408 Reasons to Love the 408K Race to the Row

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The second running of the 408K Race to the Row has been run and — I had an inkling this would happen when I saw Ryan Gosling at the race expo — it was even smoother, funner and better organized than the inaugural race last year.

And I’m not just saying this because I was a race Ambassador, as evidenced by this shirt:It’s exactly like the finisher shirt, which I’ll show you later: very light dri-wick material, they had male and female cuts; the female cut with a v-neck; brand: Asics. I like it a lot.

Race morning: I got to the start area about half an hour early and checked in my bag with the nice UPS people. This is a point-to-point course, so our baggage traveled to us at the finish area. I got dropped off, too, which is definitely the way to do it with these races: you don’t have to look for (or spend money on) parking, and you don’t have to worry about getting back to your car when you’re done. For those who drove, though, there were shuttle busses to take them back to the start.

The start area, at HP Pavilion, was just the right size for 4,000 runners: plenty of space for everyone to hang out, but not so large that you can’t find the key places: registration, port-a-potties, baggage check. I met up with these super-cool super moms from the San Jose chapter of Moms Run This Town (thanks for the tats, Irma – we know how to rock them!)[Random observation: If you like to take pictures at races, you are pretty much guaranteed a photo bomb; the butt of an unsuspecting runner who thought he/ she was just stretching, or someone blowing their nose… you get the idea.]

With more than twice as many participants as last year, this year there were three starting corrals: A (sub-8 min-mile), B (8 to 12) and C (walkers, strollers). Somehow, I ended up in Corral A (I registered way long ago, in October last year; maybe I had big speedy plans back then?) The start line from the back… and from my corral:

We started right on time. That’s one thing I love about this race. Do you know how many races start late? Too many. Not this one. And, we had a singing of the national anthem, which some races ignore and that’s just sad. I love listening to the national anthem, makes it all so official. Play ball!

Don’t know about the two waves behind us (each wave started five minutes behind the previous one), but I didn’t feel crowded, even in the very beginning:Plenty of room to zig-zag if you felt the people in front of you were slower.

This guy didn’t feel crowded at all, either:His human friends were actually reps from Lululemon, and they were giving out free merch to the runners!See that huge pink backpack? Oh yeah, baby! I got a really cool headband, normally $14. Bam!

Next, we ran by this Luchador sign spinner, who had nothing to say but point out that my skirt was way too short: And before we knew it: Mariachi Mile!There were three mariachi bands in all, but these guys made me particularly happy (and the rest of the photos didn’t turn out so well…)

What made me most happy, of course, was entering Santana Row:And this:

I was so busy snapping photos (of my new Lululemon headband; see below) that I forgot to pause my iSmoothRun app for at least a minute post-finish. Luckily the official results were out within an hour (another thing to love). I made in in 43:41, an 8:47 minute-mile. I took it easy for most of the course, so I had a good sprint in me along Santana Row and passed quite a few people (sorry, I know it sucks when this happens). I finished 50th woman in my age group, 773rd overall. I’ll take it!

After that, the best part: walking around the Row, enjoying the nice weather, delicious snacks (there was plenty of food to go around) and goodies from the race sponsors:I enjoy hanging out at Santana Row on any day, but today it looked particularly festive:As race ambassador, I had access to the VIP area:It made me feel very, very important, but also provided a cool elevated spot to take some more pics of the finishers. The Finish line was getting quite busy at this point:[INSTAGRAM: AleksRuns]

Before we knew it, lunch time came. Santana Row has so many restaurants, it was hard to decide where to eat.

Ahhh, just kidding. Of course, it had to be the place with the fresh guacamole:[You’re still wondering why you can’t lose weight while training for a marathon?]

I also wanted to show you this:You can’t tell by just looking, but this is mexican coffee; sweetened with sugar and spiced with cinnamon and clover. So good! How did I not know about it before? And I just read on the internets that there is an alcohol version. What what?

Drinking only two cups of this: further proof of my iron-clad determination and restraint.

And because at this point you’re probably thinking, but you said “408 reasons” – what up with that? Let me tell you one last thing that counts for at least 399: post race, Lululemon was offering free massages to all runners. There was no line when I went. The woman before me said those were the best 10 minutes of her life and I thought, You said it, sista!

But even if free massages aren’t your thing (how?), if you love a fun, flat, not-too-long race with a great finish-area experience, the 408K is the one for you! I’ll come back next year, for sure!

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