Monday, October 4, 2010

Race Report: San Jose Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon

I think that, as veterans, we often forget that we are so lucky that from one day to the next, we can decide on a whim to go out an run a half marathon.  I know I'm guilty of this.  Some of you may be just starting out, but trust me, get a few under your belt and you will say, "half marathon tomorrow?  No problem!"  Being fortunate for my ability and good health was very apparent yesterday for me.  I often don't have very positive words when it comes to describing the Rock 'N Roll Running Series.  They are big.  They are expensive.  They are just too flashy.  But you know what?  All of that has some great benefits.  And I ate my words yesterday.  They are so big that they have the race down to a science.  The money you pay really does offer up some great schwag, great water stops, great course support and countless other amenities that are often forgotten on smaller, more local races.  And....and here's the end: they get people out running/walking/exercising who might not otherwise participate in this type of event.  They break down the barriers and stigma of an elite attitude that can come among runners and athletes, and cater to everyone - including the people who run/walk a 3+ hour half marathon.

My plan yesterday was to pace my good friend Kristen to her first sub 2 half marathon.  I had scored my bib for the race from my cousin Sarah who had something come up at the last minute.  I was honored to be pacing her!  She is a strong runner and triathlete and a fun to run with!  Sunday morning we both met up with her Fleet Feet group to take some pics and head to the corrals together. 
Kristen and me before the start

I was seated in corral 8, while Kristen and her friends were in corral 6.  No biggie.  I would either catch up with you or sneak my way up to corral 6.  After I entered into corral 8, I saw that it was super easy to get to the front of the race just by walking straight up!  When I got to corral 6 we had just about 10 minutes before the start.  This is the first time in a long time where I was not nervous for a race.  Usually, even the day before, I'm a ball of nerves.  But this time, with the pressure off, I was able to sleep well, eat well, practice all my pre-race stuff without a queasy stomach.  So, even with less than 10 minutes to the start, I was feeling good - and in a way, feeling sorry for all the peeps around me who probably had that nervous tummy since Friday!

I waited and waited for Kristen!  And like I said before, this race is so big, it's easy to loose people!  Without seeing her in the corral, the gun went off and I found myself racing along.  I had no idea where we lost each other, but I also knew I couldn't just stop - I'd get trampled by 13,000+ runners!  In that split second, I decided to push on and make it a race for me!  I hadn't thought about a plan at all!  I hadn't even thought I would race it all week!  My mind went a million miles an hour that first mile, trying to decide what I should do.  By about the half mile mark I decided to use it as a great way to practice my MP goal.  Genius!  Water stops, cheering crowd, great weather and a chance to really feel MP in the throws of a race.

Okay, not to bring up the size of the race again, but that first mile or so was sooo crowded!  They do not pay attention to where they place people in the corrals.  You have walkers starting way to close to the front, or people for their first race starting way to far in the front and just don't know race etiquette.  Needless to say, I did a lot of dodging that first mile.  Surprisingly though, my legs felt great.  They felt strong and fresh and I just hopped I could hold onto it.
mile 1 - 8:35 (lots of dodging)
mile 2 - 7:59 (perfect, right where I need to be!)
mile 3 - 7:59 (nice!)

I carried my little handheld and just plugged along.  I remember parts of the race, but really it kind-of felt like a blur.  The race is promoted as being flat and fast, and really, in the grand scheme of things, it is flat and fast.  This area is also the area that I grew up in.  So I know I didn't take in the sights and everything in detail as maybe someone who had never been there before.  It is really pretty, it winds through Japantown, through the University sections and through some really pretty neighborhoods like the Rosegarden.  Everyone came out to cheer, too!  The excitement was really high!  The weather though, was muggy!  Such strange weather for San Jose!  And it even sprinkled on us in the first couple of miles - again, weird for us. 
mile 4 - 8:06 (pay attention Katie! pick it up!)
mile 5 - 7:57 (much better!)

The weather, like I said, was muggy.  I was sweating like crazy.  And I was thirsty!  I had taken one salt pill before the race and was drinking my Nunn all the way through.  But I got really thirsty in here.  I don't think I had ever been that thirsty in a race that soon before.  I kept plugging along and around mile 6 I saw Meb!  Meb ran this last year and set a course record and then went on just a few weeks later to win NYC!  At the mile 6 marker, you have the mile 11 winding backing in and on it's way back to downtown.  He was way out in front and looking strong.  And just after mile 6, you have your first little down-hill than up-hill.  It goes under a freeway overpass and spits you back out on to flat ground.  I had forgotten about this but tried to use the downhill to my advantage.
mile 6 - 8:04 (I think I hit the 10K around 50 mins)

After mile 6 I was plugging along and just tuning everything out and running.  Let me tell you people: NOT a good idea.  I was so certain of my race and pace that I tuned out completely.  And this is evident by my mile 7 time - lesson learned - keep track of your pace and your mind during a race!
mile 7 - 8:23 (hello! wake up Katie!)
mile 8 - 8:01 (much better, but you have some ground to make up)

By mile 8 I was soooo thirsty and my handheld just wasn't doing it for me.  I was sweating like crazy.  Everyone around me was a mess.  The muggy, unseasonable weather I think, threw everyone off guard.  I needed something else and couldn't wait for the next water stop.  My plan at the next stop was to just grab some water and keep running.  Well, as you will see, my plan didn't go through so well.  I had taken my shirt off before the end of mile 1 (LOL!) and had it tucked into my spibelt.  During the water stop, it fell out :(  I had to stop completely, back up and pick it up!  Oh well, I got two cups of water and ran on.
mile 9 - 8:33 (damn shirt!)
mile 10 - 8:10

After that stop it was hard to find my legs again.  I had come to a complete stop and that is hard to jump back from.  I was also getting really tired.  I couldn't imagine why though.  I wasn't pushing myself too hard, but I was fatigued and my legs weren't turning over as fast as before.  Hmmm....what is up!?  Oh yeah, I remembered, I ran a MARATHON last week!  No wonder my legs are a bit tired.  All week my legs felt fresh and not sore in the least.  But I also hadn't pushed myself and kept the mileage low.  Now I was asking them to race? At MP?  Yeah, no wonder I was tired!
mile 11 - 8:04 (there we go, that's better!)
mile 12 - 8:23 (hunh?)

It was around mile 11 I had been trying to do math in my head again - bad idea.  I was hoping to come in at 1:45 which would have been MP for me.  But with the first mile that was slower and then the couple in the middle, I knew I didn't have the 1:45.  But I could at least come in sub 1:48 - my nemesis half mary time.  When I saw mile 12 was so slow, I put my head down and ran.  I don't know where the energy came from, but I shot off.  I was passing a ton of peeps and just wanted to be done!!!
mile 13 - 7:48 - whoo hoo! 

My watch at mile 13 said something like 1:46:xx so I sprinted to the finish - practicing my finishing kick.  I crossed the line in 1:47:05 - and I was pleased.  And I was thirsty!  I couldn't down a bottle of water fast enough!  I was covered in salt and just plan drained.  I didn't GU or eat anything out there but I don't think that was the whole problem.  I obviously didn't drink enough either.  I need to work on this!

The good thing about Rock 'N Roll Races is that they have plenty of everything.  They don't hold back.  I walked through the water stations at the end three times, downing two bottles of water and then grabbing a third to walk and drink.  I had no appetite though, so the food I just left.  Everyone in my family was busy this Sunday morning (including the hubbs!) so after I grabbed my gear bag I headed home on the train.  I was sad I didn't get to run and race with Kristen and I'm sad I didn't see her at the end!  That is all the result of such a big field.  But I was glad to head home and shower!  I felt bad for anyone sitting on the train next to me!

The cute medal!

I think I ran the race as best as I could after a full marathon the weekend before.  I enjoyed myself, I ran pretty smart (except for the hydrating and eating part!) and was able to pick it up when I had to.  I'm still in the dark about what I want to do for Long Beach.  I think I will take the week to figure it out.  I ended the week with 38.6 miles - I haven't had so few miles since the beginning of the summer!  But it was a great cut-back week coming off the marathon and I think it did my legs some real good.  Again, I wasn't sore or tired all week and even today my legs feel great.  I'm hopping they stay that way for Long Beach!

I think this race changed my mind about the Rock 'N Roll Series of races.  I think you get your moneys worth.  I may not make one a destination race, but I will definitely not avoid it just because it is a RNR race.  They did a great job, brought out people who might not otherwise run and made it a great race day.

I'm off to catch up with all of you!  One week to Chi-town!  Two weeks to Long Beach!  So much going on!
Happy Monday and Happy Running peeps!


Anonymous said...

Awesome job! Congratulations and a week after your marathon!!! WOW!

Jamoosh said...

Looking good! That's a nice warm up for your next one.

MCM Mama said...

Great job! Impressive pace for the week after a marathon.

I'm so used to big races that I hardly know what to do when I run a small one. ;o)

Ewa said...

I envy your fitness. I used to feel like I could run 13 anytime. It's been a rough year though and I know I will get there again.
Great race especially on a muggy day. What's up with our SJ weather? Summer was cooler than this fall.

Denise said...

great job...even more impressive is that you did this a week after a marathon!

Morgan said...

Great job out there chica! You did great in that weather and way to get it in under the nemesis time! LOL!

Teamarcia said...

Eeeek sorry you lost your pacee but congrats nevertheless. You're running strong!

Marlene said...

Congrats on a STRONG half just one week post-marathon! Wow!!! I have only done one RnR and it was a destination race for me... I loved the experience and I'd do another one. Of course, they don't have them around here so it always means travelling!

teacherwoman said...

Great job on the race - and with it being only a week after your marathon! Rockstar!

Anonymous said...

good job. great race recap! yay

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

How did Kristen do? What a bummer that you could not connect, but good work making the most out of it!!

Katie said...

good grief! what a race! i know hot and muggy is your absolute favorite race weather but that sucks. it's 50 degrees and cloudy here if you want to come visit. i'll hold a race for you!

Anonymous said...

congrats on a great race! i ran that race last year and really enjoyed it. rnr is pretty dang expensive but they seem to always put on well-managed events.

Kristen said...

Thank you so much for your attempt to find me! I scanned and scanned the field for you for the first 7 miles but like you mentioned with such a huge field it was impossible. There was a girl with pink shorts, a white hat and the nike shirt I kept seeing but she had brown hair. I must have looked at her 1000x thinking it was you.

I am so happy you were able to race it for yourself though and you did awesome despite the humidity.

Hopefully there will be another race we can do together soon!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Nice job!!! I have speedy quick recovering legs!

Anonymous said...

Great job girl! I think you did an excellent job especially post marathon! I'll be seeing ya soon in LB :)

A Runner's Mind said...

Great feedback on this big race! Lots of people in our area like to run it for the music and usually the temps are not as high. Good luck with Chicago AND Long Beach! How many marathons do you run in a year?

Becka said...

Great race!

ajh said...

Great race. Do you have marathons two weeks in a row?

Heather said...

Awesome job on the race just one week after Lake Tahoe! You are a machine!

If you really have a burning desire to pace someone to a sub-2:00 half, you can come up here and pace me any time. :)

Zaneta said...

LOVE the medal!! GREAT time! I'm sorry you didn't get to run with Kristen!

J said...

I have never run a RNR race but I have heard they are crowded. Congrats on a great race!! I find myself zoning out sometimes in a race too and I totally slow down...not exactly a good thing. I wish I could just zone out and run a fast pace -that would be awesome!

Jill said...

Argh....blogger at work keeps kicking me out when I leave a comment. Let's try again...

Love those pink shorts, girl! How many bathrooms did it take to get those?? :)

I've been thinking about you all day .. struggling with the Boston thing. Think I will blog about it today - haha!

Was soooo good to talk to you the other day. You did so awesome at the race, way to go girlie!!! Let's chat soon!!


Jo Lynn said...

Too bad you couldn't find your friend. Did she end up with a sub 2-hour finish?
You kill me though, with your "slow" mileage times. Pfft!

Bethany + Ryan said...

good job eventho you were hoping for faster! we had unseasonable temps here too for our half last weekend! 88 degrees and humid! blah. last year for amy fall marathon we have freezing rain, 30-40mph winds and a windchill, this year i'm worried about the humidity!

Sarah said...

Yay glad you had such a good half and were able to use the bib! I'm so impressed you can just jump into a half no worries. Especially a week after running a crazy full. You are the woman! :)

PunkRockRunner said...

Moneys worth? Didn't you get a FREE entry? *snicker*

Another amazing performance!!

All the best,


Tricia said...

awesome job!

Marathon Maritza said...

Excellent job, McSpeedy!!!! Very strong race (even with some hiccups) especially after a marathon!!

See ya in LB and thanks for your supportive comment on my last post. I really needed it. :)

chris mcpeake said...

Great report. Love the medal

Julianne said...

1:47 is a great time!!! And I agree with you on the RnR series, I wasn't a fan before but I do think you get your moneys worth. I am thinking about doing the Arizona or maybe the New Orleans in March of next year!

brooks running said...

That was a great race! Good job! God bless and good luck on future races!