Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon

Cute Finisher's "Medal"
This was a fun race and I'd highly recommend it!

I'd signed up for this race two months ago just on a whim.  I figured it would sell out and sure enough it did.  I last ran the race when it was new two years ago. It's a nice course along the East Lake Sammamish Trail.  I'd heard that some of the gravel path had been replaced with asphalt and was glad about that.  I love trails but gravel paths do not count as trails in my trail snobbery book.  I just find gravel irritating after a while.  But how often do you get to do a flat, flat, flat half marathon in the Seattle area?  Never, that's right!  So I was excited to race.

At the finish - notice muddy calves!
Of course, this isn't a goal race and hasn't been.  I had two back to back 40 mile running weeks with a hard trail race in there.  This past week has been a planned cut back week and timed to coincide with PMS symptoms which lay me low for almost a week now.  Yeah, that's a change I don't like so much and means this race was not at a great time for me. Oh well, I didn't really know what i was going to run or race until i lined up and started.

I'd checked weather at the beginning of the week and it had looked great but by the time the race came, not so great.  Breezy and rainy and cool. At the last minute, I grabbed my vest to wear during the race and I was glad I had it.  Evidently my laissez faire attitude towards this race was too much as I forgot to bring my rescue inhaler.  D'oh! The daily inhaler I'm on controls most symptoms though. I was lucky and didn't notice too much during the race.

K dropped me off at Lake Sammamish Park and headed up to Marymoor Park where he planned to do an out and back run. That worked out nicely. the race offers buses but i just remember waiting around forever and getting really cold.  I did a scant mile warm-up and lined up.  The course had been changed from teh last time I did it and it was better.  Instead of an awful out and back in Marymoor Park with traffic at the end of the race, we did a fun back and forth through the large and empty parking lot at Lake Sammamish Park.  This worked much better to string out runners so it was not too crowded and you could see everyone starting.  Fun!  And the distance of the race ended up being correct.  Two years ago, the race was short.

I finally decided as I'm crossing the finish line to just race, not worry about finish time and race for the day even with all the constraints.  This was a good decision.  I checked heart rate during the first couple miles aiming for a top moderate feel which felt easy.  yeah, kind of a strange description but it is the best I can come up with.  you are still working but it feels a lot easier than a 10k.  I did go out faster than I expected and thought I'd probably slow but again, i didn't worry about it. 

With the race sold out at 1300 participants it was a little crowded the first few miles on the narrow trail/sidewalk through Issaquah.  I had someone excuse themselves to pass me and then stop right in front of me.  WTF?!  I expressed my displeasure with a "don't stop then!" and the guy realized his error and apologized.  I nearly ran him over as literally he had just passed me.   I then got into a good rhythm aided by a steady pacer I had my eye on for more than half the race.

I dubbed him "The Tank" but really he'd be more like an Abrams Tank.  He was a short guy but not little.  His upper body and chest were huge and solid muscle.  His legs were skinny and ripped and he was running just like a speedy tank.  It's always nice to have someone going at about your same pace.  The danger is switching off and not paying attention to how you are feeling and either going a bit too fast or too slow but this guy was just right.  I carried a small disposable water bottle so I could skip the first couple of water stops.  At 4 I had a gel (walking) and drank from my water.  At this point I lost contact with The Tank but I could see him up ahead steadily beckoning me on.

Around mile 7, my hip/hamstring started to get a little cranky.  With the cutback week, I often get stiff from not running so much and had a whiff of this late in the week.  Darnit.  And looking at my race report from this event two years ago, it was exactly mile 7 of the race where i had the same issue.  It really makes me wonder if it is the gravel surface that does this?  I don't normally run on that heavy graveled surface and I do notice it irritatingly after a while.  Something to ponder anyway.  I'd ditched my water bottle by mile 6 and was getting thirsty and knew I needed another gel.  As the next aid station came in sight at 7.8 i sucked down my gel while running and then grabbed a cup continuing to run to get out of the way so i could walk a bit and drink it.  Ok, they had teeny tiny little cups with not even an ounce of water in them.  DISAPPOINTED!  i sucked that down and debated going back for more but didn't much to my regret.  Within a quarter mile i started to get a side stitch and I'm sure it was from not enough water with my gel.

Oh well.  I did the breathing tricks to settle the side stitch and switched out my gait a bit to settle the hip.  I was slowing and that was fine.  I knew it was going to get hard and hard was here. The Tank was still in sight but much farther away and I just concentrated on keeping my form solid.  I reminded myself that I'd worked hard to get to this point and don't give up now.  Another aid station at mile 10 and I took TWO cups and drank both happily. 

With walking at the aid station, slowing for hip and side stitch issues, I'd lost sight of The Tank.  It was with a bit of a shock as I came up on him walking around mile 11.  Bummer and I was disappointed for him but now my fight was continuing.  Finally we came to the new section of pavement instead of gravel and it felt so much better.  Seriously I was bummed that they hadn't replaced longer sections with pavement!  Patience, Grasshopper.  they are working on that in stages according to the parks website. The turn into Marymoor Park put us directly into the wind and that last mile was tough.  Finally finished!

I was happy to have made it under 1:50 - 1:49:34 by my watch as I wasn't really looking at pace at all.  I ran a couple minutes faster at a half last summer on a hilly course but that was a goal race.  This one?  Not so much and this bodes well for just continuing to play with training going forward.

1 comment:

Jill said...

I am so doing this one next year. Whistler too. Hear it has a similar small town feel....