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Sorry, this race report is a little late in coming, but I didn’t want my little prison stint to over shadow all the good things about this race.

First let me say what a pleasure it was to finally meet the famous Miss Dizzy Lizzy and some of the other Mc Govern alumni who trekked in from all over the country to do this race. Talk about a ball of energy, Liz has enough enthusiasm for 100 racewalkers!

Liz and a friend of hers, Elizabeth and myself, all met up at the race Expo on Friday. Inside the Expo building they had this huge banner that actually had Lizzy’s photo on it, that they had captured at this very same Rock&Roll race 2 years ago. Naturally she had to take a picture of herself standing in front of the image of herself…..pretty cool.

Lizzy and Lizzy
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expo 008

We did a once through of the Expo, I didn’t buy anything, but Liz bought a pair of her favorite shoes .After that we all headed over to the hotel coffee shop and chit-chatted for a couple hours. It was great hearing everyones race stories.

On the morning of the race I managed to get to San Jose a little before 6:30 am. I parked over at the HP pavillion arena where there were already hundreds of people beginning to fill the parking lot. Good thing I got there an hour and a half early. From the parking lot, it was a full mile walk to the starting area of race.

This was a much bigger event than I thought it would be. They had something like 12,500 participants doing this race and the streets were filling fast. They had 13 starting corrals extending out about 4 blocks from the actual start line.One thing I noticed right off the bat, was how many Porta potties they had set up. I kid you not, there were hundreds of them lined up side by side , on both sides of the main street and dozens more on the side streets. This is the first event of this size Ive been too , where there were NO lines to use the johns! . At an event this size , you can usually expect to wait 30 minutes to use the toilets. In fact, thats one of the reasons I wanted to get here early. Hats off to the promoters for that one.

At about 15 minutes before the start , Liz called me and we all somehow managed to find each other in this massive crowd. Liz made it easier by wearing her famous “Ears”. After some quick photo taking, we all went over to our respective corrals ( which they packed like sardines) and waited for this huge sea of people to start moving. Once the gun went off, it took about 10 minutes for the runners in the 12th corral to make it across the starting line.

And were OFF….. As always ,I waited till the pack thinned out , which happened pretty fast, and then I pulled over to the left side of the road. I didn’t really have a chance to stretch before the race, so for the first mile or so, my shins were killing me. I knew though, that as I warmed up, the pain would diminish. The next couple of miles would be my warm up mode. This is usually the part of a race where I try to find a comfortable pace and the easiest position on the road itself to walk, usually the center or the crest of the road where its more even. If theres a yellow or white dividing line on the road , I’ll usually hug that line and racewalk right down the middle of it. ( it’s a good way to practice your technique too).

The course itself had a very suburban feel. It was basically flat and meandered in and out of various neighborhoods, most of them tree lined , upscale and very beautiful….Lots of mansions too. I can see now why people pay so much to live here.

Somewhere around the mile and a half mark , I passed Elizabeth. I was going to walk with her for a while, but decided that I needed to bank some time while I still had my lung power. I told her that she would probably pass me up in the last miles of the race. Some how that never happened, and I didn’t see her again until after the race.

It was about mile 2 where we hit the first watering station and thats when it really hits me, of just how long a 13 mile race really is. I would have to pass 6 more of these aid stations before finishing the race. It was also about this time, that I got in the mood to racewalk more and more. With my headphones and music cranked up, I was pretty much oblivious to what was happening around me. The diversion of music also gives me the courage to racewalk in huge crowds without getting too embarrassed. One runner lady who did pass me, tapped me on my shoulder and told me what a nice butt I had , and how she had been been watching my hips for the last 1/2 miles. I just laughed and continued to racewalk. I had seen lots of other walkers on the course swinging there arms, power walking or speed walking (which is not real racewalking), so I felt totally comfortable doing my thing. Mind you, I might not be the best racewalker, but I am a real racewalker. I follow all the rules.

The next 10 miles were actually pretty boring. To break up the monotony I decided I would racewalk the rest of the race. I racewalked on and off as much as I could and even when I would slow to a snails pace to catch my breath, I would try my best to stay in legal form (that’s racewalking lingo for, maintaining technique…ie forward knee locked and one foot on the ground at all times).

Miles 10 through 13 were the toughest. It was starting to get really warm , the sun was shining right in my face and I could actually feel myself overheating. I forced myself to drink both the electrolyte and plain water that was offered at each aid station, but I could still feel my calf muscles and left IT band wanting to spasm and lock up. I was also starting to breath pretty heavily, which is not a good thing for me, because it means that Im gonna be trapping a lot of air in my lungs. The problem with breathing fast, is that I cant exhale fast enough to make room for the next incoming breath. The longer this goes on, the more air that gets trapped in the smaller airways of my lung .Eventually my lungs will blowup like a balloon.
For most of the race I was averaging an inhaler hit about once every half mile, but that increased to about 2 hits every half mile the further into the race I got. In total, I used my puffer about 20 times. It sounds like a lot ..I know, but not unusual for me.

There was nothing really special about the finish line, except that I was very happy to see it. I tried to pace myself through the last 1/10th mile of the race , so that I could racewalk through the finish chute and look good on camera, but I ran out of steam just a few feet short of the finish mat and ended up just walking across it. Oh…well, they didn’t take my finish line photo anyway.

I walked into the finish area, a little disoriented and trying to catch my breath. I got my medal and made my way to the Family reunion area where I spotted Lizzy’s Mouse ears poking up in the distance. She had finished about 10 minutes ahead of me and looked as fresh as she did before the race. I, on the other hand, looked like crap! Anyway, we rested a little and waited for the others to arrive. Elizabeth came in about 15 minutes after I did and looked good as well. Both Lizz’s and the rest of the gang walked with me to pick up my gear bag, we took one last picture as a group, said our goodbyes..and that was it. My 9th half marathon…completed!

Due to a glitch in the electronic timing system, my actually finish time has to be manually verified , which will take a few more days, but I think I finished somewhere between 3:00-3:10, which is much faster than I anticipated. Not a PR for me, not even close, but considering everything, I think it a respectable finish time. I performed well in this race and I’m proud of myself.

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Some after thoughts While it’s obvious that pushing myself too hard during this race may have contributed to my asthma exacerbation and hospitalization that followed, I’d like to point out to the naysayers ( the people who criticize my involvement as an asthmatic in these types of events) that out of the 14 races Ive done in 3 years ( 5 of those being full marathons), Ive only gotten sick 2 times as a result of them. Id also like to that say, that even “healthy” people get sick after doing marathons and MANY of them end up in a hospital! I train very hard for every race I do, and if I get sick now and then from over- doing it… big deal. I’m not going to stop doing what I love and what keeps me alive.

Sadly, 2 young runners died during this half marathon. Both collapsed close to the finish line.

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13 thoughts on “Rock&Roll Race Report

  1. Danielle says:

    Great post! You keep on racewalking! Anybody can make themselves sick from pushing themselves physically, a very good point! It happens all the time. Thanks for posting the race report!


    1. Thanks Danielle. I actually get people who slam me for getting sick after doing a marathon, because I should know better……yeah whatever.

      Geeze, I need to start proof reading my posts before I publish them….So many typos!
      That's what happens when you're on the prednisone express. I tend to type faster than my brain can keep up with.

  2. Tammy says:

    Great race report. Loved reading all about it! Jealous of the coffee shop time w/Lizzy & Elizabeth. I have met Elizabeth (in Seattle) but want to meet Lizzy and YOU too!

    Speaking of which…I will be in SF tomorrow late morning through Monday morning (leaving kind of early on Monday) for Nike. If you are feeling up for anything let me know. I won't have a car but will be staying near Union Square.

    1. Hi Tammy, Congrats again your Portland Win!

      Are you actually doing the Nike or coaching it? The weather has sucked lately. Hopefully it will be OK for Sundays race.
      I'll actually be in San Jose all day tomorrow, but if Im feeling up to it, maybe we can hook up on Saturday sometime.
      I'll email you tomorrow ( I'm assuming you'll have your laptop?) If I miss you, GOOD LUCK!!

      PS…Several other bloggers I follow,are doing that race for the first time. They're all very excited! ( I think because of the Firemen …lol

    2. Hi Tammy, Congrats again your Portland Win!

      Are you actually doing the Nike or coaching it? The weather has sucked lately. Hopefully it will be OK for Sundays race.
      I'll actually be in San Jose all day tomorrow, but if I'm feeling up to it, maybe we can hook up on Saturday sometime.
      I'll contact you tomorrow or Sat ( I'm assuming you'll have email access?) If I miss you, GOOD LUCK!!

      PS…Several other bloggers I follow,are doing that race for the first time. They're all very excited! ( I think because of the Firemen …lol

  3. kerri says:

    I LOVE your race reports! They make me feel as if I'm there (except, instead of moving, I'm just sitting here all lazily :P). I agree, music definitely makes any sort of walk go by faster.

    I'm definitely with Danielle in all regards, too.

    Keep it up, Steve!

    1. Thanks Kerri, Each and every event has a different feel to it… something unique. The getting there can be just as exciting as the event itself.

      I have a lot of house cleaning to do around this blog. Eventually, I hope to categorize all of my race reports into one place.

  4. Susannah says:

    If we all sat around and did nothing cos life made us sick, we'd achieve nothing, except get fat and depressed, and in a whole lot of cases, would still get sick anyway! There are a bunch of people I know in exactly this position. My Mom tells me illness is such a state of mind-therefore I'm not going to stop being me and get even sicker!

    I prefer to get sick doing something that actually helps me feel better in a bunch of ways-I get the 'I told you so's' every time I overdo it in the swimming pool and in the fact that I am still determined to work…….just got told my ankle would be healing faster if I wasn't hobbling to school with it. Crazy!

    Hey, Steve, great report on the race, but one thing stuck in my brain overnight. Is there not a way of helping people like you (and/or the other disabled racers) get to the starting places easier-I couldn't believe it when you said you might have had like a whole mile to walk from the parking areas just to begin the race.

    I know in London they coach people in on buses as the transport sucks here, and there are so many different starting areas.

    I know you might not want to draw attention to yourself in that way, but a whole extra mile on top of 13 for your lungs is rough.

    It sounded a huge event. I don't know San Jose-it sounded a great area too.

    Keep on doing what you do best- ie trying to live your life with a degree of normalcy. And if you get sick from it, well, so does everybody actually.

    I would have thought the fact that your insurance company paid out for this recent admission, says it all.

    Good luck with the recovery. You're nearly at my Pred level now!

    Sus xx

    PS I possibly have an idea who the lurkers are-jealousy prevails too.

    1. Thanks Sus, It's actually pretty common to have to walk a few additional miles when I do a race. Mainly because I dont have the money to sat at the race hotels which are generally located near the starting lines. Full marathons are are even tougher. In Portland for example, I had to walk 2 extra miles each way Add that to 26.2 miles and we're talking 30 miles ( 50km).

      As for that comment about about those coward lurkers, theres a person out there ( I think he's a healthcare lobbyist) who exploits my blog ( and myself) for political means. He's also anti gay and anti just about everything else. He posted a very nasty and untrue comment about me on some right wing political blog. If it wasn't so offensive, it would be laughable.

      Stay well!

  5. marsh says:

    stephen!!!!!! just got home from vegas took a little break from all of this death thing and i think it woooooorked!!!!! i'm wheezy but not too nervus soo happy too hear your on the mend reall getting excited to talk with you????? i guess were going to have a servic for my brother on sat and hope things will straighten out and make it easier for us i sure miss him!!!! one thing i wanted to ask you has your dr. given you any thyroid for you asthma??????? mine did on may 12th and i haven't had too use prednisone yet knock on wood!!!!!! dr. said that wouldn't do it but i'm not going off it ever1!!! i take synthroid 1.0 it's a little yellow pill and it like now i know why people want to live???? i'm sure you know what i mean!!!!!!!! may be you could ask those people on the studie?????? i'm just baffled but if it will help someone it will be nice!!! and i kind of dont have the meanies( ok i said it RAGE) hey e me if you get a chance and will chat thanks marsh

    1. Hi Marsh, Ive heard the theory that asthma might be considered a " low Thyroid" disease, but Im a little skeptical, because it that was the case, everyone would be tested for it.

      But, if taking thyroid medication is helping you, more power to you! I think anything that helps, is worth it if it's not toxic.

  6. Elisheva says:

    Wow! That's great! Nice work!

    Dude, that's a lot of albuterol…

  7. marsh says:

    stephen thanks for answring i know what you mean about the low thyroid but i all ways test in the normal range???????? dr wouldn't give it to me until i said i would see her in a year for my refills and she just told me everything was normal well ??????you don't weigh 350 lbs feel like crap and can't breath to walk to bath room?????? so she gave it too me yeah and i feel oooooh so pretty and have lost 30lbs and haven't changed a thing?????? now my friens call me wheezy not wheeser cuz my voice is low????? thought that would make you smile!!!!! have a good day marsh

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