Last week I made the trip out to San Jose California for my half marathon debut. I flew in to Oakland where my old teammate and great friend from Adams State Jovanny Godinez picked me up at the airport. Jovanny is coached by Brad but lives out in California as he is finishing up his graduate work at the University Hayward East Bay. Jovanny and I became great friends at Adams since we were both political science majors, allowing for many long miles in Alamosa to go by with conversation and debate about politics. Our first run together in California was no different. Friday before the race he took me to an awesome trail along the shore line in the bay where we did our 7 mile run and discussed the upcoming election. Having a good friend at these big races really helps relieve some pressure.
Saturday was an eventful day. Jovanny and I spent 45 minutes driving 5 miles to find a place to run. We ended up running along a bike path that went by the San Jose airport. After the run we were looking forward to relaxing all day until dinner but somehow managed to add a little stress by locking Jovanny’s keys in his car! Thank God for Luis, a kind fella who helped us break into the car and get the keys. Later Saturday evening we went out to eat. I normally wouldn’t include this in a write up about a race but this restaurant deserves some sort of shout out! If you are ever in San Jose and want some Italian food and good wine the place to go is 71 St Peter. The place was spectacular and I will leave it at that.
Okay, finally to race day. The weather was great – in the 70s and humid just like I like it. Going into the race I really was not sure what to fully expect. In college I raced mostly the mile and 5k with some 10k cross- country, but I had never done a half marathon. Training had been going well, and I knew I was fit, but I just didn’t know how racing for 13.1 miles would feel. Brad had gotten me fully prepared and said I was in shape to go under the standard (65min) to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials. If there was one thing I learned at Adams State, it was to always trust your coaching. The gun went off, and right away we were on 63min pace, which was well under the trials standard. I was thrilled as the miles kept clicking off, and the pace continued to feel comfortable. 5k in 14:50, 10k in 29:50, 10 miles in 48:55. There was even a point where I was leading the race and running right beside Meb (that didn’t last long) just after 10k. After 10 miles I knew I was going to comfortably get the standard so I tried to relax a little before racing the last mile or two. In the last 100 meters I went from 5th to 6th to 4th to where I finished in 5th with a time of 63:43, qualifying me for the 2016 Olympic Marathon trials. This was a huge weight off my back. I really enjoyed the distance and look forward to training for my first marathon now.
San Jose was my first Rock n Roll race. I had an amazing time. The event coordinators did a fantastic job catering to the elite athletes. I also made a lot of friends and met a lot of new people over the weekend at this race. I was thrilled to see how many people lined the streets to support us for 13.1 miles, as it reminded me of why I love the sport of road racing so much. Congratulations to everyone who competed!