Team Challenge – 2011 Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon

2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend

Las Vegas Team Challenge went to wine country, took on the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon and kicked some butt!  There is sooo much to write, yet I know that a long verbose post is going to be too much… so I’ll try to keep things concise!


We met at the airport at 9:45 AM for our 11:40 flight to San Francisco. But upon arrival we learned that our flight was delayed by 2 hours!  So we had plenty of time to hang out at the airport.  You know that jingle for “$5 dollar foot-long” subs at Subway?  Well… at the airport you can get $14 dollar foot longs….  We ate extremely overpriced sandwiches while chilling on the floor for a while!  But that didn’t deter us, we still got plenty of silliness in!
2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend

Once we finally got in the air, we had a pretty bumpy flight. Flights in and out of Vegas are frequently rough, but this one seemed rougher than many I’ve been on.  We flew to San Francisco, boarded a bus and stopped on the Golden Gate bridge for a few photos.  The bridge was pretty socked in with fog though, barely visible.  The fog was the big reason why our flight was so delayed.  All of us desert rats were freezing on the bridge!
2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend

We made it to our hotel in Santa Rosa, got checked in and walked to our restaurant.  The restaurant was kind enough to allow us to push our reservations back since we were so late in arriving.  We ended up having dinner as a team at Jack and Tony’s at around 9:00 PM.
2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend


The day started with a group run/walk with a bunch of Team Challenge participants from around the country that were staying at the Hyatt or Courtyard Marriott.  (There were Team Challenge groups at several area hotels, these two hotels were right by each other so we were grouped together for the buses and the group run/walk.)  We were just doing a couple miles to let everyone shake out after a day of traveling.  After a short warm-up in the Hyatt courtyard (where I’m sure we woke up a bunch of hotel guests) we headed toward the trail that went behind the hotel.  I just hung out at our start/finish point and pointed the latecomers the way to go to follow the Team!
2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend

After our warm-up, the team had some free time for a couple hours while I had the Team Challenge staff meeting.  Not only is it good to get a chance to get the rundown on the weekend’s schedule and plans, it is always fun to meet other Team Challenge coaches and staff from around the country.  I also got to connect with a few people from other chapters that I knew from Twitter!  They provided breakfast for us at our meeting.  After the general discussions, people broke out into smaller groups.  All the coaches were to meet with one another, as well as the individual cheer teams.  The Endurance Managers from around the country as well as the National staff don’t run the course, they are assigned to several spots on the course to cheer.  Since I was not running the course and was going to be hanging out with our Endurance Manager to cheer, I attended that “breakout session” instead of the coaches one.  I initially thought I would be stationed at mile 2 and then on to mile 10 to cheer, but I found out that one of the staff from our mile 2 assignment would be moving on to the finish line after so I grabbed the opportunity to make plans to ride with him for that!

Post meeting we met our team to ride the buses over to the expo/packet pickup at Cornerstone Gardens.  We gathered all the team members that rode the bus (several drove themselves instead of doing the team flight/bus) for a picture in the big blue chair at the gardens before helping them pick up their bib numbers and timing chips.
2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend

The expo for the event is fairly small.  Fitletic was represented there, I encouraged several of my team members to buy one as they were looking for new belts.  A few people who had done other bigger races assumed they would just buy some supplies at the expo (gels, sport drink, etc.) and were disappointed to find it wasn’t that kind of expo.  So some of them learned a new lesson… never assume you can buy your fuel at the expo!

After the expo I got a couple of hours to lounge in my hotel room and read.  That was glorious!  I needed to put my leg up as the pressure inside my cast was pretty uncomfortable.  I’m pretty sure my leg and foot were swelling from all the travel and time on my feet.  But it wasn’t a lot of time, just 2 hours before it was time to head to the inspirational pasta party, held in a vineyard.

A lot of people still assume that it is just a pasta party with our team, regardless of how many times we tell them it is a super cool event with ALL the teams from around the country.  But when they show up, walk through the spirit line of coaches, mentors and staff cheering for them and get to listen to the speakers while eating… they realize that it is so much more than just a “pasta dinner.”
2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend

Mike McCready from the band Pearl Jam spoke to the whole group about his personal battle with IBD.  The top fundraiser in the country was recognized, a 21-year-old kid from New England who raised a whopping $163,000 himself. This one kid raised more than our whole team did (we brought in $107,000… which exceeded our goal of $100,000!)  Incredible stuff!

2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend
We posed for a picture at the vineyard, headed back to the hotel for our pre-race team meeting and awards.  Since the Napa season is smaller than the Vegas season (in terms of participants) our endurance manager gives out goofy, customized awards for each member of the team.  The award our endurance manager came up for me was the “Kicked to the Curb” award… dual meaning because I was kind of kicked to the curb because I couldn’t do the race, but also because the root of my injury basically came from “kicking a curb” in my backyard!

After last minute questions, the team headed up to bed.  We decorated the doors of their rooms so they had a nice surprise when they woke up race morning.  All of the door posters were made by Las Vegas middle school students.
2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend 2011 Napa to Sonoma Weekend

Next post will include the events of actual race day…

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  1. Yay!! Go Team Vegas! Looks like the weather was beautiful once you got there.
    The pasta party is such an amazing event. Besides the actual race, it’s the thing I look forward to the most.
    I can’t wait to hear about race day!

  2. Wow, way to go team! And way to go coaches!! It sounds like you all really know how to support your runners–the personalized cards and the posters on the doors were a really nice touch.

    I can’t believe that story about the one guy raising $163,000! That’s incredible, I wonder what his secret is? $107,000 is also amazing. You guys did a great job 🙂

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