming. You'd think that because I do this for a living, I could figure out how to edit and upload my video easily. Not so much. So tune in later for totally exciting video clips.

We got bussed to the starting line at a nearby winery and the gun went off at about 7:15. We started out with one really killer hill ... only to be followed by a couple of miles of downhill. It was exhilarating. And when you finally see that video, you'll know what I mean.

Just before Mile 2, we spotted our cheer section: Kim and CC on the side of the road, camera snapping and both jumping up and down.

Yep, that's the Flip cam in my hand.

This is what the whole course looked like. Miles of vineyards and dirt roads with locals who had carried their chairs out to the ends of their driveways to cheer us on. A few had canisters of steaming hot coffee, settled in for the morning with their newspapers. Totally quaint and charming. So unlike me to like that.

At some point between Miles 4 and 5, Kerry nonchalantly popped her ear buds in. I had been attempting to just chatter away at her in hopes to keep her entertained. But I've heard me. My stories aren't that interesting. And at some point when I started remarking at the scenery, she (somewhat sarcastically) asked, "what are you talking about?"

When a glance at my watch at Mile 5 told us that we were running at just around 10 minute miles, she was visibly disappointed. I knew she wanted to pick up her speed, but she resolutely told me, "this is where I am." And with that, I felt like our run together was about to end.

It's the runner's dilemma. My normal pace is a bit faster than Kerry's. While I was having the best time running alongside her, something unspoken was happening. I started itching to go a little faster ... while Kerry started itching that she was holding me back. She wasn't. But in deference to her, I know that as long as I ran with her, she'd be thinking about it. And then we both would.

So I did what every really good person who strong-armed her friend into training for and then running a half-marathon would do. I took off and left her in the dust.

All right, no dust-leaving here. I'm not that fast. But I have to say, something kicked in that I have never before experienced.

Not sure if it was the scenery, the perfect running weather, the homespun crowds that yelled my name as I passed or the anticipation that as soon as I finished I could drink all the wine I wanted until noon ... but I started hauling. And I felt amazing - not once did I even enter the Bite Me Zone.

Knowing that I had been at around 10 minute miles, I did some quick calculating in my head and realized I could still go under 2 hours. Wouldn't be a PR, but maybe even better: my first negative split. Which means the second half would be faster than the first. I tore down the country roads. I off-roaded onto the shoulder to get around slower runners. (Oops, sorry about the dust! Should I leave a note?) I paced behind people, reeled them in, then smoked them.

I went sub-8:00 for nearly 7 miles. I don't do that.

And when I came into the finish chute, smile on my face and barely a sweat (yes! me! barely a sweat!), I knew what I had to do.

I found the dudes from Brightroom and I made sure I took a badass picture.

In the end? 1:58:33.

I picked up a cool medal:

And doubled back to the finish to watch Kerry cross at an amazing 2:11. Seriously? 2:11 for your first half-marathon? Insane. She was ecstatic, as she should have been.

We found CC and Kim at the Sonoma Square and headed to the wine festival.

2o wineries, all pouring ... free tastes. Oh, hello, Perfect Day ... have we met?

As if it couldn't get better, I got a great surprise. My mom and Ken drove up to surprise me at the finish!

I don't get to see them often, so it was great to spend even just a little time. So nice of them to come up to see us. Of course, they wine tasted too. (What do you think, I was brought up by wolves?) Hi Tina!

At noon we looked around and realized we had been the first ones to the tasting tables and were most likely now the last to leave. We took the final drops of the muscat being poured (it was noon, the cabernets went early and beggars can't be choosers) and headed for lunch. Great Mexican joint. Which means you're actually not allowed to eat without drinking margaritas. I think it's like Mexican law. Like if you don't follow it you're shot or something.

Thank god for pregnant friends. CC was our designated driver and our day was far from over. When she headed back home to San Francisco, the ruffians that Red, Kerry and I are went back to the Square for a little more wine tasting.

And somehow. Somehow. We managed to rally for cocktails and dinner at El Dorado Kitchen.

At the end of a day that began at 5am ... wound through 13.1 miles on our feet ... and through a lot of laughs and even more wine ... we crashed at our hotel, got breakfast in the morning and hit the road.

It was tough to say good bye to sunny Wine Country ...

Even a little tougher to say hello to my foggy San Francisco, knowing that I'd be soon boarding a plane back to New York.

Kerry drove Red and I back to SFO and the only thing that kept me from crying - other than the fact that my lack of emotion keeps me from activating any tear ducts I may have - is knowing that I'll see them again in a few weeks when we all head to Mexico.

I may have annoyed Kerry a tad when I emailed her like 28 hours after the race, excitedly telling her that we should register for the Healdsburg Wine Country Half in October. She used some excuse about doing a 65-mile bike race in September and the Nike Half in early October and most likely needing a rest. Blah blah blah. Whatever.

Maybe all I wanted is to once more capture the feeling I had on Sunday.

It's not often you have a perfect day.


  1. Love the running pics, Cindy! Hope the outfits served you well.

  2. thanks, Laura ... Groovy Run Short and Cool Racerback ... my best race outfit ever. (my friend was wearing the Speed Short and loved them ... she got asked all day who made them!)

  3. might make a very interesting story, brought up by wolves.....the blog just gets better and better!
    We really enjoyed spending time with you and the girls. We are looking forward to another "surprise guest appearance" at a future finsh line. Love you