Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon recap

My morning started (after a slightly sleepless night due to a lapse of judgment in letting my cats sleep in my room) with my “Runnin down a dream” alarm at 4:15 and my coffeemaker gurgling to life. I tottered out to my kitchen and grabbed a cup, and gulped it down (with a banana) while I got ready. I decided to go ahead with my Pureflow 2‘s and Pro-compression knee socks, and made sure not to tie the Pureflows too tight to try to avoid the foot achies I endured on my last 10 miler.  I also setup my lemon-lime Nuun (which I probably should have done later since my handheld water bottle tends not to seal all the way if I don’t jam it down real tight…)

The race had offered an Uber promo code for runners, and I was seriously nervous about it (you don’t pre-schedule it – you basically ask for a ride when you want it, and I was worried they’d be busy with other runners, or take forever to get to my neighborhood and make me late, etc) but it was great! The car showed up within 10 minutes of my request and I hopped in and was shuttled downtown. On the way I realized my Nuun had leaked inside my bag, doh… I knew I should have waited on filling that bottle.

The Uber car dropped me on Mercer around 6am (free of charge with the promo code!) and I walked past the finish line and into Seattle Center where sleepy runners were shuffling in the same direction like zombies. My peoples!

Good morning Seattle!

Good morning Seattle!

I scooted straight to the loo indoors (a much shorter line than the portapotties) and did that glorious pre-run thing runners do, then sat down for a bit at a table to apply another layer of sunscreen, eat my vanilla Powercrunch bar (my favorite protein bars, nomm), and turn Henry the Garmin on briefly to make sure he was in the mood to get satellites.  Around 6:30 I moseyed toward bag check, where the sun was already beating down mercilessly. I applied more sunscreen (seriously, I am practically translucent, I need all the protection I can get from that death orb in the sky), checked my bag (always a “here we go, gulp” moment), and walked toward the corrals.

As I was making my way back (back, back, back) to corral 21 the announcers called for a moment of silence with peace signs for Boston. Everyone raised their hands in the air and a chilled silence fell over the crowd. I prayed everyone would be safe today.

I found my place in corral 21 and we slowly shuffled toward the start as corrals started to go off around 7am. They seemed to be releasing every 2 minutes so I guessed I’d take off around 7:30ish.

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

Corral shot, pre-sweat!

And finally, just after 7:35, my corral was off and running!

I tried to fall into a groove. I am not much of a morning runner (well, ever, except on race days) so it always takes a few minutes to get my road legs going. Mile 1 had a bit of an uphill heading down 5th ave under the Monorail tracks (it went by overhead as we ran, that was kind of cool) and through the core of the city heading south. I was feeling a little awkward and stiff and gut-rumbly at first but hoped that was just my body going “what the crap are you doing, you should be in bed right now!”

looks like I'm speedwalking!

looks like I’m speedwalking!

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

what is going on in this picture? am I dancing?

But then as we headed out of the downtown area there was a looooooong awesome downhill I picked up some speed on. Downhills are my jam, I looooooove them.

weeee!

weeee! (what am I doing with my hand?)

stompin' downhill

stompin’ downhill

As we (sadly) hit the bottom of the downhill part I tried to run evenly and focus on keeping my shoulders back, and my breathing in my belly. As hills approached I kept picturing the hills on my neighborhood loop in my mind and telling myself they were no worse than my usual hills, and just to chug it out and keep moving, that it was OK to go slow as long as I kept my feet going.

We turned onto Rainier Ave, which I remembered from last year as being mostly downhill. There was a fun water stop with volunteers in blow-up airplane hats. (I avoided all the water stops; I just ran down the middle of them and took a gulp of my Nuun at every mile marker… avoided most of the cup grenades this way but the ground was still pretty sticky, yeech) At this part of the course I really fell into an awesome groove at a sub 10-min pace with quick strides and even breathing and I just went for it and tried to hold that groove.

At mile 3.5 -  I ate a choco mint Gu, NOM

Alright with Me, my usual late-race pace-picker-upper, came on my playlist somewhere around here and I realized I was running faster than the beat and it was hard to run in time with the song. Made a memo to myself to move it to the end of the playlist for my next half.

I actually literally zoned out at some point along this part of the course and was one with whatever song was playing though I don’t remember what it was… fail.

A little past mile 4 (maybe 4.4 ish) two ladies screeched to a walk right in front of me; I hopped to the right to avoid them but ended up tripping on one and tumbling to the ground, twisting my right ankle – I popped right back up and said “sorry” (not sure why I was apologizing actually) and kept running, but my ankle was definitely not happy and I gimped a bit for about a mile. (It eventually felt ok for the latter half of the race but it’s pretty sore now… not bruised or anything, thankfully.) I noticed if I kept my foot somewhat flexed (which I’ve been trying to focus on anyway) it lessened the ache as I ran, so I tried to keep that up as well.

We hit a little out and back dogleg which thankfully wasn’t very long.. out and backs are mentally kind of grating for me. Gangnam Style came on my ipod right about here (don’t judge) and I have such a hard time not dancing when I hear that song, I had to keep reminding myself not to flail wildly. On the “back” portion of the dogleg I saw a dude running on 2 artificial legs! Hardcore!

We cut through some residential areas and I kept expecting the huge 2-part nasty killer hill from last year that precedes the Lake Washington part of the run. As I was watching for it an older lady suddenly tripped and fell about 10 feet ahead of me and sat up with blood dripping down the side of her face. She was immediately surrounded by other runners and many called “MEDIC!” – I hope she’s ok :(

Suddenly we turned a corner and were on Lake Washington – needless to say I was super happy with the course revision that eliminated the nasty, two-tiered, pooptacular hill. I had been planning to walk it, but decided since it had not made an appearance and I was still in a groove and feeling good, I would just keep running until I hit the other nasty hill I knew was coming – the trail leading up to the I-90 tunnel at the end of the lake portion of the course.

They had a huge blow-up rocker dude over the course right about at this point but what I remember most about that was the LOUD machines keeping him puffed up that blew hot air on me as I ran by, blehh.

About halfway through the race! Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road...

About halfway through the race. Pretty sure they superimposed the blue on the road…

I noticed as I crossed the 10k timing mat that I’d just broken my 10k PR, ha (both by my Garmin – which was timing me about .15 further than the course at this point, around 58:35 or something for the 10k – and by the actual timing mat, which I crossed in exactly 1:00). It actually didn’t worry me that I was running so “fast” (clearly a relative term for me) at this point, since my 10k PR was set when I was seriously out of shape and is one of only two 10k’s I’ve ever run.

I like the lake part of the course – the gently rolling hills, the sun blinding me, er, glistening off the water, and the tribute to fallen soldiers that always cuts to the heart. I was passing a lot of people here – I felt like I was constantly weaving around slower runners and 3-abreast walkers. I was in the groove and didn’t want to slow down and felt good, so I just let my legs go and kept passing people. (The past two years I’ve felt pretty tired at this point of the course so I figured I should go with it while I was feeling sprightly.)

I took my second Gu, delicious chocolate flavor (tastes like a packet of frosting!), @ mile 7, and shortly afterward accidentally hit the lap button on my Garmin, which threw off my mile splits for awhile – I didn’t realize it was now timing miles based off my new created laps and not the actual miles, and I didn’t correct this until mile 10.

I walked the nasty B of a hill up into the I-90 tunnel between miles 7 and 8 – my first walk break of the race! – and walked for about 30 more seconds inside the tunnel, then made myself pick it up again. My Garmin lost satellites but I noticed I was definitely on pace to break 2:10 – except for the fact I was already “behind” the official mile markers by almost 2 tenths of a mile, blargh. I was running the fastest mile splits of these distances that I ever had, all at a sub 10-min-mile pace (which has been a challenge for me in runs of 8 miles or longer).

Inside the tunnel everyone screams of course which makes you feel like you’re in a post-apocalyptic movie. Midway down the tunnel I heard car horns and engines coming down the right side of the road, which was roped off for full marathoners. Suddenly the lead truck and motorcycles went by and then came the lead male for the full marathon hauling arse past all of us. Everyone cheered as he went by; it was so amazing to think he was running almost twice as fast as me!

I was still in a great groove coming out of the tunnel and the blast of cool air as you exit made me throw my arms out (thankfully didn’t clothesline anyone, ha ha). We were running on the freeway now, curving around to the section that heads toward downtown Seattle. There are a few hills here too but I kept using the same mental trick from earlier in the race and picturing the hills on my home route, and just chugging up them. You turn a corner and it’s a looong curving downhill stretch into downtown, which I tried to let my legs free on and pick up some speed, but I was starting to feel it at this point, especially in my quads. I was still below a 10-min overall average pace and going faster than I ever had before for the distance.. and still losing more and more ground on the mile markers, arg!

Usually it’s my wind/cardio getting tired before my legs, but it was the other way around here – my breathing seemed fine but the legs were definitely feeling it, especially in my thighs.

I hit “lap” again on my Garmin as it hit mile 10 to try to correct the offset miles I’d messed up back around mile 7. I crossed the official mile 10 timing mat in 1:39:09 (though I’d gone that distance even faster by my Garmin’s mile 10 measurement) but both were PRs for the distance.  I was supposed to take another Gu here but I forgot! Maybe that would have helped me finish a little faster, maybe not…

lurching past the stadiums!

lurching past the stadiums

The course swept into downtown past the stadiums and train station, and then up onto 2nd ave, which is a slight, but long, uphill. I was curious to see what route we’d take onto the viaduct – last year we were routed up a steeeeep horrible offramp which was one of the worst hills of the race for me. I watched the runners up ahead and it looked like they were turning down Seneca, which is a road I’m on every work morning on my way to the office, so it was a little strange to careen onto it with thousands of other sweaty, puffing people. There’s kind of a steep downhill going down Seneca (which I briefly heel-stomped) and then a bit of an uphill to the actual viaduct itself but I didn’t allow myself to walk and just kept running. (Mile 11 – entering the viaduct)

My legs were feeling dead dead dead and at this point the mantras came out in full force. “Just keep running” – “don’t quit” – “you made it this far” – “you can maybe PR if you keep going” – “you don’t get to the last mile and stop, you keep going!” (thanks Jillian Michaels for that last one) I prayed for endurance and energy and the will to finish, no matter how slow. Running on the Viaduct is not my favorite part (and I always forget to look around at the scenery from up there!) though I was definitely feeling better here than I ever have in previous years. I guess putting in all the training really does help, huh, fancy that?!

After (thankfully) making an exit off the viaduct we puttered into the battery street tunnel which kind of sucks (cambered, mostly uphill, narrow, dark, blah) but I kept pushing through the pain, reminding myself of how I ran out the last 3 miles at NODM, and how I knew if I started walking I’d totally lose my running groove and walk a lot more than I wanted, and regret it later. Fleetwood Mac’s the Chain came on my playlist (it’s a weird mix… I know) and I knew I had maybe 2 or 3 more songs until I’d hit the finish, at 3 or 4 min per song. I was so ready to be done and felt like I was doing a death chug, but would not allow myself to walk.

We popped out of the tunnel and there was a slight downhill, yay! I picked up a little speed. I could see runners up ahead making a right turn. By my watch we had maybe a half mile to go though I knew I was behind the markers so it would be a little longer than that. Everlong by the Foo Fighters came on my playlist.

I like that the guy to the left looks like he's talking on his phone!

I like that the guy to the left looks like he’s talking on his phone.

I rounded the corner and up ahead I saw another left turn happening onto Mercer so I knew we were going to face the same last killer of a hill that we did last year (SO CRUEL right before the finish!)

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

my arm looks weirdly kind of muscley? smoke and mirrors, I tell ya

I walked that poopy hill last year but I was DETERMINED to chug my way up it and defeat it this year no matter how slow I ended up going. I hit the hill and just crawled up that stupid thing but I did not stop running!

At the top of the hill I pretty much had nooooothing left and was just putzing forward on fumes and visions of recovery foods dancing in my head. I could see the finish line was still maybe .2 miles away. My watch had already hit 13.1 (probably before the hill) so I knew I wasn’t going to PR (stupid swerving, or long course, not sure which) but I was determined to finish at a run, or a shuffle, or anything not technically a walk.

I don't remember throwing peace signs...?

I don’t remember throwing peace signs…?

I had nothing left for a sprint so I just tried to keep my feet moving. I scanned the rows of spectators looking for my friends who were supposed to meet me and just chugged my way across the finish line in an official time of 2:13:59.

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

more peace signs. I was apparently feeling very peaceful in my moments of leg-crushing agony

YAY! I was immediately handed a Gatorade, got medal’d, picked up some chocolate milk, and walked headlong into a fleet of photographers.

yay sweaty tired photo

yay sweaty tired photos!

I staggered toward the exit to the family area in a lurchy daze. My quads were already starting to stiffen and get SOOOORE, and my right ankle was reminding me I rolled it earlier and then ran 9 more miles on it.

Right outside the exit to the family meetup area I heard my name being yelled through the delirious fog in my brain; I turned to the right and there were my friends with a sign for me!! YAY!

Spotting my friends right after the finish - with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

Spotting my friends right after the finish – with the armfuls of crap you pick up right after the race

the awesome sign they made me!

I didn’t pants my poop!

We staggered… well, they walked and I staggered over to the bag check to pick up my crap, and then over to the merch booth so I could buy a finisher’s shirt (I’m a sucker, I know). We then moseyed to a nearby Starbux, where I had a delicious iced caramel macchiato and sat for awhile, feeling my legs get nice and stiff. (Probably would have been best to stretch at some point…)

Later, after the most awesome-feeling shower ever, I ate my weight in recovery sushi with my friends (YUM) and we watched The Island with Ewan MacGregor… pretty interesting movie if you haven’t seen it.

Stairs are now my mortal enemy. So is getting out of bed, and sitting on the toilet. TMI!

I’m proud of this race: technically it was my fastest for the total distance I actually ran per my Garmin, ever (a sub 10 min mile) – I pushed through the heat, the ankle rolling, the hills I made myself run, I only took one walk break (a first in a half marathon for me!), hit an awesome groove for a good portion of the race, outran my running playlist – overall, this was technically my best half performance ever, even though it wasn’t a PR.

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

Mile 9 in this list included the nasty hill I walked before the I-90 tunnel

My Brooks Pureflows and the Pro-compression socks did great. My poor toe that got trashed in Newtons at the NODM half seemed fine, and I didn’t get any new blisters (also a first in a half). I also didn’t get a sunburn, so even though I was covered in crusty sunscreen sweat-off by the end of the race it did its job.

I forgot to take any running pics but did jumble together a Vine, which wordpress won’t let me embed, but apparently adding a twitter link works?

Clothes I wore:
Nike G87 tank – so soft and comfy
Brooks Ephiphany 2-in-1 shorts – love the coverage
Brooks Glycerin 2 bra – love the uh, “help” and modesty ;)
One More Mile 13.1 visor – probably could have tightened it a bit, it was down over my eyes by the end!
Oakley 26.2 runglasses – they don’t slip!! and they don’t squeeze my giant melon head
Pro-compression marathon socks many fun colors!
Brooks PureFlow 2 shoes were awesome in this race!
Runderwear I bought off backcountry.com awhile ago, don’t remember the brand.

Playlist for this race (clearly I have odd taste in music):
Monument – the Frames (rockin’ beginning to the run)
Hopeless wanderer – Mumford & Sons (starts slow, gets awesome)
You told me – the Monkees (folky rock awesome)
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
What wondrous love is this – Kenosis (proving Christian music isn’t all pansy)
Run the world – Beyonce (the actual song starts at :50 in that video.. also lol, her dancing)
My Sharona – the Knack
Are you gonna be my girl – Jet
No one knows – Queens of the Stone Age
Alright with me – Kris Allen (a fav running song)
1901 – Phoenix
Party rock anthem – LMFAO
Lotus flower – Radiohead
Gangnam style – PSY (don’t judge ;P)
All my tears – Kenosis
Wonderwall – Oasis
Mirror in the bathroom – the English Beat
Sunday Morning – Maroon 5
Electrify – Beastie Boys
Pleasant Valley Sunday – the Monkees
Missing – Beck
Hello it’s me – Todd Rundgren
The denial twist – the White Stripes
The national anthem – Radiohead
Tusk – Fleetwood Mac
Circle – Sarah McLachlan
Runnin’ down a dream – Tom Petty (one of my fav running songs, makes it on every playlist)
La caravane – Caravan Palace
Daily Nightly – the Monkees ;)
White blank page – Mumford & Sons (another one that builds to awesomeness)
Take me out – Franz Ferdinand – makes me dance while I run.
The chain – Fleetwood Mac (dang, had a lot of Fleetwood!)
Everlong – Foo Fighters (only song I have a perfect score to on Rock Band, heh)
Harder, better, faster, stronger – Daft Punk (and my favorite mesmerizing video of it)

2 thoughts on “Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon recap

  1. Congratulations. I ran my first half in March at the R&R USA in DC. The walkers really bothered me. I purposely started in a back coral, so I didn’t slow others down, so not sure how all those walkers got ahead of me. And like you pointed out they seem to love to walk three abreast and come to a sudden stop. Luckily I didn’t fall over anyone. Yikes!

    Im running my next half in October. A much smaller race with a field of only 4000 or so, as opposed to 30,000+ at the R&R event. Hoping I can shave a few minutes off my time. I figure the smaller field will hopefully mean less slowdowns because of walkers and bottlenecks.

    I’m going to have to pick up one of those water bottles like you have. I’m tired of smashing myself in the hip trying to hold onto my Britta bottle that swings wildly in my hands.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I wish people would at least check behind them to make sure no one’s there before they pull up to a walk! I’m just glad I didn’t hurt myself worse, I would have been pretty bummed if I had to stop the race at mile 4. Good luck on your next half!! Hope you can set a PR! I love my handheld bottle – I use the Nathan Quickdraw (current model here: http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpage-NQDP13.html) and I stuff my GUs in the front pocket. It’s totally easy to carry and I much prefer it to water sloshing around my midsection. The ONLY thing that bothers me is it leaks a little bit if you don’t close it tightly enough, but hopefully they’ve fixed that in newer models (mine is about 3 years old).

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