Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rocking 'n' Rolling in San Jose

I think I may have mentioned that I'm not fond of road races; I don't like huge crowds or the pounding my body takes. But Mrs Notthat really wanted to try out the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, and it didn't help that they had a pretty cool medal design this year.

So instead of reprising our Sacramento Urban Cow race (another road race, but less overwhelming and with cowbell medals!) or heading up north to do the Coastal Bizz Johnson trail race (which I am determined to do next year), we joined 12,000 runners and headed to San Jose bright and early Sunday morning.

Yes, I know this was only a Half Marathon, so my shirt was reasonably inappropriate, but I got a lot of "GO MANIAC!" yells throughout the course, so there.

This was our first race since one of the brightest trail running lights in the area was prematurely switched off, so we sported these tributes to Pete. (I had one guy catch up to me and say he had never met Pete, but had heard a lot about him and was sorry hear the news. We ran together in silence for a bit before I saw photo opportunity and he took off.)

Weird Haired Mom was on the medical team - basically a group of people with a medical background that roam the course and try to repair any broken runners. She had warned her group to be on the lookout for an old guy with frogs on his hat that will likely be shuffling aimlessly and taking pictures of things that normal people wouldn't waste their time on. She did say that I was mostly harmless though.

Looking ahead of us. We were in corral 13 out of 19. It took us nearly nine minutes to cross the start line once the race began.
New this year was a five mile race (weirdly called a "Mini Marathon") in addition to the Half Marathon. They said they had 14,000 people register, but the results show a little under 12,000 actually finished one of the two races, with only a little over 2,000 running the shorter course.

Looking behind us. That's a lot of runners!

There are two big things about this race: The course has bands scattered along it and there is a finish line concert. Based on the Rock 'n' Roll name I knew it would have been a lot to ask for there to be any country bands (there weren't), but at least there was this brass band.

I would have stopped if they really had bowls of noodles sitting out.
I think there were about a dozen official bands (some you passed twice), and probably about that many unofficial bands, like this one. I liked the unofficial ones more since they were not being paid to be there, and anyone that gets up early on a Sunday morning to play in front of thousands of sweaty runners, each of which is only going to hear you play for about 30 seconds, is awesome in my books.

"OK! I'll stop making fun of your boyfriend; just let me down."
More fun than the bands, to me at least, were the cheerleaders. Their enthusiasm was very contagious and I give them credit for making me at least ten minutes faster than I otherwise would have been.

Also getting credit is The Endorphin Dude and his sister Enaid (not her real name). They started in the second corral and had about a seven minute head start on us. Before the race I had predicted that they would have about a 15 minute head start on us and that I wouldn't catch them until about mile ten.

I caught them just before mile three. Not that I'm gloating. Much.

Yes - running under some overgrown greasy hippy's crotch is exactly what I want to do.
One good thing about this race; for as many people as were running it, there was plenty of room to move around and go at whatever pace you wanted. Even the walkers that marched four or five abreast weren't much of a problem.

"Are we really going so slow that frog boy caught up to us? C'mon dear; we've got to pick up the pace!"
I did something in this race that I've never done before; I ran a little over six miles without taking a walking break. Which is how I caught up to Oel and Ainigriv (not their real names). For the second half of the race though, I did mix in some walking, but still kept moving pretty good. (But never saw these two again until the finish line - I'm taking credit for for them picking up their pace.)

Look at the sign she is holding. That's our California educational system at work! Although, now that I think about it, this might have been on purpose and I'm too slow to get the joke.

There were water stations scattered along the course, with MANY perky young people begging you to take their cup of water. Mrs Notthat and I both were carrying all the water we needed just so we could avoid the bottlenecks that these stations tend to become (although these actually seemed to work much smoother than others I've seen).

Great. Now we get to run under his butt. He actually had butt cheeks. Sheesh. 

Shortly after passing under Butt Cheek Guy I was done! And then I flashed my secret weapon at Mrs Notthat - in addition to Pete on my back, pushing me along, I had Team Tom on my front. Whenever I started dragging, the two of them would gang up on me, tell me to have fun during this race, and to get my butt in gear.

The slightly creepy Wall of Bagel Fingers.
Mrs Notthat set a PR with her first sub-2:30 Half. My time was around 2:34 - much better than I had anticipated since I had started fighting a cold on Friday.

Mrs Notthat and I headed over to the concert area where I grabbed my free beer and listened to a funny and talented Matt Nathanson play for us.

Just Matt and a guy on electric guitar helping him out. They were great! 

Once the concert was over, Alegna and Nerak (not their real names) left the mosh pit and came over to say "hi." (Both had finished their race LONG before either of us did.)

And that's about it. The medal was pretty cool, although it was a little disappointing it wasn't actually full size. (And I'll bet more than one parent had to explain to their kids what it was.)

For a large road race, this wasn't too bad, and seemed reasonably well organized and kind of fun. If your thing is a race with bands along the course though, you REALLY need to do next year's Wharf to Wharf in Santa Cruz. MANY more bands along a six mile course that has much better views and a more fun vibe. (And it's WAY cheaper - about a third of the price of this race.)

In any case, we can now check off the "run a Rock 'n' Roll race" item from our to do list. (If you are big into bling though, these people are marketing geniuses - do multiple of their races and you will need a truck for all the medals you will end up with.)

We've got another road race next weekend (the Redwood City Oktoberun Half Marathon) and then it is back to the trails (YAY!) for Brazen Rocky Ridge (GULP).

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see a lot more of my pictures here.


mary ann said...

san jose never looked better!

Beth said...

Looks like fun!
The blow up guy you ran under cracked me up.
Please explain the "Bagel fingers"...what was happening there??

notthatlucas said...

There was this tent thing that had window cutouts (maybe 8 of them) with people sticking their hands out, with a mini bagel on each finger. So all you saw were hands with bagels waving at you as you went by. (Except for the one guy that stuck his whole upper body through the window.) It was very weird, a bit creepy, and kind of cool at the same time. Of course I had to grab a bagel just to say I was brave enough to do that.

Penny Macphail said...

Gigglesome as always Nella - love the concept of upside down signs for the collapsed. xxp