June 1, 2013 – Doukenie Winery, Purcellville,  Virginia.

Heat. Hills. Gravel. Three things that can make a run miserable … if you let them. I see them as challenges. On this day, the only one of those three that almost got the best of me was the heat and humidity. I haven’t trained for heat much so far this year and it showed.

This was my second half marathon. The course wound through country roads in the beautiful wine country of Norther Virginia. Nearly 2,500 runners converged on Doukenie Winery to partake in 13.1 miles of running and celebration of wine and music.

My goal was to beat my previous PR which was 1 hour and 46 minutes. Since I have only been running races for a year now, almost every race is a PR and my first half marathon was one of my first races. So, it was a very attainable goal. I was shooting for about an hour and a half.

At the starting line, there were several pace groups set up and I made my way to the 1:30 group. I planned on running with them and using their pace to keep me in check. I have a tendency to start fast and run out of steam. At the race start, I went out ahead of the group (of course) and kept them behind me for 7 or 8 miles. Just what I didn’t want to do. They caught me and left me in their dust. I’ll be patient one of these days. Maybe.

At about mile 10, the heat really seamed to zap my energy. I started stopping at each water station to grab one water to drink, one to pour over my head, then a third to carry for a while and dump/drink as needed. This cost me some time, but I think it kept me from hitting that wall where you just want to walk the rest of the way.

I managed to have enough energy at the last tenth of a mile to give a strong kick to the finish, passing a few runners at the last minute. Although I started too fast and lost steam toward the end, there were only 32 other runners faster than me that day. I’ll take it. 1:35 was my finishing time.

Getting in and out of the winery was a breeze. Plenty of parking in the fields surrounding the vineyard.  It could be messy if there was rain, but we were blessed with dry conditions. You could park at some different locations away from the vineyard and get bussed in, but several of those busses came in late. There were ample port-a-pots and water available to drink before the race. After the race, there was a goodie bag with an apple, banana, some sort of bar and some sunflower seed butter. Plenty of water was handed out by friendly volunteers and Naked Drinks had a booth set up with free samples of their products. I was not in the mood for wine and was expected at home to help run our yardsale, so I skipped the post-race festivities.

Overall, I enjoyed this race. Most likely I will do it again next year. It served as a good reminder that I need to work on my summer running to beat the heat.