Salinas Valley Half Marathon, 2011

Posted by Lauren

Last Saturday I woke up really early for the Salinas Valley Half Marathon. After topping my tahini buckwheat breakfast bake with peanut butter and strawberry preserves, I grabbed the other essentials and hit the road.

Perfect fuel for the race!

I met up with Miranda + Matt before the race. This was Miranda’s first 1/2 marathon and it was a real pleasure seeing her mileage numbers grow these past few months. I know that sounds corny, but I love running with her, even if I end up with bugs in my teeth and hair :)

The race began at Soledad Mission (36641 Fort Romie Road, Soledad, CA) aka Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, founded on October 9, 1791. Oooh, history. Of the 21 missions from back in the day, this was lucky number 13.

I checked out the course map and noticed a slight hill between miles 6 and 8. Cool.

The weather was probably in the upper 50s, low 60s while we waited. A misty fog layer blanketed the various crops.

This mission was actually restored in 1954 – they built it back from just a few ragged wall sections and mere piles of adobe dirt.

I situated myself in front of the 1:40 sign and waited for the “3… 2… 1…”

Off we went! Running through the very fields made famous in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.

Running west toward the Santa Lucia mountains, signs point out various crops – broccoli, pimento pepper, carrots, romaine lettuce… and the list goes on. Salad bowl crops :)

That smile is for a reason – the course is beautiful. This is the second annual Salinas Valley Half Marathon and last year’s inaugural race blew all my expectations out of the water.

Uh oh. The 1:40 pacer passed me. Welp, there goes that. Can I blame it on the bathroom break I had to take? ;)

We ran by miles and miles of vineyards…. it was only a matter of time until I crossed the finish line. Awaiting me:

Nectarines, bananas, oranges, bagels…

And delicious, juicy strawberries straight from the very crops we just ran by!

Here comes Miranda! (Remember when she suggested dining at Coconuts? mmm peanut butter molten chocolate lava cake… drool…)

The course finished at the charming Pessagno Winery, which specializes in producing limited-edition, hand-crafted wines.

The finish line was hidden by rows of grapes… And what do grapes make?


Talbott Vineyards, Monterey Wine Company, Ray Franscioni WinesParaiso Vineyards, and Ventana were just a few of the local wineries offering tastes to finishers.

Yet again, Taylor Farms was there with convenient veggie packs. Of course these would be perfect for a quick snack at lunch or stuffed into a little kids school bag… last year I snagged around 5 but this year I controlled myself and only grabbed two.

Before we left, I double checked my time: 1:42:23… and 2nd in my age group.

Oh, wait, didn’t they already have the awards ceremony?!

Matt also placed in his age group with a crazyawesomefast time of 1:28:32. He was the 20th person to cross the finish line!!

I won a BIG bottle of Scheid VineyardsClaret Reserve! Engraved with the race logo and deets!

Straight from their website’s shop:

- Bordeaux blend receives an inordinate amount of attention
– Full-bodied, richly flavored wine
– Five Bordeaux varietals go into the finest oak barrels
– Concentrated aromas of lush black fruit mingled with spice, caramel, and a warm earthiness
– Dense flavors and balanced tannins integrate beautifully for a long, layered finish. – Aerate for several hours before enjoying…. If I ever open it I’ll have to remember that!
– Longer-than-average season in 2006 = even more intensity and wow-factor than usual and dramatic flavors that increase in lushness as the wine opens up
– Wine was barreled into a combination of 75% French and 25% air-dried American oak and aged over 27 months before bottling

Happy finishers: Matt + Miranda

Miranda + Me (with the big bertha of wines ha ha)

After the race… I drove the back roads and failed, met up with Nicole for a family reunion at a campground in Hollister, and then drove back to San Jose for date night with Kyle.

We listened to 1/2 of Crazy Stupid Love (lots of traffic trying to get in!!) and watched/listened to the other 1/2. The second movie of the double feature was Friends with Benefits. I liked the latter better, Kyle was indifferent. What do you prefer? Kristine over at Running On Hungry doesn’t think Justin Timberlake’s all that convincing as an actor, but I liked him (and his butt) in this flick.

Question: What’s the most scenic run you’ve been on? (aunts + cousins who said you’re reading – this means you!)

Question: Drive-in movies…. yay or nay? Justin Timberlake acting… yay or nay?


Comments (13)

  1. bryanmuirhead

    Justin Timberlake is the best actor of all time.

    1. Sugar Coated Sisters (Post author)


  2. foodsweatandbeers

    WOOOOO!!! I’ve been waiting for this recap, sounds just awesome. I was so confused at the fellows with balloons on their booties…. I take it they’re the pace folks? (clearly not a runner, beautiful scenery or not.)

    I’m a big fan of the single drive-in movie that I have ever seen (don’t quote me on this but I’m pretty sure it was Wild Wild West). I like the idea some folks had of putting mattresses on the roof of their car. Maybe next time.

    Congrats on your giant wine trophy!! Maybe if more races offered that, I’d start running, lol.

    1. Sugar Coated Sisters (Post author)

      These were the first pacers I’ve ever seen with balloons… much better than holding a plastic sign up the whole time like at other races!

  3. Kristine @ Running On Hungry

    Woo hoo! CONGRATS! Um wine as a finisher’s medal? Yes please! I think all marathons need to do this! :)

    What did you think of the movie? (And you just made me think back to the movie and JT’s abs… when did that happen?!) Sounds like a perfect day!

    1. Sugar Coated Sisters (Post author)

      I liked both of them quite a bit… the other double features had Planet of the Apes and other non-chick flicks. I’m glad Kyle was game to go to those two…. they were boy-friendly chick flicks though :)

  4. glitzglamgranola

    Ohh congrats on the marathon! You were amazing! And I love the idea of wine at the end… what a perfect ending!

    How fun that you guys went to a drive in movie! I didn’t even know those still existed!! I really liked Crazy Stupid Love and I thought FWB was pretty funny. CSL won it for me though with all those hot scenes of Ryan Gosling… YUM. Sorry JT, you just can’t compete in my book ;)

    1. Sugar Coated Sisters (Post author)

      Thanks! OMG, yes, Ryan Gosling…. hot damn ha ha

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