Pacer Power: San Jose 408K Recap

Before I even share about how this year’s San Jose 408K went down, there are some folks I need to thank.

Thank you Represent Running for both another awesome San Jose 408K, and for giving me the opportunity to toe the line as part of Team Run the Bay for the third year in a row. It is truly something that fills my run-local-love cup.

Thank you to my Ekiden coach Jenny, for keeping me on task and for giving me a workload that helped me be more prepared than I mentally thought I was.

Thank you to my husband Colin, for all the coffee, bananas, encouraging words and toddler wrangling, both on race day and every time I had a “but I need to run” or “can I foam roll in peace?” moment.

And last, but definitely not least, a huge, heartfelt thanks to my amazing pacer. My cousin Dan is a very modest guy, but I think he’s a quiet badass, and I definitely wouldn’t have had the race I did had it not been for his pacing.

All that being said, I’m sure it’s pretty clear that this year was different. From running remotely, to running pregnant, to running postpartum without high expectations, a fourth go at this race left me a little lost. Should I try to PR? Should I just see what happens? Should I sleep in and skip it?

The latter clearly did not happen as I’ve got the first piece of this year’s four-part Run the Bay Challenge medal in hand. The former just may have, on both points.

For once I’m going to try to not let the writer in me take forever and a day to say what folks really want to know — if they’re reading at all! In 2016, Dan paced me to a surprise PR with bananas splits that deserved a real-not-Maraschino cherry on top and a good dollop of soy whipped cream. (Vegan runner, through and through, right?) This year Dan did not tell me until after the race that he had quietly, lovingly been stalking my training via Strava and Instagram, and he already had a game plan in place.

I wasn’t completely sure what to think heading in to the race. I loved meeting the ambassadors I hadn’t yet met in person (and in some cases, photobombing them, like you do.) When the final countdown happened, I was surprised to find Dan and myself standing about four rows back from the starting line. Knowing a lot of the folks in the front are 7:XX runners or faster, and my fast is 8:XX, I tried to both be smart and prepare to go hard the whole 8K.

Surely Dan can correct me if I’m wrong, but it went something like this.
– Mile 1, 8:26.5: “Okay, I can hang.” I was very, very worried about going out too fast and burning myself out.

– Mile 2, 8:15.4: “We’re working for sure.” I was probably overdressed, if not physically, mentally, if that makes any sense.

– Mile 3, 8:13.1: It was getting mental at this point. I definitely was a little in my own head and worried that I was going to burn out, trying hard to not look at pace other than to make sure I wasn’t going too fast. It felt fast.

– Mile 4: Coughing started by mile four. It was cold and my chest felt tight but I tried some yoga-style lion’s breaths. Dan checked me at this point, asking if I was okay, but I knew we could make it. I’d made it this far. I wasn’t giving up now.

– last 0.92mi: Oh, it got a little ugly. I could feel Dan pulling but I held off as we headed towards the parking structure. As we hit the main road, I began to mentally rally. “Who’re we going to beat this year?” he asked. “I don’t know yet,” my way of saying “Someone, but I better pull my sh*t together fast to do it.” We started to stride out a bit and I heard it: someone drafting near me was trying to pick it up too. Who I was going to beat was clear: okay, person behind me. It’s on now. You’re NOT passing me.

I may still be figuring out “my distance,” but one thing’s for sure: I love that kick at the end. Maybe my growing love for trying to drop the hammer is an indicator of what distances I should be trying. We’ll see. Till then, I’ll take this shiny new PR with pride, and set my eyes on the next one.

Want to join me at Across the Bay this year, part two of the three part Run the Bay Challenge? Code REPRESENTCD will score you a discount, 5K or 12K, remote runner or race day runner. Thank you, San Jose. Bay Area runners, I’ll see you in San Francisco in July!

2015: 57:59
2016: 42:42
2017: 40:13

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