The Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon
Malinda Walker and I want to thank George Rehmet and the Pamakids Running Club for the two free entries to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon that we won from the contest that ran in the Soonar Soundings.
The people at Elite Racing know how to put on an event. The first “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was in San Diego almost 10 years ago. Since that time they have branched out to include events in Nashville, Arizona, and now San Jose. The company’s belief must be that if they are going to put the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” brand name to an event, it better be first class.
Some of the things we liked were the highly organized fashion in which things were run. There was plenty of free parking nearby. Runners were seeded by their predicted finish times and placed in corrals accordingly. I was in corral 1, wearing bin 1082. Malinda was in corral 4, wearing bib . In fact, as one of the fastest local residents, I was given a special red colored bib that made me a pseudo-VIP runner. The person handing out the bib numbers and the person giving me my ChampionChip wished my good luck by my first name.
A common complaint before almost every race is the lack of portapotties. But not at this race. Between the two of us, we think we used a portapotty seven times and only had to wait in line once (Malinda was second in line that time). They had portapotties everywhere imaginable. By the park between the parking lot and the staging area, near the start, and at the finish line.
I was able to line up just behind the elite athletes. This allowed me a smooth start and I immediately locked into race pace. By mile 4 as we looped back past the start area, I could sense that I was having a good day. I was running a very consistent pace and it felt smooth and comfortable.
The course itself was flat and fast. Entire streets were closed for the race so there was plenty of running room. To keep from overheating a lot of the course was in the shade and they even offered sprinklers to run under to cool-off. Every mile mark had a digital clock with the time. About every mile there was a band playing (some better than others). The bands were well positioned such that just as one was fading out, you turn the corner and can start hearing the next one off in the distance. The looping course allowed Malinda to see the elite runners at mile 10 while she headed out on her 5th mile.
As the miles went along, I just kept clicking off the 6:00 miles. My fastest mile was 5:55 for mile 8. My slowest mile was 6:08 for mile 10. I was having an incredible race in terms of pacing. 8 out of 13 miles were between 6:00 and 6:05! After mile 10, I knew that it would get tougher to maintain the pace so I planned to dig down a little bit and work a little harder, which would be necessary to keep the pace. It must have worked as I ran 6:02, 6:03 and 6:02 for the last 3 miles to cross the line in 1:19:17.
At the finish line I was handed a wet towel. And since both of my hamstrings were starting to cramp up, I got ice from the medical tent and was able to sit down and ice just 20 feet from the finish line. When I was finally able to muster up the strength to walk, I exited the finish area. I gave back my chip and was handed a very large finisher’s medal. Then a volunteer handed me a pair of Spenco sandals, which I immediately put on. As I waited for Malinda to finish I sat in the reunion area and listened to a band play ‘80’s music.
As for the race itself, it was highly memorable. Duncan Kibet ran the second fastest half marathon on US soil (1:00:22, 4:36 pace). The women’s winner, Silvia Skvortsova (1:09:17, 5:17 pace) ran a California State Record. In all, 7 men ran 1:02:31 (4:46 pace) or faster. 8 women ran 1:13:00 (5:34 pace) or faster. For little ol’ me, I placed 54th overall and 3rd in my age group.
At the post-race concert and awards ceremony at HP Pavilion, the race director introduced these top runners to the crowd. He went on to say that this inaugural race was one of the largest first time races in history. 12,000 runners registered. 8291 finished the race.