Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Race Report: San Jose 1/2 Marathon

Sunday I completed my 11th half marathon overall and my second 1/2 marathon this year.  As Kevin and I drove down to San Jose it hit me how little I have actually "raced" this year and how much I have missed it.

I had hoped to get a post up with my goals the night before but we were at an out of town the day before and I didn't get to bed until 11:00 PM.  The wedding actually really messed with my pre-race rituals and food intake but unfortunately, this was one of those family things I had no choice but to attend.  Had I written that post I would have told you my "A" goal was to finish in 1:59:59, my "B" goal would be to beat my current PR of 2:03:46 and my "C" goal would be to come in under 2:10.

As I said, the wedding really messed me up.  It was outside and it was hot and I wasn't able to hydrate very well.  We ate around 4 and it wasn't good pre-race food and actually ended up not sitting well in the stomach.  We had to drive three hours back home and by the time I showered, set out my race stuff and got in bed it was 11:00 pm and I had a 4:15 wake up call.

My alarm went off at 4:15 and my stomach was not happy with me.  There was no way I could fit an ounce of food it it so I broke the cardinal sin of racing and did not eat breakfast.  We were out the door by 5:15 and picked up a fellow Fleet Feet team member and made our way to San Jose.  We got there at 6:30 am so I had a good 30 minutes to stretch before meeting up for our team photo.

Around 7:00 am I met up with my fellow Fleet Feet team members and Katie!  Our original plan was that Katie was going to pace me to my 1:59:59 finish.  Honestly, despite all the training I had done I didn't quite think I was trained enough to actually reach my "A" goal but I thought if anyone could push me to get there she could.  We took some pre-race photos, got in line for the portos and headed towards our designated corrals.

Team Fleet Feet
Katie and I
Kristin and I - fun side note, we were college sorority sisters and now fellow Fleet Feet employees!
Kristin and I were in corral 6 and Katie was in 8.  We totally should have just started in her corral with her but I knew she was speedy and would be able to catch up with us so I guess I didn't think much of it until after we started and realized just how huge this race was and the chances of her finding us were slim.  I guess she had been able to get into our corral but we still missed each other.  I kept my eye out though the whole race looking for her.  There was a girl in her exact outfit except with dark brown hair I kept thinking was her but of course it wasn't.  The poor girl probably wondered why I kept staring at here!  Since I didn't get my "A" goal (more on that) we will just have to plan another race together!

We did some last minute stretching before the gun went off.  My stomach was still not feeling settled but it was go time and that would have to wait 13.1 miles.

I think I mentioned that while training with the Fleet Feet group for this half we did all our longs runs with the run/walk method - 5 minutes running, 1 walking.  I have to admit, I was skeptical but that is what the group did so we went along with it.  After experiencing it for myself I can see how it is beneficial and even possible to improve your time if they are done right.  I really liked the walk breaks while training but I knew on race day I would not hit my goal time walking even though I have noticed that my running speed has improved.  Kristin and I decided to run/walk the first two miles to warm up and then we would run the rest of the way once Katie caught up to us. 

Two "bad" things happened right off the bat.  Strike 1 - about .25 into the first mile I realized my garmin was till on the bike setting!!  Ahh, so I had to reset it which made it about .35 off each mile all during the race.  I knew I couldn't rely on it for mileage but each mile was clearly marked and as soon as I figured out the difference between the actual mileage and the garmin mileage I was able to have a rough idea where we were.  I was also still able to keep track of our pace obviously.  Strike 2 - it started sprinkling right when the race started and was pretty humid the entire rest of the course - not an ideal condition for running.

This was my second rock 'n roll race which means the field was huge - surprisingly they are very organized despite the size of their races but nonetheless there is a lot of people.  The first mile was spent doing a lot of weaving in an out of people.  Miles 1 and 2 Kristin and I did take our walk breaks every 5-7 minutes.

Mile 1: 9:54
Mile 2: 10:00

Once we hit mile 3 we decided to just run.  I was keeping my eye out for Katie but alas, there was just too many people.  Between miles 4 and 5 we ran through the restaurant/bar area of downtown San Jose and there were lots of people out cheering which is always a nice boost.  We saw Kevin and Kristin's fiance!

Mile 3: 9:45
Mile 4: 9:48
Mile 5: 9:41

It was at this point I realized "A" and "B" goals were not possible.  I was feeling good but to have achieved a 1:59:59 I was going to have to keep a 9:09 pace the entire race.  Under a 2:03 meant around a 9:15 pace.  To make that at this point would have meant running under a 9:00 min/mile for the next 7 miles which was not going to happen.  Maybe if I only had 1 or 2 miles left but not 7.   In all honesty though I knew deep down I had not done enough speed work to meet either of these goals since I had been spending so much time preparing for the century.  I was hoping I would be able to bust in out but I wasn't too surprised it wasn't happening.  I was really fine with that though since I really have been enjoying my time on the bike.  Sometimes you can't do it all.  At this point I decided to set my sights on my "C" goal of 2:10 which meant maintaining a 9:55 pace - something I was already doing.  We saw the 2:10 pace group a good ways behind us so I knew we would be okay.

The next few miles were running in and out of some beautiful neighborhoods.  During all my training runs for this race I ran sans iPod - I know, me without my ipod.  Around mile 5 I put in one earbud of but the music was giving me a headache so I just turned it off.  For those of you unfamiliar with Rock 'n Roll races, they have bands playing every 1.5 - 2 miles.  When I did the San Diego Rock 'n Roll marathon every time I passed a band they seemed to be on break.  However, this time the bands were nicely spaced out and fun to listen to.  Right before mile 6 we saw the leader, Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi, on his way to the finish.  He won the race with a time of 1:01:45 - that is a 4:42 min/mile!!  INSANE!!

Mile 6: 9:48
Mile 7: 10:17 (yikes - way off pace!  A few walk breaks for some honey stingers)
Mile 8: 9:46

By this point the 2:10 pace group had snuck up on us somehow so we ran with them for a bit.  Kristin and I chatted and we decided to do the next miles run/walk to see if we could actually speed up.  During our last few training runs when we did walk we were ending up with 9:30 min/miles.  Since I didn't have a PR to lose we decided to experiment with it. 

Mile 9: 10:09 (okay, so that didn't work)
Mile 10: 9:31 (okay, so it is working)
Mile 11: 10:30 (okay, this isn't working)

During these miles when we stopped to walk the 2:10 pace group passed but then when we started running we passed them.  After mile 11 we decided to just run the rest at this point.  The 2:10 group was ahead of us, it was hot and I was ready to be done.  We both just put our heads down and charged on to the finish.

Mile 12: 9:37
Last .9: 8:40 (remember, since I had to restart the Garmin I was short on my mileage)

I sprinted across the finish line, stopped my Garmin to see my results:
Total Time: 2:07:32
Total Distance: 12.9

Obviously I was short, but thought I might have made it under 2:10 but I would have to wait for the official results.

All I wanted was something cold - I was so hot!!  They were passing out towels they had had soaking in ice water and they felt amazing.  Despite the fact I had gone through all three of my water bottles I felt so dehydrated and I could feel all the salt on my skin.  I really just wanted to jump in one of the bucks of ice water.  We got our medals and met up with Kevin and Kristin's fiance.  Kevin was bummed because he said he had a great spot at the finish but missed me running through.  I texted Katie but she was already on the train back home - next time Katie!  I was happy to see you for the short time I could.

Happy Finishers!

Kristin and I said our good byes.  Next stop was lunch and Kevin's hockey game which started in an hour.  At lunch I texted my mom who had been following the live update tracker and asked her what it said my final time had been.  The verdict? 2:11!!  Ahhh, one stupid minute!!  During the hockey game I kept checking on my phone to see if they had posted the official results and finally right as we were leaving they did - yep, 2:11!  I wanted 2:10, but this was my second fasted half so I was happy with that. 

Ultimately, for not having a very good race plan I couldn't complain with my results.  We had waivered with whether we would do the run/walk, decided to do it, not do it, do it.  Someone in our training group is a huge proponent of run/walk - even qualified for Boston multiple times doing it with time to spare.  I read a lot about it while we were doing it and I believe it works, but I know for me I will have to work on my overall speed before it will work for me to actually get a PR doing it.  When I am running I need to be faster since obviously the walk breaks slow down the overall pace - even though they are only for a minute.  It was just such a different approach for me since I have always just run a race.

Overall it was a great race, I had a great time and I got my second fasted half time - not a bad day.  The only thing that made me a little sad was when we were walking to the car we saw a band packing up, yet lots of runners were still going by.  I think the bands need to be playing until the very last runner passes them - it is those runners more than anything that need their support.

These next two weeks are crazy - San Jose Rock 'n Roll was last weekend, I have Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Gran Fondo where I hope to redeem myself from Breakaway (post to come tomorrow am) this Saturday and then Foxy's Century and the Nike Women's Half Marathon next weekend.
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  1. Congrats on 2:11! You should be super proud! Nice work!

  2. You still did fantastic! You'll get that sub 2, I know it. Probably not at Nike =) especially if you're running with me but maybe in the late fall or in the spring.

  3. Congrats Kristen. You had an amazing time and in my book you are speedy :)

    Think I might consider the Rock n Roll next year. Sounds like a fun race.

  4. Congrats! 2:11 is a great time!!! Enjoy Nike! I will be running it as well!

  5. I know it's not what you wanted but it's still a very respectable time. ;)
    A century and half mary in the same weekend? Yikes. Good luck!

  6. Congrats on your race!! That is a fab time, especially since you said you hadn't raced that much this year. The sub-2 is so hard, I wasn't able to get it this year but am aiming for it again next year. You'll get it, you are SO CLOSE!!!

    Great job, K! Thanks for your nice comment on my unemployment post. Although I don't wish these feelings on someone else, it was so nice to hear I'm not alone. Email me anytime if ya need to talk, girl!

  7. Great job! My half PR is from San Jose (just squeaked under 2 hours) but I'm not sure I would try to PR there again. Too crowded. Let me know if you try to go sub-2 at a half in the area in the future. It is a hard goal for me, too, but I'd love to try to do it again.


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