After months of training, today was Half Marathon Day. So while S attended Mass at the St. Joe Basilica in downtown SJ, I pounded the streets of San Jose for 2 hours, 8 minutes and 26 seconds to be exact, with a sub 10 minute pace. Standings, not great, but above average.
As noted in an earlier post, we pulled the Conestoga into the Western Outpost last Saturday and I was in serious taper mode. I think we ran twice last week, once for about 5 miles, the second for 4 miles. The rest of the days were spent on the elliptical for 30 minutes. The runs were along the Guadalupe Trail behind the WO. S sat out this race, still nursing tendonitis and torn hamstring, but has started back to a run/walk routine as training now starts for the January Maui Half Marathon. I had planned on running the first leg of the Dallas Marathon Relay, then continuing on with the Dallas Half Marathon, as I did last year, but am now thinking about just doing the first leg of the relay (6 miles). We will see. We plan a few shorter runs in the next couple of months, 5Ks, etc. such as the Halloween Hustle and the Turkey Trot, which we traditionally do. Another few months of Half ass training for another Half Marathon.
On Saturday afternoon (yesterday) we headed over to the Convention Center to the Run Expo to pick up my race packet and Bib. The process was smooth and uneventful. Lots of vendors and running shoes and gadgets. We escaped with only spending $1.00 on GU blocks. I think Competitor, which runs the Rock and Roll series, makes as much on swag as on entry fees, but not from us.
After the Expo we headed over to a sports bar in Palo Alto to meet with other Texas Exes to share our exasperation with the Texas special teams. Last week it was a shanked extra point against Cal at the end of the game, this week it was a mishandled punt that gave Okie Lite the ball at the 20 and a chip shot FG for the win. Meh.
The night before the run involves lining up the gear, charging the iPhone, creating a Playlist for the run (went back to some old standards, Aerosmith, Arctic Monkeys, Better than Ezra, Eagles, ELO, Muse, SemiSonic, Pink Floyd), lining up shoes and pinning the bib to the shirt. To minimize leg cramps, I had a tablespoon of Mustard and a Vlasic pickle. That was the extent of my night before fueling. The salt and vinegar are loaded with electrolytes. We bought the Orange GU blocks at the Expo for the mid-race jolt. Final ritual is the clipping of the toenails. Any distance runner will tell you that losing toenails is par for the course. But if you cut back your nails. you minimize the odds of that happening. I think I’ve lost both of my big toenails at least twice.
We headed out at 6:20 a.m., arrived at Starbucks at 6:28 (opened at 6:30 a.m.), loaded up on a banana, banana nut bread and medium Blonde roast. S had her chai tea and classic oatmeal and we were off to hunt for parking spaces. The PM of India is in town so security was shutting off the closer lots, we ended up parking about a mile from the start–a good brisk walk to the start line and Corral 10 (I was assigned to 10, but as we made our way to the back, we noticed a lot of people who clearly should not have been toward the front–let’s just say their body shape told a lot). I’m not judging and doing a 10K or Half to get in shape is great. At least they’re trying. But seriously, if you are going to spend $120 to walk 13.1 miles, please get out of the street and on the sidewalk. So, I decided to start closer to the front to avoid as many of these walkers as possible.Where S prayed for me to get a PR:
God apparently has bigger problems than my PR with which to deal (PR is 2:04:24, 2013 Plano Balloon Festival Half), so I was about 4 minutes off. Still, not a bad result considering the somewhat lax training regime of the last 3 months.
Raceday weather was almost perfect. Between 61 and 63 degrees at the gun, blue skies with occasional high clouds, low humidity and no wind. San Jose is also a very fast course–the only ascent and descent being 3 underpasses with a climb of probably 15 feet each.
Proof of the fastness (?) of the course, in the 5K on Saturday, Deena Kastor tied the women’s American 5K record by running those 3.1 miles in 15 minutes, 48 seconds. In all the long distance runs we’ve done (20-25 or so 10Ks or longer) I’m not sure we have had a more perfect race (topography and weather).
Miles 1-3 Uneventful, just a lot of dodging walkers. There were 13,000 registered Half and 10K runners. I’d estimate about 1 in 10 was walking within the first few miles. Much energy is spent dodging slow runners and walkers. Although a Half Marathon is 13.1 miles, the Garmin said I had run 13.3 miles. Much of it snaking East-West.
Around mile 3, I sensed, in the side of my foot, a splinter that was lodged in my right sock. It was not painful, but was irritating. I had to decide whether to run with the poking sensation or stop and lose time to take care of things. Since long distance running is 80% mental, I knew I had to take care of this irritant. About mile 4, after the first underpass, I noted who was near me, pulled onto the sidewalk, yanked off my shoe and sock, rubbed it to remove whatever was in there, put it all back together, and headed off as a quicker pace (7:30) to catch the group that had moved on ahead. The time spent “resting” now spent getting back onto my pace.
Miles 4-8 are the best of any half-marathon–few aches or pains, the body has stopped rebelling and is in a groove and on autopilot. I avoided the Gatorade and stuck with water through the water stations (no stopping, grab 2 cups, one to drink, one to empty on head). Gatorade is a sticky, gooey mess. Personal experience has taught me that not much is worse than spilling that sugary slop on your hands and face, About mile 5, the 2:00 pacers passed, surrounded by runners looking to break 2 hours. I faded back slightly, my goal not to be passed by the 2:10 pacers.
Along the Alameda, about miles 5-7, the runners going out on the out and back get to see the ones already coming back. As I was still on about mile 6, the Elites were returning, having about 2 miles left at that point. Running is one of the few sports where amateurs and pros “compete” together. In reality, they go out first and don’t look back at the masses. Still though.
About mile 9, I popped a GU block to power me through the end. It was the only GU I ate during the run. GU also tend to just sit in the stomach and can induce nausea if abused. Each mile of the run, this being a RnR event, there is a live band performing. I’d try to pull at least one earbud out to listen to the 20-30 seconds of live music. One band stood out among all that were there-The Emphatics. I’ll have to see if they have anything on iTunes.
Mile 10 to the finish had good crowd support. Toward the end, it seemed like water stations were placed every 3/4 mile. By the end, they were so close I was running through them without getting water. Message to water walkers: Once you get your water, stay to the far left or right. Walking in the middle of the street where the non-walkers are running is lunacy.
As I crossed the finish line, I heard S off to the left 2-3 people deep congratulating me! She was able to follow me on the race tracker, and it had me finishing at 10:16 a.m.–which was pretty close as I finished at 10:16. S followed me on the other side of the fence as I received the obligatory finisher’s metal and navigated the exit maze.
All in all, this was a well organized race, perfect weather (10/10). Proof of running 13.1 miles? Bloody toes!
We headed out to the OTB (sadly, the closest Tex Mex we’ve found in the Bay area so far), and had the traditional post-race libations.
Back to Texas next week.