2017 Napa Valley Marathon

Overall Time: 2:57:52
Pace: 6:47
Overall Place: 25 of 1271
Age Group Place: 5th of 97

Full Garmin data here: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1605270531

The 2017 Napa Valley Marathon was my pre-spring marathon in March, run as a fairly hard training run for the 2017 Boston Marathon in April.

Hanging out in the vineyards before the start of the race
Hanging out in the vineyards before the start of the race
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Rolling hills and vineyards in the background.

I decided somewhere around (under) a 3:00 marathon would be a good time for a hard “training” marathon, so standing on the start line I fell back on my typical marathon strategy: Easy warm up for the first 5K, then fall into pace for mile 4 – 18 (give or take), and then decide if I want to speed up after that. The plan worked out pretty seamlessly — easy to start, faster in the middle, and then some quick miles in the end (this was also partly due to rain and hail in the last 5K and I decided I needed to get out of that weather). Nice and controlled, no drama. I split the first half in just over 1:30, and the second half in around 1:27. Final time was right around 2:57:52. Felt good to run a sub-3:00 marathon just because.

Although this time was only about 5 minutes from my PR, dialing it back even that much made it so much more manageable and (dare I say it?)… easy. It also allowed me to enjoy the course, which was beautiful. The marathon winds south, down the Silverado Trail from Calistoga to Napa through the famous vineyards of the Napa Valley. The sun rises shortly before the 7 a.m. race start, and it feels like the valley is waking up as you begin the trek through the rolling hills of wine country. If anyone is looking for a scenic and fast west coast race, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

A few gently rolling hills, with a net elevation loss of approximately 250 feet.
A few gently rolling hills, with a net elevation loss of approximately 250 feet.

There were aid stations roughly every 2 miles, which was enough for me. I took Gatorade at each station between miles 6 and 20, but nothing else. Skipped on energy gels as is my norm.

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Passing the Conn Creek Winery, just before the halfway point.

Crowd support was as you would expect in a small-town marathon. This isn’t NYC or Boston, so don’t come expecting a 26.2-mile tunnel of screams. Most coming out were leap frogging along the course to cheer for specific friends and family running the race, but they cheered on all the runners regardless. Speaking as someone who doesn’t look forward to cheer stations, I appreciated them being out there early in the morning because as beautiful as the course was it was still nice for it to be punctuated with some screaming, hollering, and funny signs.

After crossing the finish, I headed straight to get my bag and walk to the hotel for a shower and some lunch. I had a wine tasting scheduled for early that afternoon, and no marathon was about to get in the way of that.

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Thanks for a lovely experience, Napa Valley Marathon!

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