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

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