Saturday, July 9, 2016

Refuse to Abuse 5K race report

Today we finally got to run one of Seattle's most unique races, the Refuse to Abuse 5K. Held in and around (and around and around...) Safeco Field, it's not exactly a place to PR, but it is a chance to go "backstage" in our beloved baseball park. More importantly, the race raises money for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence -- over $155,000 this year -- while also raising awareness the domestic violence is preventable.

The registration fee included parking in the Safeco garage, so we drove down, picked up our packets, and then wandered around a little.

I hadn't studied the course map, but I did know that we would be spending much of our time winding around inside here:

I still remember the first time I walked into Safeco Field -- on a gorgeous summer day, the second game they played in the park. Now, I wasn't "for" a new stadium -- I actually kinda liked the crazy old Kingdome, and didn't like the idea of more taxes. But I walked into the stadium and saw the green grass and red dirt and burst into tears. You know me, big sap. 

I now so rarely go to baseball games that it still has this effect on me. 

Another thing that makes tears well up: Dave Niehaus Way. (I love Edgar, too, but he is still with us...). I remember how the Mariners kept it a secret who would be throwing the first ever pitch in the new ballpark ... even to the person who would be throwing out that first pitch: Dave Niehaus.

My oh my, Dave. My oh my.

We made our way back to the plaza (a.k.a. "the wide spot next to the parking garage") and did a bit of people watching. The Moose arrived and worked the crowd (though we didn't try to get a picture, figuring we'd find him at the finish ... which we forgot to do... so no mascot pics for us!). However, we did take our obligatory pre-race team photo:

pre-race face @ #RefusetoAbuse5K
I was about to go take a picture of the handsome starting banner/arch when I noticed they were taking the banner down. First we thought, oh, maybe it's catching the wind so they decided to take it down to prevent accidents ... But then we discovered it's because they had a NICER start banner, this one with the cute Mariners "compass S". They quickly attached it, just in time for the start. Nice work guys!

the new banner was definitely worth it!
Cute, teeny-tiny Margaret Larson, wearing her custom Mariners jersey, said a few words about preventing domestic abuse, and then the announcers got us prepared for the start. They were going to release the wheelchair athletes first, then a small group of elite runners, and then everyone else in little bursts of 75-100. See, we had to run into Safeco ... and those are just standard doors. So they needed to get us nice and spread out.

Of course, you know that people don't listen ... so when the elites set off, others pushed past us. Whatever. But then it was our turn!

First we ran around the back edge of the parking garage, along a little road that I can't find an aerial view of because when the roof is open, the road is covered. But it's between the stadium and the railway tracks, on the right-hand side.

image from
Then we turned left around the stadium, and ran along the north and west sides, and then up the ramp on the south side of the stadium. Then we turned SHARPLY into the stadium, and were running on the concourse of the 100 level. Yep, this view still makes me weepy:

Then around to a set up ramps, where we ran up to the 200 level (club level?), where it was weirdly hot and humid. I was thrilled to turn left and run across the skybridge to the parking garage, where we ran a loop, up a ramp, ran a big U-shaped loop, and then back across the upper level of the skybridge. I cannot explain why I didn't stop and take a photo up here, as it looked really cool!

Then through some suites (Holland America suites? Kinda clever!), some narrow hallways, and another sharp turn onto a ramp. We all assumed we'd get to run down, but noooOOOOooooope. Up to the 300 level, where we ran at least halfway around the top deck before getting into the great big ramp.

(Cute aside: I heard one volunteer telling another one that they had been told not to say "you're almost there"...)

I honestly couldn't believe how LONG the ramp went on ... lots and lots of sharp turns that made my ankles feel a bit funny ... but at least they were all downhill so we sped through them quickly.

Then a tiny stretch back outside the stadium, past "The Glove", and then "backstage" into the players' tunnel ... a seemingly endless curve that just went on and on and on ... One volunteer said "You're almost there ... the outfield is just around the corner!". While this was technically true, it was a little annoying ... I mean, there was a lot of gentle curve to get through before we got to an actual corner!

But then, there it was ... the green green grass of the outfield ... or at least the red dirt of the warning track next to it.

The stadium was weirdly empty, but it was fun to run around from right field, past first base, behind home, and past third base to the pretty balloon finish arch.

I even got a shout out from the announcer ... "here comes Sunny from Seattle ... that's pretty ironic, don't you think? Sunny? From Seattle?"

I was hot and sweaty and surprised to have finished in 33:06 ... not a fast time for us, but given the twists and turns and RAMPS and heat, I'm really pleased with it.

I took this picture shortly after finishing ... I think the camera is slightly fogged by my sweat. Ewwww. (Still, I really like the "soft focus" effect!)

Team Wil-Sun in soft focus...
We then stayed on the field for a bit to soak up the atmosphere -- I really love this stadium! Nice to have the big screen lit up for the event:

Here's the view toward the finish like, with a few runners racing in. And how nice is that finish line??

Umm, why, yes, I *DO* love a balloon tower!

Aaaaand, another shot of the pretty stadium...

We made our way through the bullpen and picked up our very handsome medals. (Nice, shiny, heavy medals with the date on the back. Quality!)

Surprising amount of post-race stuff ... lots of charities were there with information and swag, plus bottles of water and bagels. And I got a Tootsie Roll, which of course rates as a WIN.

All in all this was a super fun little race -- a unique setting, nicely organized, plus a handsome shirt and a very nice medal. And of course it's for a great cause. 

Amusing: my poor Fitbit GPS couldn't keep track of me while we were in tunnels, inside the stadium, etc. The resulting map looks like it was trying to keep up ... and then just gave up and scribbled all over the page...

For information on the 2017 Refuse to Abuse 5K, click the image below!

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