Sunday, June 24, 2012

Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon race report

This one was all Wil-power. Seriously.

I've had a nagging hamstring-glute weirdness in my right leg for weeks now... which has meant less running than usual, and an growing sense of dread. No, of course I haven't seen a doctor. I did try to have a massage, but the in-house masseuse at work cancelled on Wednesday. So I've just tried to stretch it.

But because I haven't stopped running altogether, my left quad has been hurting -- probably because I have been overcompensating with my left leg. And then the other day I totally, shriekingly, hyper-extended my left knee. Awesome!

Add in my weirdness of running with my work peeps (I know, that's silly, but...), and I had a potent mix of terror and sadness going in to the race. Everyone else was WAY more excited than I was. I was just dreading the day. The way I had been feeling, I just wanted to finish under three hours. Which would have been awful, but at least I would have finished.


Got up, ate some breakfast, and drove to Queen Anne. Got parking a ways away from the start -- but in an area where we could a) park for free all day and b) have an easy exit to Ballard after the race. We walked across Seattle Center and just kept saying how awesome it was to start the race there, rather than in Tukwila. A much nicer environment. If the weather had been nicer, I'm sure people would have been hanging out on the grass. As things were a bit gloomy, people were hanging out in the Armory, drinking Starbucks and just generally enjoying the morning. Nice.

We headed over to the VIP Porta Potty and found no line... but we went in and chatted with the gang. And, of course, enjoyed the facilities...

Yeah, that's right. I took a picture in the bathroom. 
While we were there, we saw Melody and Stevie, Keely, Matt, and Michael (who looked exceedingly dapper in his tuxedo shirt). Lots of nervous chattering.  We probably spent too much time there, before deciding we should get into the corrals. Of course, when you're waaaaaay at the back, you've got PLENTY of time to get into your corral.

So we got in the corral. And waited. And waited.

We took our obligatory pre-race photo. And waited.

Eventually we began inching forward. But -- and believe me, this is a good thing -- Competitor spaces out the corrals by at least 90 seconds between waves. (It's probably more...)  But we didn't actually start until 7:51.

There was no hurry, I could have attempted a better version of this...

Wil in the shadow of the Needle

We could hear our pal John Bingham chatting with each corral as they moved forward. Whoever the other announcer was didn't have much of a sense of humor, sadly, so didn't take kindly to John praising the back-of-the-packers as the fun people. Whatever.
John Bingham, working the crowd
 When it was nearly our turn, John spotted us and started chatting, asking how we were doing, and especially Wil's foot. Then John, on the mic, started telling a story about how Wil was a steelworker and had a horrific accident involving molten steel... ha ha ha. He told us he would see us at the finish. :)

We took off down the hill, and then ran up and down Second all the way to the stadiums. I just kept thinking how awesome the course was -- even if I was a bit fuzzy about how we were going to get to the lake. Heck, I ran it and I'm *still* a little fuzzy about how we got to the lake!

I do know we turned left at some point, and headed up a shallow but longish hill on Dearborn. The sun had started to break through the clouds, and I started to feel weird. I wasn't sure if it was my usual start-of-a-long-run-so-I-feel-queasy weird, or something else. I was sweating like crazy, and starting to regret wearing a long-sleeved top.

We turned on to Rainier Avenue South and I was feeling a bit woozy. Wil offered to give me his top, or even to pick up another top someone discarded. Then we started talking about cutting the sleeves off of his long-sleeve top, and me wearing that. Then I just decided that, if we could find scissors at the aid station, I'd cut the sleeves off my top. Luckily there was an aid station somewhere around mile 4. We stopped and the very nice folks searched their bags for scissors. A few minutes later and a pair turned up -- so Wil went to work snipping off my sleeves. MUCH better.

Here's the best part of that. After finishing his masterpiece, we took off running again. We must have gone half a mile when Wil said, "Umm.... are you gonna take off the sleeves?"

Yeah, that's right. I had been wearing them around my wrists. Just cutting them off had made such a difference that I hadn't noticed that they had just slid down my arms. Ha!

Things got better after that. Way better.

We turned on Dakota Street (?) and saw... THE HILL. Now, this wasn't a "character-building hill" like Whiskey Hill. It was just a short, sharp hill that stretched over a couple of blocks. Wil tried to keep me moving with our 5:1 intervals, but I had to stop a bit early... and then enjoyed the brisk walk up to the top, with a little extra time to catch my breath before starting to run again. Of course, then came the steep downhill, that felt a tiny bit slippery so I decided to just walk down the other side. Still, the hill was pretty mellow and then we were at the first split point. Marathoners turned right for a lap of Seward Park, while those of us doing the half turned left to run along Lake Washington Boulevard -- pretty!

Then up the worst little path in the whole wide world (yeah, I complain about it in every event...) and then through the I-90 tunnel. I also hate the tunnel, and the looooooooong ramp into downtown. At least I know how long it is, so I just try to suck it up. Oh, the marathoners turned right and did an out-and-back across the I-90 bridge. Glad that wasn't me.

I heard a woman complain about "all the hills" on the course and wanted to laugh. No, honey, that rolling hill on the ramp isn't a proper hill. Not that I didn't feel it or struggle up it, but it's not a real hill.

Then we arrived in downtown Seattle again, and then wound our way over to the stadiums and made it up to the Viaduct. Now, I'm not gonna say I felt great or anything... my knee was a little stiff and sore, but my right leg felt pretty good except when there was an incline. (That's when I could really feel the hammy.) I think taking some Vitamin I at mile 9 was a very good call... as was the Gu.

Up on the Viaduct, where I fell in love with my city all over again. At least until I saw that stupid ferris wheel. But perhaps I will come to love it, too.

Moving along -- Wil is a strict taskmaster -- we caught up with my pal Brenda, who had run by us back when I still had long sleeves. :) She was struggling with blisters -- ouch. We passed each other back and forth as we headed into the 99 tunnel -- I think she zoomed past us as I gingerly headed up the last hill.

Then, finally, the finish line. John spotted us and gave us a very nice shout out as we held hands and crossed. We were standing just past the finish, having a little smooch, when John caught up with us and we had a little "post-race interview". I *think* I said all the right things about a great day, great bands, and a great new course in this wonderful city. He then mentioned that, since I work for Brooks, I've got some skin in the game -- so I think I said that we hope everyone had fun at the Cavalcade at the expo and that everyone ran happy. Or something. He then turned to Wil and asked how the foot was -- "great!" and we laughed and then let him go. It was weird to hear ourselves on the PA.

Then some delicious post-race treats -- Jamba Juice smoothies! Chocolate milk! -- and some stretching, and we went home.

Oh, here's the best thing: we finished in 2:29 and change. Yeah, our third fastest half ever. Hooray for Wil for keeping us moving!!!

The course wasn't short -- I just managed to pause my GPS for 3/4 of a mile. Sheesh.

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