Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Race Times and how to not PR

It helps knowing what your PR (personal record) of a race is before the race starts.  It didn't occur to me until after the Wichita Prairie Fire Half Marathon (11 October 2015), when a friend asked if I had PR'd that race, that I couldn't remember what my PR was.  I shook my head and said that my PR was a LONG time ago (it was) and that I probably wasn't even close (I was).  Doh!

I signed up for the Prairie Fire half because I had a training run scheduled around that time for about the same distance (for the Dopey Challenge in January) and there were a bunch of runners from the Enid Running Club (ERC) going up to Wichita for the race.  I hadn't ever done the Prairie Fire before but had heard that it was a good race and a fairly flat course.

I checked into the Hyatt Regency after having my car serviced at the Wichita Luxury Collection where I had bought my car last year.  I picked up my race packet downtown and a few packets of Roctane Gu all the while drinking as much water as I could.   Members of the ERC got together for dinner the night before the race at a place called the Albero Cafe where I had the pork with angel hair pasta - it was really good.

Pre-race dinner at Albero Cafe with the Enid Running Club

Pork with angel hair pasta
One of the coolest thing about the Prairie Fire is that the Hyatt Regency is literally right at the start/finish of the race.  I woke up, got dressed, fixed myself some oatmeal with raisins that I had brought with me and drank some Powerade.  We met down in the lobby at 7 am on race morning to take pictures and I still had time to use the bathroom and get to the start line.

Half Fanatics

The weather was perfect - just a teensy bit cool in the 50's but it promised to be a great morning for a run.  The race started at 7:30 am and since we were in the back, it took a few minutes to get to the start line.

A friend had asked me what I thought I would do for this race and I answered probably in the 2:45 - 2:50 range because it was just another training run.  I started the race at a pace that was a little faster than I wanted and decided that it felt good so I kept around the same pace for the first half of the race.  

I drank at every water stop - mostly gatorade and took a Roctane Gu at around 1:40.  For some reason, maybe a combination of still feeling great and a slight downhill part of the race, I sped up significantly at around mile 8.  I kept thinking that I really needed to slow down but the pace felt good and I hadn't run at this pace feeling this good for a long time.  Then, I got even more motivated when I started to catch up to the 2:30 pace group.  By mile 10, I caught up to the 2:30 pace group and stayed with them until the next water stop where I grabbed some powerade, chugged it down, and took off running again.  At this point, I lost sight of that pace group and was just on my own for a bit until I saw a fellow ERC member and tried to keep up with her but by mile 12, I was starting to feel the effects of my faster pace so I slowed down a bit the last mile.

I knew when I finished that I had beat the 2:30 time and thought I was around 2:28 but was pleasantly surprised to see that I had actually finished at a 2:27:39.  Was that a PR?  I thought it wasn't even close until I looked it up today.  My PR was from the OKC Half Marathon in 2009...2:27:11!  I was SO CLOSE to my PR and had no idea.  I think if I had known, I might have tried just a wee bit harder to beat it.

So here's how my race times look so far (**PR**):

Disney Race for the Taste 10K  2007                                    **1:04:01**
Great Land Run 5K 2008                                                        **28:17**
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K 2008                             **1:21:24**
Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon 2009                     **2:27:11**
Great Land Run 10K 2009                                                     1:06:13
Expedition Everest 2009                                                        1:26:48
Tulsa Full Moon 5K 2009                                                       41:02
Walt Disney World Princess Half Marathon 2010                2:32:13
Disneyland Half Marathon 2010                                           2:46:10
Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2011        2:37:17
Finer Physiques Turkey Trot 5K 2012                                   31:37
New Years' Double Half Marathon 2014 (Eve)                     2:42:35
                                                          2015 (Day)                    2:45:07
Oklahoma City Memorial Full Marathon 2015                     **5:29:34**
Wichita Prairie Fire Half Marathon 2015                              2:27:39
Tulsa Route 66 Full Marathon 2015                                      6:28:47
Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge 2016                           5K 53:06
                                                                                                10K 1:36:47
                                                                                                HM 3:22:23
                                                                                                FM 6:53:11

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Day 7 - Azamara Quest - Bordeaux Day 2, Saturday, 29 August 2015

This morning our tour did actually start at 9:30 am. We headed to the right bank this time and crossed the river to our first stop, the Chateau de la Riviere in the Fronsac appellation. We parked a bit away from the chateau and as you walked up the drive, you were hit with several blasts of cold air coming from what looked like air vents from within the hillside. This was by far my favorite winery of all the ones we visited. 

We walked up to what looked like a castle and stepped into the courtyard on a beautiful, sunny, and somewhat cool morning overlooking an amazing view complete with a pool. I remember thinking to myself….”Holy Sh**, this place is so gorgeous!”. We walked around for a bit admiring our surroundings and taking picture after picture of this beautiful place. They had a B&B and I'm sure there were numerous other events including weddings held here too.

Pretty soon, our tour guide arrived and right off the bat, you could tell she was a real character by her flamboyant mannerisms. She met us holding a very large flashlight and heavy coat. I figured we might be going into the cellar but had no idea what we would be seeing. 

Our tour guide explained about the property and the various owners of the winery – the current owners were the Chinese. She pointed out the original part of the winery and the additions which included the current offices and the B&B. The Gargoyles sticking out the balcony were replicas of the ones at the Notre Dame. 

Shadow of the gargoyle below the turret above the white doors on the right
She walked us back down the driveway to a door that we had passed on the way up to the Chateau.

Entrance to the wine cellar
She unlocked it and we were hit with that same cold air we had felt earlier. We stepped down into their cellar and our guide explained that the series of tunnels built into this limestone hillside was something like 20 km long used at one time by the french resistance during the war. The temperature was a constant 50F (chilly!). Our guide showed us row after row of bottles being stored which ranged from the typical sized wine bottle all the way up to their gigantic Nabuchodonosor, 15L bottles of wine. Their private stock was impressive with bottles dating back to the very early 1900s.

We wound our way through the tunnels which held both bottles and barrels of wine. One could easily get lost in the tunnels. Our guide also pointed out the markings made on the side of the caves with varying dates and some artwork that served as proof that the French resistance were hiding in these tunnels. The previous owner of the winery had a large stone table and chairs built in the cellar for entertaining. There was even a fireplace built into the tunnel to keep guests warmer. 

 She led us up some stairs and we emerged from a door that opened out into the central courtyard that we were just in. That was the most amazing tour of a wine cellar we have ever seen.

We were taken over to the showroom/tasting room where we picked up a t-shirt for Seth and a drip stop as souvenirs. We tasted a few of the wines and, quite honestly, as gorgeous and impressive as the winery is, the wine was just ok. The prices for the B&B were surprisingly reasonable – up to 287 Euros for 2 people in a suite. (We had paid more than that per night at the Sofitel in London). Our guide also introduced us to the “aroma wheel” which made tasting wines and trying to identify the taste even harder. Their wine prices ranged from 6-35 Euros per bottle.

Bed and Breakfast prices

I used the bathroom prior to departing and even thought the toilet paper in the women's bathroom was so cute. 

We toured briefly their production area where all of the bottle sizes that the winery produces was on display. We then walked over to the womens' “bath” which was a bit of steep path (so as to be hidden from the eyes of the men) and consisted of just a shallow pool of water for the ladies to just walk around in.

Our next stop was Chateau de Candale where we ate lunch at their L'Atelier. Laura dropped us off and we had 2 hours to enjoy a leisurely lunch. We opted for the chef's tasting menu and started with a delicious olive tapenade. We also had a bottle of the winery's red wine 2008. The first course was a mushroom soup with an egg on top – it was creamy and good. For the 2nd course I opted for the beef tartar which was completely different than the ones I've had in the past – it had strawberries, roe, and other little unidentifiable bits in it. I liked it because the flavor was more subtle than traditional beef tartar but the portion was huge. The guys had the sea bass which was also delicious. Instead of dessert, I had the cheese course which was served with truffled honey. Very yummy.

Olive tapenade

Serving the mushroom soup

Pouring the egg over the mushroom soup

Mushroom soup with egg

Beef Tartar

Cheese course
Our next visit was to the Chateau Guadet which was interesting because we were dropped off in the street to meet the tour guide and then were taken down an alley and were ushered through a sliding garage door to access the winery. It was a Grand Cru Classe winery but would never get rated higher than that simply because they didn't have a parking lot. Their production facility was teeny and they used concrete vats – the first time we had seen this type. Their cellar was also a tunnel but we had to climb down a ladder to get into it. 

We toured their cellar and emerged out the other end of their courtyard, left the property, and walked for quite a ways to get to the tasting. Along the way, we passed the town's church where there was a wedding in progress.

The roads were crazy small, steep, and of cobblestone. Pretty tough to navigate if you have any mobility issues at all. 

We were taken into a liquor store where they actually used an automated wine dispensing machine which we had seen on our cruise ships before. The first wine we tried nobody liked and our guide told us he did this on purpose pointing out that this particular wine had actually won 2nd place in some sort of big contest. We tried about half a dozen other wines and he commented on each and pointed out interesting facts about them and then had us rank the ones we liked. We ended up having a case of 12 bottles shipped home (95 Euros for shipping) getting a couple of bottles of each of the favorites we picked. I really liked this type of wine tasting – going head to head between the different wineries.

As a surprise, Laura bought us a box of authentic St Emilion Macarons (I'd been commenting on going to a patisserie for a couple of days, lol). That was really sweet of her to do and we ate one on the way back to the ship. They were, by far, the best macaroons that I've ever eaten – crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle with a delicious almond flavor. Laura said that the recipe was from the original nuns' recipe. Each macaroon was stuck to a little piece of perforated paper. I would love to have the nuns' recipe!

I really enjoyed the time we spent with Laura (Bordeaux Tours by Elodie) – she was sweet, attentive, and very knowledgeable. The chateaus that we visited were a really great representation of the appellations that we visited – we got a taste of large ones as well as small ones. A very enjoyable way to spend 2 days in Bordeaux – an area that we would love to revisit.

Dinner this evening was in Aqualina – the Italian specialty restaurant - where we were treated to the caviar service by Wade and Charlie. Their presentation was beautiful and we ate our caviar with tubes of vodka. I was really trying to be as dairy free as possible for diner so I had the risotto with duck confit which was a GIGANTIC piece of duck and the flourless chocolate cake for dessert. Not only was I running low on Lactaid supplements but just going crazy with dairy day after day (even with Lactaid on board) was catching up to me.