Race Report – 2013 San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon

The 2013 San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll (SJRnR) Half-Marathon took place on Sunday, 6 October 2013. This was my fifth time running this race. Once again, I signed up for the 2014 event when I was at the expo on Friday.

Last year I was concerned about the lack of communication from the race organizers because the Nike Women’s Marathon (NWM) race organizers were sending out a lot of emails. This year, it’s exactly the reverse. The communication from the race organizers has been excellent, and the SJRnR Facebook site has been a good resource, too. Meanwhile, the dearth of communication from the NWM organizers is quite worrisome to me and to other runners.

2013 RnRSJ Finisher's Medal and T-shirt

2013 RnRSJ Finisher’s Medal and T-shirt

Expo and Race Swag

Packet pick-up was smooth and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. I know that they require an ID when you pick up your packet. However, it was still nice to have the volunteer tell me that she needed to see my ID because she didn’t believe the age that was printed on my bib.

They didn’t have unisex t-shirts this year so I ended up with a women’s t-shirt. I like the men’s t-shirts because they’re baggy. When I signed up for the 2014 event, I selected a men’s t-shirt. The women’s t-shirts were grey so it will be easy to match next year. I always try to wear the last year’s t-shirt to the current year’s race and, although I love navy blue (the color of last year’s shirt), it was hard to find something to go with it.

Other than the t-shirt, there was no race swag besides the little drawstring backpack. I like the drawstring backpacks because I use them when I travel.

The expo was about the same size as last year. The RnR staff working the RnR “booth” seemed distracted and disinterested. I signed up for the 2014 event and then had to find a volunteer to request my t-shirt. I ended up buying more headbands and some aloe cream, which was expensive so I hope it will be worth it.

Gear Check

The gear check area was organized and neat. As in previous years, I didn’t use the gear check because my hotel was very close to both the start and the finish line. I really like loop courses!

Race Start

The race organizers implemented a wave start this year. I saw some comments on the Facebook page about people hating the wave start. I’m generally ambivalent about wave starts because I’m slow. Although I got very antsy when my corral didn’t move for a long time, I appreciated it in the end because I was able to make a last-minute port-o-let stop, which meant that I didn’t need to make any stops on the course.

Whoever they got to sing the national anthem this year was atrocious. She was so focused on trying to sound nice that she screwed up the words, sang off-key, and was just generally horrible. Again, people have no manners when it comes to the national anthem – people didn’t remove their hats and people continued talking during the entire national anthem. No matter how horribly it is sung, people still ought to have respect for it.

Race Course, Entertainment, and Volunteers

The course hasn’t changed in the past few years. It’s mostly flat with three or four small hills to keep things interesting. I know that the race organizers added the “mini-marathon” last year to increase participation and registration but they really add to the congestion in the early miles.

I had my headphones this year so the bands weren’t as important as they were last year. This year, the music was upbeat, which was good. The cheer teams were enthusiastic and loud. It was great watching them high-five runners and wave their signs, trying to cool the runners off as they passed by.

The volunteers at the water stations and along the way were great. I wish someone could tell them how helpful it is to have someone clapping and cheering for you along the course, especially in the middle miles. Because they really are. When you hear a random stranger tell you that you’re doing great, just when you’re wondering what you’re doing out there, it’s very helpful.

In addition to the volunteers, the residents who came out to watch the race, who pulled out their boomboxes or their instruments, who turned on their water hoses and sprinklers also helped to keep the runners going. I saw a lot of funny signs – not that I can remember any of them now – along the way, too. I hope all the volunteers, cheer teams, bands, and spectators realize how much we appreciate them.

Post Race: Goodies and Medals

The 2013 medal is blah. It matches the shirt. It’s almost as if the race organizers ran out of inspiration when it came to San Jose. After all, what is San Jose known for that you could turn into a finisher’s medal? I hope they get a surge of creativity next year.

The energetic blonde lady wasn’t at the finish line again. The finish line seems anti-climatic without her.

After taking my finisher’s photo, I wandered around the loop collecting water, Gatorade, two containers of chocolate milk, a Power Bar, a Jamba Juice smoothie, a banana, and snap pea crisps. Not a lot of munchies this year but I suppose it was okay because I don’t know how I could have carried anymore. Maybe next year I’ll remember to tuck a little bag in my pocket.

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Thumbs UP:  The organization of this event is truly flawless.

Thumbs DOWN: I absolutely hate having an event called the “mini marathon” as part of this race day, especially when the distance of that event is 5 miles. What’s wrong with calling it a 5-miler?

Thumbs UP: Getting the high school and middle school children to volunteer is great.

Thumbs DOWN: The water on the course tasted bad. Not at all of the aid stations, just at the first and second aid stations.

Thumbs UP: This event continues to grow and still maintain its high energy and great coordination.

I’m looking forward to running this race again next year. In the meantime…

Happy running!

Each Day Is A Fresh Start

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

It’s a cliché, I know.

But I think of it when I get up in the morning.

It’s a reminder that no matter what went wrong – or right – the day before, this is now.

The future is waiting to unfold before me, brimming with possibility, teeming with potential.

I craft my future if I don’t live in my past.

from Ferenc Ecseki Photography

from Ferenc Ecseki Photography

And the thought processor churns on…

Race Report – 2012 Peacock Acres Turkey Trot 5k

The 5th Annual Peacock Acres Turkey Trot 5k took place on Saturday, 24 November 2012. This was my first time running this race, but interestingly enough, not my first time running this course.

Check In/Registration and Race Swag

Check-in was straightforward and simple. The volunteers knew what they were doing even if some of the participants didn’t.

I had pre-registered my parents and myself, but I didn’t know my brother would be home for the race so I didn’t register him. His registration process was smooth and simple, as well. Again, the volunteers knew what they were doing.

Race Start

There was a young man dressed in a turkey costume and he was given a head start. The goal was to “catch” and overtake the turkey. The prize for the first person to beat the turkey to the finish line was – you guessed it! – a turkey. The race started on a downhill so at the starting gun, the field took off at a sprint after the turkey. Thank goodness they don’t have us run up that hill to finish!

Race Course

This trail course was very hilly and had areas of sandy soil instead of hard-packed soil. It’s a tough course on a normal day and even tougher on a hot day.

After I finished, I ran/walked back through the course to find my parents. They were a little on the slow side, and I finally found them almost at the halfway mark. My mom always wears too many layers so I ended up carrying two of her sweatshirts for her! The good thing is that they weren’t the last ones to finish. A lot of walkers were struggling with the hills, the sandy soil, and the heat.

Post Race: Goodies and Medals

For a small event, the race organizers had a nice selection of munchies for before, during, and after the race. There was a best costume contest for the dogs – something to remember for next year!

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Thumbs Up: My entire family – including Rambo – was with me for this race.

Thumbs Down: No age group prizes – I doubt that I qualified for one but I’m pretty sure my brother did. It would have been sweet for him to get an age group prize for his very first 5k.

121124 Gilbert at the Turkey Trot 2

Thumbs Up: This was a dog-friendly race.

This is a tough little course. I would run this race again next year. I’m sure Rambo would enjoy the trail but I’m not sure if my parents will want to come along.

Happy Running!