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San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon

Nobody bought my San Jose RnR half marathon bib.  You guysssss-ah!

So I ran the thing, which I deeply wanted to, especially after not running all week.  I was excited about the big field (approximately 12,000 runners) which meant it had the vibe and energy I am used to finding in full marathons (LA marathon, Eugene, CIM).

Reading a running blog which is all about injuries/body issues is NOT INTERESTING, so I'm going to try and limit that aspect to just one or two paragraphs and give you the choice of skipping on by.  Warning: that paragraph is the next one.

The backdrop to Sunday's half marathon was that I had not run a single yard at faster than an 8:45 minute pace in 2.5 weeks.  If anyone knows something I don't, please share, but I'm pretty sure that after 2.5 weeks of running slow, your body doesn't really remember how to go fast.  I had also run about zero miles in the seven days leading up to the race.  Every time I went out the door to try and run, I found myself "limp-running" due to a sharp pain in the front of my right hip.  I don't know who's keeping track, but let me recap one more time: I have a chronic (one-year now!!) left leg buttcrease pain that is easy to run through but becomes vicious while running races/tempos because it causes my leg to lock up.  And for a little over 2 weeks I have had a new pain in the front of my right hip.  I thought it was a femoral neck stress fracture because it didn't feel like it originated in a muscle/tendon, but my chiropractor thought otherwise.  I still don't know.

Before:

Saturday night, I had also sorts of stress issues about how to get into San Jose and find parking before the race in my style (which is to show up at 3.4 minutes before the race starts).  I have never driven to a race the morning of this far away (one hour away) and for stress-relief purposes I prefer to stay in a hotel or friend's home for races an hour+ away.  I solved this issue by not sleeping at all (join the club), getting up at 5:50, leaving the house at 6:07, and parking a few blocks from the start at 6:58.  The race started at 8:00 a.m.  Do you know what this means? I WAS SO BORED.

I have never been even CLOSE to this early to a race.  The nearest runner-up might be a time that I was 12 minutes early to a race.  How early was I!??  I was so early that all the port-a-potties were empty and unused.  So I used all of them.  Just kidding, but I did go to the bathroom twice out of boredom.

Know what else happened because I was so early?? I got hungry.  And thirsty.  And so that is how I started the race.  Right after finding these suckers at like 7:54, who I had been searching for like crazy the entire hour prior.

Me, Dennis, Katie, Jessica.  I was about to striptease my throwaway shirt.
 I had three options:
1) start very safe and slow, check how butt and hip were feeling, then take it from there.
2) Run the entire race conservatively as an easy fun run
3) start out at race pace, and see if I can hang on.

I jogged maybe about a mile in total before the race to warm up and stave off my boredom.  My buttcrease was feeling tight.  My front-hip issue was feeling encouragingly mild.

I chose option number 3.  I guess I still live under the delusion that my current race pace is 6:30, despite the fact that my body hasn't let me train to make that a reality in weeks.  And so, my "race pace" didn't last very long.

Mile 1: 6:36
Mile 2: 6:26
Mile 3: 6:31
Mile 4: 6:39
Mile 5: 6:36
Mile 6: 6:42

It was exactly mile 5.6 when my buttcrease pain began to spread and cause the leg-lock feeling.  I remember looking at my watch and thinking, ugh.  We're not even halfway.  So I told myself to get to the half-way point (6.6 ish) and then I could stop and stretch out my hip so that I could run a little more comfortably, and hopefully keep up a decent pace.

I ended up stopping just after the mile 7 sign, for the quickest stretch I could manage.  I'd guess about 15 seconds.

Mile 7: 6:48
Mile 8: 6:46
Mile 9: 6:55
Mile 10: 6:42

I suffered through the last 6.3 miles. That's all I remember.  Surely there was fun energy with the live music and some beautiful neighborhoods, but it was mostly uncomfortable for me.  My body sux.  I let myself take another stretch break during the beginning of mile 11, probably another 15 seconds, and focused on my stride (thinking maybe shorter strides don't aggravate the buttcrease).

I mentioned that I started the race hungry and thirsty.  I had a Gu in my pocket, but I just could not bring myself to eat it.  Some days, I really cannot-will-not eat while running.  I did my best by grabbing only Gatorade over water when it was available (3x I think?), and slowing down enough to actually get some down my throat instead of in my hair, etc.  I faded a little, but I'm blaming this on my body issues, and not on my fueling.

Mile 11: 6:56
Mile 12: 6:50
Mile 13: 6:38
0.29: 1:49 (6:20 pace)

By my watch: 1:29:01 for 13.29 miles = avg pace 6:42.



Pace liar
Main screen












Officially 1:29:27, 6:50 pace.



I have a confession.  I actually don't think I know what it means to "run the tangents."  When there is a turn, I run near the inside of the curve.  I try to aim towards more of a straight line than a C-shaped curve.  But every single race I have run, I end up about 0.05-0.10 farther than most of my friends (most of them clocked about a 13.24 yesterday, to my 13.29).  Not a big deal of course, but I really wonder what I am doing wrong?

Afterwards:

I met with some friends who had AMAZING races*, sat on the grass, and ate my free Jamba Juice smoothie and Snickers Marathon bar.  And stretched a lot.  My upper hamstring/buttcrease was mad at me.

Naomi, Dennis, Me, Katie, Jessica, Sesa

*Dennis ran a 1:30 after having run THREE marathons the prior weekend.  Read that again.  He ran almost 80 miles in three days, in altitude, took 6 days off, then ran a 1:30 half marathon.  Jessica dropped her PR from 1:35 down to a 1:30, and is about to drop another huge PR in New York for the marathon.  Sesa killed it again with another PR with a 1:51.  Katie ran her butt off in 1:39 despite running a marathon the week prior and hanging out in the port-o-potties for 8 minutes during the race. And my friend Amber (not pictured) ran a PR despite shin pain and the absence of her normal running buddy.

I stalked some strollers hoping to find Janae and her cute babe (ahem, Brooke not Billy), but it was chaos there (18,000 runners and their family members) and, by golly, I hadn't expected to look for her right on my tail with an uber-fast post-pregnancy race debut!

In sum, I have decided that my new training plan is to get pregnant, and run 3 marathons the week before my next half marathon.  Seems to be working for everyone else.

I drove home, and put a water bottle under each of my buttcreases because it hurt too much to sit in the car for a full hour.  Once home, I met up with the Gentleman and we went to a sports bar to watch the 49ers game, where I still could not sit.  Then I passed out (remember, no sleep that night) and despite my strongest urges NOT to share this embarrassment with you, it makes me laugh too hard not to.

It's true.  I often sleep with the pillow on the wrong side of my head.

Reflections:

I had fun.  Rock 'n Roll may be expensive, but the race was fantastic.  Very organized and punctual, thousands of really spectacular volunteers.  The course was crazy-flat and easy; this should be a PR course for anyone, unless you are me and your body slows you down by the month.

I am not happy with a 1:29 in the least.  I know that I can't expect anything better given the dead halt in my running the weeks prior, and the pain that persists when I try to run faster.  But just a few months earlier this year, I was running in the low 1:27s, and I expect only to improve.  Isn't that a huge part of what makes running so addicting? I expected to be running a 1:25 by this point in the year.

Running in and of itself will always be enough to please me, no matter how hard or what speed.  But when it comes to putting down the money to run a race, I don't have the patience to remain stagnant.  1:29 is not only standing still at this point; it is moving backwards.  This is basically the half marathon pace I was running in early 2011 on accident, without working for it.

I suppose I will be meeting with a doctor again this week, finally getting some x-rays/bone scans/MRI/MRA done.  If someone would just TELL ME WHAT TO DO to make my body better, I would do it.  I have spent time and money on three professionals who have all told me to continue running, while voicing optimism that my running issues would be fixed.  1) a Kaiser physical therapist who told me to stretch more, stand more (advice taken).  2) an out of plan PT who told me to do glute strengthening exercises (advice taken, except kettleball classes were rejected due to hating it).  3) a sports chiropractor who gave me confidence that I would be feeling great within 3 sessions of ART.

The saga continues.