Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Capital Half Marathon (5/14/10)

Please don't hate me for the pun. :)

The spelling of the words "capital" and "Capitol" have been a topic of some discussion, enlightenment, and finally humor between Rod and me over the last few weeks. When I signed up for the Capital City Half Marathon, located in Olympia, Washington, home of our state Capitol, I thought the spelling of Capital was a mistake. You see, I believed that the word was spelled "Capitol" when it is relating to government and "capital" for all the other definitions. E.g., capital letter, capital relating to wealth, capital meaning important, excellent, etc., or capital relating to crime.

Rod thought the same and some mocking ensued when I told him of the race. There was also criticism of state representatives who use the word "capital" in their newletters, and the Department of Transportation which uses the word "capital" in some road signs. Hmmm...a lot of people seemed to be misinformed on the spelling of the state Capitol/capital!

So I mentioned this anomaly to Luke, an attorney in my office, who grew up in Olympia and attended, ahem, Capital High School. (So the school district is wrong too?) Luke told me that he believed (very tactful there) that the word Capitol referred to the building, and "capital" is the word for the city where the government is located and all other related uses.

So I looked it up and he was right. "Capitol" (with a capital letter) is the building in Washington, D.C., used by the Congress of the U.S. for its sessions, as well as (sometimes lower case) a building occupied by a state legislature. A "capital" is the city or town that is the official seat of government in a country, state, etc. (As well as all those other meanings.)

Well, call me stupid. But now corrected!

Be that as it may, the Capital City Marathon and Half Marathon was on Sunday, May 14, and I was registered for the Half. Olympia is about 90 minutes south of Everett (if there is no traffic or other delay, assuming the driver sticks to the speed limit or above), and that is just a little further away than I am anxious to drive in the morning to a race that starts at 7:45 a.m. So months ago, when I first registered, I made a reservation for Saturday night at a hotel/motel only about two blocks from the race start. That way I could get my race number on Saturday as well as avoid an extra early morning and long drive on race day.

On Saturday afternoon Rod and I left around 1:00 or so and had a fairly smooth trip to Olympia...some traffic in downtown Seattle, and some around Tacoma, but we still arrived by 3:00. The packet pickup was open until 5 p.m. so we were in good shape. I had a small moment of crisis when we had trouble finding the hotel, and I contemplated whether the address on "South" Capitol Way meant something other than downtown...potentially leaving me blocks or miles away from the start on race day! But it turned out the hotel was there all along, it was just hard to see.

We checked in...and I don't have a whole lot to say about the hotel! It was no Davenport or Benson, that is for sure. It was a place to stay, it was close, it was fine. And it had a refrigerator in the room (I like that) as well as a microwave (we weren't there long enough to use it, but it could be useful under some circumstances).

After checking in, we walked over to check-in at the park just a couple of blocks away. There were only a few exhibitors, but the race swag was very nice. The shirt was a long sleeve half zip tech shirt in deep olive green, and instead of the usual plastic bag it came in a nice fabric drawstring bag decorated with a scene of the Capitol (with an "o").

It was a little past three by now, so we walked along Capital Way through downtown Olympia. There are actually quite a few intriguing-looking shops there, but we didn't stop then. We decided to walk all the way down to the Farmer's Market instead. But, unfortunately, when we arrived at the Farmer's Market we found out that it closed at 3:00, and by now it was all but deserted. Oh well... We dropped into an espresso shop so I could get a bottle of water (I was parched), and walked back towards where we had started.

This time we did stop at a few place. Rod wanted to look into a guitar shop that he knew from previous trips to Olympia, and after than we browsed through an antiques shop mostly filled with strange dark furniture. I couldn't resist a peek into a fascinating shoe store called Yolli Shoes. They had a delightful collection of cute, colorful, creative shoes, not even horribly expensive! I didn't try anything though, for a number of reasons--1) I have so many shoes, 2) The shoes are so unique that I don't know how I could pick out just one pair, and 3) Rod was with me, which was a definite damper on crazy shopping. Just as well though.

We also dropped into a bike store, a quirky gift shop that was full of things I love (and I think even Rod is drawn to things like kitschy signs and semi-antiques), and looked at the menu at Ristorante Basilico, where we had a reservation for dinner later on. Then we just headed back to the hotel to hang out and rest before dinner.

At about 6:30 we started out to walk back to the restaurant. Of course we were a little early for our 6:45 reservation, as it's a five minute walk, but they seated us anyway. Ristorante Basilico is a fairly small, sophisticated, family-owned Italian Restaurant. One of their claims to fame is having an available gluten-free menu, along with a full "regular" Italian menu.

Since we had looked at the menu beforehand, we both had an idea of what we wanted, and it only took a few minutes to finalize that. I order a fairly simple pasta dish (they make their pasta) with beef and pork ragu, and a salad with arugula, pears, and Italian gorgonzola (there may also have been dried fruit or some kind of nuts, I can't recall), dressed with olive oil and honey. Rod had a steak, also topped with Italian gorgonzola. Very yum!

After we finished eating, I firmly said we should look at the dessert menu. I thought we might share something but, as long as we were getting dessert, Rod didn't want to split. Okay with me! Everything sounded luscious, but there was really no alternative: we both ordered the Italian Chocolate Cheesecake (it had an Italian name, which I now cannot remember). It's not at all like the cheesecake you know. The cheese is mascarpone, and it's really more of a very decadent dark chocolate torte (with a hazelnut crust!). Truly scrumptious!

We rolled back to the hotel and watched Austin Powers on TV (though I'm afraid I fell asleep).

Sunday morning I got up quite early at 6 a.m. to have breakfast (the race started at 7:45). I made a sandwich with some bread, almond butter, and jam I'd brought along. I also had leftover Starbucks coffee in the fridge. I left the room coffee maker coffee to Rod.

Despite my early wake-up, I was a bit slow getting ready and zipped out at pretty much the last minute to do a warm-up jog. I only had time for 2/3 of a mile before stopping back at the hotel, using the bathroom (always an important last-minute activity) and meeting Rod to walk over to the start. Since it was only a couple of blocks away we got there pretty quickly. I had left behind my jacket and was just a little cool in my sleeveless running dress...not too bad.

Rod encouraged me to line up somewhat near to the front section, to avoid being held up by slower runners in front of me like at Bloomsday. So when the gun went off (or whatever the starting signal was) I took off with the fasties around me. The first mile was slightly downhill, and passed in a speedy 8:12! I wasn't concerned about going out too fast, because I knew that the pace was aided by the downhill, and not by excessive effort on my part. The course leveled out and started its ascent after the first mile. Mile 2 - 8:30.

The next few miles, through mile 8, climbed steadily. Although I slowed down, I kept my pace in a good steady sub-nine range. Miles 3 - 8 clocked in at 8:51, 8:52, 8:49, 8:43, 8:39, 8:53. Somewhere around the halfway point the terrain leveled out and a woman running near me said that this was the high point on the course, and we shouldn't have any more hills. Um, she should have looked a little closer at the course elevation chart.... (I, of course, had not looked at it at all!)

In mile 9 we turned (from the "high point") and started heading back down towards downtown Olympia. Those eight miles we had gone up? Went back down in just a little more than a mile. I tried to let my legs go and run easy and fast. Mile 9 - 8:24.

I could see the Capitol building in the not-so-far distance, though, and I knew that there had to be something more ahead to fill in the remaining four miles. Sure enough, at 9.24 miles (thank you Garmin for the detailed information!), we turned away from downtown and headed back into the surrounding neighborhoods. Back up into the surrounding neighborhoods!

We climbed for almost exactly two miles. My pace took the biggest hit in mile 10 (9:30), and I was able to pick it up a little for mile 11 (9:05). The ascent in mile 11 was much gentler than mile 10! We leveled out and started to descend in mile 12 (8:45).

The final mile-plus (1.17 miles by my measure) was a somewhat steep downhill pitch to the finish. Like everyone around me, I threw it all out there and tried to channel my 5K pace for the final stretch! Mile 13 - 8:08. Final .17 mile - 7:22 pace. My Garmin shows a 5:47 pace for a split second just before the finish line! Official finish time: 1:54:44.

Here is the course map of our route, plus a timing chart and an elevation chart. (All from my handy Garmin.)

Rod took this picture just before the finish. He's pretty good at action photography.

After I crossed the finish line I collected my finisher's award, which in this case was a customized coaster instead of a medal. At least it's useful! We didn't hang around the finish area, but instead crossed the street to Starbucks where I got myself a celebratory mocha. Then we headed back to the hotel where I breakfasted on a banana muffin that I had packed, then took a shower and dressed. Before changing, we took this sweaty post-race photo with my phone to send to my mom.
Later, we browsed through a few more downtown shops (including a toy store where we bought 1-year-old birthday gifts for my niece Eva--a drum and a xylophone, hehe), and then hit the road for the drive back north. Capital City Half Marathon weekend over!

1 comment:

marathon training said...

great outfit. unusual but maybe an incentive for other runners