Race Recap: San Jose Giant Race 5 Miler

The race I always want to flake on…

…but DON’T! I have to drive 1.5 hours the night before to get to Lil’s casa. Then we get up super early the next AM and drive 40 mins to the race. Then do it all over again for me to get back to SAC. I absolutely love supporting my Orange && Black, but this race takes its toll on me.

Sadly, this may be our last SJ race now that the Lil is moving home. It doesn’t seem feasible or enjoyable to drive to SJ the morning of the race for a 7:30AM start time, nor does it seem exciting enough to drive down the night before and get a hotel. Soooo, we will see what happens next year?!

This race, with its distance, is always a little different and out of the norm. No pre-race packet pickup for us, since they offer it in San Francisco or SJ. So, we generally do race day packet pick-up. Oddly, they email you a bar code to make the process go quickly, but you cannot use it from a mobile phone, they ask you to print it out. This also means my shirt and bobble head are given after the race at the celebration festival. So, no pre-race pics like always. I didn’t even do a flat runner pic this year, I was that lazy.

Per the usu, we decided the longer course because economically, it just makes more sense. It isn’t much more than the 5k and its the only race distance we’ve ever done. It’s actually one of my fave race courses because of the varied terrain and the fact that you get to run through Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.

5 Mile Course Map

Friday evening, J and I grabbed dinner before I left town. We went to get pizza, but ended up grabbing Post Oak Barbecue and some cheese bread from the pizza spot. We chatted with the fellas a little longer than expected, so I got a late start to the Lil’s. Once I got there I pretty much said hi and goodnight, then went straight to bed.


Up at the butt crack of dawn, no earlier than Midtown mornings, but still early for a Saturday. We got up, got dressed, got our things, and were out the door to Starbucks to get our usual pre-race coffee and carbs. Oh, I should mention that I did roll out a lot too. My legs, especially my calves, have been extremely tight and uncomfortable lately 🙁

We made our way there, as usual, even though they give you a specific link to where to park — it NEVER works out. Road blocks and hidden signage also don’t help. Finally, we finagled our way to the parking lot and grabbed a pretty sweet parking spot. We hopped out and went to the bib tent to grab our bibs. Of course, I printed out my bar code, but left it in Sac! But it didn’t take long at all to get my bib. We put them on as we waited in line for the bano.


We cut it closer than normal this year. We geared up and started to walk over to the race, as we heard the National Anthem being sung. We stopped and sang along. Then we walked toward the race and hopped in at the first chance we got. More like squeezed ourselves into place.

I told Lil that I was not prepared for this race. My knee has been hurting and my calves were still really tight. I told her I’d take it slow and walk if I needed too. I told her a million times to go ahead of me, but she stuck with me the entire time. I also didn’t get my pre-race jumping pic, because we didn’t have time by the time we walked to the start line. 

I’ll keep saying it, but it will fall on deaf ears — If you are going to start a race walking or walk within the first .1 of the first mile, start at the BACK! Ugh, the biggest pet peeve lately. I really don’t understand why walkers go straight to the front to clog it for those who are running/jogging? I really don’t get it and I really hate it. Okay, rant over.

Obviously, the race started out fairly slow. Dodging walkers for the most part. Also, I wasn’t trying to go extremely fast at all, but I was trying to run for sure. As we came up to the first left turn there was someone cheering AND who yelled “Stephanie!” It took me a few seconds to realize she was talking specifically to me and to realize who it was, by the time I did I was already passed her. It was my social media friend and fellow runner from Running Ruminations, Erin. Luckily, I saw here again on the course and waved at her this time, making sure she knew I saw and knew it was her 🙂

At this point in the race, my left knee cap was having issues and my right calf was really tight, but I kept trucking along. Mile 1 and 2 felt a lot longer than they did last year, we even discussed if the turn around point on Phelan Avenue was extended for this race, but after looking at the map I guess it was the same as last year. I missed the Mile 2 marker but had my watch to verify where we were.

As we grabbed water and headed into the Zoo property I reminded myself to enjoy this race as it may be my last one. It is also here that the race gets a little tight because all the runners share one pathway through out the park. At this point, you are still sharing the course with the 5k runners. As you weave up and down, in and around, you go through different terrains which is fun — well, when your knee isn’t being a jerk!

Once you are making your way out of the park/zoo to the road you come to a ‘T’ where the two races split. It is there that you turn left into Kelley Park and run on a trail and you approach mile 3. There are more hills, since you ran down some while in the park, now you go up back into the Zoo. This was where I wanted to eat my chews, but I saw the hill coming, so I ate one and ate the other after we entered the Zoo. Love when you get to the front of the Zoo, there is always someone dancing and playing music to greet you. There was also a character there, an alligator I believe, which I gave a high four too 😉

Through the zoo in a loop, you exit back where you once were. This is also where they have the other water station for the last part of the 5 miler (it’s opposite the first water station on the same little entrance to the Zoo). I stopped at both, because I wanted to be smart about this race, especially since I haven’t been running lately.

Once we are out of the Zoo, its back to the City streets. You run pass the finish/Stadium, then pass the parking area where you hit the mile marker for 4 miles. You turn right here and you are at the start of the race. This is where Lil and I decided to take our usual pre-race jumping pic by the start, just mid race. However, my legs weren’t stable enough to stick the landing, so I got a really awkward jumping pic. Lil’s pic is awesome, she nailed it!

After we turn left, where I first saw Erin, we run for a bit and instead of taking the route again, you cross through San Jose State’s stadium area. Not the actual stadium, but through the gated area that surrounds, where you end up on the main road where you ran prior. They also offer porto’s here, which is awesome. You make the last left onto Alma Avenue and you keep going. The stadium is on your left and this is where you meet, head on, with the 5kers. You turn right into the stadium parking lot, they are turning left, eventually you both merge to finish the race. Last year I was annoyed by this and again, it is kind of annoying. I wasn’t racing this, so it was a huge deal, but you still have to dodge people. You curve around the stadium, then enter through center field. You run through as shoot full of racers cheering through a fun orange and black balloon arch. The cutest little kids handed us our medals and we were done!

Official Results

Mile 1 – 10:23.9
Mile 2 – 10:28.7
Mile 3  – 10:34.5
Mile 4 – 10:25.7
Mile 5 – 10:15.1
Mile 6 – 0:24.6
Total Time – 52:32.4
Total Distance – 5.04 Miles
Average Pace – 10:25 Min/Mile

Official Result – 53:12, 27th in Age Group

Of course we ran straight to Right Field to grab our normal post-race pics. The line for the pre-made back-drop was snaking out to Right Field, but we had plenty of room for pics. We generally skip anything that has a line, it’s not really that big of a deal to the two of us. We would love a cute pic with a cute background, but not at the expense of waiting in a line longer than 20 minutes.


We then went to look for our shirts and bobble heads, which happened to be tents right next to one another. We almost passed up the food, but I wanted water so we went through the line. This line went fast, we grabbed most of it all!

After that we looked around, but realized there wasn’t anything else we wanted to do. So we headed out, but not before we snagged our traditional pic by the SJ pig. It literally looks like a huge piggy bank. However, this year, they put an annoying stanchion in front of it and moved it close to the entrance of the store. They have to know people want to take pics by it! We did it anyways and it worked out great!

We snagged a few more random pics and then headed back to the car, where I drank some Vega Recovery and stretched. We used Yelp to see where to grab breakfast. We chose the first thing that came up, Social Policy and I bet a few others did too because we saw a decent amount of post-race runners there too. Very hipster. But cute in nature and open windows to look at Downtown SJ.

On our walk back to the car we stopped at the newly opened and just opened at 10AM, Origins Juicery. This was new to me, because they had bottles you could create your own juice, you just used a Sharpie and marked what you wanted in your juice. They had taps to create it. However, this is just way too much work and no promise that my selections would taste good together. So, I went with the pre-made ones. It was 3 for $20, so I got two and Lil got one. Of course, she teased me that this was her first time at a juice place and it was because of me. The one I drank tasted like Hawaii in a bottle, it was mostly Watermelon, but also had some Guava! It was amazing.

Then it was back to Lil’s to grab my car and finish the almost two hour drive home. As I drove home blaring India Arie I was reflecting on the run and the day. I am happy that Lil finally found a job in our hometown, but these little weekend visits will be missed. I was really proud that I didn’t have to walk. I was going to allow myself too, but I really didn’t want too. This shouldn’t be a surprise if you know me at all or stop by here at all. I told Lil that goal about 3 miles in and she kept checking in on me as we kept running along. I always feel so bad about going slow, when I know she can go faster. I annoyingly tell her to keep going and she annoyingly tells me she’s fine — its a vicious cycle of ridiculousness!

SJ 5 Miler is truly one of my fave races, which I forget until I’m running it!


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