Tour of San Jose Rock & Run from Alameda


Race Report from San Jose




(Look, Iím the guy in the back running to catch up to all these peopleÖ)




Goodbye Gadget was one of my favorite bands on route



ďItís all about the Public transportationĒ


My official office is in San Jose, which is about forty miles from my house. To get there I combine my bike with either BART or Amtrak trains.


When I heard the San Jose RnR Ĺ marathon was going to be downtown, I thought, Iíll do it, and take public transportation there!


What I didnít notice until about three weeks ago, when I registered, is there isnít a lot of public transportation running at 6AM. Even my idea of Taking BART and then riding the 21 miles to the race start wasnít going to work.


Coming home would work, there are Amtrak and Caltrain trains leaving from downtown San Jose later in the morning, if I could only get there.


And then I thought, itís only forty+ miles from Alameda to downtown San Jose. And that plus a Ĺ marathon is smaller than the Wildflower long course route youíll be doing next May.


So I packed a pannier with running stuff the night before and went for it.


Race Day


Iíd set my alarm for 4AM. I have this Ďhabití, every time I set my alarm for a time earlier then I normally get up for an event that I donít do every day, I wake up about 20-50 times during the night to make sure itís not time to wake up yet. During one of these, which happened to be at 3:58, I convinced myself that I didnít need to wake up at 4am, I could wake up at 4:30 and still leave by 5AM which would give me a leisurely three hours to pedal forty miles.


However, the process of resetting the alarm for 4:30 woke me up to the point that I knew it wouldnít be possible to fall asleep again until 4:28. So I just got up, thinking, well, I wonít have to rush my breakfast our hydration of the 60 ounces of fluid Chris Carmichael says I should have before starting an event like this.


At 5AM, dressed and fed, I was ready to go. I set out into the dark and went almost fifty yards before turning around for neoprene gloves, because it was cold for California.


The Dark


I donít know about you, but Iím not willing to spend more than a hundred dollars on a light. I like to spend thirty, which means, I can be seen, but I canít see so well and two hours of riding in the dark gives you plenty of time to hallucinate and fail to read street signs correctly.


This was especially true with the route Iíd worked out over the years to leave the bay area via a southern route. Like most cyclists, I like roads either devoid of cars, or that have bike lanes. Those roads I found out usually donít have many street lights either. Hayward being the exception of course, as Hayward is a mess and Hayward messed with my leisurely twenty mile an hour average speed since Hayward street lights change whenever cars approach them. I had to stop 20-30 times at 6AM on a Sunday because of red lights in Hayward.


Iíd wanted to get through Hayward before sunlight so there would be fewer cars and less stops. I succeeded in getting through Hayward in the dark, but I got the stops anyway. And yes, that includes the red lights I ran because I deemed it safe to do so.


After Hayward I was settling into the long straight of Mission Blvd into Fremont. Only thing that kept me from enjoying the view was wishing for cars to drive up behind me so I could use their lights to determine if the bike lane was paved or not and because there was no view since it was dark.


When I entered Niles, and old city founded by the old Mill, there were more hallucination objects around. You know, things like Old light poles on the side of the road cut off at 6ft in height. I started thinking of how the native Indians would be impressed by my once again 20MPH pace over what their horses could do when I saw the zombie in the bike lane in front of me weaving.


Weird hallucination, I thought, until I got closer and realized it really was a human zombie weaving in my path.


Luckily, he was heading the same direction I was and didnít see me coming so I was able to swerve my distance around him.


I tried not to look as I went by (Rule #132 never make eye contact with a zombie) but I couldnít tell if it was just a drunk human or what.


Anyway, I only looked back over my shoulder twice to make sure he wasnít running up behind me.


An hour later the sun came up. I was thinking how cool it would be to see the sunrise, except it didnít happen. Mission peak and its surrounding hills blocked the sunrise out. It just went from dark to light all of a sudden.


My right hamstring started to bug me as I was heading into San Jose. I was happy to get off the bike and get going on the run.


The Run


The only bad part of the run came at the start. Since Hayward turned my two and a half hour ride into three, I arrived at the bag check at 8AM which was the scheduled start. So as I was changing shoes and hats and putting my bike stuff into the official check bag, I heard the race start.


I then jogged over to the start to see the back of the pack walking up to the start line, already past my scheduled corral.


Oh well, I though, good thing for champion chips, my official time will be the sameÖ.


The good part of that bad part was getting to pass a thousand or so people in the first few miles. The bad part of the bad part is that meant I had to run an extra few hundred yards since I had to zig zag through all those people.


Itís one thing to run around a line of ten women in a line holding hands walking. Itís yet another to get past forty to fifty of them taking up the entire road.


Runners are Goobs


I probably shouldnít generalize, Iím sure some runners are cool, but even my wife said to me afterward, ďI donít want you to be a runner.Ē


What am I talking about? To start, most runners have no sense of style. They wear whatever shorts and tee shirt they find race day in their closet that they had bought in the Ďsportyí section of Wal-Mart that they had found on the sales rack.


I was trying to figure why this is, best thing I could think of is running is the simplest form of exercise humans can think of. No real gear or skill required, and more importantly, no thought required.


I guess since I just trashed runners, I should characterize other endurance athleteís as well.


Most road bike riders are overly pretentious and are too good for you to hold a conversation and need to cover up more. No, you guys donít look hot in that outfit.


Swimmerís sport is so isolated and boring that they fall into one of two camps. They are either really fun to hang out with, because they are so glad to see people, or they would prefer not to have a conversation and thatís why the sport works for them. Yes, my letterman sweater has a swimmer sewed on the letter.


On the uptake, at my last high school reunion I ran into some former swim teammates, one Kevin bought me a martini and the other Kevin is now a triathlete. (Surprised that two swimmers are named Kevin?)


Triathleteís have usually overcome their particular specialtyís anti-social characteristics. Yes, they are the best.


The Finish


The finish of this race was a trip. They wound us around the park on Market St. in front of the Fairmont hotel, chip removal, free sandals, bagels, bananas, and other foods into a line to take our pictures in front of the SJ RnR banner that I skipped. (Since Iím not a runner I know that pictures after an event arenít a good thing to spend your money on.)


I was thinking of that train home. If I could find my stuff and my bike, I could make the 11AM Caltrain which would get me to San Francisco in time to get BART home before the 1PM football kick offs.


My memory clicked in and I remembered where the bag check and my bike were. I then recalled that specialty store that sold the crazy beer types. Changing into my bike shoes and pedaling felt good after the run and the next thing I knew I was in the store choosing between Chimay blue and Hop Ottin IPA.


The clerk asked me if I was in the run and how it went.


ďGood, well organized, fun, good bands. Plus, Iíve got beer and Iím going to make the 11AM Caltrain in time to watch football.Ē


ďSounds like long day.Ē


ďOh, well, yea, plus, I road my bike down from Alameda this morning.Ē


He then frowned. ďFrom like Alameda county?Ē


ďNo, Alameda the city.Ē


ďBut thatís really, like, far.Ē


ďAh, itís only forty miles give or take, have a good one, go Raiders!Ē


His facial expression made me think Iíd made his head hurt.





dave at calbeers dot com