I’m going to tackle the reports for my most recent three races backwards. So RnR San Jose is first up on the list.
Since San Jose is only a short flight away from Phoenix, I didn’t fly out until Saturday morning. I took a taxi from the airport to the Marriott, which was the perfect home base for all my weekend activities. (Initially I tried for reservations at a couple slightly cheaper hotels in the area, but they were sold out. I’m really happy that I ended up at the Marriott.)
First on the to-do list was lunch. I walked over to a Vietnamese restaurant that I’d found on Yelp. With all my traveling, I’ve been using Yelp a lot lately to find local restaurants and attractions. On the way, I walked through the San Jose State University Campus, which was very pretty but seemed rather small to me.
After lunch it was time for the Expo. The Marriott was right next door to the convention center where the Expo was being held.
I’ve been to too many Expos recently because they’re just not as fun now as they were in the beginning. Packet pick-up was easy… no lines. None of the official race shirts for sale appealed to me, but I did got another pin for my collection of course. I was disappointed that Women’s Running was still handing out the same sample magazine that they had at Seattle in June and Chicago in August. I was hoping that by now they’d have a new issue. I’m too cheap to subscribe to either Runner’s World or Women’s Running, but I enjoy reading them when it’s free.
It looked like the most popular booth at the Expo was for KT Tape because they were offering free tapings. They’ve really exploded on the running scene lately. I checked out their website a couple weeks ago and was glad for the opportunity to talk to the rep about a few lingering questions I had.
Back in my hotel room, I took a few photos of my goodies from the Expo. The bedspread made a really nice backdrop for the photos.
After my race shirt rant just days earlier, it was kind of ironic that the shirts for this race were black.
If I remember correctly, the tissues, Cytomax, GU Chomps, KT Tape, and dog treats were in the goody bag. I picked up the chip clip, Odwalla bar, and chapstick at the Expo. Out of everything pictured, it’s funny that I’m most excited about the chip clip. I actually took two from the booth. We always have partially eaten bags of chips and until now I’ve been using binder clips to keep the bags closed.
I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Tech Museum of Innovation, right across the street from the hotel. This was a really great deal. The entrance fee was only $10 and it included a showing of an IMAX film. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to an IMAX film and I forgot how cool it is. The film I watched was called Under The Sea and it was just incredible to basically be enveloped with an up close look at all sorts of sea life.
The rest of the museum was okay. I probably wouldn’t go again, but it was a nice way to kill some time. My favorite exhibit was probably this robot that draws your picture.
I also really enjoyed this interactive exhibit. On the screen there’s a flow of “sand” falling from the top. If there’s no interaction, then the sand just falls straight down from top to bottom. But when you stand in front of the screen, your shadow is projected onto the screen and the sand will flow around you. It’s also fun to hold out your arms and “catch” the sand to prevent it from falling. There’s an exhibit just like this at the Arizona Science Center, too.
As I walked to dinner Saturday night, there were still workers out setting things up for the race. It was nice to get a sense of where the area and how long it would take me to get to the start line in the morning. Dinner wasn’t anything worth writing about, although I did order a yummy tiramisu to go that I enjoyed later that night in my hotel room.
The race didn’t start until 8am, so I didn’t have to be up super early which was nice. Of course, I’d laid out everything the night before to make getting ready for the race a little easier. After RnR Chicago and being unprepared for the lack of water stops in the last part of the course, I wanted to know what to expect for this race. There was no way I’d be able to memorize it, so this was my solution…
The weather in San Jose was colder than I expected it to be and I hadn’t packed a throwaway sweatshirt. I debated whether or not to wear a sweatshirt over to the start area then check it at bag drop, but in the end I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of checking a bag. I also didn’t want to bother with a carrying a camera for this race, so no bag drop meant no camera to take photos at the start and finish. Instead, I settled for snapping a quick photo before I headed out the door.
There was a small cafe at the Marriott and I grabbed a small cup of hot water to keep me somewhat warm as I walked over to the start line. For once I got there rather early and had plenty of time to visit the port-a-potty, stretch, and eat my GU. Then I lined up in the very back of corral 4. As I was waiting, I felt the need to pee yet again but didn’t think I’d have enough time before the start of the race so I decided to wait until I saw a port-a-potty out on the course.
Even though there were corral assignments, this race didn’t have a wave start. So I crossed the start line just a couple minutes after 8:00. I barely remember the first couple miles because all I could think about was finding a bathroom. I know we ran through a commerical area because I remember seeing a Starbucks and some other places (fast food?) and considering whether to stop in. At other RnR races, it seems like usually there are port-a-potties near the bands. But unfortunately not that day. I didn’t see a port-a-potty until around mile 2, just before the first water station. After a quick stop to pee, I felt much better. I guess I just had too much water that morning.
So for this race, I followed a run/walk plan, right from the beginning. I went with run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. I liked how it broke the race down into little chunks. Instead of always thinking about how many miles there were left, I just had to get through the next four minutes. It actually made the race seem shorter, not like I was out there for almost 2 1/2 hours.
To me, there wasn’t anything very remarkable about the course. Running through the residential areas was nice because there was shade from the trees lining the road. But even when there wasn’t shade it didn’t feel hot at all to me. It was a great day for running. The course was very flat with only a couple very small hills when we went underneath an overpass. What I didn’t like was that the roads in San Jose had a very marked camber. Normally I’d just stay to the middle, but with the run/walk plan I wanted to be on either side of the road when I slowed to a walk. I ended up doing a lot of weaving back and forth to run down the middle of the road, but then scoot to the side before the end of my 4 minutes.
Around the 5 mile mark I was about to go under an overpass and heard some cheering. At first I thought it was people shouting because of the brief “tunnel”. Then I realized that it was the lead runner on his way back to the finish line. It’s incredible how some people are just so stinking fast. In the hour that it took me to go five miles, he’d already done 13! We continued to see the elite runners pass by for a little bit until the course split off in a different direction.
It wasn’t until the last few miles of the race that I realized I hadn’t seen any official photographers out on the course. I don’t know if there just weren’t any or if I somehow missed all of them. Other than at the finish, the only photo of me is this one from I think the 10k point.
The best part of the race was in the last mile when we ran past a Chipotle and there was a guy standing on the side of the course handing out cards. I had no idea exactly what he was giving out, but I made a beeline over to him because anything Chipotle-related must be good. I was a little worried that it might be an offer valid only at that location. When I finally looked at the card after the race I was so happy that it’s for a free item at any Chipotle. Score! Although now I wish I’d asked him for a few more. You know how there are shirts and stuff that say “will run for beer” or whatever. I think I need one that says “will run for Chipotle”. Because I would totally have been more motivated if I knew there was a free Chipotle card waiting for me.
Anyway, here I am crossing the finish line. Four down and just one to go before I can call myself a “rock star”.
My official chip time was 2:27:14 which I’m happy with since I didn’t really have any particular goal time in mind. It probably would have been more like 2:24-2:25 if I hadn’t taken the potty break at the beginning. The race was a good test of the run/walk plan and I’m happy with how it went. I think I’ll definitely be doing run/walk for my first marathon in January.
After walking around the finish area for a bit I headed to the Bijan Bakery & Cafe right across the street to grab some lunch. I got a roasted red pepper soup and a couple treats (princess cake and chocolate mousse cake) to take back to the hotel. I’m starting to think that running a half marathon just makes everything taste better, because this was the most delicious soup I’ve had in a long time and the roll was amazing. Nice and crusty on the outside, but soft on the inside. Unfortunately the treats weren’t quite as good as they looked, but the soup made up for it.
Overall, it was a good weekend. I doubt I’ll be repeating this race again anytime soon (unless I decide to try for “rock legend” status), but I’d recommend it as a nice destination race. It’s probably the best race I’ve done in terms of convenience, with the Expo, start line, and finish line all so close together and plenty of hotels in the area to choose from. The airport is just a few miles away and even if you drive in I’m pretty sure I read that there was free parking available. Add to all of that the flat course and 8am start time and it just doesn’t get much better than that.