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Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. When I was five, my family moved from a big, beautiful Victorian into a much smaller abode. My grandpa died on Halloween when I was in seventh grade. Apart from my mom’s handmade costumes when I was a kid, I’ve never loved dressing up.

One of many costume changes. I'm a Tokyo Tea, and Laura's Captain Morgan.

One of many costume changes. I’m a Tokyo Tea, and Laura’s Captain Morgan.

In college, Halloween was usually a three- or four-day event. If Halloween happened to fall on a Saturday, the festivities would start on Thursday and end on Sunday. There would be multiple costume changes and copious amounts of booze and debauchery; Halloween on Del Playa, Isla Vista’s beachside street, is infamous. The holiday at UCSB was a great time, but also a major headache (literally).

Last year, Jesse ran the full and I ran the half at the Envirosports Napa Wine Country Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K in Calistoga on October 26, the would-be Halloween weekend. We were up at a time when revelers at UCSB would still be partying and drove over the Golden Gate Bridge while the sun rose over a clear San Francisco morning. This was my first-ever trail race, and I was nervous and excited about breaking in my Brooks Cascadias during a trail half marathon.

When the race started on a steep incline, my heart was racing and it was difficult for me to catch my breath. But as the race continued, running and hiking along the trail became easier, almost fun. Calistoga had recently received a light rain, and the foliage smelled clean and fresh. The trail weaved up and down a mountain, and a thick canopy protected my fair skin while I ran along the forest floor. I began to enjoy the race, thinking about how different this Halloween weekend was from Halloweens past.

After the race, Jesse and I ate and drank the delicious food and wine Napa offers. Jesse wouldn’t have been able to set a trail marathon PR, and I wouldn’t have completed my first trail race had we been partaking in college-esque shenanigans.

This year, we’re making a tradition of doing something constructive rather than destructive for our Halloween celebration. This year’s Healdsburg Half Marathon falls on October 20; our plan for this year’s Halloween is similar to last year’s – work hard before playing hard. We’ll enjoy our fair share of wine and delicious meals once we challenge ourselves and push our running limits. We’ve learned that the Golden Gate Running Club, a San Francisco running club we’re interested in joining, will also be running this race, so we’re excited to meet people with similar goals.

I’ll never forget the feeling after my first trail race: I saw the sun rise and set, and in between, I challenged myself and rewarded hard work, my own post-college trick and treat.

Smiling during my first trail race.

Smiling during my first trail race.