The race start was on Santa Clara Street near Almaden, less than a mile from where we live. I loved walking so easily to the start line! Kevin ran as well, and we arrived around 7:20 am for the 8 am start to check our bag and use the porta potties. The start for this RnR race was much smoother than Seattle; it only took me about 1.5 minutes to cross the start line from corral 6.
I went out feeling pretty good and had no problem hitting my target pace (9:30-9:45) for mile 1. Not long into mile 2, the side cramp from hell came back into my life and made me miserable. I stopped to stretch my side, walked to ease it up, and went back to running. Unfortunately, it only got worse from there on out.
Mile 1 - 9:38
Mile 2 - 10:41
Somehow I held an ok pace through the next few miles even with walking to take my Clif Shot Bloks in Mile 5. I knew my PR goal was quickly slipping away if it wasn't already gone, but I kept fighting for it and running through the cramp. We headed through Japantown, then turned and ran right by our condo where many of our neighbors were out cheering. Actually, I was very impressed with how many San Jose residents were out cheering in the yards!
Mile 3 - 9:59
Mile 4 - 10:06
Mile 5 - 10:17
Mile 6 - 10:14
We ran by HP Pavilion and out along the Alameda for a bit, then into enjoyable residential neighborhoods that I'd never seen. Around mile 7 the cramp was getting worse and I started taking walk breaks. I don't remember mile 9 being specifically bad, but my splits tell another story. What happened there? More walking and slower running I suppose. I held onto that slower pace for the next few miles, focusing on nothing but forward progress.
Mile 7 - 10:39
Mile 8 - 10:37
Mile 9 - 11:48
Mile 10 - 10:39
Mile 11 - 11:08
Mile 12 - 10:45
With one mile to go, I told myself to finish this race already and just be done. I picked up the pace and ran it into the finish line, which felt so far away in the last mile.
Mile 13 - 10:05
Last 0.1 (0.22 by my watch) - 9:03
I was so glad to cross the finish line, and I took a minute to double over holding my side in an attempt to ease the cramp. Ugh, that didn't work. I collected the medal and slowly walked through the chute to get food and to find Kevin (who PR'd by 2 minutes with a 1:46:00! Woot!) After downing water, Gatorade, and a Jamba Juice smoothie we headed to the gear check and beer tent.
Successfully collected our free beer.
We watched the top 3 ladies and men receive awards, the highlight being Oiselle Team athlete Allison Maxson getting 3rd! I stalked the awards area to say hi and congrats briefly when she was waiting behind the stage, so glad I got to meet such an awesome and inspiring athlete!
Allison receiving her award in the super cute Oiselle Elite singlet.
At the end of the day, I was frustrated with my time because I'd put so much pressure on myself to PR in San Jose. But it's important to remember that this time would have been a PR only 1.5 years ago, and really I did ok on a hard day. I learned that putting so much pressure on one race isn't the way to go, and I'll try to go into the next few half marathons this fall with a different attitude. After all, my completely for fun non-goal race in Chicago ended up hitting my sub-2:10 goal!
Now for the ever-so-important race details.
The Expo. The expo seemed smaller than last year, although we went around 11 am on Saturday and didn't have to wait in any lines. They had a ton of volunteers and ran the packet pick-up smoothly from my perspective. The Brooks race shirts are cute; the Brooks shirts are definitely a highlight of the Rock 'n' Roll races. Also, I finally made it out of an expo without buying random things that I already have too many of...
The obligatory expo background photo.
The Course. This is a very flat, perfect PR course (i.e. why it was my goal race.) The course starts in downtown San Jose, winds around the area through Japantown and residential areas off of the Alameda, and comes back to finish near the convention center. They had lots of bands to entertain us and many people came out to cheer too. I found it very enjoyable because I live here and run most of these roads all the time - today it gave me a different perspective on routes I could take in the future.
The Support. I was seriously impressed with the water stations along the course because the volunteers were on it. Most of the water stations were local kids and teenagers, and they were cheering and getting into the race. Love it! The water stations lined both sided of the street, were organized into Gatorade vs. water sections, and didn't slow us down one bit. There was one Gu station with multiple flavors. Aside from the volunteers at the stations, there were many local cheer groups along the course going nuts for the runners.
The Finish Line. The finish area was well organized and had lots of food. I saw oranges and bananas, water, Gatorade, bagels, pretzels, Snickers Marathon bars, Jamba Juice smoothies, and chocolate milk. I may be missing items, but overall plenty of good finish food options. They directed people through the chute and around the park, so there were no lines or back ups that I saw. Each runner had one beer ticket, and even the long looking beer line went super fast with so many people working. I am impressed with the race logistics of this one for sure.
And after the race? I came back home to rest and cuddle with these cute kitties sleeping by my feet.