Six Hundred and Two days.
That’s how long it’s been since RNR New Orleans 2020, the last half marathon I finished before the pandemic changed the world. Smaller outfits like the Vacation Races started opening with logistics that supported distancing – lower participation, longer durations with highly staggered start times so only a few dozen runners are on the road at once. Over the last few months as vaccination rates climb, I started seeing bigger and bigger races go on.
But I wasn’t ready. Rock n Roll had canceled 40 races in a row before Virginia Beach went on for Labor Day 2021. Rumor has it that they were no longer able to meet the minimum number of hotel room reservations so after a long run, VB went the way of 10 other Rock n Roll races to be canceled without return dates. Rock n Roll Madrid went on the last week of September. The next race up was our home town of San Jose.
California has been the best state in terms of transmission of Covid-19. The Bay Area specifically has been one of the better places in the state for vaccination rates. And say what you will about masks, but seeing almost everyone wearing them, even outside, makes me feel better about going out. Not needing to hop on a plane is one less thing to worry about. A local race, even with thousands of people, would be a reasonable test.
Add the fact that I’d see some of my best friends there, it was enough to seal the deal.
Step 1. The expo. Discovery Meadow.
Registration issues prior to San Jose made things interesting. RNR San Francisco was cancelled and not coming back in 2022 so people who signed up for moved to San Jose even if they’d already registered. That plus my additional St Jude registration made for an interesting expo (yes, that’s FIVE bibs – 2 5K and 3 half).
The whole weekend was awkward and I apologize to everyone if I was evasive. I have three people close to me who are immune compromised and there are still too may risks. I know a lot of people who still haven’t gone over the fence and all I can ask is for people be patient. They’ll be ready when the time is right.
Step 2. The Saturday morning 5K.
The 7:30 start time and the half hour drive put wake up at 6:00. So much for the advantages of a local race! I parked just in time to walk to the start with the gang and head out to the corrals. We had enough space for distancing, but I liked showing off the RNR VR mask. The Black Sheep were split between San Jose and the London Marathon, but we had a decent sized group here.
The 5K was the usual familiar course. Kate was doing her first RNR 5K so Drew hung back with her while I tried to keep up with Jeff and Sherry (failing miserably, I might add). I was going between being really at peace with being back on the road and getting really uneasy when I got behind a large group. Yeah, Covid has rewired my brain something awful to the point where I start feeling minor panic attacks. I finished in just over 40 minutes, about where I wanted to be seeing how my longest training in the last 18 months was just over 11 miles. Save it for the half and enjoy the weekend outside the lines. Breakfast at Bijon then a few other errands back at the Expo.
We had dinner at the Farmer’s Union under the San Pedro Square arch. The block was converted to outdoor seating to increase seating under Covid rules, something that I hope they continue even post pandemic. The street seating forced some changes to the half course that turned out to be a good thing.
Quick side bar. I signed up to raise money for the St Jude’s Children’s Hospital for the second time. I was waiting to make sure that the race was going on so i got a late start. If you happen to see this it’s not too late to donate. After hitting my minimum, Nicole at St Jude asked if I would do an interview at the start line for the half. Not an hour after I said “yes” I got this from Ann:
Step 3. Sunday morning Half marathon
7:30 AM Sunday comes and once again I’m racing to the start line. Thanks to Al for helping me find a spot near the hotel!
Future note. The Woz parking lot is in a great location for the weekend but the parking meters are painfully slow. I got there at 6:30 and the line barely moved in 30 minutes. Paying cash was faster, bit do yourself a favor if you do the 5K. Buy the two day pass!
Two segments for the interview. First for St Jude.
Then the follow up from Creigh. There were still a lot of people missing. The spirit just took me.
Drew dragged me through the 10K as I was struggling keeping my heart rate down. I returned the favor for the last 5K when his new shoes started clamping down on his feet. This is already a long post so here’s a gallery of the half. Each one has a story behind it.
The finish time was nothing to write home about other than the fact that I finished. I’ll have to figure out how to calm my mind more, that or ignore my watch. Leave this puzzle for San Diego in three weeks but this was clearly the “Not” part of ready. The spikes correlated pretty well to those mini panic attacks I mentioned.
Noteworthy item. Tony “Endorphin Dude” finished his 200th half. He’s been concentrating on ultra trail races but came back 12 years after he did his first. Tony was one my original inspirations and continues to be.
This was a step toward normal. I still have a lot of mental baggage from the long months away. On the good side, I know I can physically do it. Faster times will come.
Ready or not.
I don’t have the usual race statistics for San Jose right now but will add them when I do. This was the third Rock n Roll race since the start of the pandemic so it’ll be interesting to see the year over year trends.
The Heavy Medal series was modified to include all races finished in 2020, 2021 and 2022 to count toward the hall of fame. With the shrinking list of tour stops it remains to be seen how many people reach the requisite number of races. I’m signed up for four more this year but will only go to San Diego and San Antonio.