Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon Recap

Let's face it. We hadn't trained enough. Though we had run more than our training blog would suggest, various distractions in life and work meant we just didn't train as much as we should have. And Friday was one of the worst days in my history of employment. But.

We went to the race expo on Thursday, and seeing all the swag, all the vendors, made me remember how much I enjoy races. I love all the people, all the stuff, etc. We bought a few things, including souvenir pint glasses to add to our (small) collection. Oh, and I bought arm warmers. Totally awesome arm warmers.

But Friday was horrible, and I started feeling like I didn't want to do it -- just wanted to go home and stay in bed all weekend. Still, I knew how disappointed I would be if I didn't at least show up. So I got home, packed my race bag, pinned my number on my shirt, and felt as ready as I would get.

Up EARLY Saturday morning -- shuttles running from 4:00 - 6:00, not really feeling sure where we would be able to park, etc. So we got up at 4:30, left the house at 4:55, and were downtown... and parked... by 5:10. We walked the 3 blocks to the Westin, where we saw what we thought was a Very Long Line to the shuttles. But it moved relatively quickly, and we were amused by everyone who joined the line saying "Wow! Look how long the line is!" After about 10 minutes, we were at the front of the line and climbing on big yellow school buses.

As we pulled away, we discovered that the line now stretched all the way around the Westin ... and across the street, and down the sidewalk. Yikes. Looks like everyone thought they should get in line around 5:15.

The bus ride was pretty fast -- lots of excited chattering -- and then, about 1/2 mile from the offramp, we came to a complete stop. A huge line of buses backed up on the freeway, plus lots of taxis and private cars all trying to get off at the same exit. We saw cars just pull over and drop people off, who walked down the offramp. It took longer to get off the freeway than it took to get there. But no matter, we arrived in Tukwila safe and sound.

A man climbed on the bus as we pulled into the drop off zone, telling us "Welcome to Tukwila!" and telling us where the UPS Gear Drop was, etc. I felt a bit bad for Tukwila -- apparently they paid $150K for three year's consideration -- and all they really got to show us was a strip mall. Full of people. Pity. But we milled about, picking up water and bananas, staying off our feet, doing a bit of people-watching. Oh, and waiting in line for porta-potties.

There seemed to be a distinct dearth of music. I mean, it's an industrial area, so I wouldn't have thought there were noise ordinances. But maybe? All I know is that I didn't hear any music until the elites started.

We were still in a line for the loo when the elites left. As usual, there will be complaints about porta-potty lines. But, really, they could have 1000 porta-potties at the start and that would still mean lines of 25 people per porta-potty. But as the various corrals left -- with about 2 minutes between each wave -- we got in our corral and passed lots of empty porta-potties. I guess that's one reason to start in the back -- you can just sit and relax rather than stand around in lots of queues.

Finally, it was time for our corral. Or, rather, not our corral, as I had become convinced that we were in 27 (though I was in 23 and Wil was in 26). But no matter. We got to the front and then, suddenly, we were on our way.

Nice that the organizers had put a stage within less than a mile of the start -- lots of whooping for The Tripwires. I felt really good -- none of my usual early-run stiffness. I felt loose and happy. We rounded the bend onto the Boeing Access Road and passed another band, Gin Betty, seemingly doing an endless loop of "Hard to Handle" -- but perhaps it was just a very long version. Then just as we turned onto MLK Way, we passed another band -- Shiftless Layabout. Their saxophonist was jumping off stage and dancing with runners. Very cute.

Up MLK running along the train tracks, and right before our turn we passed Carrie Clark and the Lonesome Lovers -- very cute, nice voice. Then we turned east, through some neighborhoods, with cute elderly couples standing in their yards waving and smiling. Just at the corner with Rainier Avenue S, we saw Creme Tangerine, who launched into "Help!" as we started down the hill. They were very cute, too.

As we turned on to Seward Park Avenue, we started heading up the long, slow hill. Some nice people standing or sitting in their driveways, including a sweet lady dancing, Michael Jackson on her boombox, with a homemade "RIP King of Pop" poster.

There didn't seem to be much music for a while -- Wil told me afterwards that during the race we passed a couple of stages where bands were just plugging in or coming back from a break. I vaguely remember seeing a man just starting to play, so perhaps that was Shane Tutmarc (whose grandmother's table graces our kitchen...) on stage 6?

Then down a short, steep hill to get to the lake, with a very cute duo was playing. The singer said "You guys are all so inspiring -- makes me want to get up at 5:30 all over again." I thought to myself how funny it would be if Brandi Carlisle had turned up, and whether that would have made Lindsay stop and drop out of the race. :)

Then along the lake -- I think we passed another where the bands were between sets? At least I don't remember any music other than a family who were sitting in their front yard -- a little kid with an electric guitar and three other kids banging on pots and pans. Nice.

When we got to Stage 9, Wil spotted a porta-potty with no line, and sprinted off towards it. I stood somewhat awkwardly in front of Down North, who sounded great and were probably not accustomed to playing to an empty lawn. Another lakeside stretch, where we spotted a bald eagle, was shady and nice. Was still feeling happy at this point. We had had a packet of Gu somewhere, so that was nice, and felt hydrated and strong.

We started up the slope to the express lanes. passing the Brooks/Seafair water stop, and getting hugs from Barbara, Penelope, and Rebecca. Rebecca didn't recognize us at first -- which was funny -- we were only about a foot away from her when she realized who we were. But that was invigorating, and we scampered up that stupid narrow path up to the bridge. (Again, imagine that on bikes!)

The course split there -- excellent signage, bravo RnR -- and we headed into the tunnel. We must have really picked up our pace without realizing it. Maybe it was the "ooh, only a few miles left". But we were out of the tunnel quickly, having grabbed some water. Then along the bus ramp into downtown -- longer than you'd think. By the time we left the ramp, I was desperate for water. Not sure what happened -- I think I didn't drink enough AND we must have sped up. Anyway, I was about to stop at a medical tent to ask for water, when we saw a water stop up ahead. We scarfed a Gu each, and then I felt a bit better. We trotted along and made our way to the Viaduct.

I was tired at this point -- more mentally tired than anything, but of course that's the really hard part. But it WAS fun to run on the Viaduct again. Wil was great, very supportive, and stayed with me every (slowing) step of the way. Then down the ramp, around the corner, and into the finishers chute, where I tried to finish strong. We held hands and ran across the line. Hooray!

Things were pretty organized -- plenty of water, fruit, snacks, and -- heavenly! -- Fritos. Mmm, salt. We didn't hang around too long -- we tried the MGD 64 (umm, yeah, if you water down beer it lowers the calorie level... and the taste) but refrained from much more. Then we walked -- slowly -- back towards the car... oh, stopping at Serious Pie for a very nice little pizza.

Not our fastest half, but not our slowest. Happy to be done with it so we can focus on our trip.

Saturday, June 27, 2009