Sunday, June 26, 2011

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Report

I'll be honest -- I wasn't sure how this one was gonna go. I was undertrained, still a bit stiff-kneed from the bike crash 4 weeks ago, and had a late change in running buddies (and Wil would be the first to tell you he wasn't particularly prepared either...).

As such, I had two goals for this race. 1. Finish. 2. Finish in under three hours.

Wil and I got up, got dressed, had some toast, and headed downtown. We parked a couple of blocks from the Westin and quickly got on a shuttle around 4:45. The drivers seemed a little panicked -- people weren't turning up early. But we arrived at the starting area before 5:15.

We stopped at the VIP Porta Potty first, saying hello to the crew and testing out the facilities. We ran into Melody (goal: sub 2; stretch: 1:45) and Stevie (goal: finish), too. Everyone was giddy and happily edgy. Nice.

We decided to get some water and then find a quiet spot to chill for a while. Again we talked about the weird lack of music -- or any sort of information system. I feel a bit bad for Tukwila as it's not as if they're really getting to showcase any part of their town! We sat around until 7 and then headed back to the porta potty for a final "go". Weirdly enough, there was a long line... which made people edgy. That said, there were also very long lines for the regular porta potties. And at about 7:15, a Competitor employee came over and announced that there were lots of empty porta potties near the starting corrals, and that people needed to head over. I think they realized that most people didn't know the race was even starting!

Also, while waiting for the porta potty, we noticed shuttle buses still arriving. Wow.

After using the potty we headed over to the starting area, where 10 or so corrals had already started. We made our way into corral 28 and hung out. We saw Dyana and Jana, made a bit of small talk, and took the obligatory pre-race photos...

We decided to run 3:1 splits -- I figured I could do 3 minutes at a time! I wanted to be extra gentle at the start, just run and walk and see how things went. If we got 5 miles in and walked the rest of the way, so be it.

Things were crowded at the start -- for a while, it was clear that walking was just as fast as running in that crowd. But within a quarter of a mile we had room to run. We stuck with the splits -- even though it was hard to do at first, from an "ego" point of view.

The Dude was at mile 1 again -- a bad spot for him, but still nice to see him. I wish Brooks had sent a bunch of people do cheer next to him. (Maybe next year?)

I don't have a lot of vivid memories from the course -- the little hill over the freeway, the long slow hill along the train tracks, winding through the neighborhoods getting tonier and tonier, then the steep hills down to the lake. When we got to the downhill, we heard a girl say "use the hill", which made us both laugh... but also made us start running faster.

We ran down the hill, not stopping to walk. Then down to the lake, and the long flat stretch. Woot. :)

At some point we passed Endorphin Dude, who seemed to be having a rough day. But we said hello, asked if he remembered us from Bay to Breakers, and he said, "Oh, yeah -- the Half Fanatic!" But we kept on going without pausing for a photo.

Up the hill to mile 9 and the split -- still feeling remarkably good. Okay, sure, I walked up the hill, but then started running again in the tunnel. I recognized the song that was playing -- "Get Up and Go" -- and thought that the band was doing an amazing cover version. Until we got closer and I realized it was a DJ. Oops.

I made sure to drink plenty at the water stop at the end of the tunnel -- I've learned my lesson -- and then we headed out along the ramp into town. The awful, longest ramp in the world. Again, we decided to walk up most of the hills, but otherwise kept running.

Was very excited to hit the final water stop on 4th, just before the turn down to the viaduct. The hill down was too steep to run down on our tired legs, so we walked... and then walked up the ramp. The band there was playing some sort of rock anthem, so of course we joined in. I did wish that we were on the top of the viaduct, but also happy that we were almost at the end of our race.

The offramp had been changed -- which seemed to add extra distance -- but then we rounded the last corner. I needed a little break in the final stretch, but then we got to the 13-mile marker. I said "God save the queen!" and took off sprinting.

As usual the people on the stretch were all quiet -- all of them looking for their own runners -- so I tried to get them to cheer, Desi-style. A couple of people offered high fives, and a few of them whooped... and then, with hands held, we crossed the finish line.

Random race memories:
- the little girl on her father's shoulders, eyes shining with excitement, waiting for her mom to run by
- "here comes Lindsay... with a moustache"
- a banana-laden table in the recovery area

I stopped looking at clocks (other than my intervals) pretty early on. As I said, I really just wanted to finish, ideally under 3 hours. At some point I realized that, unless the wheels really fell off, we would easily finish under 3. But I have to admit I was surprised to finish in 2:35:11 -- a few seconds slower than 2010, and a minute or so faster than 2009. Really pleased with that result! Again, not our fastest not our slowest race, but evidently that's my average pace for that course.

Oh, and did I mention that I registered myself and Wil for 2012?

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