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Race Recap: Napa Valley Marathon 2015

The ‘make or break’ marathon…

Everyone one says don’t decide if you like or dislike (re: hate) something only after doing it once. Or is that just for food? Anywho, I decided, after over a year sabbatical I’d attempt another marathon (CIM 2013 was my first). The lure of Napa was really a determining factor, but seeing if I was truly a ‘marathoner’ was also what sealed the deal approximately a year ago when I signed up for this race.

Here we are a year later and my time to shine was here. Since the race was about an hour and fifteen minutes from Sac, we decided this would be a perfect RACEcation! I could get used to racing out of town, just for a mini vacation…but almost every time I regret the ‘race’ part of the trip 😉

Again, this was similar to CIM because it is considered a ‘net downhill’ race, but I’ve come to learn that this means nothing. Yes, it may be considered a fast course/race, but in reality, that means there are still hills to conquer and not one ounce of it feels net downhill! I always appreciate the elevation map, it gives me some hope…until you hit the hills and are saying expletives under your breath or loudly!

Although we were in town for the race on Friday, we didn’t hit up the Expo until Saturday. The Expo was held at the Napa Marriott, down the street from our hotel. The Marriott was very nice, nicer than Marriott’s I’ve stayed in (which isn’t that many). It was kinda a hodge podge of a situation, booths were everywhere, people were milling about, it didn’t seem to have much rhyme or reason. Being the smarties we were, we easily found the room for the Bib’s. Then took a peek at the random booths that lined the main hallway, then found our way into the ‘expo’ room, but did it backwards by mistake.


I think instinctively I knew to go straight to the shopping. I was so excited to see a specific wine glass made just for the race – etched with the race and date. We were waiting for the others to get there and when they did we still had a hard time connecting. After waiting by the bibs, we finally went back to the Expo area and found them, only after we took some pics on a tandem bike and picked up our swag bag, which is by far the ugliest thing I have ever taken home from a race!

We met the crew at the CIM booth! We had to give our hometown race a shout out. Then the rest of the crew wanted to look around, I wanted to grab my shirt and wine taste – so J and I went and did that. Again, the ugly shirt matched the ugly bag, perfectly. The two wineries that were sampling were pretty tasty. Don’t judge me drinking before race day, I was in Napa for Heaven’s sake, it’s sacrilig!

We said bye to the crew and we went about our business for the rest of the day, which you can always read about here in yesterday’s post!

After dinner, I set up my grid gear shot to keep me busy, but my heart was racing like crazy from the moment I tried to relax. Basically all you need to know is that I was nervous as hell, because I knew I didn’t train to my best ability for this race. I was going to run it, try to enjoy the scenery, and try not to care about my finish time (psh, year right)!

Gear Grid // Lululemon, Saucony, C9, Balega, and Garmin

The alarm was set for 5 AM. The hotel offered the marathon runners an extra early breakfast offering, so I went downstairs and made myself a bagel with butter and had a cup of coffee. I couldn’t even eat the whole thing, I could barely stuff down one half. I knew it was important to eat, but the nerves just wouldn’t let me. I probably should have tried to add some jam, but I forgot! Before I headed back upstairs, I made a bagel for J too. Had to do the whole bathroom thing, come on, it’s just one of those runner things that needs to be done before a big race, or a long run!

After I was finally dressed in my race fit, had all my running essentials, we were out the door and into J’s car. He was dropping me off at the start line since I had no desire to be on the buses at 5:15 AM, when the race didn’t start until 7 AM. So, we drove the 26.2 miles or so to the start line, J parked and we walked to the start area. We plotted where he would meet me and what supplies he would drop off to me. At mile 11-12 he’d meet me, then mile 18 with the Fitfam6 crew, then at mile 23 to finish with me. Solid plan!

I made J snap a quick pic of me in front of the vineyards, then a nice racer took one of both of us. Not before J gave me a hard time for wanting to post an IG pic, he’s much less into social media, than I am. He thinks my antics are weird! He waited in the port-o-potty line with me, then we walked to the start. I was much less nervous, it was now or never. J gave me a good luck kiss and was off.

My original plan was to take the first four miles easy. Last race I ran the first 13 way too fast. I wanted to keep it at a 10min/mile pace, which I executed. I could have gone faster, but I didn’t want to pay in the end. It didn’t matter that there were some serious hills for the first six miles, I felt good and strong! 

Mile 1 – 9:58
Mile 2 – 9:51
Mile 3 – 9:51
Mile 4 – 9:47
Mile 5 – 9:55
Mile 6 – 9:53

After 6 miles of the 10 min/mile pace, I wanted to pick it up. At first, I was going to try one mile hard, one mile easy. But I decided it felt good, I’d go for two hard…but then it wasn’t so easy after that. For some reason, I kept thinking J was meeting me between 8-9, but that was because we’d discussed it. When I didn’t see him, I realized it was the later miles he was meeting me. I was getting really hot, so first the gloves came off, then shortly after the long sleeve came off! 

Mile 7 – 9:40
Mile 8 – 9:41
Mile 9 – 9:48
Mile 10 – 10:19
Mile 11 – 10:20

I saw J and his bright volt shirt! I was so happy to see him. He immediately took my stuff and gave me my 3 Hammer gels to get me through when I’d see him again at mile 23. I was still in decent spirits, but knew it was going to be a hard one! 

Mile 12 – 10:32

This is where it got really tough, the effects of the hills started to set in. I don’t remember feeling that bad here, but the hills were really starting to kick my butt. I realized that I wouldn’t hit a sub-2hour half marathon.

Mile 13 – 11:22
Mile 14 – 11:25
Mile 15 – 11:23

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but this must be where the cramping started to set in, also the pain on the top of my right foot. I was just running slower here, but I don’t think I was walking yet, at this point.

Mile 16 – 13:02
Mile 17 – 13:38

I knew what Fitfam6 would be here, as well as J. So that’s probably why there is a little spike in my speed, like a dramatic spike. HAHA! I saw J first and he ran with me, I was thirsty. He ran to the car and then brought me my TJ’s water with electrolytes just as I was running past the FF6 crew. ALL of them were out there. If they weren’t cheering so loud, I probably would have started crying and broke down on them. I was already complaining a lot to J, but I had to hold it together for these 6 who drove out to cheer me on! They even had a special sign just for me. That felt amazing, but at the same time, I felt like I let them down. I was going so damn slow! J ran with me to the water station that was very near and then we parted ways with a kiss again (I know, gross)! 


How I felt about his selfie pic!

Mile 18 – 12:52
Mile 19 – 13:50

This is where I let myself stop to stretch. My calf was seizing up and I was getting serious outer shin splints on both legs. This is where I mentally broke down and let my self-walk, more than run! 

Mile 20 – 17:03
Mile 21 – 15:32
Mile 22 – 16:41

This is when running became less of a priority and just finishing was going to be a priority. I was hurting and cramping like crazy, despite the salt tablets and added salt at a medic station. On top of tons of Gatorade and water at the aid stations, I was not hydrated enough. My body was telling me that. But I was so close to the end. I knew J would be at mile 23 waiting for me, so that’s what kept thinking…just get to him. Little did I know mile 23 would be on a bridge, so I’d have to go a bit further to find him. But he was there. I greeted him with hot tears of pain and disappointment. But even though I was upset, I still grabbed my free helping of gelato. A nice racer even gave me the additional salt, but it still wasn’t working.

Stolen Pic, on the bridge at mile 23!

Mile 23 – 18:15
Mile 24 – 16:01
Mile 25 – 16:27
Mile 26 – 14:06
Mile 27 -17:16

That would be my Mom’s finger in the pic and me sucking air to finish!

Those last 4.2 miles were rough, they seemed to take forever and where all of the damn race photogs were! I would see one ahead and make sure to jog past them, so they didn’t catch me walking in a picture.  We would walk most of it, but then at mile 25 I told J that we needed to run 100 steps and walk 50, so we did just that. He counted and I just followed along. I told him I wanted to finish the last .2 running as well. However, right as I was coming into the residential area I saw FF6 again. I literally almost busted into tears, they were so awesome, cheering me on even though I was over 5 hours on the course. They spent their day out there cheering me and hundreds of other runners on. I am forever indebted to them for their thoughtfulness for me and all the other runners.

I finished as strong as I could. I even tried to pass two girls, but my legs wouldn’t corporate with me! It was a struggle to finish, but I did. I heard my Mom screaming for me like a crazy person, I almost lost it again there with the tears! I crossed the finish line at around 5:29 on the clock. I must have really looked in pain since one of the volunteers was really attentive to me. I told her I was fine and when she finally left my side, I let it all out.

I cried to J, but had to stop shortly after, because AGAIN, there were a bunch of photo ops. If I wanted a good memory, since I don’t have many, then I needed to smile for the cameras! Puffy eyes and all! Once we found our way out of the gated off area (felt like a heard), I saw my Mom. Again, I started with the tears and thanked her for coming to support. Then we walked a little further and I saw my Dad and I cried again. I was seriously an emotional mess!

But I was a marathoner…again!


This being my second marathon, I had a lot more expectations than I did with my first. Two of the biggest expectations that I had were that I’d have a decent time and that I’d lose weight. I didn’t sign up for a marathon to lose weight, but it was a side effect of the last one. But not this time. The biggest learning I walked away with from this marathon is that I did not respect the distance. You can’t just wing 26.2 miles. Why I even thought that, was beyond me. I trained, but I know that I did not train to my best ability. I made other things in my life a priority and I also let laziness take over. I knew I didn’t train my best for this race and I knew it was going to be hard, I just didn’t realize how bad my body would react and how emotional it would become. I am/was disappointed in myself, that’s a hard thing to swallow.

As an athlete, you always want to get better and do better than the time before. When it doesn’t happen, it feels like a disappointment. I disappointed myself, which is one of the worst things I could ever put myself through. 

There is a silver lining. Besides running a marathon, I realized that I have people in my corner I didn’t know were there. I put my life on social media, so everyone knew I was running my big race. I was embarrassed and disappointed to post my finish time but I did. I only heard nice, encouraging, and thoughtful things from my friends and family…even though I was obviously upset with it all. The things people were saying, are beyond me. I didn’t feel inspiring when I ran a 5:26 marathon. I don’t feel like I did my best, I felt like I let everyone down, especially those cheering and rooting for me – in person or via social media. 

I appreciated every single sweet word that was sent my way, but it took me a while to figure out that no one was judging me on my time, just me. I was the ONLY person who cared about my time, everyone else was proud of me and for running a marathon! Thank you doesn’t come close to how appreciative I felt of all the messages I received. I still feel that I let you all down, but I find solace in knowing that you believe in me, especially when I didn’t believe in myself. Not everyone has that, so I will relish in what I learned from this race. I won’t ever forget my finish time, but more importantly, I will never forget the way everyone made me feel after running my second marathon!

This was the break in the ‘make or break’, but this just can’t be the way I go out as a marathoner…


    • S Ganeeban

      Thanks, Haley! Didn't mean to make you emotional, but I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm slowly realizing no one else cares about my time, but me. But it's still a hard thing to swallow and accept! Can't wait for the DD this weekend and our sweet race day fits! xoxo, ganeeban

  • David Villadelgado

    I'm gonna come out and say it – Get over it! #kthxbye. All jokes aside, we all know that we're our own worst critics, especially when it comes to running. It was so fun seeing you out there and to see J support you so well (mom and pop too). We would do it again in a heartbeat. How far is SLO again? =) You're amazing. Swallow THAT and accept it. Happy Bday month and we'll see you at DD!! Yum!

    • S Ganeeban

      I needed that, thanks! Thanks, I couldn't have asked to find a better supporter than J…my rents are stuck we me and I am with them 😉 Thank you so much! I appreciate your cheers and your journey to get there, it is an indescribable feeling! SLO is 5 hours away, but so pretty 🙂 Thanks, I'm so excited you guys will be at the DD! Can't wait for you all to really meet my fam and running friends! xoxo, ganeeban

    • S Ganeeban

      Hi Chica! Thank you so much, I appreciate your good vibes! It took me a little bit, but I am really excited to have completed marathon #2! Thanks for reading and all your encouraging words since I've started training, they helped more than you know! xoxo, ganeeban

  • Kristen

    Congratulations, girlfriend!!! Given the way you were feeling in the weeks leading up to the race, I think it is awesome that you never quit and never let yourself get down. You kept smiling, moving forward, and finished a MARATHON!!! I wouldn't be embarrassed at all about that time. You rocked it and there are so many people out there who have never done what you did. Heck, there are people who won't run unless they set themselves up for a "perfect" race – so the fact that you ran at an imperfect time is quite commendable! Cheers to you!

    • S Ganeeban

      Hey, Lady! Thanks, I appreciate your sweet words and good vibes, always! I am finally a little more emotionally settled from it all and am happy that I got #2 in the books. But thanks for the perspective and always being such a huge supporter! I know most of your racing is on hold, but I can't wait to see what your next chapter has in store for you 🙂 xoxo, ganeeban

  • kachet

    This is amazing and you are such an inspiration. I'm so proud and happy that you finished although I know what it's like when your body is not doing what you want it to, and how you can "get in your head." Easier said than done, buuuut, shake it off, girl, you're a rockstar and we all have your back! 🙂 xoxo

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