November 7, 2011

Apple Hill Harvest Run (Race Report)

It's been a while since I ran a race just for fun, but yesterday I got to do just that! I'd heard good things about the Apple Hill Harvest Run, and figured it would be a good way to get in a run, enjoy the beautiful scenery up there, and get some tasty treats after. I managed to talk my dad into running the 8.5 mile race with me, so I headed up to Apple Hill with my folks that morning. The forecast had a 50% chance of rain with temps in the high 30s/low 40s. It was pretty chilly! The start was at the lovely ParaVi Winery, and we got there with plenty of time to to spare. We picked-up our bibs and found the bathrooms then just tried to stay warm while we waited to start.
the start at ParaVi Winery
beautiful orchards & fall colors

Going into this race I was planning to just run it easy and have fun. It would be my longest run since Chicago, and I know I'm not in racing shape right now. I'd mentioned it to my dad, thinking he might want to do the 3.5 miler, but was quite surprised when he decided to do the 8.5 miler with me! He's in great shape for his age and runs fairly regularly, but usually maxes out at 10k. In fact this would be the longest he'd run in nearly 30 years! I had no doubt he could do it, and I was excited to be along for the ride.

By the time the race started my toes were completely numb. We started out with a good quarter mile climb right off the bat that warmed us up a bit, but my face was frozen for much of the first half of the race. After cresting that first hill we settled in to an easy, consistent pace along the flat country roads. The course is known for being pretty challenging, especially in the last few hilly miles, and also due to the elevation. The first 5k seemed to fly by and we were both feeling pretty good. We had to pause briefly for my dad to pee (he chose a lovely Christmas tree farm) so I slowed to a walk til he caught up. The course took us past lovely vineyards, apple groves, ranches, and Christmas tree farms. The air was cool, crisp, and unbelievably fresh. The rain thus far had held off, and we we had our fingers crossed that it would wait til we were done!
alright, Dad!
donkeys on the left : )
apple could smell all that goodness!
Mile 5 gave us a nice, long, gradual downhill which I made sure to take advantage of, knowing what was coming in the final 3 miles. When saw the mile 6 sign I knew we were entering somewhat new territory for my dad. Up to that point we were both feeling good, then we turned a corner and found ourselves on a nasty little hill. It wasn't all that steep but it was long. We made it to the top, huffing and puffing, and I suggested we take our first walk break to catch our breath. Then we took advantage of the short flat section before we hit the next hill.
 Dad tackling another hill!

It was actually pretty entertaining to me to listen to my dad complain about the hills. He's used to running on the flat bike trail or the treadmill, making the hills and the elevation especially challenging. Our pace slowed a bit on the hills, but we ran most of them and walked when our running couldn't be distinguished from walking. In the last couple miles I could tell that my dad was hurting a bit from the hills and was more than ready to be done. Considering that he did not train for this, I was quite impressed, especially on a tough course.
 what goes down, must go up!
We passed the 8 mile sign, took one last walk break up yet another hill while we commiserated with the others walking around us, then turned the corner for the homestretch. Oh, and in keeping with the trend, the last quarter mile is up another steep hill, so there was no finishing kick for us! I'd told my mom to look for us around an hour and a half, and we came in just under at 1:28:39. As we approached the finish line the MC called out our names and then correctly guessed that it was a father-daughter duo : )
the homestretch!
father-daughter finish : )
Once we stopped moving we got chilled pretty quickly. My dad didn't want to stop moving and tighten up in the cold so we headed back to the car and then went on the hunt for some post-race apple treats : ) During the race we'd passed a market at Boa Vista Orchards so we made our way back there and picked up a few yummy treats including apple donuts (for immediate consumption), an apple pie (for that night), some apple cider, bbq sauce, and chestnuts for roasting. If it weren't so cold I would have loved to do a little more exploring but by that point I was freezing!
Boa Vista Orchards

I'm really glad I had a chance to participate in this race and get up to Apple Hill in the fall when it is just so beautiful. It was such a good feeling to just relax and run for fun, and this was the perfect race to do it - in fact I didn't look at my Garmin once the entire race! I had a wonderful time running with my dad, too. I'm proud of him for challenging himself and finishing strong, and I'm glad we got to do this together. There is definitely something special about sharing one of your passions with someone you love, and I'm fortunate to share my love of running with both my parents. So now that I got him to do 8.5 miles, I just have to convince him to do a half - after all, it's just another 4ish miles right? ; )


  1. Wow, what a pretty race! So nice to run it with your dad too! Just came across your blog and looking forward to reading more!

  2. Hi! Great pics! My husband and kids ran the 3.5 mile and I was just wondering where you got all of the pictures while you were running. I can't seem to find them online. Your blog is great!!! Glad you enjoyed your run. :)