Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Texas Wine Series- Becker Vineyards

           The Texas Wine Series is in its inaugural year this year, so my friend and I decided to check out the one held in Fredericksburg at the Becker Vineyards.  The event, a half marathon and 5k, took place this past weekend on April 27th. Overall, we had a great time! Since it was the first year for the event, I cut it a lot of slack, but there were definitely pros and cons to the whole thing.

     I'll start with the cons first, since there weren't many, but they were important!

1. Packet pickup- The packets were only available for free pickup on one week day down in San Antonio and one afternoon in Saturday out in Fredericksburg. Normally, that's not a problem, however, for those of us who were trying to avoid spending over $100 a night on a hotel in a tourist town, the Saturday spot was kind of inconvenient. I live near Austin, about an hour and a half away, so it wasn't feasible to drive out there twice. Luckily, we found a great camping spot for very cheap at Lady Bird Johnson Park for $10! Since many of the race participants were from the Austin area, a packet pickup there would have been perfect. It it totally out of a race director's hands sometimes though, so I don't blame them at all. Plus, I did see that they were working on an Austin location for next year. 
Enjoying a beer at the Auslander in town- German carbo-loading, if you will! :)

Our careful planning was for naught, since we figured out our mattress was way too big for our tent. Sleeping under the stars in a very literal sense followed!

What made this a con that stuck in my craw was that if you wanted or needed to pick up the day of the race, you had to pay $10! My friend that came drove in from Houston, and the race fee itself was not cheap by any means, so adding that extra fee just seemed like a bit much. I understand it is to discourage a mass rush for packets on a busy race morning, but many races instead will offer something like- only those from outside of a certain area can pick up their packet the morning of, or at least they're the only ones who can for free. It wasn't the end of the world, but it was kind of frustrating since we already had to carefully save up to make the trip and pay for the race in the first place.

2. Weather- This is absolutely no fault of anyone's but Texas's, but the end of April is HOT! This is kind of a pro for me, since I'm wanting to do Ironman Texas next year and the run portion is notoriously hot. However, man, we sweated! The course had very little shade so we lost our shirts pretty much right away.

3. Course- It's the hill country and it was in the country, not in town, but the course was rough. There were portions we had to very carefully navigate because there were so many large rocks. I definitely nearly twisted my ankle. This would not have been a problem had we known the course conditions- especially the grassy parts- because we would have worn trail running shoes instead of road running shoes and had no problem. A course map and good description would be helpful here, but I bet this is something they address next time!

4. After party- OK. The food from La Madeline was really delicious, the lines moved quickly, and the wine glasses we got were adorable. However, this is the "wine series." You would expect there would be wine, and at least a full glass. Nope. Only tastings, and only 4 of them. They marked your wrist band and served only four samples per person. The girl serving the wine I liked was particularly stingy and kind of rude (no one's fault but hers). Again, this was not a cheap race, so not even getting one full glass of wine was kind of a bummer. Had we known ahead of time it was a "wine tasting party" rather than an after party serving wine, it would have been something we were prepared for and fine with. I am so, so glad I did not pay the $45 partner pass fee and have my boyfriend come, because then I would have been really mad.

That's it for the cons though- not many, and several of which will surely get better with time! Now time for the pros:

1. The Venue- Becker Vineyards is gorgeous! There are grape vines, lavender fields, beautiful pavilions and lush lawns. It was really a very nice place to spend a Sunday morning without question. I could see an absolutely gorgeous wedding (that I'd never be able to afford!) happening out there. The after-party was set up really nicely with decorated tables and shaded under the main pavilion, and exploring their store and winery was fun.

The after-party set up

2. The water stops- although it was hot outside, that water was ice cold! Not only did drinking it help, but having cups of ice cold water was amazing and would perk me right back up when I started feeling sluggish. The volunteers were also great, helping us avoid major tripping hazards and handing you several cup when they could tell you needed it. The only thing I would suggest adding is maybe some sun screen and gels if possible- we needed it!

3. The Course- This was a bit of a con, but a pro, too! It was a flat course with some gorgeous scenery and it was really interesting running in places that are not typical to races. No neighborhood streets or frustrated drivers tagging along behind us. It was quiet and scenic and relaxing. Mile markers were almost spot on with my TomTom watch as well. 

4. Organization- I felt the race itself was very organized and run efficiently. Things started right on time, and it was nice having the 5k start at a different time to avoid having to zip and dodge around them. The course was a 2 loop course and clearly marked with volunteers at all the turns to avoid confusion. Chip removal, water handout, and medals all came quickly and without confusion. I can tell the organizers are professional and had tried to lay things out in the best way, and that reflected in how smoothly the race went. 

5. The medals- The medals were so cute! They were little wine bottle with a dangle cork screw! Just look!
Our super cute medals!

6. The food- The food was really yummy. La Madeline served pasta, sandwiches, and fruit, which was exactly what we wanted since we had sweat out a whole lot of German food from the night before. 

7. Free Photography- They put all the photos on their Facebook page for free. So great! They got some nice shots of us and made them easy to access, which was very appreciated.

8. The Shirts- I have trouble with race shirts, either they are way too big or too short. These were perfect- they're nice material, a cute design and color, and comfortable. I will definitely wear it on training runs. 

9. The Setting- Not everyone can afford a really nice destination run-cation. If you're looking for a great vacation spot you can bring girlfriends on for a run weekend, Fredericksburg, TX is a great choice. I'm partial to the hill country because I'm from here, but you just can't beat it in the spring time for the beautiful wildflowers, dozens of wineries to choose from to visit, great shopping and dining, and just a lot of fun to be had. I love visiting out there, and there are several great state and national parks close by if you like outdoor adventures as well!

          Overall, we really had a great time! I'm not sure if we will do it again next year because we both like exploring new races and don't have the money to register for every single one, but if someone was to ask if they should do it, I'd definitely tell them it'd be worth a try. We might try to do the Messina Hof one next year to mix it up since I know that one will be gorgeous as well. We had a great girl's running weekend, and hopefully we can do some more soon!

Crossing the finish line- it was a slow run, but we did to under 2:30 on our chip time at least!

This picture cracks me up! She looks like the Ridiculously Photogenic Marathon Guy!

I look like I'm power-walking, but I swear I'm running!

Powering up the road , telling ourselves water isn't too far away!

Don't forget- coming up on June 3 is the showing of Half the Road: The Passion, Pitfalls, and Power of Professional Women's Cycling. Reserve your ticket today!

  Don't forget about my Reason 2 Race! Help out pets in need!

This blog is following my training as I get ready for the Athleta eSprit de She event season. Three events happen in Texas, the Duathlon in Dallasthe Katy 5k & 10k, and the Cycle Tour in Austin. I'll be doing Austin and Dallas, come join the fun! Enter Comp Code EDS57 for the chance to win some cool prizes!


  1. Good review. You seem to have the same complaints I had, stingy wine pours and the weather. A full glass of wine and start time of 7:00 would've made a huge difference.

    1. Thank you! I definitely agree about the earlier start time- that would have helped a lot!