Love, sweat, tears, laughter - and wine!
A couple of weeks ago a group of original WOOTers, including myself and Anna, flew from various locations to reunite for a few days and run a marathon together. The last time we traveled to a race together was in 2011, when we all met in New Zealand to run the Tarawera Ultramarathon. There have been other races too, such as the Mongolia 100k and marathon, and the Arizona Rock'n'Roll marathon, but our reunion last weekend in California was the first one since 2011 that all of us could attend.
Since we all flew in to San Francisco on different days and times, we split into three groups and met on Thursday evening at the Eurospa Inn in Calistoga. The marathon we had signed up to run was the Napa Valley marathon, to be held a few days later on Sunday March 3rd. With just a short amount of time to spend together, we endeavored to make the most of it.
|A glimpse of what it looked like as we ran the marathon|
|One of the meals Claudia prepared for us - the fruits and vegetables were grown in her own garden!|
|Lazy morning - cozy fire, fresh coffee, great company|
|Beautiful flowers everywhere|
|Gorgeous rose bushes|
|Quiet, tranquil streets|
In the afternoon we drove to the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel and Spa, to collect our race packets and bags. Since the Napa Valley marathon restricts participation to no more than 2500 runners, the expo was relatively small but somehow more accommodating and friendlier. One of the booths was assigned to a Clif Bar representative, who gave Anna directions to the company's wine store in St.Helena (Velo Vino) - no need to tell you where our next stop was!
|At the expo|
Back row: Tiffany, Amy, Anna, Corinne (Kathleen's daughter)
Front Row: Stephanie and baby Phenix, Andrea, Jannine, Kathleen
Who would have guessed that the Clif Bar company would branch out and expand their product line to include wines? I'm not sure how good they are, but judging from the jubilant mood of those in our group who took part in the wine tasting, I'd say they rate fairly well.
|Wine tasting at Velo Vino|
From Velo Vino, we drove just a little further north and stopped at the Culinary Institute for dinner. Thank goodness this was two nights before the marathon and not the night before, because I don't think any of us walked out of there without feeling as if we were in a type of food comatose. That said however, the meals were outstanding (complimented even more with accompanying wine), and worth every calorie and cent!
|Ready to go eat at the Culinary Institute|
|Walking to the Silverado Trail|
|Look - no lines! If only it were like this on race day.|
Race day is always filled with a mixture of raw emotions, and race day in Calistoga was no exception. Some of us were nervous, some of us were excited, and some of us were both! One thing we all felt however, was a huge amount of gratitude towards our awesome support team, made up of Amy, Nick, and Claudia.
Amy injured herself several weeks ago and had to resign herself to coming out as a supporter instead of runner. I think the others would agree with me when I say that her dedication and commitment to supporting us, was equal to, if not greater than our efforts to run a good race. As a supporter, Amy was up around 4:30am on race day, giving us all a big shout-out on Facebook, and then making sure we were all ready on time and equipped with everything we needed.
Other less-invested supporters would probably have slept in and driven out to the finish line later in the morning, but Amy walked with us in the cold air down to the start, wished us all good luck, and then vigorously cheered us on at miles 13 and 16, and again as we approached the finish line. We were able to easily see her in the crowd (along with Nick and Claudia), because she had made neon colored tshirts with the words WOOT Crew marked across the chest (even baby Phenix had his own WOOT Crew tshirt/onesie).
|Nick and Amy enjoying a much-deserved glass of wine|
|Our awesome super-mom! Steph ran 13 miles, then nursed baby Phenix before making her way with Nick and Claudia to cheer the rest of us on at the finish line.|
Stay tuned for more WOOT adventures abroad.....