Saturday, June 27, 2009

Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon

I signed up for this race back in March when I’d heard it was going to sell out. They were capping the race at 25000 runners and it was planning on selling out?! I had to be in on an inaugural race which would just dominate the city as those numbers are unheard of in this area.

Training has been going pretty well. I really need to limit my miles as my foot (FUPF! :mutmad:) can be touchy. I’m about ready to go back to the podiatrist and see what my next options are about that. :meh: I realized this week that I really haven’t been doing any speedwork besides the occasional race or trail race. Trail running is a different sort of beasty and just doesn’t translate for me well for speed. I’ve got the shorter speed in place now but with no good longer tempo runs besides a 5 mile road race mid-may I knew this might be a bit tough especially with my overall lower mileage. Oh well. Onward!

My training group offered a carpool drop off over to the start. I’m really glad I did that as it was a friendly packed van that got a ride to the start to lovely Tukwila. I got to sleep an extra hour and only got up at 4:30. As an inaugural event, we ran into the first glitch right here. The freeway backed up for over a mile to get to the offramp for drop off. I think if this had really been a goal race, I’d have been freaking out! As it was, it was just rather humorous to me.

I still got over to the starting area with 30 minutes to spare and was overwhelmed by the huge crowds of people. There were gigantic lines for all the portapotties and I needed one! I had traveled light so didn’t need to check a bag. But I realized there was no way I’d get through the lines to use the facilities and be able to do a warm up.

Off I went to do a warm up and find a shrub. Just a quarter of a mile away, it was peaceful and quiet and a beautiful morning. I happened to see a trail leading up a road and found a park with my very own porta potty – brand spankin’ new with no one around. Picture it sitting in a beautiful field with the sun shining on it and birds flitting around. I have never been so happy! :laugh:

Business taken care of, I jogged back to the start my mile warm up done and a smile on my face and wandered into the sea of humanity. I had put a finishing time of 1:43 when I signed up so was seeded into corral number 2 (out of 36!) for this event. I knew I’d not be starting in that group but it was fun to wander up and up and get to the front of the race.

(I have to include the amusing story from work: I’m riding the elevator and a guy gets on bursting with energy at the end of the day. I’m just as happy since it was Friday at 4:30. He immediately tells me he is so looking forward to the weekend because he is running in big event tomorrow. Seriously, I haven’t said anything to him and I’ve never seen him before. I agree and say that I am too and it should be lots of fun. He immediately asks which corral I’m in. when I say “2” his jaw drops and he is speechless. I felt like a rock star! He says he’s in corral 14. I mention that I’m just doing the half and he says he is too. :blush::laugh: )

For a Rock n Roll marathon and 25k people I was expecting more noise at the start. It was super quiet. Only one announcing system set up and it was much farther back and not pointing towards the start. I couldn’t really hear the national anthem played at all. The elites start just a couple of minutes late. I’ve put myself into corral 3 and have my eye on the 1:45 half pacer. In just a few minutes, we’ve moved up and we are off.

I immediately settle into pace and I’m feeling good. The pacer is just to the side with a big group and he’s right at a good pace. I gradually start speeding up but notice it and settle back and watch the 1:45 pace group gradually get farther and farther away. What does 1:45 pace group mean to you? :wtf: I was surprised but maybe they are running a bit fast to plan for a bit of a slowdown on the later hills.

I hit the 5k mat at exactly 8:00 pace and congratulate myself. Mile 5 featured a gradual mile long hill. I was dismayed to find I really didn’t have much energy for this hill. I know not to push hills as I blow up on them sometimes so when that mile clocked at 8:57 I was a bit dismayed. I figured it was a bit long and sure enough it was plus I was just slow. :pbbt:

With the crowds, I decided to carry a small water bottle mostly empty and crumpled so it was easy to carry. This way I could skip all water stations the first half of the race. At 5 I had pitched it and at 6 I took a first walk break to get water in. I was really feeling warm when we were in the sun. And then it started getting tougher. I was still on pace (for a bit) but know the area really well and knew just how freaking far away it was until the turn towards downtown.

I promised myself I’d run no more road half marathons in here. Then I laughed at myself and realized that yep, I was racing. Decided to turn the brain off and focus on form and the scenery and the course. I did enjoy the bands along this course and there were more spectators out for a seattle race than I’ve ever seen. I guess that’s because normally the seattle marathon takes place in late November when the weather is horrible. :rollseyes: It was nice to see people out and cheering.

We finally make the turn up the short, steep hill to get to the express lanes of the I-90 freeway. The full marathoners turn off here to do an out and back on the floating bridge and the halfers turn towards downtown and go into the tunnel. That was awful. It’s hard cement road and my legs immediately started aching. It’s hot with no breeze at all and strangely echoy of traffic. I know I slowed in here and just endured. It’s also uphill. But wait the fun doesn’t end! Once out of the tunnel at 10, you are still on a freeway. Nobody about except tanker trucks honking in support :hug:, hard cement and more uphill.

Finally at mile 11, we start the downhill and then hit city streets. I’m hoping to pick it up in here but I think I just stayed steady. There are tons of people out cheering and this is really nice. Someone on the side spots me around 11.5 and shouts out my name. Turns out it’s Mark Mandi who came in 6th overall in the half @ 1:08:52. We were on the same team for a relay in April and he is just a nice (speedy elite) guy.

We run through the streets and make the turn to get onto yet another freeway. Yay! :rollseyes: This one is the elevated viaduct which runs along the Seattle waterfront. After half a mile, I come across a runner down with two people around him. I immediately stop and ask if they need help. I do have a cell phone on me. That runner was completely out of it and lying strangely. I think he might have fallen and hit his head. They say that help has been called and someone is coming so I start running again. Really that was disturbing to see and shook me up a bit. :sad:

We finally hit the downhill of the freeway off ramp and I’m not falling for going out too fast for the finish which I know seems close but is deceptively far away. Of course I fall for it again but it doesn’t matter, I’m ready to finish! It was still early and sparse in the finish area and it took me a bit of walking very slowly to feel ok. Then I call my husband and we chat and he’s been tracking so many people online so I know how everyone is doing. That was pretty cool.
lap time distance according to garmin
1 8:02 1.02
2 15:57 2.01
3 8:01 1.01
4 8:59 1.05 hill
5 7:45 1.00 downhill
6 7:54 0.98
7 8:29 1.02 asleep? probably a water break.
8 8:32 1.02 feeling icky
9 5:03 0.09 hit split at marathon mile marker and in tunnel so distance is off.
10 11:36 1.84
11 17:20 2.18

From Garmin 13.2 miles :rollseyes: in 1:47:40.
I was 50th in my age group out of 1700. :laughs:

I went wandering off after potato chips :hug: , banana, cytomax :meh: and water and waited at mile 14 hoping to see my friend running the full. I couldn’t do the math at all and had to call husband to help me figure out when he’d be coming based on start time, split times etc. Eventually I spotted RPD and ran with him a block. He was looking great!

The other fun part of this race was then going to the local running store downtown to pick up my trail shoes I’d ordered. The owner was manning the shop while his wife was running the full. I went to work to change and get online briefly. Evidently I dawdled too much as I then went up to mile marker 21 to see if I could catch the friend again and run with him a few miles. I missed him by 10 minutes. :sad: but also :happy: since he'd not slowed down.

Overall it was a really fun day and I’m glad I did this race. It’s nice to confirm where I am right now although, honestly, it is a bit depressing at the same time. Foot never bothered me while running and that was great.

For anyone who may need WA as a state, I do think this is a tough marathon course. Too much cement and at mile 14, the full marathoners get on a freeway and essentially have no cheering or crowd support until the finish. But it does go by some very pretty scenery and the weather this year was good.

Onto the next 10 mile trail race in two weeks!


Andy said...

Congratulations and thanks for the run report!

PuddleThumper said...

Thanks Andy! It sure was nice to have Seattle showing off her beauty yesterday. :-)

rpd said...

Great Race!

It sure was a very, very pretty day. Seattle at its finest. :-)

Slomohusky said...

New to your blog. Thanks for this race report as I was thinking of flying in from Vegas to my hometown for this event. After reading your report - glad I stayed in Vegas. Will shoot for the Novemeber event. Also, thanks for the pix of Wallace Falls and the posting. I have done that hike more times than I can remember. Nice looking pancakes! Thanks for your blog. I miss the green!

PuddleThumper said...

Hey Slomohusky! thanks for dropping by. November weather as you well know can be pretty dicey but that event is a good one too. :-)

Slomohusky said...

I have had to deal with dicey at the Seattle Marathon before. A complete downpour 13 years ago on the old course. I just registered for the Las Vegas Rock and Roll instead of Seattle. I will look for a trail run for a nice Seattle/Western Washington homecoming run. Do you or do you know anyone who has a review of the Chuckanutt 50k?

PuddleThumper said...

Sorry to take so long to respond, Slomohusky! A quick google search of "chuckanut 50k blog" reveals a few hits which were fun to read. When are you looking to run here in the PNW? I have to put a plug in for the North Olympic Discovery Marathon and Half. Great small event with some nice views out at Port Angeles. I've done the half numerous times.