|The finishing straight. Photo: Rick Gaston|
|Running with Devon. Photo: Rick Gaston|
Last Sunday I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to run one of the prettiest road marathons around at the Napa Valley Marathon in California. I ran it last year as Spiderman as a good tune-up race but it rained so I hoped to get the proper California treatment of sun all day this time and wasn’t disappointed.
After almost missing the start (I got there literally as the gun went off), I caught up to a few of the local ultrarunners heading out for a bit of speed work – Nathan Yanko, Devon Crosby-Helms (my new The North Face team-mate after she left Salomon at the end of last year) and Victor Ballesteros. I hadn’t seen any of them for a while, so we naturally chatted, as ultraruners do. I think the rest of the field must have though it odd that we were talking as it’s just not the done thing in road races…but neither is wearing a costume.
Our little group had one other running with us and we stuck together to go through 6 miles before Nathan realized that 6 minute miling was way too easy for him and he sprinted off. We spread out of the next few miles but I ran with Devon and really enjoyed having company for 18 miles of the race with her. I don’t think I’ve ever run more than about 13 miles of a road marathon with anyone before and certainly not chatting the whole way, so it was something I’d like to repeat.
We went through half-way in under 1:19 and both had target times which looked very achievable (Devon had a shiny new marathon best of 2:38:55 from January and a course record of just under 2:40 to aim for; I had the 2:42:52 Elvis time from Seattle 2009). Devon seemed stronger and had clearly done more road work which was really paying off – she’ll hit some great times through this year, I guarantee.
By 18 miles it was heating up and I started to feel my lack of road miles in training so that 6 minute miles suddenly became harder. Devon gradually pulled away and went on to knock 7 seconds off the old course record in 2:39:37 to win her weight in wine (and 6th overall - see here report here) while I slowed down to finish in 2:40:49. Great course and a rewarding return to marathoning after a long break of almost a year.
Nathan was 4th in 2:37:15 after a bit of a slow-down and Victor was 5th in 2:37:51 so the ultrarunners had a good day around the front of the field. Full results here.
This weekend I couldn’t avoid mentioning Mike Wardian’s races again since he ran a 2:22 marathon for 2nd on the Saturday then the USATF road 50k championships on Sunday in 3:02 for 2nd too. 5:24ish for 57.3 miles over 2 days is just ridiculous!