This past weekend Neil and I were Kelowna to run the very first Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon, put on by Destination Races. My mom is a huge fan of several of the races put on by Destination Races. When I found out that there would now be race practically in our own back yard I had to sign up. Surprisingly Neil told me to sign him up too. He’d be running his very first half marathon ever!
We opted to make a long weekend out of the race so we flew in to Kelowna on Thursday evening so we’d be ready to hit up the race expo and packet pick up first thing Friday morning. We were there practically as soon as the expo opened and we had our bibs, race shirts and wine tasting wrist bands within minutes.
With bibs in hand we set out on the road towards Oliver/Osoyoos. We also had to make a quick trip over the border to Orroville, WA to pick up some important packages, including my Oiselle team kit!
I was pretty excited that this would be my first official race as a bird!!
After we had grabbed our packages we stopped in at Black Hills Winery outside of Oliver for a lovely tasting. It was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon! The wines here are delicious and I would highly recommend stopping in for a tasting if you are ever in the area.
It was an early morning on Saturday for our race! Race start was at 7 am and since we’d be running a point to point course we had to catch a shuttle bus to the start. We parked our car near the finish at the Delta Okanagan Grand and there were plenty of school buses waiting for us.
They did a great job loading us up in the buses and sending us off to the race start. Very efficient!
The bus ride to the start at The Vibrant Vine Winery felt long…a reminder that 13.1 miles is a long way to go! There were plenty of racers milling around the start and there were also plenty of porta-potties set up. The tasting room was also open for us to wait in. No wine was being poured yet though! Since it was a little cool and drizzly out I was happy to stay inside and check the tasting room.
The Vibrant Vine bills themselves as the only 3D winery in the world. Just grab a pair of special glasses to see the artwork on the walls and bottles jump out at you.
With a few minutes left to go before we started it was time for one last trip through the porta-potty lines then we made our way to the start line.
Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon Race Report
My goal from the race was to better my time from when I ran the Calgary 70.3 as part of a relay back at the end of July. I ran Calgary in 2:18, I hadn’t tapered for it and it was a tough course. In order to do reach my goal I planned to:
- Start conservatively.
- Not blow up on the hills.
- Stick to my run/walk intervals.
- Gels every other water stop.
I kept my pace reigned in on the first mile, then worked to pick it up a bit in mile 2 to get me on track with a 2:15 race. When the hills started in mile 3 I worked to run them steadily but to not attack them. I knew I had a long slog of uphill ahead of me! Despite the hilly terrain it was absolutely beautiful around us. Vineyards and orchards were all. I wanted to reach out and pick an apple off one of the trees they looked so good! We also ran past several homes where the residents were out on their driveway cheering us on. I could also hear that I was getting tweets through here, so I imagined my Oiselle teammates were all cheering me on, pushing me up those hills!
The weather today was a gift for us. It could have easily been 30C, hot and sunny. Instead it was overcast with a threat of drizzle and it probably topped out at 20C during the race. Perfect weather conditions for me.
When I hit the 5 mile mark the downhill started. I took off down the hill and just enjoyed it! I felt positive that I had run the first part of the course smartly and that I’d set myself up well to hit my goal. When we finally hit the flat portion of the course I ran at a pace that felt comfortable but didn’t really look at my watch. My average pace was behind what I needed for a 2:15 but I thought my legs would be comfortable hitting those paces now. Oops, I was wrong! My legs weren’t toast, they just weren’t able to go that fast. I’m guessing the hills in the beginning of the race had something to do with that. With half way to go on the race I knew I couldn’t be huffing and puffing to push the pace because it would be too long to try and hold on for.
Instead I tried to keep moving and not allow myself extra walk breaks even though I was getting tired. With about a mile and a half to go I put one of my power songs on repeat, put my head down and tried to finish this thing off. As we ran along the lake towards the finish it was so pretty. I really wanted to look around and take it in but I also just wanted to be done. Finally I hit the finish at 2:20:47.
Definitely not the time result I hoped for but I really couldn’t fault my execution on this day. My legs just didn’t have that extra bit of speed in them.
I got my medal…
…my post race snack and some water…
…and waited for Neil to come in.
Post Race Wine Tasting and Thoughts
After we’d had a chance to walk around and cool off we grabbed our wine glasses and hit up the wine tasting.
We didn’t stick around that long for the wine tasting. The lines were long and we were both a bit more interested in going for lunch soon rather than sipping on wine.
Final thoughts on the race?
Well organized with swift package pick up, plenty of shuttle buses to the start and plenty of honey buckets at the start. The water stops were well spaced with great volunteers. Every other stop had Accelerade, but since I’m not a huge fan of that I stuck with water. No gels along the way, not that this is a big deal to me since I always carry my own. The course measured a bit long. Right after I crossed the finish line I received an e-mail with my time which was nice! The wine tasting was a bit smaller than I was expecting. Very nice medals and beautiful etched Reidel wine glasses. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone in the future.
As for Neil? He found the course challenging too but he really enjoyed his first half marathon! I’m not sure that he’s itching to sign up for another one too soon though. Tower of Terror in a few weeks will be good enough for him. Congratulations to my husband Neil on becoming a half marathoner!! I’m so proud of you!
It was a perfect weekend away in Kelowna that went by all too quickly. Time to count down to Tower of Terror in a few weeks now!
Chip Time: 2:20:47
Overall: 513 of 926
Females 35 – 39: 54 of 88