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JULY 2006: Napa Valley, CA
Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

napalogo.gifLest you think too highly of me, I need to state upfront that I was only along for the ride. I did not participate in the marathon, but accompanied my crazy (I mean that in a good way) friend Sam, who enjoys getting up at 5:30 in the morning to run her little heart out. As I've stated many times, the only way I would propel my body that far that fast is if someone was chasing me with a chainsaw. Since she needed a friend and the trip was to wine country, she knew I wouldn't be able to refuse. Who could resist attending a race that ends with wine tasting?

Even though I didn't actually run, I did discover several things that weekend:
  • I only enjoy long road trips if I'm the passenger.

  • The only way to taste in Napa Valley is with friends who work in the wine business, otherwise you'll spend so much money on tasting fees you won't be able to buy any wine.

  • Pay attention to how far you drive, because you always have to drive back.

  • Drinking wine at 9:30 in the morning was not a problem for me. Granted it felt like Noon since I had been up at 5am, and I wasn't the only one, however, most people gasp when I get to that part of the story.

Even though I picked out the wineries we went to on Saturday, the only one that made a lasting impression was Sebastiani. Partly because it took us a while to find it, but the facility is wonderful and the wines were good to. Their 2004 Merlot is the only one I've enjoyed and purchased in years.

napamarathon.jpgThe morning of the race, after a quick stop at Starbucks for coffee, I dropped Sam off at the start (Cuvaison Winery), wished her well and headed the 13 miles to downtown Sonoma to wait. It's got to be one of the most beautiful settings for a run ever. Watching the sunrise over the vineyards was an amazing sight made more rare by the fact I almost never rise in the dark.

Of course, Sonoma's not exactly a bustling metropolis, so nothing was open and the Wine Festival booths were not even up yet. The elite runners wouldn't be crossing the finish line until around 8:30 so I had plenty of time to kill. Though I had already eaten a piece of coffee cake, boredom got the better of me and I found myself in the local coffee shop, eating again. Considering what my friend was doing I wasn't proud, but what can you do?

napafinish.jpgWatching everyone finish while waiting for my friend, I was inspired and am planning on running/walking in this race myself one day. If only to feel better about "celebrating" with wine and champagne before most people have breakfast. I know it's wrong to say, but we were both bummed that they no longer wine taste in the middle of the race. That seemed like great inspiration to me, though it was probably not the best thing for people who are dehydrating themselves by the minute or trying to actually get a good time. The wine tasting (about 10-15 booths) is free to the runners, $15 for anyone else. All I can say is it mellowed us out for the long drive back to Los Angeles. A great way to indulge in one's love of wine without feeling guilty.
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