Wow! This race was pretty amazing. I think I would even rank it as my favorite thus far of all the races I’ve done. The course, volunteers, spectator support, camraderie, etc were awesome. The weather was great (overcast the whole way, in the low-to-mid 60’s, with breezes every now and then) and though there were some tough patches for me, I ended up with a pretty decent PR over NODM, finishing in 2:27:36 (chip time) for 13.16 miles per Henry the Garmin.
The night before I carb loaded with delicious spaghetti and garlic bread and hit the sack around 10:30. Though I didn’t feel nervous, I could NOT sleep – I tossed and turned and kept looking at the clock in a bewildered daze. I would be shocked if I actually slept at all, I was just so uncomfortable.
My cellphone alarm merrily did its thing at 3:45am, though since I had been laying there awake, I beat it to the punch. Take that, cellphone. I lurched upright, staggered into my outfit, and chugged some coffee. I’d scheduled a 4:30am taxi to take me to the Westin shuttle point downtown, and I made it in decent time, probably around 4:45 or 5am, and was able to walk right on a shuttle. The ride down seemed extremely long and I just kept thinking “I have to run all that way back… awesome.” Not too many folks were at the starting area yet when I arrived and there were ZERO lines at the portapotties. I ate a peanut butter Balance bar, and then a wee mini banana and tiny bottle of water from the booths at the starting area.
I decided to use a portapotty while they were completely empty (which was nice because I was the first one to use my particular toilet… you know what I mean). Afterward I had a few shot bloks (can’t eat them while running so they’re my pre-race energy) and checked my bag around 6am, which meant I had to stand around shiiiiiivering after that point since I forgot to bring throwaway clothes.
As more and more people arrived the portapotty lines started to explode. Around 6:30am I jumped in a shortish line to get a nervous pee out of the way, and then moseyed allllll the way down to corral 29.
The race officially started at 7am but it took me about 45 min to actually get to the start line (they seemed to be releasing corrals every 2 min… so there was quite a bit of standing around). But my corral finally made it up to the head of the line, and nerves started to strike as we waited out our 2 min buffer.
Right after we started I realized I had to pee again (not super bad, just enough to notice). Blast! This lasted for the first 3-4 miles of the race. I kept waiting to see a portapotty stop with no lines… never saw one… kept running… urge to pee disappeared, and I kinda forgot about it. We were running right by the commuter train tracks and saw a few go by with passengers peering out their windows inquisitively. I-5 went right past this part of the course as well and some people honked (it must have looked pretty interesting from their point of view!). I saw the sign for the Museum of Flight as we went up over an overpass going over I-5 and realized I’d driven this exact section of road not too long ago, which was a bit surreal. My right foot was feeling a little tight but other than that no body issues thus far! I’d mentally divided the race into 2 sections – the first 10 miles and then the final 5k, so I kept counting down the first section – 9 miles left, 8 miles left, 7 miles left. It was working for me, I kept feeling awesome when I saw those mile markers go by!
We diverted off into a pretty residential area, where crap uphills (right about where my favorite pace song came on my playlist, yeah!) were rewarded with a nice long happy downhill where I felt supa strong! These miles kinda flew by way faster than NODM, and before I knew it I was taking my first Gu (delicious mint chocolate flavor) @ mile 4.5. There were lots of cheerleaders and spectators out in this area, making for happy feelings, a nice distraction from hill pain! My ipod froze up for the first time somewhere around here as well and I fumbled with it for a little while trying to remember how to hard-reset it. Felt suuuper strong on the downhill, almost like some of my empowering training runs… sadly that didn’t last much past the downhill, heh. Turned a corner and there was the lake!
The lake part of the course was mostly flat but by now I was starting to feeeeel it. It was beautiful though and there were a lot of spectators out here with awesome signs. You could see the I-90 bridge (the splitoff point for full) looming in the distance. My ipod froze up for the 2nd time somewhere along the lake stretch.
I allowed myself a one minute walk break somewhere around mile 7 or 8 at one of the enthusiastic water stops; I remember really enjoying the Cytomax here, though I accidentally stepped in a big pile of half-empty cups trying to reach a garbage can. Wet feet, yay!
There was an extremely awesome section of this part of the course lined with people holding American flags; each flag represented a fallen soldier and there were large pictures lined up of those who gave their lives. I only wish I hadn’t felt so tired/distracted at this point and could have let the poignancy of it sink in a little more. As it was, it was moving and quite unexpected.
Right before the full/half split off we were diverted up a steep pedestrian trail, which I allowed myself to walk (I learned my lesson at NODM on trying to run those uber-steep hills). We hit mile 9 and the I-90 tunnel. I walked through the very early part of the tunnel eating my final Gu (mmm chocolate frosting flavor) and about a minute after, then forced myself to pick it back up. Henry the Garmin lost satellite signal so I had no idea how fast I was going; he was still counting time but the mileage was stuck on 9.06 if I remember right. The tunnel was humid and warm (and people were SCREEEAAMING like they always do in tunnels) and I could hear music echoing through the orangey concrete walls – some song I don’t remember now. As I approached the light at the end (literally) I could see it was a DJ playing the tunes, waving his hands in the air to an endless sea of tired runners.
I exited the tunnel and the sudden fresh cool air on my face felt awesome. There was a slight downhill and then we were chugging along the highway, a very channely road with high concrete walls around it. Some part of the road here was super cambered, and I kept trying to find the flattest part, which generally was right in the middle by the road turtles.
I did end up walking for a lil bit here as well, and the ol’ ipod froze up for the 3rd time right as we started to head downhill. By this point I was sick of re-finding my place on my playlist, so just started it on the playlist I used at NODM (the first one listed and easiest to get to), which coincidentally served up a great motivating song I could run in time to – “Runnin down a dream” by Tom Petty
We were chugging along a loooooong downhill down the freeway into Seattle, which was awesome! I could see the runners far ahead bending around to the right going down down down to the city. My legs and feet were getting tired and soooore and I switched to heel and then back to forefoot striking here for a little bit. Running in time to Tom Petty was great here. I kept telling myself “free speed, free speed!” (which is how I look at downhills) and wouldn’t allow myself to walk, but one foot in front of the other, plunging down the freeway.
We entered the city and there were so many people in the streets cheering; awesome! Felt so invigorated, final 3 miles! I enjoyed running on 4th ave, traveling by the train station, looking around at all the spectators and keeping my feet going. The runners ahead straightened away and I realized they were sending us up 2nd ave (another hill, ugh), but I just kept running. It felt like these final miles were taking forever.
In perusing photos from the race on Flickr I spotted myself in someone’s random photo from this point of the race (Flickr user Igor_R):
We took a sharp left on Columbia to go dowwn a steep hill and then up onto the viaduct. At this point hills were like death to me so I walked up the ramp and allowed myself a minute.
I was aching but wanted so badly to run-in the final mile, so I picked up my feet again, though I was feeling like I was on empty at this point. I’d written “don’t be lazy” on my hand and kept looking down at it, and just kept moving.
The final half mile was run on pure fumes and grit. Coming downhill off the viaduct, I could see the runners ahead snaking AWAY instead of TOWARD Qwest field (so cruel to run us past the finish line haah) – they were going off to the right and around. We were diverted onto a side street, and then all that was left was the straight shot toward Qwest Field! I was so dying at this point but I spotted the Mile 13 sign looming ahead; it seemed like it was taking forever to come back to me! The final .1 was death and I crossed the line with both arms in the air, soooooo tired and exhausted!
I got my medal happily (but I think I looked like I was about to cry by the look on the lady’s face). I tried to pose for the official finisher photo but had a feeling I would look ridiculous since I was so tired…
There were all kinds of goodies in the secure finishers area and I grabbed one of everything after chugging the rest of my Nuun water – bottles of water, bottles of Cytomax, fruit, pretzels, crackers, etc. I frenzily ate an orange with it dripping all over my face (not that I cared at the moment), collected one of each of all the different crackers and pretzels and drinks and etc I could get my hands on, got the requisite space blanket (that I never did end up using) and staggered/gimped/waddled into the public post-race area. I knew I needed to keep moving for about 20 minutes to save myself some aches later. I had planned not to spend any more money but they had finisher’s shirts in the merchandise tent, which I could not resist. I waddled over to the huge line of UPS trucks acting as bag check and picked up my bag, then watched Everclear for awhile.
Took a little video of them doing “Father of mine,” probably my favorite Everclear song, though they also did an awesome classic rock smashup/medley I should have recorded (also pardon the random jerky movements, I had to dodge about 20 beach balls during the filming of this clip haha):
After the show I decided I didn’t want a free beer after all and waddled up to my bus stop for the ride home :)
I slapped on my Zensah calf sleeves when I got home but forgot to stretch or foam roll (probably should have iced too) so I am now super sore (I totally feel like this now… haha) but no blisters! My feet have some sore spots I hope aren’t stress fractures, but my previously sore leg feels great.
I would still love to go under an 11 min mile for average pace in a half at some point… McMillan puts me at a 2:18:36 half (10:35 pace) based on a 5k time of 29:59, which I know I could pull off at this point, so I think somehow/somewhere I’m still wussing out/throttling myself down/not running to my potential, even though I have felt tired and gutted at the end of both halfs I’ve done. I’ve already signed up for next year’s Seattle RnR half (at the cheap cheap expo price!) so hopefully with more mileage and actually starting speedwork between then and now, I can improve my performance overall!
Oh, and yeah, I did wear my Mass Effect cap, though I realized as I was standing around before the race that the crossover on the venn diagram between runners and PC gamer nerds is probably pretty small…