Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seattle Ghost Half Marathon Race Report, 11-27-10

We had that snow just before Thanksgiving, and it wasn't really until Thursday afternoon when our street felt safe enough to drive on... so I had been wondering if I would be able to get to my races -- let alone complete them. But on Friday night I laid out my running gear, set an alarm, and decided to stop worrying.

My race plan was simple -- meet a few of my fellow fanatics, finish the race, and save my legs for Sunday.

Arrived in the area at about 7:35 for an 8am start. Since it was bitterly cold, I decided to just wait in my car. At about 7:45 I headed across the street to the park and joined the queue of folks checking in -- and registering. Got my number -- 22 -- and said how nice it was to race my age. Snort.

We huddled around for a while -- chatting with other runners, a few fanatics, and eyeing the posse of maniacs, many (most?) of whom had already run two marathons in two days and were hungry for more. I think we had about 200 - 250 folks at the start.

The race director (Chuck? Scott?) explained the course -- and the turnaround at the far end, and then we were off. I settled in with a group of people who were moving about my pace, slow and steady. We were quite bunched up, but the path was pretty wide and even so it wasn't any trouble. We ran down to Seward Park and then around the edge before heading back toward the start line. At some point on the way to the park a man pushing a double-wide running stroller sped past us. I overheard a woman near me say "Well, that's sure a slice of humble pie!" and we all laughed.

Then the course pretty much followed the lake all the way -- moving up the hill and back down to Leschi, of course. There was an aid station at mile 9 (?) near Leschi, which had great treats. Who doesn't love pretzels and gummi bears in the middle of a run?

I had been feeling pretty good at this point -- running my standard 5:1s, walking the two small hills, and otherwise just humming along. The morning was cold but otherwise okay -- in fact, I started the race wearing a warm vest but left it back at the start when we passed through. I had passed a few people on the way out, most notably a group of teenagers who showed up that morning with their dads, sure that if their dads could run a marathon, they could knock one out too. Awesome!

Got to the turnaround and forced myself to follow my race plan -- even though it made my ego a little sad. It was hard to let people run past me -- not that I'm competitive, really, but I sorta wanted to say "I'm saving my legs for tomorrow!" Which is absurd, because people pass me all the time. ;)

But the sky had brightened, I had good tunes on my iPod, so I just enjoyed a brisk walk back to the starting line.... almost.

See, when I got about half a mile from the finish, I saw the group of teenagers, strung out in a straggly line heading in. I had passed them early on in the race, but they must have passed me at some point during my walk (though I didn't see them). Somehow I had caught back up with them, and it was clear that they were hurting. (And also apparent that they would be doing the half instead of the full...). I decided to test my legs a bit, and started to run again. And ended up reeling them in one at a time. So absurdly satisfying... even if it was a bit childish. (That said, when they came close to being "chicked" by three women wearing tutus, the boys sprinted in as best they could as well...)

After the race a few of us stood around chatting and nibbling on crackers and treats at the finish line... until we were told that the REAL post-race food was up in the parking lot. A very impressive spread -- chicken noodle soup, vegetarian chili, hot dogs, sodas, juice, beer, and plenty of other treats. But I knew I had a lunch date with Wil so I had a soda, some pretzels, and headed home.

The Ghost was fun -- and if I was looking for a supported run around that time of year, I'd choose it over the Seattle Half... a race with 250 folks is just so much more civilized! (Even if I did occasionally worry if I would come in last...) I do wish that there had been shirts, or medals, but the race helps the RD with a charitable donation, so I'm all for that.

Completing the Ghost marked my 8th half marathon of the year -- bumping me up from one moon to two in my fanatics standings... so far, so good!

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