Posted in Opinions and Thoughts, Running

What’s in a Name?

Juliet:
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Picture of a rose
Rose

You know the standard distances:

  • 5k (3.1 miles),
  • 10k (6.2 miles),
  • half-marathon (13.1 miles),
  • marathon (26.2 miles), and
  • ultra (anything over 26.2 miles).

And the not-so-standard distances – 5-miler, 12k, 15k, 10-miler, and more.

But what the heck is a mini marathon?

Apparently some people are trying to get others to call the half-marathon distance a mini marathon. According to wikipedia, a mini marathon is any distance less than a marathon, from a half-marathon all the way down to a 5k.

I don’t like the idea of calling a half-marathon a mini marathon. “Half-marathon” is descriptive. “Mini marathon” is diminutive.

I like the idea of calling a 5k a “mini marathon” even less. A 5k is a 5k, not a mini marathon. A 5k is 3.1 miles, a marathon is 26.2 miles. A marathon is nearly 8.5 times the 5k distance. Don’t diminish the marathon distance by calling anything with less mileage a mini marathon.

The Rock-n-Roll race series, which I love, has developed the annoying habit of calling the shorter distances that they add to a marathon or half-marathon event “mini marathons.” The San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon added a shorter distance race in 2012. It’s a 5 mile course and the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series calls it a mini marathon. The Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon also has a shorter distance race that it calls a mini marathon and it’s not even 5 miles, it’s a 5k. The Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon has a mini marathon event, as well, and – you guessed it – it’s a 5k.

What’s wrong with calling it a 5k? What’s wrong with calling it a 5-miler?

Is it so runners can call themselves marathoners without having put in the sweat, tears, and miles that goes into marathon training? Is this another sign of society dumbing things down in an effort to level the playing field for everyone? Trying to drive out every vestige of competitiveness? In elementary schools now, everyone gets a trophy or medal for something, even if only for showing up. Is this the adult version of that? Call it a “mini marathon” so that people who don’t want to commit to a marathon can call themselves marathoners?

If you run a 5k, be proud that you’ve run a 5k. A 5k is a tough little race, whether you’re running to place or to set a personal best. A 5-miler is nothing to be ashamed of, either. When I reach the 5 mile long run in my training plan, it’s a huge milestone. Running a 10k or any of those other distances is nothing to hang your head about, either. There’s no need to call them “mini marathons” to dress them up and make them seem more than they are. Your non-runner friends might be impressed because they don’t know any better. You runner friends…well, I don’t know what your runner friends would say, but I know what I would say.

Be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t be deceptive.

Happy running!

Posted in Race Reports, Running

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!

Posted in Race Reports, Running

Race Report – 2013 Run in the Name of Love 5k

The 3rd Annual Run in the Name of Love 5k took place on Sunday, 16 June 2013. This was my first time running this race. This was also the first year that this race partnered with the Big Sur International Marathon organization and I have to believe that it really benefited from that partnership.

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. There were plenty of port-a-potties and no lines, which is always a good thing.

The race t-shirts were royal blue long-sleeve cotton t-shirts, which is great for wearing around on the weekend. Race directors please take note – not all of your race participants want or expect a technical t-shirt for every race. Sometimes a nice cotton t-shirt to lounge around in or run weekend errands in is perfect. And there were bandanas for the dogs.

Race Start

Parents at the starting line ~ In the Name of Love Run/Walk 2013
Parents at the starting line ~ In the Name of Love Run/Walk 2013

The starting ceremony was a bit awkward because apparently, the official ceremony happened in the registration area. When race officials realized that all of the runners and most of the walkers were waiting at the start line, they hustled up and had a second starting ceremony. I didn’t appreciate the announcer’s snide remarks about music. After all, who named him the music expert of the day? But other than that, the National Anthem was stirring and well-sung and all participants were wished well before being sent on their way.

The runners started first and the walkers were given a separate start about 10 minutes later. From a runner’s perspective, this was great because I didn’t have to navigate through the walkers in the early part of the race. The course for walkers was also much shorter so most of them were finished by the time slower runners like myself crossed the finish line.

Race Course

The course ran through the southern part of Carmel-by-the-Sea and north along the road above the beach so there were beautiful views all along the way. The volunteers did a good job making sure that no runners went astray. The water station at the half-way point was organized, well-run, and at a good point in the race.

The finish line was a little bit congested. This wasn’t the fault of the race organizers, rather, it was due to walkers and the dogs congregating just after the finish line and just after the medals. A suggestion for next year might be to move the water tables a little further down the road from the finish line so that people will naturally keep going after they cross the finish line and get their medals.

Post Race: Goodies and Medals

The volunteers giving out the medals did a pretty good job of identifying the 5k runners and the 2k walkers. It still feels odd to me, though, to have to walk up to a volunteer and ask for my medal.

After crossing the finish line, participants and spectators move down the road and then are separated into two streams – participants and spectators. Only participants with bibs are allowed into a corral where they were given bags with munchies. The post-race goodies were pre-bagged, just like at the Big Sur Half-Marathon. I think that’s great because it ensures that everyone gets the same amount of stuff and there’s no hold-up while people pick up their food.

I thought the method to separate the participants and spectators was excellent, as well. I’ve been to enough races where spectators go to the goodie line and grab food and drinks even though they didn’t run or walk in the event at all. After participants picked up their munchie bags, they merged back in with the spectators down the road to the beach where there were tables and chairs set up for people to relax and wait for the auction and raffle. We didn’t stay for either as we had brunch plans.

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

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

The Garcia family walkers ~ Mama, Rambo, and Papa
The Garcia family walkers ~ Mama, Rambo, and Papa

Thumbs Down: Nothing really stood out as a “thumbs down” for this race, just some things that could be tweaked for next year!

Thumbs Up: This was a dog-friendly race.

Thumbs Up: The organization and the volunteers were exactly what I’ve come to expect from Big Sur Marathon events. Keep up the good work!

I would definitely recommend this race to runners and walkers, especially if they have dogs. Happy running!