As y'all know, training for this race has been fraught with drama and injury since the start practically. It started out with me signing up for the marathon, then running into horrible family issues, then being plagued with injuries left and right. I was forced to drop to the half, but even then was dealing with stubborn leg injuries that finally had me throw in the towel on training and not run for an entire month before the race. I honestly was not expecting much when I rolled up to the start line on Sunday, and honestly I was truly expecting to get in trouble physically and potentially not be able to finish. The Portland Marathon was the last time I've lined up at a race feeling so terrified.
I slept horribly the night before the race and got about 3 hours of sleep. I was nervous, our room was completely roasting, plus poor Eric was sick and uncomfortable all night, so I don't think either of us got any rest. I felt like a zombie when I got up out of bed! However, my spirits lifted when I grabbed my phone and saw that my Lovely Ladies group had already started their "legs" of what was affectionately dubbed as the Carry Mary Marathon. If you recall from the last post, my friend Anna knew how disappointed I was to have to drop to the half marathon, so she rallied some of the ladies in our group to divide the remaining 13.1 miles between them and "finish" a full marathon for me. So before I even pulled on my running tights that morning, I had amazing women in Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Illinois and even Paris running on my behalf. It definitely gave me a boost and made me feel oddly calm!
It was COLD Sunday morning! The temps never got above 34 degrees (1.1 Celsius if my Google converter is right), and there was a fog that hung around all day long and never really burned off. It was that damp cold that gets into your bones and makes it hard to get your core temperature back up. I decided to switch up my outfit at the last minute due to a comment that Meg made about my Cold Gear tights on my last post, and realized that indeed I did NOT want to be yanking up my too loose tights for 13.1 miles. Instead I wore a pair of my favorite Old Navy compression capris under my fancy Star Wars tights, and they worked out perfectly for the race. I also randomly added a second long sleeved tech shirt under the long sleeved tech shirt I already had, and let me tell you, I was SO happy I did. I would have been pretty miserable had I not. After much debate, I wore my battered old shoes that are literally about 4 years old but seem to make my feet the happiest.
I was nervous and could only stand choking down a Stinger Waffle and 3 sips of coffee before we headed out to the start line, which was at the Experience Music Project. My aunt, uncle and Eric are such troopers, I know they were freezing their delicate bits off but hung out with me until right before the race started. We were also startled to find that the heavy fog over the city was freezing on the ground, so there were some gnarly slick spots in certain areas. Once my race was about 15 minutes from the start I had mercy on the family and told them to go ahead and go back to the Air BnB and have coffee and breakfast like normal humans! I always kind of like having a few moments to myself right before the race starts just to mentally get in the zone anyway.
So again I'm not going to lie, I went into this race fully expecting it to be difficult at best and at worst, utterly miserable and potentially ending any running "career" for the rest of my life. That's how much trouble I've had with my legs, even up until a week ago. When the horn went off and I went over the start line, I just started up my Garmin and told myself that I would run/walk my intervals like I did during training and just hope for the best. Even then though, I wasn't optimistic. So off I went, and as I got going the strangest thing began to happen. I settled into a comfortable pace, and most importantly, I felt good. REALLY good. I didn't feel winded, I didn't start out too fast the way I normally do at races, I just found a groove and went with it. My watch beeped to signal a walk break and I realized I didn't need or want the walk break. So I decided to keep going. I kept waiting for the familiar tendon pain to begin in my leg, or even God forbid for my adductor to flare up. I anticipated it at a half mile, then a mile, then two miles, but no tendon pain happened. Finally at the third mile I decided to take a little walk break, but I think it was merely like 30 seconds, which is so unlike me. I'm lazy, I love my walk breaks! But I reasoned that surely my leg was going to crap out on me at some point, so I might as well get in as much running as I could before that happened. So I kept running and before I knew it, I was at the 5 mile marker, feeling great with no pain. My disbelief started fading and turning into the joy that I know and recognize, my complete and utter enjoyment of running. I was in a beautiful state with my amazing family, running a half marathon and doing well at it!
The course for Seattle is really beautiful barring a few legs of it, specifically the portion of it over the I-90, but even that was interesting because it's crazy being on this huge portion of freeway that's been closed off for the runners! It was really high up, so we had a crazy view of everything, or I guess we would have had it not been so foggy. I was pretty skeeved out on that portion of the course because the freezing fog made things very slippery, so I was having to slow to a very careful shuffle. One poor lady in front of me totally ate it, and once that happened I especially took things easy.
|An icy, foggy jog on the I-90, and yes we took that curve to the left!|
After that we went through the Mt. Baker tunnel, and unfortunately I lost the GPS reception to my Garmin. It really aggravated me because I wanted to keep tabs on where I was and also be able to see my pace/time, but I guess these things can't be helped. Once we made it through the tunnel we were dumped into this residential area right along the shores of Lake Washington. I really wish it hadn't been so foggy, it was obviously pretty as it was, but I'm sure it would have been gorgeous if we'd been able to see more of the water and the scenery!
After going through the neighborhoods, part of the course seemed to wind through a park, which I am assuming is Interlaken Park, but the course map doesn't really say and Google Maps is totally confusing, so we're just going to go with Interlaken. ;) It was incredibly pretty but God it was hilly! There was even a point where we were going through switchbacks, and I thought I was going to die.
By mile 9 I was definitely starting to get tired, my adductors were starting to sing to me, and my calves started faintly whispering of their intention to start cramping on me. Oddly enough, not a peep from the tendons that have been bothering me for months. It was very difficult, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and trying my best to run when I could. This was the point where it was very frustrating to not have my Garmin be accurate, and I'll explain more on that in a moment.
I took this picture around mile 10 or 11. The fog was still pretty heavy, but it lifted enough so that you could see a pretty nice view of the water and all of the hills. Simply beautiful.
So I don't know what happened, but around mile 11 I stopped seeing any mile markers. I'm sure they were there and I just missed them, but I never once saw the 12 and certainly didn't see the 13, so I felt like I was running blind since I didn't have my Garmin to guide me. The only way I knew I was close is because Eric and I were keeping in contact through text, and he told me the street corner they were standing on, and I knew that was right before the stadium. The last half mile or so was uphill on Mercer St. (rude!), and then I saw Eric, my aunt and uncle. Talk about the happiest I've ever been in my life! I hugged everyone quickly and then booked it for the finish line.
My official finish time was 3:04:32, which is about a 4 minute PR from my fastest marathon time. I literally couldn't believe it you guys. I started the race doubting that I would even make it, and finished the fastest I've ever run. I can't help but be just a teensy bit annoyed, because had my Garmin been accurate, I'd have likely walked less or taken a couple less pictures in order to get a sub 3 time! Not that I'm not thrilled with my time, but a sub 3 would have been nice. ;) OH! And my ladies finished their half in 3:27:43, so HUGE shoutout to all of my wonderful friends on their times too. Together we all did a marathon in 6:32:15, which is definitely a PR for me. ;)
I had a rough time in the recovery area because my calves decided to revolt and go into full on cramps. My legs started to buckle a bit, and it was the first time after a race where I was like, I've got to sit right now or I'm going to collapse. I sat for a minute and Eric got me some pretzels (he also got me a rose, so sweet!), and my calves finally let up enough so that I could stand and walk again.
So my Star Wars tights were my pride and joy of the year pretty much. I had about 30 people tell me how much they loved them...all women. Too bad that Under Armour couldn't get that memo! I got these at SuperheroStuff.com, if you guys want to check it out. They have TONS of cool geek gear.
I also loved the medal for the race. Super simple but cool, just the type of design I like!
My overall thoughts and impression of the Seattle Half is that I was super impressed. Not only was the race very organized, but it wasn't blown out (only 15,000 runners total between the half and full!) and the course was absolutely beautiful and representative of Seattle. Honestly, Portland could learn a whole lot from Seattle in this respect, there was never a point in the race where the course was boring or ugly, unlike Portland's which is like 85% ugly. The one thing that might bum people out is that I found that there were very few spectators, even at the finish line. I'm a lone wolf runner so it didn't bother me per say, but I know some people like the higher energy and support. Portland does trump Seattle in that respect, there were tons of spectators at Portland. Honestly though, it was so cold on Sunday that I don't really blame people for not wanting to stand out in the freezing fog just to ring a cowbell.
I highly recommend the Seattle Marathon/Half Marathon, and would absolutely do the half again myself!
Tomorrow or Thursday I will post a recap of all the fun, touristy things we did in Seattle. We had such an amazing time that I definitely want to share the highlights with you. After that I'm going to do a review of any lingering thoughts/feelings on the race and talk about what I'm doing next.