What a difference an hour and 58 minutes makes.
Let’s back up.
Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll is a giant cluster. I was going to write about the logistical nightmare that this race is for me (and for anyone else who doesn’t live inside Seattle), but I don’t even want to waste anymore words on it. And I refuse to even go into the cost that is in addition to registration: parking for expo, parking for race, the gas to get to downtown Seattle twice in two days since I live out in BFE. So, I’m ending my rant with one paragraph. Moving on.
I don’t want to rag on the race because it is a fun one. The atmosphere is party-like and it’s cool to see so many friends on the course. It’s A TON of people, though, and I am getting older because and do not like being around so many people. Also, get off my lawn!
Next year, IF I’m in town, I will happily spectate, take photos, make a funny sign, ring a cowbell, dance around like an idiot because I drank too much….you know; the usual.
Friday before the race, 8-months-pregnant Mel (Tall Mom on the Run) and I went to the expo together. I drove and we actually found a cheap place to park (only $7!). Last year, I paid $15. We felt like rock star Seattle drivers. We saw many friends at the expo, and spend a lot of time chatting. I decided to completely ignore those wise words of running—“Don’t try anything new on race day”—and I bought a super cute “Half Crazy” black burn-out tank top from the Gypsy Runner. (Plus, I got another sticker to add to my car. It’s little and red and says “I love to tri” and it was only a buck!)
We were there for a couple hours, and I was able to eat “lunch” with the amount of samples available. Washed it all down with some Watermelon Nuun.
It’s all fun and good until you remember you have to run 13 miles the next day.
You guys. I had no business running this race. My longest run was 9 miles…on May 12. May 12 to June 22. Is that too long of a taper? I ran the Rainier to Ruston Relay (including the tough, muddy 7-mile trail portion of it) on June 1. Since I totaled about 13 miles that day, I called it a long run.
The weekend BEFORE the half, I completed my first triathlon–a sprint triathlon. I’m sorry, but the word “sprint” totally makes it sound easy. But it’s still over an hour of exertion. For me, an hour and a half! I don’t know anyone who can sprint for an hour and a half. So, I didn’t run much the week between the tri and the half. And by “I didn’t run much,” I mean I ran once.
The two things I had going for me was weight loss and strength work. I was down 5 pounds (now 6 since it’s taken me a week to write this), and I have been really concentrating on strength and interval training. So I’m stronger and a little leaner that I was at the beginning of June. That doesn’t really qualify me to run a half marathon, though. Although in my head, it does.
Unfortunately, I had some other things going AGAINST me besides the lack of training. One, was my brain. I was not in it. I was in denial about the race. I didn’t want to think about how to get to it. I didn’t want to think about running it. In fact, I didn’t really want to run at all.
The other was my schedule.
As you may know, our family hobby is dog shows. Bennie, who is finished (which means he’s an American Champion), is now what us crazy dog show people call a “special.” This means we show him in the “Best of Breed” ring only. He competes against other specials and the day’s winning class dog and bitch (haha, yes I said bitch—it means female dog, get over it). If he wins Best of Breed, he gets to move on to the Working Group ring. Do I need to keep explaining this? If you’re curious how a dog show works, click here for an explanation from the American Kennel Club.
In addition to me being entered in the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll half, Bennie was also entered in a dog show…in Oregon—just outside of Portland. That’s about a 3-hour drive (plus a little more). Normally, we would take our coach down there and camp with the other dog show freaks, and no problems. But because I had the half, we didn’t do that.
The plan was to drive back and forth since the show was so late in the day on Saturday (1:20) and not too early on Sunday. My husband was going to take our son with him on Saturday while I enjoyed the race and the “after party” that Brooks Running was hosting for some bloggers…even though I confessed I’d rather go to the dog show than run.
That was the plan.
Seattle RnR Half Race Morning
Got up at 4:15 since the other part of the plan was to leave the house at 5:15. I was driving my husband’s Malibu since he needed the Odyssey to haul the dog and kid to Oregon. I was going to swing by and pick up my neighbor and first-time halfer, J, then stop about 20 minutes down the road and pick up Christine.
Kasey, who was running her first full, was staying with a friend not too far from me, and met me at my house. She was early and I was running around making last minute decisions. Do I want coffee? Should I take all my keys? No. Wait. I need to lock the house. Screw it; I’ll just take the whole thing and leave them in the car.
We hit the road about 5:16, but each stop put us farther behind. Nobody was late or anything. I just didn’t factor the stops into our overall travel time. When we got off the freeway about 6 a.m. in downtown Seattle, the road I’d planned on being open was closed. Remain calm.
I stayed mostly calm, drove up a couple blocks and we were able to get through and get to our pre-planned parking lot. Whew!
It was 6:15 when we were finally heading up the road a couple blocks to the start. We still needed to check bags and go potty before the blogger meet-up at 6:40. Well…
Kasey and I were JUST getting in the potty line at 6:40. Oh well. There goes the blogger meet-up. NBD. Remaining calm.
About 6:50, my phone rang. I figured it was Zoe (Run, Zoe, Run) or someone wondering where we were. So I was surprised to see my husband’s profile on my phone…for about a second. As I was answering, I knew why he was calling and my stomach dropped into my double-knotted Brooks.
I. Had. All. The. Keys.
My van key was on the keys I decided to take with me at the last minute because I needed to lock the front door…in the Malibu…now parked in downtown Seattle. I learned the van spare, which I’d been wondering about its location for weeks, was in the Malibu…now parked in downtown Seattle. The keys to the coach? Both sets? In the van…parked in the driveway, but whose keys were…in the Malibu…parked in downtown Seattle.
I was so upset with myself. It completely ruined my mood. I said I would come home, but my husband said that would be silly.
I know. I KNOW! It’s JUST a dog show. But we’d specifically entered under the Saturday judge because he gave Bennie his final win in his championship last summer. So…opportunity missed for Best of Breed or Grand Champion points because of ME and this freaking race.
In addition to feeling like an a-hole, I was getting upset because Kasey and I had been standing in the potty line and barely moving for like 25 minutes. Not going, though, was not an option, okay.
The race started. Sure, our corrals were not first to go across the start line, but there’s something about being in your corral for the start. The energy and excitement is contagious. We should’ve left my house earlier.
Luckily, some super informed dude came by our section of the potty line and told us that if we just went up the block a bit we would see that there were several shorter lines for the potties. Dude! We were in and out in about 5 minutes after that.
Since the race had started, Kasey and I just found an opening in the corral fences. “What corral are you in!” we’d holler. We were waiting for 11 because I really wanted to find my ol’ running buddy Zoe.
While waiting we met two other bloggers…and now I can’t remember who they were! If you’re reading this, comment pretty please! I was in a foul mood and then running 13 miles after that pretty much did a number on my brain.
I suspected Mel’s husband, Muscle Man, and Zoe would be together and when 11 came by, there they were! I was so happy to find Zoe. Even if it was just to start. I needed to find her! It helped with the bad mood I was in from the Great Car Key Mishap of 2013. Kasey and I jumped in and we jogged with the corral to the start. Mel spotted us and took pictures. Why we are so excited to torture ourselves, I don’t know.
Then we started running. It was crowded, but not that bad considering the amount of people in the race…about 12,000, I think.
The start was a little different this year. It’s basically the same start as the Seattle Marathon—run down 5th under the monorail—except the Seattle Marathon is in late November/early December and it is still dark and there are twinkly lights on the trees. That race is magical (but cold). This race…it was already sunny and warm. We’re melllllting!
After a couple minutes of running, I blurted out, “Whew! I’m tired. Are we done yet?” I got some awesome looks.
Mile 1: 8:39 (weaving)
Mile 2: 8:16 (downhill)
Right after that, Zoe remembered that she forgot to bring her inhaler. But then she had an idea. Nuun was set up just outside their office, which is on the course. So, at about Mile 3, we stopped at Nuun. One of Zoe’s co-workers ran in and got her extra inhaler from her desk while we hydrated ourselves. He was fast; probably only 90 seconds. Neither of us were “racing,” but I was hoping to get under two hours, so I was anxious to get running again.
Mile 3: 9:54 (stopped for inhaler)
We had fun high-fiving the cheer squads along the course, pointing out weird outfits (silver lamée shorts…on a dude), and just running in silence—maneuvering around slower peeps, finding openings in the pack, etc.
Mile 4: 8:07 (I think this is when I pointed out we were going too fast)
Mile 5: 8:42 (got water; had first GU)
We noticed some course changes along the way. The steep hill that I remembered from last year being around Mile 5 was gone. That was nice. *understatement*
At Mile 6, the course meets up with Lake Washington. It’s really pretty and I enjoy the two miles along the shore. Two miles. Out of 13.
Mile 6: 8:24 (cruise-mode)
Mile 7-8 is where the Leukemia Society and Wear Blue to Remember folks set up pictures of those who have passed. It is heart-wrenching. I tried to keep my hand on my heart as I ran past the soldiers’ families and friends. I choked out “thank you,” a couple of times, and I cried a little. Gets me every year. At Mile 8, you start a gradual climb, then it turns into a monster hill to get up onto the I-90 bridge and then the dreaded tunnel.
Mile 7: 8:40 (I said to Zoe, “This pace is comfy.”)
Mile 8: 8:48 (heading uphill; still “comfy”)
After that, into the almost 1-mile-long freeway tunnel we went. It’s slightly uphill, but it’s also creepy and weird in there. We booked it through the tunnel as usual. We passed people right and left. It was tough, but not too hard. It was like a tempo run. A volunteer was passing out GU and I grabbed one. I held on to it because I didn’t know where the next water station would be and I don’t like to take GU without water.
Mile 9: 8:47 (not sure of the accuracy because Garmin lost signal in the tunnel; felt like we were going much faster)
Heading down from the bridge during Mile 10 and still no water! I ended up taking it amyway because Zoe kept asking me about it. “Did you take your GU yet? Did you take your GU yet?” Alright, woman! I will take it! Sheesh!
Of course, after the race, I found out she was bugging me because she could tell my energy was low. We’d slowed a little. The pace that had been comfy (8:40) was becoming difficult. She could tell I was hitting a wall and we were headed into the hilliest section of the course. So, I took it and then had to deal with the icky thickness that sticks around on your tongue till we found water half way between 10 and 11.
Mile 10: 8:55 (slowly hitting a wall)
But by then I really hated distance running. I was very negative inside my head…and maybe on the outside, too. And my feet were bleeding. Well, not really, but it felt like they were. The soles of my feet hurt very bad. They hurt like someone pressed them with a hot iron. They hurt like full marathon feet do.
Plus, I could feel the blisters I got at Rainier to Ruston (R2R) four weeks earlier coming back. Okay, so this is partially my fault because that morning when I put on my socks, the same socks I wore during for muddy Leg 2 of R2R, I noticed they still had some dirt stuck to them.
When I stretched them, a little poof of dust went into the air. Still? I rinsed them with the hose and then washed them in the washing machine weeks ago. As I was putting them on the morning of Rock ‘N’ Roll, I noticed it, but I did not want to waste time changing my socks. Plus, it’s so much work to get compression socks on! Am I right?!
Stupid! The very fine layer of dust/sand/whatever felt like I was rubbing sandpaper on my feet…for two hours.
Yeah, so I think it was between Miles 10 and 11 that I decided I need a break from long distance running. I really hated running right then.
However, I kept going. I don’t like to give up, so I kept cranking my legs. Miles 11-13 are the hilliest of the whole course. It’s really, really hard. I thought about the full marathoners and how much that was going to suck for them. I thought about how I hate this course and how I am glad I did not register for next year. I thought about the fact that I’m signed up for a full in December and how I might have to sell my bib because why did I sign up for a full? I thought about how much running sucks.
Mile 11 climbs up on Highway 99. The view is amazing: the Seattle waterfront, the Sound, the ferris wheel, the Olympic mountains. But it’s uphill so you REALLY can’t enjoy it. Zoe pointed out a little plane pulling a banner (from Brooks) that said: “Run Happy.”
“Bah,” I mumbled.
Zoe was pulling me along now. Where earlier in the race, I’d had bursts of speed to pass people or to high-five a spectator (or a whole row of cheerleaders), now I was just trying to keep up with her.
Drafting. Later, she told me I should’ve scheduled 3 GUs. I think she was right.
Mile 11: 8:41
There is another tunnel at Mile 12ish. Inside the dark tunnel, the road is extremely banked for a bit. It sucks. It hurts. At the end of the tunnel, a guy was down. He looked like he is probably a pretty fast runner. The medics were treating him…talking loudly to him. Headed into the tunnel were two more medics with a stretcher. Poor guy. So, so close.
Mile 12: 9:20 (not sure of accuracy since Garmin lost signal in tunnel; I might’ve been slower than this)
Once out of the tunnel after Mile 12, you go downhill and straight into a blind turn, then WHAM: There is the hill to the finish. It is a mother. I let Zoe go. She has an amazing finishing kick, and she destroyed that hill.
According to Seattle RnR’s elevation map, the elevation at Mile 12.5 is 48. The elevation at 13.1 is 106.
I simply could not move my legs any faster up the hill. I willed them to go with all of the very few brain cells I had left, but I could only muster slow-mo. I felt like I had 20-pound weights strapped to each foot.
I didn’t walk. But I probably should have because at the top of the hill, the finish line is farther away than you want it to be. Probably not a quarter-mile, but close. The top of the hill doesn’t really flatten out. It’s still an incline. And your legs are so dead. I hate it. It’s not a fun way to end a race…feeling like death.
Apparently, Mel was yelling at me. But I was busy dying so I didn’t hear her.
Mile 13: 9:20
.1: 3:17 (9:36 pace)
After crossing the finish line, I had to just keep moving because I felt like passing out. I was super grumpy (this seems to be a recurring theme for me), but Zoe kept a smile on her face. And we got to see Sybil, which was nice! (Sorry if I was being a Ms. Pissy Pants.)
I just snuck in under 1:58 with a 1:57:48 chip time. People thought I was disappointed with my time, but I was just grumpy about running in general. No worries.
We got some photos from MarathonFoto. If you want to see them, click on the link. I don’t want to steal.
After that, I needed to call my husband. It was only 9:45 a.m. and since I was practically brainless at this point, I thought maybe I could leave right then and make it home in time to drive down to Portland for the show at 1:20. Remember, the drive to Oregon takes about 3 hours. Plus the time it would take for me to pick up my checked bag and navigate the closed streets of downtown Seattle then drive home. Duhr.
After Zoe and I picked up our bags, we reunited with friends and hung out for a while—Mel and Muscle Man, Tiffany, Alyssa and her BF, Christine, and my neighbor J even joined us. I was still sort of hating running.
Me, Tiff and Zoe headed to the beer garden to claim our “free” Michelob (aka water).
Side note: Can’t RnR Seattle get a good craft beer? Seriously. This is Seattle. Coffee and craft beer. It’s like our thing.
We were also treated to gift bags. I was really tired (and grumpy) so I hope I didn’t seem ungrateful at the event. I am pumped to try out the new Women’s Brooks Ghost 6 and the Glycerins. I’m also very excited about my new hat.
Thanks, Brooks! I will “Run Happy!” (Unless it’s more than 3 miles.)
That reminds me…I saw this guy and totally had to have my picture taken with his shirt:
After the Brooks and OnlineShoes.com party, I ran into (So Not) Super Runner Mom and we chatted on our way back to Seattle Center. But then I had to locate my husband’s vehicle. Alone. I’d hoped to stay and watch Kasey finish her full, but now that the hubs and son were trapped at home with no keys, I had to leave.
I have a smartphone, but the problem is that you have to be smarter than the phone to use it. I was getting very confused looking at the little walking directions and I kept going the wrong way, then I went too far. I felt like I was walking in circles. My husband texted me to see where I was. I told him I was lost in Seattle. On foot. By myself. In my flip flops. With all my stuff.
My feet hurt. My brain was foggy.
I texted him back, “I just want to come home!” Yeah. I was a baby. I cried and walked and walked. I added at least another mile or two on my day before I found the little black Malibu all alone in the parking lot.
Final Thoughts on Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll
Tough. This course is tough. The last three miles… I was undertrained, yes. We ran too fast in the first half. Probably. It was warmer than usual. Definitely.
I don’t know why I can’t just run and relax, and enjoy myself. The one time I did that was during the full marathon and I had a blast. For some reason, though, I feel I have to try to “win” every time. And then I end up hating myself and anyone else around me.
I was the most sore I’ve been after almost any race for the rest of the day and Sunday. My stomach muscles, quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves…they all hurt. Most annoying was that my knees and ankles hurt, and my shins. My joints hurt? I’m getting too old for this.