Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 1 - Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half

The first part of my weekend double was the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. I signed up for this race a long time ago, before they announced the course was changing. I ran the old course twice and I liked it just fine. The new course is fine too but I wouldn't really call it an improvement. I assume I had some kind of discount rate when I registered...I know that I didn't sign up for the best deal race expo rate, but I'm sure there was some kind of coupon involved.

When I originally planned to run Seattle I intended to be running a marathon in Norway at the end of June (this weekend!). That didn't happen due to difficulty with travel arrangements. Still, I didn't want to take off any work for this race, so I planned to drive to Seattle Friday after work. Technically there's no reason to spend the night in Seattle, but both R 'n' R and the Seattle Marathon seem to have huge traffic issues, so I now prefer to stay near the starting area the night before.

My mother and I took a pre-race trip to Seattle Thursday night so I could go to the Expo. I didn't want to leave it till the last minute Friday. Traffic sucked Thursday night. (Traffic also sucked Friday night.)

The expo was big and fun. Despite my current non-shopping vow, I bought a couple of shirts and a hat in the Brooks section...I think that was all I bought. (Oh wait, there's more....)

I wandered through the rest of the expo for the sole purpose of looking for free food samples. Preferably the kind you can take with you...though I did eat a few things as I was hungry and dinner was a couple hours away (at home). I got a few Think Thin mini bars, which look good but don't have their calories labeled (I think that Think Thin is a misnomer). I also got a bunch of sample size Now Energy Bars, which I really like...80 calories for the minis and they are good. I've eaten a few already...wonder where I could get more in that size? I got two Larabar minis--they had a strict limit.

As for the rest of my purchases...I happened by the Run Pretty Far booth and was tempted by their brightly colored fun shirts. I already got a couple up at Whidbey. This time they lured me in with a new "Trail Run" shirt (a variation on "Just Run" which I have) and a sleeveless red, white and blue top that says Firecracker. Obviously I will be wearing it for my Fourth of July 10K!

Then I saw Dave's Killer Bread...oh yum. I had a few bites of what was left (it was almost 7:00 and they were getting ready to shut down). They didn't have any samples left of their cinnamon bread I had tasted at Portland...but they did have loaves for sale. It's called Sin Dawg and it's a dense, fruity bread with a thick cinnamon twist. Like a super healthy cinnamon roll (I'd like to think it's super healthy). Turns out if you bought any three loaves you would get a free bag of bagels! So I got two Sin Dawgs, a Peace Bomb baguette (super seedy whole grain bread, I had slices with almond butter for my pre-race breakfasts), and the free bagels. (I gave most of the stuff to my parents and sister. I kept the Peace Bomb and got part of the Sin Dawg back after the weekend).

Okay, that was a lot about the expo. Hopefully the actual race report will be concise. Probably, since I can never remember race details.

The traffic on the drive home sucked.

I did pack for the weekend on Thursday night so we could leave without delay on Friday. I packed a separate outfit (including shoes) for Saturday and Sunday. Plus extra shirts, hats, pants, socks, etc...more than I would need of everything. Just in case.

On Friday we left Everett around 5. (Traffic, as previously mentioned, sucked.) We were staying at the Mayflower Park Hotel, which is right next to Westlake Center and across from Macy's (which was irrelevant for this trip). We had a little trouble spotting the valet parking, but soon enough we were unloaded and headed up to our room.

My mother and I loved the Mayflower Park. We were so sad that we would be leaving in less than 18 hours! It is a very classic old-fashioned hotel and our room was lovely (and spacious!). To maximize our hotel time (and frankly, because we were too lazy to go out or even down to the hotel restaurant), we ordered room service dinner.

Have you ever noticed that sandwiches and the like are a much better buy on a room service menu than entrees? I was tempted by the turkey club, but I really wanted a burger. So we both got hamburgers with added bacon (they forgot the bacon originally so the waiter ran up a plate--6 delicious pieces and they didn't even charge us--score!). My mom got hers with fries, which we shared, and I had mine with salad. It was all delicious and perfectly fine pre-race food.

Before writing this tonight, I read a ton of other blogs' posts about Seattle R 'n' R, and I was so impressed by their detail. If you want to read some good Seattle posts, go here and check out the list at the end. It includes a number of new-to-me blogs, which I am going to add to my reader!

After you've read those good posts, come back here and finish mine.

Anyhow, even though I was staying near the start, I was up before 5 a.m. to eat breakfast two hours before the race. I had a few slices of Peace Bomb (they're small) with maple almond butter, and coffee from the in room coffee maker. The coffee was good; I wish I had made a note of the brand. (I guess I could contact the hotel to inquire.)

The hotel was less than a mile from the start. Actually, I think it was less than 3/4 of a mile. As I said, it is also right next to Westlake Center, which is where the Monorail stop is. They made a big deal about riding the Monorail to the race, but I don't quite understand the point for such a short distance. Even for the Seattle Marathon I walked from the Westin (same distance), though I did take the bus back in that case.

I wanted to use the trip to the start for my warm-up, so I jogged slowly, weaving around the other walkers (not everyone was taking the Monorail). As soon as I got to the starting area I hopped in a port a potty line. It actually wasn't too long and I moved through quickly. After that I ran around the nearby streets to finish up my mile (actually .9). Another slightly longer wait in the potty line, and then I headed to Corral 6, which was conveniently nearby. My corral started about 7:05. I don't think I could bear being in a corral that started at 7:30 or 8, though I guess you would adjust your arrival time.

Then I ran and finished in 2:00:23. The end.

What? I said I don't remember details. Here's a summary of what I do recall.

The first few miles were through downtown Seattle, although on Second Avenue rather than Fifth like the Seattle Marathon. (I'm not going to compare it to Seattle mile by mile...because I can't remember that well. Bottom line, it is similar to the Seattle Marathon but not the same.) Apparently the first mile was somewhat uphill. I didn't really notice but my time (9:21) and Garmin map indicate this was the case. Then we cruised downhill to mile 5, except for an uphill from about 2-2.5.

I was trying to run at a reasonable half marathon pace without exerting too hard. My splits for the first five miles: 9:21, 8:43, 9:00, 8:53, 8:56.

At Dearborn Street we headed east. Somewhere in there we came to mile 6 and the most evil hill on the course (well, maybe second most evil). It was short but oh so steep. I can't believe it is just a tiny blip on my elevation map. The worst was not the up, though, but the down on the other steep that I couldn't fly down like I usually would. Instead I just sort of staggered down.

Then, though, we cruised through a couple miles of flatness on Rainier Avenue South. Running on Rainier Avenue reminded me of the old days after law school when my friend Jenifer lived in the Genesee Park area and I used to drive down Rainier all the time visiting her.

From Rainier we cut over to Lake Washington Boulevard and ran along the lake for a ways. This part of the course ran parallel to the marathon course, though none of the marathon runners were that far along. I saw a marker for marathon mile 13 and said to a woman running by me, "This is where we thank God we aren't running the full!"

Then we headed into the I-90 tunnel in mile 8. I know it was mile 8 because everyone's blog says so. I believe it because that was my slowest mile. It's possible that the loss of satellite in the tunnel may have messed up my time, but I also think that the short hill into the tunnel plus the sheer ugliness of the tunnel may have taken away my will to live run.* That mile was 10:11, but the ones after seemed normal, so there doesn't appear to be Garmin adjustment going on.

Once out of the tunnel, I pushed myself a bit to put on a strong effort back into downtown and towards the Alaskan Way viaduct. Miles 6-10: 9:26, 9:07, 10:11, 8:53, 8:52.

I always think I am going to put on a big push in the last 5K but usually I don't manage in mile 11; maybe 12...or 13. Thanks to some uphills, I kept it slow in 11 (9:21), though managed to pick it up in 12 (9:06). Then in mile 13, the course gifted us with a sweet downhill cruise (and another tunnel in the freeway express lane, but it was short). I dug out my end of race kick and did mile 13 in 8:20!

I should mention that after mile 10 I figured that if I did the last 5K just under 9-minute pace, I could finish under two hours. Obviously miles 11 and 12 were not, but I theoretically made it up in mile 13. I should have cruised in just sub-2. But. Two things happened. One was the typical race distance overage. This one ended up 13.24 for me. Should have been okay, given how fast I was going. But. Again but. There was a final evil hill. About a quarter mile long. That, despite my efforts to power up, dropped me to a 9:08 pace, which was not fast enough to bring me across the finish line under two hours.

My Garmin said 2:00:28. When I called my mother, she said the text message updates gave my finish time as 2:00:23. Bummer.

Not too big a bummer though. I was surprisingly okay with it. Bemused, maybe.

Now I needed to hustle back to the hotel so we could head to Vancouver. The finish line was sort of on the opposite side of Seattle Center, and therefore a bit further distance back to the hotel. Plus I sort of wandered around making my way out of the crowd. (On the good side, I didn't have to cross through the race course to get out of there.) And my legs were a little tired from my finishing kick.

But I stumbled my way back to the hotel and even managed to stop at Starbucks for coffee and tea and two spinach, feta and egg wraps. I had hoped to check out by 11:00 but we ended up leaving around 11:30.

Next stop, Vancouver B.C. **

*Yes, I am doing a run called the Tunnel Marathon in three weeks (two weeks by the time this gets posted). Never mind that.
**Okay, technically next stop my house to feed my cat and drop off my sweaty laundry. Then Subway to pick up lunch for the road trip. Then my parents' house to pick up my dad. Then Vancouver BC.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

Host Pay Per Head said...

I didn't know that they can change the race path. It is sad to know that they made a bad decision with the new route.