With my impending first marathon, I looked at the San Jose Rock n’ Roll half marathon not as a race race but as a training run, with a shiny medal and free beer at the end. I went into it thinking, “No big deal, just practice your pace for Nike and take it easy, run conservatively, hurt nothing. No problem.”
When I arrived to the expo the day prior to the race, I was met with Van Halen blaring over the speakers, bright concert lighting, and lots and lots of energy! This was my first race since See Jane Run in June so I when I picked up my bib, then walked through the HUGE expo, I was really feeling those ready-to-race vibes, very anxious to pin those numbers.
Sunday morning came, I joined the carpool at 5:30am and off to San Jose we trekked. We arrived, parked easily at HP Pavilion, suited up, and headed over to the starting line. First things first, of course: you see a porta potty on race day, you just hold your breath, say a small prayer, and take it, so we got in line, and we waited…
Narrowly escaping death, we completed the porta potty experience and headed to corral 8 to await the start of the race. Between the great music playing, the costumes, company of awesome friends, and great conversations with fellow corral 8ers, the time went by quickly and before we knew it, we were off.
I ran just as I promised myself I would- easy, happily, and smooth. Started off at about a 9:45/mile pace and held that for a good 10 miles and it felt great! The course was flat, flat, flat, so that helped; but as it was mainly in a residential area of San Jose, there were constant turns. Turn right, turn left, turn right again, and left, and circle back around, then left, then right, so I tried my best to run the tangents but ended up clocking 13.28 miles total, oh well!
At mile 6 I was shocked to see the leader truck and pack of motorcycle police leading in the winner of the race for the men, Meb Keflezighi. I freaked out and screamed, “GO MEB GO!” Knowing that Deena Kastor was also running, I figured I would see her next, so I got my camera ready and ran toward the middle of the road in order to get a good view of her. After a few minutes, I grew tired of holding the camera so I put it away and then, of course, Deena finally appeared. I freaked again- she is one of my idols and having given birth just 7 months prior, is such an inspiration to all the running mommies out there, including myself. I screamed, “GO DEENA!!! AHHHHHH!!!” (Eloquent, I know.)
As an aside, I really do not know how other running bloggers can race while taking pictures of every little thing! Amazing! When I read SkinnyRunner and ChicRunner, among others, I am so impressed at how they hold a super fast pace while getting artistic pics of the course AND cute pictures of themselves! Here is the only self-portrait-while-running shot I could muster:
I was on point for a 2:10 finish; however, by mile 10, I required another porta potty stop and I don’t need to go into too much detail but between managing my sweaty running skirt, hanging my water belt around my neck, and doing every possible thing I could to avoid touching my skin to any part of that thing, I added 5 minutes to my time. 5 whole minutes. I looked at my Garmin and sighed. “‘Sokay, though,” I reminded myself, “today is not The Race.”
I finished in 2:15 and that’s a PR for me by 5 minutes! WOO HOO! Gotta love those flat courses! I got through the crowds, got my free beer, then tried to find Amy and Margaret. When I finally did, they told me that Meb was a few feet away, so I went after him- he’s a hard guy to catch up with just walking! And thanks again to Amy, I got a picture with one of the fastest runners in America- I was pretty stoked.
Overall, I think that the Rock n’ Roll series is pretty awesome- very well-organized, lots of course support, great music, and cool treats (huge expo, sparkly medal, free beer, post-race concert, access to famous runners). However, I’m not sure how I feel about the whole pre-race packet pick-up requirement. I understand that they want to get you to the expo and minimize race-day logistics, but it adds in one more element of planning that, unless you spend the night prior, can be tough. I don’t mind it too much, and San Jose is only an hour drive, but I wish there was some flexibility there. Whatev… that will not prevent me from doing another RnR event- it was a great race and a LOT of fun, I couldn’t ask for more!
One of the biggest lessons learned at the Rock n’ Roll San Jose half marathon was: