The first time I ran the Hospital Hill half marathon in Kansas City, it almost killed me. Often ranked one of the ten most difficult courses in the nation, a result of a combination of intense uphill climbs and KC’s humid, hot weather the first week of June when the race is run, I wasn’t ready for it the first time. I finished, but barely, and nearly passed out crossing the finish line.
That was years ago, and a lot has changed since then. For one thing, I’m a running coach, as well as a pacer for various area races, and for another, I’m a husband and a dad. Some things are the same, however. I still ran today with my dear friend Brian, who in addition to being a nearly lifelong friend is also someone I do a lot of running with, and the race was still in KC, quite possibly my favorite city in the world for its rich culture that includes the world’s best barbecue, the birth of jazz, several world-class museums, and of course, a lot of running.
This weekend, I paced the race that once had nearly beaten me, helping others around me to cross the finish line and meet their goals. Some finished a half marathon for the first time ever. Some PR’d. Some were just pleased to conquer the hill yet another time. I take pacing pretty seriously; I know how much I valued pacers when I was attempting to compete or even just PR, and I love the feeling that I had today of crossing the finish line with someone who has just completed their first half marathon. It’s sure not to be their last.
Another exciting occurrence was that my son, Titus, who is now nine months old, ran his second Hospital Hill 5K last night. Rather than explain how a 9 month old runs two races a year apart, I’ll just show you:
Avid readers of our blog will know that I’m always preaching that wine is the pairing, the compliment, and never the experience unto itself. I am of the opinion that wine pairs well with nearly everything in life, including great accomplishments and firsts. This morning, after the race, I needed to pop a cork and pair something nice with the celebration we were having. Titus “ran” his second race. His mom ran her first in a year. I paced my first Hospital Hill, a race I hope to continue pacing after the great experience I had today. And I was surrounded by friends. What better time to raise a glass?
The W. Donaldson Rose’ from Sonoma is light and crisp, with ample carbonation and beautiful notes of melon, rose hips, and vanilla. Unimposing yet enjoyable, it was the perfect compliment to conversation, coffee, and a good runner’s high. If you’re a drinker of sparkling wine, I recommend this bottle. If you’re a runner, I recommend Hospital Hill. And if you’re a father, then I recommend “running” with your kids, until running with them becomes an option, and I recommend celebrating all of the wonderful moments in life by pairing them with wine.