Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Grandpa's Wishbone Marathon race report

It was day two, for heaven's sake. From the get-go, Wil was determined that we should at least get our 2 marathons in ... so it wasn't too rough getting ourselves out there. Besides, the race didn't start until 7:30, so we didn't have to get up too early...

This race used to be held in a forest near Gig Harbor. When we ran it, back in 2012, it was very, very wet... ankle deep mud, knee deep puddles... and c-c-c-cold. Because of logging in the forest, this year the race shifted to Tukwila and ran along the Green River Trail. I'll admit it -- running a marathon on a smooth, paved, essentially flat trail sounded a LOT better to me than running 27 miles in 4 loops in a muddy forest...

Still, running our second marathon in as many days... well..

But it was nice to see our compatriots, chat with some new folks, and so on. Also, I love that this race costs a simple $20 donation to the food bank. We had a brief course talk -- though, since we were standing near a generator, we couldn't really hear much. We were told that the turnaround would be pretty obvious, and that we should stay on the Green River Trail. 

We did remember to take a pre-race photo... and I think these smiles might be genuine?

why, yes, that *IS* my Wattle Waddle hat!
But in truth, we were already a little beaten up. Wil had some painful blisters on his feet, and I had that weird painful strain up the front of my right shin. And it was clear that we wouldn't be running today. Possibly at all. But we set off, determined.

The Green River Trail is surprisingly pretty, despite spending a lot of time meandering behind apartment buildings, office blocks, and industrial complexes. And the fact that it was a gorgeous autumn day, well, that didn't hurt either.

Somewhere along the way we bumped into Clint from Mainly Marathons and chatted with him off and on. Wil kept us going with a rapid walking pace -- 13:30/mile -- which was about as fast as a bunch of folks were run/walking. So we kept leapfrogging a few people. Nice to see Clint and chat about when we might run another one or two (or three...) of his races.

But for the most part, we were alone. The out and back course, which we would complete twice, meant we saw people a few times, which made it more fun. Even on this "day 2" we had a lot of "friends" on the course.

And, yes, the turnaround was well marked!

As we headed in to the start/finish area, we passed some friends who said, "Huckleberry pancakes!" So we made a beeline to the food table to pick one up... only to find a half marathoner essentially blocking the table while she asked questions about whether the boiled potato tongs had touched the sandwich bread because she doesn't eat gluten. Luckily for us, the volunteer turned to focus on us and handed us lovely hot pancakes AND a potato for the road. We then quickly headed out for lap two.

Lap two was extra lonely -- though we did see several half marathoners coming in. I did try to break the course into memorable segments, but boy, it felt longer the second time around.

Not long after we reached the turnaround for the second time we saw an older gentleman, highly recognizable in his wide-brimmed hat, coming toward us. Now, we hadn't seen him for a while, and assumed that he was waaaaaay ahead of us. So I said, "Sir, just how far are you running today?" (I believe there was also a 50K, so maybe he was doing that?)

He told us that he had gotten lost along the way somewhere where the trail split... and spent nearly two hours trying to get back ON the trail. I'm not gonna lie, I would probably have called it good. But this noble warrior wanted to make sure he completed the course. Awesome!

Again, even with few other folks out on the course, we did get the chance to say a lot of "see you tomorrow!"s, which always brings me joy.

As we approached the finish ... FINALLY ... we waved goodbyes to some previous finishers, and then limped our way in. We weren't the last folks out there... but there weren't all that many left. But the food table was still serving up hot pancakes, so we indulged in another before hitting the road. 

This is what relief and exhaustion looks like:

I do love the medals for this race -- also nice to get a "full" medal rather than the "half"!

This race is actually 27 miles long... which means, I suppose, that we have actually done an ultra! Okay, so not really, but.

After the race we stopped at the Seattle Marathon Expo to pick up our bibs and swag for Sunday's race. Even though we weren't sure we'd be able to run it. But better to get pickup done!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wattle Waddle Marathon race report

We had a plan. Sort of.

That plan was to run/walk to about the 10-mile point (the turnaround on the first leg), and then walk the rest to save our legs. In my mind, these multi-day events are about survival first and foremost. Just getting to the start line ... and then the finish line ... every day is challenge enough for me.

The morning was gorgeous -- cold... c-c-c-cold... but the day was clear and we were feeling pretty good. We met up ... in the dark ... at Gas Works Park, saying hello to our Mainly Marathons friends (who had already run four straight half marathons!) and getting our bibs and lovely souvenir hats.

For the record, we also received hats when we did the Waddle three years ago -- and it remains one of Wil's favorite running hats. How favorite? Well, he wore it again this year!

Wattle Waddle 2012 hat on left; Wattle Waddle 2015 hat (layered over my Run Happy hat) on right

When it was time to start the race, "Giblet" (aka Matt, the RD), explained the course layout: essentially, follow the Burke Gilman Trail all the way out to a well-marked turnaround in Lake Forest Park, then come back, do a little loop up and around Kite Hill, then run along the trail out to the well-marked turnaround (and manned aid station) at the Fred Meyer. Then back to Gas Works, another loop up and around Kite Hill, and done. (Did that description seem long? It felt waaaaaaay longer...)

This would have been a super easy course, wayfinding-wise, had it not been for the detour through campus due to the light rail construction. But again, Giblet had done an amazing job of marking the course with chalk -- simple arrows with a W. Easy peasy. 

We started a a group across the street from the park, and just set off. Wil and I -- and a good percentage of the quad runners -- had chosen the "early start" option to give ourselves a little more time. So it was still darkish as we set off at 7, though the sun rose pretty quickly.

See: it was a very pretty morning. Less blurry in real life, though...

Once we twisted and turned our way through the campus detour, it was smooth sailing. The say the sun filtered through these autumn leaves as glorious!

There was an well-stocked aid station at the 6ish mile mark -- staffed by the same family from the Balanced Athlete Half. That day they had asked us what we like at an aid station; I had mentioned Red Vines and -- lo and behold! -- they had added them in the mix. Nice!

On on on we went. It was interesting running along the Burke Gilman -- far beyond where I had ever traveled on it. In a few places the houses along the trail look like old houses in the country -- more something you'd see on the Natchez Trace, maybe, than in Seattle. And, of course, it's pretty flat, so we just kept plodding along.

We reached the turnaround, with its small (but obvious) aid station and turnaround. When we reached there a "standard time" runner caught up with us ... that's right, he had made up almost 10 miles in 60 minutes. Wowsers.

Having reached the turnaround, it was time to go into "leg saving" mode. So e just walked back, albeit briskly. And, yes, the front of my shin did hurt the next day. Of course.

The cruelest part was that when we got back to the start/finish area, WE STILL HAD MILES TO RUN. And we had to run up and over and around the darn hill. Sigh.

But we did the first little hill loop and then headed out to the Fred Meyer -- a VERY familiar stretch of the trail. Got a few snacks at the turnaround by the big sign, then trudged back... to the park, then up and over the hill AGAIN. Amusingly, we suddenly found ourselves almost directly behind another  runner... who saw us and TOOK OFF PELL MELL UP THE HILL. Oh!

When we finished, there were high fives, hot boiled sweet potatoes, adorable napkin-ring medals, and an awesome double photo bomb in our post-race photo!

Seriously, how cute are these medals?

The nicest part of this race, of course, was seeing our fellow crazies, chatting about how the day went, and cheering each other on. I LOVE saying "See you tomorrow!" when we're running. I do know how ridiculous that sounds, but it was one of my favorite things from the Center of the Nation Series, too.

Today a colleague at work who knows that we run a lot of races asked me what makes me do it -- what gets me out there to run so many events. I told her that I love the actual events -- the camaraderie before, during, and after the races. Cheering for the leaders and the back-of-the-packers. Feeling like we're a part of something bigger. Seeing people achieve things they didn't know was possible. Hell, achieving things ourselves we didn't know were possible! And, even on a bad day, having a couple (or a bunch) of hours to spend together doing something we love.

Thus ended the first marathon of the weekend, and marathon 1 of the Sweet Quadzukilla! (Read about the other races here.)

Wattle Waddle Course Map

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mutant Quadzilla / Sweet Quadzukilla ... Say what???

We did something stupid. It was my fault. I still feel a bit weird thinking about it, a week later.

I am going to write up brief report of the individual races, but I suppose I should explain what drove us to attempt three marathons in three days, plus three half marathons in the days around them.

In short, this was part of it...

Having been Half Fanatics for a while now, we had come to envy our Maniac friends... and their Double Agent status. And, let's be honest, part of it is for THE GEAR. Oooh, I wanted a Double Agent jacket. Why? Because proper Fanatics team colors are blue and yellow. Proper Maniacs team colors are yellow, red, and black. (Why do I say "proper"? Because both clubs sell alternate color ways in their singlets and tops, but I'm a purist...) But the Double Agents main color is black. And, well, you know me...

When the Double Agents started out, I don't think there were levels... it was just a way for people who were both Fanatics and Maniacs signify that they were members of both clubs. If you were a Fanatic and a Maniac, you were a Double Agent. Simple. 

But, you know, these clubs are based on counting and levels and challenges. So of course there had to be levels of Double Agenthood!

When I heard that a local RD was going to add on to the traditional Quadzilla / Quadzuki held here in Seattle over Thanksgiving weekend ... by holding 4 additional half marathons on the weekend and days before.... well, gosh. 

I toyed with the idea of doing 4 and 4. But that would be insane for us, who hadn't run a marathon in more than 3 years. But -- being the luckiest people on earth -- symbolism saved us!

Three marathons + three half marathons within 9 days would put us at the Kilimanjaro level... a fine place to be. So we decided to aim for that. 

As an added bonus, by running the two half on the first weekend, I would move up a level in the Half Fanatics: moving to the Venus level for running 13 half marathons in 79 days. (Really? That's so weird...)

So our sights were set ... but would our bodies hold up?

Spoiler alert: YES. Barely.

To recap, the races:

Click on a race logo to read our race report!

Cupcake II: Electric Boogaloo Half Marathon, 11/21

Balanced Athlete Half Marathon, 11/22

Wattle Waddle Marathon, 11/26

Grandpa's Wishbone Run Marathon, 11/27

Ghost of Seattle Marathon, 11/28
Seattle Half Marathon, 11/29

After our second marathon in two days I didn't think we'd get through a third. But we did. And that made the half marathon feel easy on the last day. And, no, I wouldn't do this again. Ever.