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Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, San Jose Report

Posted Oct 22 2008 6:15pm
Another half marathon finished and a little more tired. There are times like this morning when I question my drive and my sanity. All the while I'm planning another race in December ...

Saturday afternoon Anita and I drove down to San Jose for packet pick-up and the marathon expo. We pulled into a parking lot and were about to hand over the keys to the attendant when he said that it was $15. Uh, right. We backed out and found a spot nearby on the street where we fed the meter with about a dollar's worth of quarters. Hmmph! Nothing like trying to rip off the tourists, buddy.

Packet pick-up went very smoothly. It was still crowded even though the expo was due to close in about 3 hours. We got our numbers and our chips while the very helpful people passed us along ("This is a chip. You put in on your shoe. Use this tie. Pin your number to the front of your shirt."). They obviously get lots of newbies at their races.

We picked up our "goodie bags" which contained tons of papers and a Soyjoy bar. Yeah, that was it. The shirt was the usual white cotton beefy tee with a pale decoration on the back. Totally unimpressive. For what they charge for the RnR races they could at least switch to tech fabric like all the other races do. Even the ones that charge half as much. Oh well, another crappy white cotton shirt for the rag pile.

The expo was disappointing. Normally RnR events have huge expos but not this time. It was smaller than Portland last week which surprised me. Quite a few of the vendors were totally out of merchandise and were closed (hello Lara Bars and Soyjoy Bars). I think the vendors hire local high school students who realize that the sooner they get rid of the samples, the sooner they get to go home. Sandy, who was at the expo in the morning, told us that they were told to take one of each flavor bar at Lara Bars. They each got more than 10 bars! No wonder the tables were closed down. There just weren't that many other vendors; a few tables from different races, the one big sports we-have-everything-you-need vendor, Saturn, Crocs, rice, smaller tables for the shoe lines and the charities. We were through there in a very short time. I bought one thing, a little bear being sold as a fundraiser at the TnT booth. Yeah, I'm a sucker for a cute bear (and a stealth Gratuitous Bear of the Day)!

Anita and I went to dinner Saturday night with Sandy and Tom at Pasta Pomodoro. There's one about 2 miles from my house so it's very convenient for carbo loading. We had a surprisingly good dinner. I had gotten a coupon for a free dessert so although we were all full we split a tiramisu. Even between the four of us we were unable to finish it. Fun dinner!

Because I live so much closer to San Jose, Anita spent the night at my house. After dinner we sat around for a while talking and knitting, then went to bed early. Then we got up early, at 4:45 am. Yuck. When I finally finished my showering and dressing I came out and found Anita happily eating her cereal. We finished up all our morning stuff and hit the road at about 5:45. Yawn.

I decided to run with my phone this time, something I never do. I both wanted to be able to find Bree and Sandy, and to test out carrying it before New York. We found Bree and Sandy quickly and also saw lots of TnT friends. The race provided bananas, bagels and bottles of water. And tons of porta potties, and convenient sweat check. At about 7:40 we headed over to our corrals. Bree decided to start back a couple with her friend but the rest of us shivered together in corral 10.

Finally the gun went off and the people started compacting. I'm not sure if they were letting the early people go in waves or if it was just a quirk of the crowd. Walk. Stop. Walk. Stop. Strangely, people starting running well before they hit the mats. I'm used to not running until our feet actually cross the start. We started running well, if a little fast. Ok, maybe a lot fast.

Long story short (ha ha) I had a terrible day. For some reason my asthma was acting up and I was having trouble breathing. There was entertainment, bands, about every mile. They all had diesel generators and every time I'd get close to one I'd start coughing. At about mile 5 I begged Anita and Sandy to go ahead because I couldn't keep up with them. Bree and her friend asked if I wanted to run with them, but my pace was so off and my mood so cranky I asked them to just ignore me. We leap-frogged each other for the rest of the race; they were running faster but I was running more since they were doing 4:1.

Water stops were plentiful and helpful. They had water and some electrolyte drink. I even saw ice at the last couple of stops; I think the organizers were afraid of being Chicagoed and were well prepared. There was one gel stop and I think they still had lots of it when I came by. The route, which I had totally forgotten from last year, was very flat except for one underpass that we ran in each direction. We went through lots of neighborhoods; from tiny little homes, to cute cottages, to huge lovely mansions. Neighbors were out cheering in their lawn chairs, covered in blankets and drinking coffee.

The weather for once was a total non-issue. It was cool, mostly sunny, light breeze. Not too cold, not too warm, not too windy, perfect for short sleeves and shorts. Great running weather, the kind you hope for. But normally don't get.

As I was running at about mile 11-1/2 I saw coming toward me on the other side of the road, going very slowly, an ambulance with the lights on. As I got closer I saw there was an elderly gentleman "running" along with the ambulance behind him sweeping the course. Now, he would only have been at mile 5-1/2 so I'm not sure why the course was still open. Maybe he was someone special.

I kept to my 9:1 run:walk the entire way, much to my surprise. I think if I hadn't wanted to get it over with I would have just walked the last few miles but I continued along with my last couple of miles faster than the middle miles. I crossed the finish line at 2:50:13 by my watch, 5 minutes faster than last year. At the finish they had iced wet towels, probably again because of what happened in Chicago. I got my medal and noted that unless they had some hidden away somewhere, they were going to run out before the walkers finished. I got my chip cut off, got a cold bottle of water, got my free rubber sandals, had my picture taken. The food tables were full of ripe bananas, oranges, bagels, cookies, muffins, fruit cups, I think maybe a couple of other things. Still a lot of food and drink left for late finishers.

Anita and Sandy were waiting for me and we waited for Bree and her friend who, although finishing before me, had gotten stuck in the picture line. We were getting chilled (no space blankets, I think they'll either do cold towels or the blanket but not both) because it wasn't as warm as it had seemed while we were running. We walked over and got our sweat bags, then headed back to our cars. They should have had better signage at the end, it was hard with all the people to figure out where things outside of the secure area were.

Anita and I had parked at the HP Pavilion so we had a long slow walk back. There were still lots of people out on the course, poor things! We managed, after several phone calls and driving around and sort of getting lost, to meet up with Sandy and Bree and we all had lunch together at Panera's. Yum. The drive home went very easily too.

My breathing sucked (no pun intended) for the rest of the day, as did my other allergies. I had errands I absolutely had to do and didn't even get a nap. I'm not sure what caused my problems, the air reports said it was clear and the allergen reports say nothing was at high levels. Darn, I can't fix it if I don't know what caused it!

All in all, a well done race. Elite does do it well, have to give them props. I'd do the race again if other fall races don't get in the way. But I'd go to the expo earlier and probably not even take the shirt. I recommend this race for beginners.

Tomorrow: finished Cider Moon Scarf!
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