Diva Half Marathon Recap: DC Wine Country

On Saturday, I ran my first half of fall! I was very weary about this race due to all the last-minute reviews that I read. Let’s start with I was pleasantly surprised. If you remember from earlier this week, I had a mild panic moment regarding the race itself. I arrived in Leesburg, VA after taking a half day from work last Friday. I’m glad I took that time off, it took me 1.5 hours to go 45 miles. After arriving at Lansdowne Resort, which was the host hotel, I followed the signs for parking, which was clearly marked. Let’s start with…the resort is gorgeous. I was really taken back by how pretty it was. After wandering around for a few minutes and grabbing my bib and shuttle pass, I went in search of my friend and her mom who were doing the 5K that evening.

Look at that view

Look at that view

This was a Julie Andrews kind of weekend

This was a Julie Andrews kind of weekend

While they ran the race, I wandered the expo, which was small but had some cute merchandise. It was also very obviously geared towards women. The whole race/weekend/swag was all geared towards women. Hey, I’m a girl and I’m totally okay with that. 🙂

That evening after the 5K we had dinner at Tuscarora Mill. I was slightly confused by the decor and thought I was in the old west… turns out it was a mill (my bad).  It’s a tad fancier than what I usually eat before a race but wow, this place was delicious! Like OMG, wish I could have licked my plate good. We shared the cauliflower gratin, eviscerated the bread, and I looooved my shrimp and grits.

Every restaurant should have gargoyle lamps!

Every restaurant should have gargoyle lamps!

We finally made it to the hotel at 10pm. There wasn’t anything very close to the Tarara Winery (where the start and finish is located), so we stayed at a holiday inn. Thankfully, our hotel of choice was only 4 miles from our shuttle location. Due to major congestion last year, Diva’s decided to implement shuttles with designated parking lots. We were assigned to lot A at Tuscarora High School with a 5:15am shuttle bus time. I slept through all the alarms and Juss woke me up at 4:30am. We ran around the hotel room like crazy people pulling ourselves together and finally got out the door at 5:05am!

Getting to that 5:15am shuttle on time was a miracle

Getting to that 5:15am shuttle on time was a miracle. Also I’m pretty sure my friend did this like 4 times on Saturday morning.

Once we arrived at the high school, there was tons of people and tons of buses. It was also raining. BTW… thanks Angie for suggesting garbage bags. We may of looks like hobos but we were warm and dry and very happy!

Is trash bag chic a thing?

Is trash bag chic a thing? I know it’s out of focus, it’s also 5:15am.

They checked our wristbands and we made the 20 minute bus ride to Tarara Winery. The buses were fine and you could feel everyone’s excitement. There appeared to be lots of first time halfers and veterans alike. It was a fun mix to hear all the different conversations of the people around me… yeah I eavesdropped on you sorry I’m not sorry. When we arrived, the buses dropped us off on a gravel trail that leads to the winery. I have no idea how far we walked. I do know that it was very rocky and I was very careful watching my step. It was after all pitch black outside. My only suggestion would be adding more lights for that early morning crew coming through. It also occurred to be that I’d forgotten my water bottle in my car to drink after I take my starting line GU. Whoops. Since we’d arrived at 5:50am and the race didn’t start till 7:30am we wandered. Thankfully, at 6:15am we heard an announcement about coffee and water for sale! Woo Woo! We walked back over to that other area and each grabbed a coffee and a water bottle to share. The coffee was delightful. The rain had stopped awhile ago so I laid down my garbage bag to allow me to sit on the floor and enjoy the coffee and people watch. Eventually, we picked ourselves back off the floor and walked back to the start, which was now bright and we could see how pretty it was. I also now had a water bottle for the GU, so I was thrilled. No really, I am easily excitable before races.

Who's ready to run 13.1 miles! We ARE!

Who’s ready to run 13.1 miles! We ARE!

My friend and I decided to do a 3:1 Run/Walk ratio for this race. We knew the Northern VA has lots of hills and I didn’t want to upset my knee. So we took it easy. To my friend’s surprise during those 3 minute run portions I was averaging a 10 minute mile. The best part though was my lack of pain! My IT band felt fine and my knee wasn’t hurting. Most of mile 1 takes place on trail. The key to this was to go out a bit slower and try to stay as close as possible to the middle. Mile 1 flew by! As did 2 & 3!

Where am I? I think I love it.

Where am I? I think I love it.

We ran through some developments of pretty houses and thus began the “gently rolling” hills. Juss and I knew this was likely to occur. Our 3:1 plan remained mostly intact. Occasionally, we would walk a bit more but we’d try to balance with more running.

Not sure why were' so happy at mile 7?

Not sure why were’ so happy at mile 7?

This course featured several out and back loops. There was one that was about a mile out and a mile back. Then another that was much shorter than one more that was also very long with its only little loops at the end before you turned back around. I actually loved these. Many of the outs were downhill, the entire time you’re thinking OMG I have to run back up this!! Well turned out that running back up wasn’t so bad. It was more mental than physical. Only once did we actually walk the up fully and run the down and that was around mile 9.25. The awesome thing was we knew that as soon as we finished the loop and got back out to the main road, we were at mile 11.

Check out those out and backs!

Check out those out and backs!

The rain began again as we approached mile 12. It felt glorious. Not a downpour, but just enough to cool us off so we could finish strong.

Are we sure this is an hour outside of a major city?

Are we sure this is an hour outside of a major city?

The last mile felt good. I ran most of it, and was in a bit of pain but I was so happy. That it didn’t really matter. When we hit the boa and tiara stand at mile 13. I was just so excited to finish. The last mile or so was on a trail and it was actually quite beautiful. Overall, I had a blast at this race! It was gorgeous, very well run and the weather was perfect. My fueling worked out well, there was plenty of course support and the scenery was so pretty! On a side note, the medals are HUGE and I love that.

Woo Woo!

Woo Woo!

After the race, we rushed back to the hotel and cleaned up before heading over to IHOP for some glorious pancakes! Then I dropped Juss off for a wedding in Leesburg and I headed home. I spent the afternoon watching movies with the hubby and icing.

I would recommend this race to really anyone. I’m actually considering doing it again next year too! The only change I would make would be to either purchase VIP parking or stay at the host resort just to make leaving easier.

Have you run a Diva’s Race? Ever run a race you were nervous about and ended up liking it? What’s the hilliest race you’ve run? Did you tackle a long run or race this weekend? Tell me about it! 

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3 Comments on “Diva Half Marathon Recap: DC Wine Country

  1. This looks like a really similar course to the Virginia Wine Country Half! It really is a fabulous and fun course. I did that with Team Challenge for CCFA, and they used Lansdowne as the host hotel, but we stayed a little further away, but they shuttled us around. I definitely agree with you that it is hilly, but good on you for tackling it and coming out the other side smiling! That’s always the best feeling. I’m hoping that’ll be me in 2.5 weeks!

  2. I am loooooving the looks of this race. I WISH they had one in Colorado because I would be all over that… or a trip to DC wine country in 2015? That’s a thought…

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