I really wasn’t sure what my goals were for the San Jose Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon. I signed up on a whim to avoid having to do a 20-miler and there were definitely some factors working against me:
- the 10-miler I had run the day before (which was also quite a bit faster than planned)
- the jerks downstairs who woke me up at 10:30pm and 2am – I actually went down there and asked them to shut up!
- I ripped my race number off my shorts before I had even left the house
- my freaking watch decided to break right when the gun went off
- AND the fact that I am at the height of my training for Nike and CIM.
I just really didn’t know what I had in me. So honestly, the only goal I really had was to finish under 2 hours. I would be very happy with a PR (anything under 1:58:35), but given the aforementioned issues, I wasn’t expecting anything too great.
Before the race, I was pleased to find that parking was easy, I turned in my bag, had plenty of time to go to the bathroom (and there were more than enough port-a-potties – nice work on the part of the race organizers!), stretched, looked around for Janae and Troy and Bob, and when I didn’t see them, I finally headed to my corral. Luckily, Bob was waiting for me at my corral, so we got to say hi and chat for a little bit. Soon, they announced that it was about time to start, so we lined up and made last minute preps. I checked my watch and it seemed to be in working order, but when it came time to turn it on for the race, it froze up! No numbers, just the word “footpod” and a couple of weird lines. I muttered a long string of expletives, and then realized that I could follow one of the unofficial pacers (members of running clubs and charity groups who had numbers on their backs based on the times they were planning on running) Other than that, I would have to rely solely on feel and the mile-marker clocks! All I could think was, “God I hope these people are on pace!”
The race start...
After a mile, I overheard one of the pacers say that we were about a minute faster than the course clocks, which put us at an 8:30 mile. I was feeling alright, but I also knew that this was only mile one. “Can I really keep this up for 12.2 more?”
And that’s when Matt, one of my coaches, suddenly appeared out of nowhere. We talked for a little while, and I fully expected him to go on ahead without me, but we ended up running the entire race together! He was looking to run a 1:55:00, and I was feeling good a few miles in, so I decided to stick with it. We thoroughly enjoyed the on-course entertainment, and we both encouraged the crowd to cheer for everyone (instead of just standing there like bumps on a log!), and we pretty much just kept each other going. At around mile 6, we got a glimpse of the Kenyans as they sprinted by, and we saw Meb Keflezighi (2004 Olympic silver medalist in the marathon) too, which was really cool. That gave us a huge boost!
That’s Meb on the right – not to be confused with the Kenyans! He’s American – immigrated with his family a long time ago and grew up in San Diego. Cool dude.
Kenyan Duncan Kibet won the race in 1:00:22, the second fastest time ever raced on American soil. Haile Gebrselassie set the world record earlier this year at PF Chang’s in Phoenix (58:55).
We noted how the crowd around us seemed to change as we ran – pretty soon, everyone was silent and focused, and we were passing people right and left. That was a very good feeling! Matt told me about a dream he had had the night before – he dreamt that he had seen flying pigs, and he thought, “No, that’s not possible...they can’t be flying, they’re just gliding...but wait, no, they’re actually catching air and getting lift...” So he decided that he was the flying pig. “Maybe it’s a good omen,” he said. I told him I’d go with it...sounded like a pretty good omen to me!
At this point, we were looking good for a finishing time well under 1:55, so we just held our pace and decided that if we felt good in the last couple of miles, we’d go for it. It was starting to get warm, and I was getting tired, but then right around mile 11 I saw a woman standing on the side of the road holding – get this – a mylar pig balloon!
A FLYING PIG! Definitely a sign!
We kicked it up a notch because we knew it was getting close. Somewhere around mile 12 I told Matt to go on ahead – he was in a groove, but it was just a little bit faster than mine, and I didn’t want to hold him back! I managed to keep him in my sights until the final turn, and at that point my only focus was the finish line. I could see the clock was almost at 1:53, so I gave it everything I had...I knew that my time was better than what was up there because of the timing chip, but since my watch was broken I didn’t know exactly how much time I had to work with! I crossed at 1:53 and change, maintaining a smile just long enough for them to snap a picture. Matt was still just past the finish line – we gave each other a huge high five and a hug and then proceeded to get our medals and goodies. I would have been more happy about the ice-cold towels than the medals, but the little girl who gave me my medal was so cute that she totally made my day (well, other than that whole PR thing!)! She was like 5 years old, and she even told me, “Good job!” So cute.
Ha, there was a picture of her in the image gallery from the race – the little girl in the middle. Guess I wasn’t the only one who thought they were cute! I’m assuming that’s their mom who ran the race - What a cool thing to do as a family!
So anyway, the race was a huge success. It was a great course – flat and pretty for an urban course – and it was very well organized. There were plenty of bathrooms, lots of on-course support, lots of water and Amino Vital, great music and just an overall good vibe. I will definitely consider doing this one again! We walked along the race course back to our cars and cheered for the runners who were just finishing – a great end to an already great experience! I promptly made a phone call home to share the good news, and then headed back to SF where I enjoyed a beautiful afternoon watching the Blue Angels from the roof of our apartment.
We’re in a perfect spot to watch them because they fly right over the top of our place...it’s a little freaky when they fly super low, but it’s pretty cool too! Great way to top off an already awesome day!
I FINALLY got my official time at about 4:00 in the afternoon – 1:51:59!!! That's 6.5 minutes faster than my last half marathon!!! Woo hoo! Matt’s was 1:50:59 (talk about cutting it close...we were both right on the edge!)...definitely something to be happy about! A lot of the other SFRRC members did really well too, and Janae and Troy and Bob all had a good race as well. Now I’m super pumped for Nike and CIM!!! Bring it on!