I write this race recap with mixed feelings. You see, I didn’t finish the race in the time I hoped for. I didn’t finish the race in the “B plan” time I hoped for. I finished in 2:11, 15 minutes slower than my PR (1:56), 5 minutes slower than my last half (2:06). I was convinced I trained more, I ran two 10 milers before the race, and regularly log 20-30 miles weekly. My average train pace is about 9:45, on trails with some hills, and I figured the flat road race would go by much faster. But it didn’t.
Sometimes our body doesn’t perform like we want it to. I did feel a bit under the weather for a few days before the race, my throat was itching and I was drinking GSE (grapefruit seed extract, a natural antibiotic) daily to get over it. The lunar eclipse was also in full swing. Although sometimes revered as a great event, it is actually not an auspicious time to perform great actions, and it can be quite energetically draining. Combining all those influences, my performance simply suffered. I guess some days we just don’t do as much, as fast, as good as we wish we could.
I started the race feeling well, but I got my famous cramp early on, maybe mile two or three (Yes, that early!). I was breathing deeply and working on controlling my body, relaxing as much as possible, and the cramp came and went for most of the race! There were a few times I really had to slow down, although I thankfully never stopped fully! My first mile was 8:56, the second 9:20, and after a few miles I just stopped looking at my Garmin and ran by feel.
I decided I will not allow myself to get mental about the numbers, and I felt that I couldn’t run much faster even if I really pushed it, mainly because of the fear of the cramp. At mile 9 and 11 it was getting pretty bad, and I could tell by my Garmin splits later on. I ran a few of those miles at 10:20 min/mile pace and slower. As I speed up in the last mile, I got the cramp again and ended up crossing the finish line in a decent amount of pain.
Other than the cramp, most of the race was very enjoyable!
The weather was very pleasant, just a tad hot, in the 70s, maybe 80s later in the morning – but nothing like the humid heavy Florida. By the way, I have read numerous times, and heard runners say, that 50 F/10 C is the ideal temperature for running. That is just nuts to me!! Way way too cold… 65 – 75F/18-24C is ideal in my book!
The race course was mostly flat, just very few ‘rolling hills’, ie. under bridge crossings. I am used to running trails these days, which are much softer than concrete. I felt some minor discomfort and pain in my knees, hips and quads from time to time, but all of those would eventually go away. Standard running sensations for the distance, I would say.
This was the 10th year of San Jose Rock and Roll half marathon, so I think they put a bit of extra thought into it. I love the race shirt, it’s a fun turquoise green color, the medal is nice, albeit a tad smaller than what I expected, and there were plenty of bands playing and cheerleaders cheering on the course. People came out of their houses to play and cheer, dogs barked and kids gave us passing runners high fives.
Coincidentally, this was also my 10th half marathon (if I include my half ironman run portion, and the 25k I ran earlier this summer, which I both for some reason count as half marathon races). Although I am not getting faster, or at least not PR-ing much lately, I feel like they are getting easier. It might be the slower pace that is making my runs more pleasant and enjoyable. But I also believe having more experience running longer mileage has something to do with. I feel like I’m getting ‘seasoned’ in running half marathons, and they definitely are the best distance – challenging but doable!
As I write this, I’m recalling that popular Pinterest quote: “It doesn’t get easier, you get stronger”. I know how to pace myself to finish with more juice in my tank, which unfortunately works against my desire to be faster. But today, for maybe the first time ever, I do not have a headache after a longer/harder race, and although I feel my body sore, and my left knee is hurting, I am overall well. I might be getting just a tad stronger each time.
Hubby looks better at finish (he was done almost 20 min before me)[/caption]
I did want to emphasize my experience in finishing this slow – I was aiming to be about 2-3 minutes faster than my half in Portland, which was of similar terrain, or about 9:30 pace, which would put me at 2:03. As any runner, triathlete, cross-fitter, and yogi knows, the body needs it’s space, and it needs your care. There are too many opportunities to criticize it, to feel frustrated, to notice how you are getting slower, weaker, fatter, or any other adjective you want to assign yourself, specially if you compete or measure your speed/strength/flexibility on a regular basis. And I was a total victim of my own frustration.
However, after my initial frustration, as I crossed the finish line and looked at my time in shock, I thought about it and decided to just get over myself. Enough of the pity, of the fear (have I gained that much weight? Am I that injured? and so on..).
I think that the fact my body and mind are capable of something as crazy as running 13.1 miles/ 21 km in the first place is an achievement on it’s own. A few years ago this was a dream I never even knew I had. And every achievement, no matter how big or small, deserves to be celebrated! Here’s to another successful run, and to many many more…
If you have similar experiences, feelings of frustration with your body, I invite you to try the following AFFIRMATION I did.
I thank my legs for carrying me. I thank my heart for beating. I thank my lungs for breathing… Loving and thanking every body part that is essential to your running! Acknowledging all that it takes, and being grateful for the healthy body that was given to you!
But enough of that.
From Veggie grill in Santana Row shopping center (pretty place!) in San Jose:
And ice cream from Pressed Juicery. Love that place!!! They have a few locations, as far as I know only in California, so I take advantage when I run into them. Love their juices, but the ice cream is just amazing, super light and fresh yet totally decadent.
Next stop: Rock and Roll Las Vegas! I’ve never been to Vegas, and as I don’t drink, gamble or go to strip clubs (that’s the idea I have of Vegas…) then I figured the best way to see it is running it, right?
And I’m gunning for the full marathon, my second full! I am super nervous, specially as I am already pretty tired after a half. As soon as he finished this half, Acyuta said he is definitely not running the full in Vegas (I signed us both up for it, but you can always downgrade in RnR races), and I am just hoping I won’t give up either..