San Jose RnR Half Marathon Recap

This past Sunday, I ran the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll half marathon, mostly because I can walk to the race start from where I live. Nothing like rolling out of bed and wandering 20 minutes (at most) over to the start line. I can't say I love the course, although my reason for not liking it is the same reason many people love it - it's super flat. I find flat courses pretty boring and fatiguing, and I prefer some hills to break up the course and to use different muscles. Overall though, the race itself is well-organized and logistically easy.

Kevin and I headed over to the San Jose Convention Center for the expo after work on Friday to beat the Saturday crowds. Another convenient part of living near the event! Grabbing our ginormous race bibs (seriously RnR, what's with the size of your bibs?) and shirts was quick, no lines at all on Friday.

They have a nice expo with quite a few vendors, although I actually think the expo felt smaller this year than in the past two years.  There seemed to be less tables promoting other area races and less overall shopping opportunities. I spent some time trying on the new Brooks Adrenaline and talking shoes with the reps; sadly, the new version of the Adrenaline felt more narrow and didn't fit well. My shoe crisis is a story for another day though.

I admit it, I love race expos.

As you might have seen in my previous post, I was really concerned about heat for race day. Luckily, Sunday morning was nicely chilly and it didn't get too hot at all. The last few miles on exposed road still felt warm, but the higher temperatures for the day were way after we finished running. 

Chilly enough for jackets on the walk.

The race itself was mostly uneventful. I didn't go out at PR pace because I wasn't feeling at my best mentally or physically last weekend. I wanted to have a good race, feel happy, and finish with a time not too far from my PR - all of these things were a success so I'm content with my race. In fact, I haven't had such a consistently paced half marathon in quite some time. I especially impressed myself with this one as I didn't have pace on my watch and was running by feel, but somehow stayed within a 10-15 second window the whole time.

The highlights of the race were running and chatting with Tennille around mile 4 and then with my run group coach, Brigit, for a few miles in the middle. I lost both of them at water stops unfortunately, which I didn't mean to do, but I also didn't want to spend too much time looking around in the crowd so I kept going. To both Tennille and Brigit - and to Meg and Isaac who were cheering on the course - you were all great motivation, thank you! 

I finished the race in 2:07:48 with a strong kick, realizing I had a lot more left than I thought. Sometimes I don't know why I play it so safe; I need to work on my mental game a LOT. I really struggle with letting myself be in the pain place and pushing hard, so I get stuck in my comfortable paces. Don't get me wrong, that feels great, but it's not going to get me the PR or that sub-2 hour half either. 

Kevin and I hung out in the park with our free Michelob Ultra and enjoyed the Atlas Genius concert for a bit. Then we walked over to our favorite local bar, Original Gravity, for lunch and beer with our friends Natalie and Mitch who came down for the race.

 Post-race with Natalie (Kevin, what are you DOING behind us?)

 Cheers!

Atlas Genius

A few more details for anyone considering the event.

Course support. The course is well supported with tons of volunteers, and the water stops span long stretches at a time making it easy to get water without it being over-crowded. They had water and Gatorade in different cups, which is nice because it's easy to see what you are getting. They gave out Gu gels around mile 9 with flavor choices. Porta potties seemed to be a-plenty at the start and along the course, although for once I didn't use any. In addition, there were lots of cheer groups along the course and a few bands. I love seeing the high school cheer groups and volunteers along the course, and they always seem to be having fun.

Finish line. The race had great finish line food. I like liquids right after a race, so I was particularly happy with the chocolate milk, water, Gatorade, and Jamba Juice smoothies as refueling options. They also had bananas, Power Bars, Snap Pea Crisps, bagels, and maybe a few things I missed. The Jamba Juice smoothie was fantastic. I also love the set up in the park for this event because it's a comfortable place to hang out. The beer lines weren't bad, and we easily found a shaded spot on the grass to sit to watch awards and music. I don't feel like many people stay in the park after the race, although it's one of my favorite parts of this event.

Race goodies. The shirts are nice Brooks running shirts with men's and women's specific cuts. I like that the design is on both the front and back, it's a nice detail. The medals are pretty nice and very heavy, but the San Jose designs always make me laugh. Other RnR events have landmarks and you can tell they never know what to do for San Jose. I can't say I blame them; maybe a housing development or shopping center? Yeah.


That's it for this report. On to the next race!

Comments

  1. I've heard RnR races have fairly steep registration fees, but that level of organisation, food and entertainment seems like it's worth it! Sounds like a fun time.
    Have you tried picking someone as a rabbit and trying to overtake him/ her? These imaginary rivalries always help get me through the final miles of a race :)

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    1. I don't like how expensive RnR can be either and they aren't my fave org - but the key is to register early if you know you want to do it. My SJ race fee was only about $70 with early reg + a promo. I haven't tried the rabbit thing - good idea! Thanks!

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  2. I'm so jealous you live so close to the start of a race. Of course, now that I think about it, I probably live about that close to the start of RnR Vegas. One day I may run that one...

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    1. Haha RnR Vegas sounds a little crazy! Probably worth checking it out sometime though. :)

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  3. Oh my gosh, I just laughed out loud (at work...) at Kevin's face. HAHAHA. Kevin, what ARE you doing??? Best photo bomb ever.

    I've unintentionally improved my mental game a lot in the last year, especially since April. I've made several observations about this that I should probably write down, but I think a lot of it comes down to realizing that barriers are not permanent. That pace that seems far away and scary? Once you reach it and survive, it will no longer be an unknown. And sometimes fear of the unknown can instead be turned into an exciting new adventure.

    In the meantime, though, it sounds like this race was a very good success. And you got that photo out of it! LOL

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    1. Thanks Layla, that's good advice. I'll get there someday! You are on fire right now, it's awesome!

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  4. Nice on the race, I did it in 2010 and hope to do it next year - I've been injured on race day the past 3 years (though this year I simply could not get enough training in, even though feeling better). I agree that it is a great race - for as much heat as RNR takes I love the organization, the crowds, and the aid stations. They have a perfect race setup in my opinion. Hopefully I'll be back out there for 2014 - I love the flat PR friendly course.

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    1. There are things I don't like about RnR (kicking out elite races, high fees), but I do think this one was organized well and I didn't pay high fees bc I registered early. Works for me! I hope you get to run it in 2014!

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  5. Great job Paulette! I can't believe you don't like flat courses! But I know what you mean - a few hills here and there breaks things up, which is helpful. I wish I lived close enough to race starts, but just not in my cards yet - someday! :)

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    1. Thanks Alicia! Yeah, I'm a hill girl, haha. What can I say?

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  6. I am so jealous! I would love to roll out of bed and walk over to the start line, how nice! I agree about RnR being pretty steep but I always have a fun time every time I do one!

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    1. I have fun with them when I do them too! Although, definitely prefer them as a half than full.

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  7. New reader here, wandered over from Grace's blog just recently. Sounds like a great race day: good race, good people, good food & drink. :) Oh, and a walk-to-the-start kind of beginning. LOVE that. I hate the stress of navigating a new location (or just a super crowded one) on race day. I'm so happy that I take public transport these days: No need to worry about parking!!

    How about trying an "escalation" tactic on your next race? Let yourself run the first half (of whatever distance) at your usual pace. Then, start picking up the pace every mile (for longer races) or half/quarter mile (for 10K/5K). This way, the increase is gradual. You are less likely to totally bonk out, because you're picking things up gradually (if at any point you really start feeling awful, you can always dial it back a little). And you won't get to the last little bit and regret not going faster, because ideally, you'll just be getting really into the "pain place" when the finish line is almost in sight. This may not get you your fastest POSSIBLE race, but can go a long way into getting you a faster time and teaching you how far you can push, all while giving you a bit of security that you won't totally fall apart before you get to the end.

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    1. I like the escalation idea - thanks for sharing! And also thanks for coming over to read too, always glad to 'meet' new readers. I'll definitely be trying your suggestion.

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  8. Um...were you just complaining that you need more hills on your race courses? Crazy!

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    1. What can I say, I'm a hill girl! :)

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  9. Congrats on a fun strong race! I loved the post-race vibe there too. The band was good and the park was a nice place to hang out. I stayed at the Hilton, and it was a first for me to be so close to a race start! It was great!

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    1. Thanks Kristen! We need to meet up sometime!

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