So, the only real reason I have ever run a half-marathon is because there’s wine tasting at the finish line. Ok, ok… and maybe also because my brother inspired me just a little (he’s run at least 12 real marathons)…and come to think of it, there was an ugly breakup with a two-timing boyfriend that conveniently coincided with my first-ever run as an adult. But, the only lasting reason is the wine.
This means I get up before dawn and run/walk a god-awful amount of miles (13.1) and as soon as I finish, make a beeline for the wine tent. For me, this is around 10:00 am – which is pretty much starting the day with wine. And these end-of-the-race festivities are extremely rewarding: my smiling lady friends who have also run the race (finishing way ahead of me of course), my mom handing me a spotless wine glass, the California sunshine filtering through the trees and the charming windmills of Solvang surrounding us.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate propelling our almost mid-life bodies through 13.1 miles of Santa Ynez Valley’s rolling hills covered in vineyards, ranches, wineries and horses. Horses that get so excited from the energy of the runners going by that they join in the run, if only inside their own fenced pastures. It is truly a gorgeous run.
And Rosé and Chardonnay have never tasted so good! After getting some lunch into our tired and wine-filled bodies, we head out to do more wine tasting, at which point we are even more indebted to my mom, the mom of our whole group at this point. She keeps us on schedule and herds us into the right tasting room, as well as keeps us on time for dinner and in our seats with her soothing voice. Not to mention her sober driving…thank you Mom!
With all the wonderful restaurants in the valley, we always indulge, treating ourselves to a nice pasta dinner at Trattoria Grappolo and after the race, plenty more wine. Many of the restaurants here make their own wine – but remember to book early; reservations fill up quickly on this yearly Mother’s Day weekend.
And finally, no half-marathon trip to Santa Ynez Valley is complete without a glass of wine at the local wine cave, Tastes of the Valleys (now called the Good Life in Solvang; you have to go to Pismo Beach to visit this exceptional wine bar). Here we let the knowledgeable staff help us determine the best choices for each of us, and we rest our weary legs plus the heavy medals we’ve been wearing all day in front of the cozy fire listening to live guitar strumming.
We sigh and feel a lovely sense of accomplishment and we all know we’ll sleep very well tonight. Wine country runs are really the only way to go. Until next year!