Race Recap and Review: NorCal Half Marathon

First race recap!

Early Sunday morning I got up at 6am and drove a short distance from Sunnyvale to San Jose. After not running long distances for well over a month since my last half marathon, I was nervous. Would I still be able to run the 13.1?

The Start Line, with Downtown San Jose in the background.

I went in knowing I wouldn’t PR. Actually, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had just registered for the race four days prior!

As I was standing at the start line, figuring out whether impulse registering was actually such a good idea, we were off! There was no deciding, and I just ran.

For a small race, pacers are really apparent and easy to spot. I had this crazy idea that I could PR this race in the beginning and stayed ahead of the 1:50 pacer for the first three miles. Luckily, these three miles were the easiest, weaving in and around homes, a school, and a park in suburban San Jose.

As we turned around and headed back towards the start line on The Alameda/Santa Clara Ave, I couldn’t keep pace with the 1:50 pacer at around the 5th mile. “No problem, I’ll stay ahead of the 1:55 pacer!” I thought.

Again, without any training, it would turn out that wouldn’t be the case either.

After running through Downtown San Jose, which by the way, looks pretty much the same Sunday morning as it does any other time of the day, we entered a park.

Once I entered the park, the fastest runner just left, which meant that I would be spending lots of time in this park. I’m not a big fan of turnarounds, since it leaves you in anticipation (Where’s the turnaround point? How come I see 1:35 pacers running in the opposite direction right now?). At around the 8.5 mile mark, I could see in the opposite direction the mile 10 marker, which meant that I would be in that section of the park for what seemed like a long time.

The turnarounds themselves were pretty tight, and had water/Gatorade stations strategically placed there. Many runners (including myself) slowed to a walk during these turnarounds and had to start up our paces again. This was also where I lost the 1:55 pacer. Oh well, stay ahead of the 2:00 pacer for a respectable time!

When we left the park, I could see the finish line, with one problem: it was facing the wrong way! Not to mention I was somewhere between mile 10 and 11. That could mean only another turnaround!

About a quarter mile I was right, we weaved with runners who were on their 13th mile and headed away from the finish line. My legs couldn’t handle it, as did my spirit. I now know the importance of training for races. The turnaround seemed too far away, it was hilly, and every step I took meant it was a step further from the finish line.

At mile 12, the turnaround point finally came, as did the 2:00 pacer. I wasn’t going to let myself stay behind the 2:00 pacer, so I did everything I could that final mile to stay ahead of him. At mile 13, I kicked it into high gear and sprinted the last 0.1 miles, almost cramping my legs.

I crossed the finish line at 1:59:08, ahead of the 2:00 pacer! Woo hoo! I’d say it was a good time for absolutely no training, but I definitely am going to train before a race from now on. No more impulse races!

I helped myself to the bountiful post-race food. Burritos are hard to stomach after a race, but was delicious nonetheless.

Post-race bounty.

As I looked at the results, I stared at them in disbelief.

10th in my age group. WHAT?!

I guess everyone my age was out running the Giants Half Marathon over in San Francisco today or something. One of the great things about running local!

Overall, I’d have to say this race was difficult and very well organized. With all of the turnarounds and hills across roads, it really stresses out your legs (especially untrained ones), and leaves you wondering where on earth the turnaround points are. But hey, this was a race to test my untrained abilities, and I’d have to say I did pretty well.

Thank you to the NorCal Marathon organizers! Up next on my list is LA.


2 thoughts on “Race Recap and Review: NorCal Half Marathon

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