When I planned the races for this year, I wasn’t entirely sure how long it was going to take me to recover from the Big Basin 50K, my first ultra marathon. I decided to run the Jungle Run Half Marathon in July, also because I wanted to get back running a road race to see how my times have improved. This turned out to be my fastest half marathon yet and the endurance techniques to increase running stamina definitely seem to be paying off!
The Jungle Run is almost a figure-8 course with a turn-around at mile 5, an out and back at mile 11 and the start/finish at the Los Gatos High School. With a total elevation gain of 471 feet, you do feel the hills, especially in the middle part of the run and going up the gravel segment around mile 11. I’ve been running 10+ miles very comfortably in the recent past that I decided to go light and broke. Other than a single Clif Shot stashed in my shorts, I decided to rely on the aid stations for water. With the overcast weather and an early start of the race at 7am, I figured I was going to be okay.
There were around 700+ runners for the half marathon, including Tarzan the Monkey Man (2011), who was wearing a loincloth and apparently has won his age group ever year! You could tell people were definitely having a sense of humor. There were even a couple of ladies dressed in leotard outfits. We set out at 7am and immediately hit the small hill leaving the Los Gatos High School. My plan was to make up time in the first downhill 5 miles and deal with the uphill in the later miles. Looking back at my splits, I was averaging 6:32 minutes/mile.
When I got close to the 5 mile turn around point, I took off my Luna Sandals and started running barefoot for the next 5 miles. We ran along the Los Gatos Creek Trail and pretty soon started to pass the 5K and 10K runners. The cool asphalt in the overcast morning felt amazing on the feet, though I was now averaging about 7:00 minute/mile in this uphill stretch. The Tarzan the Monkey Man was keeping a strong pace and he might’ve finished 1:29 ahead of me. When we reached the aid station past mile 10, I strapped the Luna Sandals back on, to tackle the out and back on the gravel trail. My lungs were screaming by this time and was very thankful when I hit the turn around point. Picked up my pace on the last downhill stretch, and after one lap around the tracks of the High School, went on to finish the run with a new PR of 1:32. I finished 10th in my age group and 26th overall (out of 670).
Overall, I was really happy with the way the race turned out. I was also noting that in just a year since I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon, my half marathon times have gone from 1:58 down to 1:32. Obviously, age is a factor and I’m not getting any younger, but still I can’t help wonder how much faster I can get – especially given my late start to running.
Did you race the Jungle Run? How was your experience?
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