Monday, July 3, 2023

2023 Virtual Napa Half Marathon - Ariel

March 5th, 2023 – Auburn, CA
Half Marathon

1 of 1

I line up at the starting line for my first half-marathon. The starting line isn’t as crowded as a typical race. In fact, there is no one at the start except me and my pacer. That’s because I’m doing a self-supported half marathon. The race director is mom, the starting line is a crack, and my pacer is dad on his bike.

“Ready!” Mom yells. This is it. “On your mark! Go!” I start running at 8:30pace. I’m pretty sure there will be hills ahead so I want to give myself a little head start. I feel very energetic, but I know that probably won’t last long. Dad catches up with me on his bike. He bikes right next to me. Rattlesnake road is beautiful. I’ve only ridden this road on my bike, but I see more of its beauty by running it. All the houses are so lovely and last night’s rain makes everything look so unreal. I see a turkey fluff himself up and giggle.

Dad advises me to let myself go on the downhills. I try it and it helps. I see mom up ahead and I look at my watch to check the distance. Wow, that mile went by fast! The first mile is just barely past mom’s car. Mom cheers me on as I pass her. I give her my best smile and keep running. Dad pauses at the car and then catches up to me.

I run along lots of farmland. I can see some animals in the distance. I hear water rushing ahead. I reach the canal with the rushing water. I see a hill up ahead. I pick it up a little to get a good start on the hill. Ugg, this hill is harder than it looks.

Yay! I’m at the top. I look at the mansions that sit at the top of the hill. They're gorgeous and huge, but the land still look desolate. I let myself go, on the downhill.

Finally, I reach the Y. My family nicknamed it that because it’s an intersection shaped kind of like a Y and even has a warning sign before it with a Y on it. I take the turn fast because I'm always scared of the cars you can’t see that take the corner fast.

I go up a gradual, but tough hill. Downhill! Up ahead I see mom and Anna. There at mile 3. It’s so nice to see them. I get a little water and a snack.

I keep running down a shaded road. It’s really pretty. I pass some huge houses on Newcastle road. I know I’m almost to Auburn Folsom. I see the horse stables ahead. I always love passing them. It would be cool to ride a horse. I’ve only ridden one once and I remember it was fun. I take the time to soak up the view as I run past. The property is huge.

I run past a house with two palm trees and start running down hill again. It a super long downhill. I soak it up. I come to an intersection and my watch beeps. I look down at it and see that it was warning me to turn left. I hug the corner and start down Auburn Folsom. It’s about 3.5 miles right now. I tell dad I have to use the restroom soon. Dad notifies mom and then goes back to biking in front of me.

He does a good job at distracting me as I run down the monotonous road with stories and jokes. He also has me focus on one mile at a time. I try to stay at 9 minute pace. My watch beeps again for me to turn onto Horseshoe Bar Road. I see mom up ahead. They have a bathroom set up for me. I use it quickly. I grab some orange pieces and then start running faster to make up time.

I hit 5 miles a little after the aid station with a 10:30 last mile. Even though I’m running pretty fast I feel slow. I turn onto a little road. The little road is squished between two rows of houses. The paved road stops leaving a hard packed dirt road. The road leads behind the houses. They have really pretty backyards around here. We pass multiple pools. I see the end of the trail up ahead. We pass another backyard. This house grabs my attention. It looks right out of a movie. It’s super fancy, but not modern at all. It had a fountain in the middle of this path. Kind of like a government house style. It also had a fancy basketball court, but the hoop was short. Dad and I imagine a little kid lives there.

I see the road up ahead. We turn onto the road. I look across the street and see a big house with a half

court basketball court. 6 miles! I merge back onto Auburn Folsom. I run by a fancy neighborhood. I’m feeling better and energized. Dad got me focused on staying on pace the whole mile 7.

Mile 8! I glide down a hill watching my pace slowly get faster. I do that with every hill I run over. There’s a hill coming up. I power up it. At the top, I see a huge pond in front of a fancy neighborhood. I push down the hill. Dad tells me that up ahead is the castle. I’m excited. Every time I've passed it, I've been either bike or car. Both too fast to see everything about the castle. I examine it as I pass by. It’s gorgeous and huge. Dad and I brainstorm about it’s possible owners and uses.

Mile 9! Dad and I have come up with so many theories of the Palace. Possibly a set for a movie, a club, or a house of a very lonely, wealthy, old man. We pass another fancy neighborhood. So many wealthy neighborhoods on Auburn Folsom.

My watch reminds me again to take another left. I turn onto Twin Rocks road. Mile 10! Yay, I’m so close! I look at my pace and see 8:29. Wow, I really picked it up! I turn into Hidden Valley, a pretty neighborhood. Thanks to God I’m feeling surprisingly good. I have lots of energy left somehow. I keep my pace 10 seconds below 9. Anna starts running with us at mile 11. She tells me lots of things to make me laugh. We continue running on Morningside Drive for a while till we finally get back on Auburn Folsom Rd. I’m feeling really good.

Mile 12! Yay, its basically one mile left. My excitement fuels me up a very slight uphill. I see mom in a parking lot. She cheers me on and offers me water. Up ahead I see an intersection. Dad warns me that when we turn there will be a tough hill all the way to Granite Bay Park. I turn at the light onto Douglas Boulevard. Here we go. This is where I leave it all out there. I push up the hill. No kidding that this hill is long and grueling. I’m already tired and I’m not even close to being done. Anna and Dad keep encouraging me up the hill.
I move onto a path along the road. I’m grateful for the shade. Especially, since it’s starting to get hot. At least I feel hot. I power up the hill. Almost there! I made it past the hard part.

Yeah, I’m less than a mile away. I pick up the pace. Anna also picks it up too act like another racer. We
speed through the gate. I run down the road and turn at the first turn. I’m almost in a sprint now. I race down a hill and then into a parking lot. Anna races me to the imagery finish. I sprint my hardest and finish! I successfully stayed under 9 minute pace. I actually got an 8:50 average and finish with a time of 1:55:39. Thanks to God for an amazing race.