Friday, December 3, 2010

Seattle Marathon

The Seattle Marathon turned 40 years old this year, something I have in common with the event.

"The Seattle Marathon began modestly in 1970 when a group of friends from the University of Washington decided to hold their own running event. 38 runners started the first annual event, with 31 of them completing the full 26.2 miles." Seattle Marathon Website

It had been a crazy week leading up to the marathon.  The Pacific Northwest was slammed with a winter storm Monday, November 22nd, leaving us with snow and ice on the roads and took away electricty for 3 days at our home.  Commute times that normally took 45 minutes had people stuck on the roads for 6 hours!  It was insane!

It just felt that cold!!!

Running outside was difficult with the ice on roads.  Thankfully I bought Sno-trax from Costco a month prior and used them to get 2 to 4 miles in daily that week.  It was slow-going but I was pleased to keep my running streak alive.

By Friday, the weather was relenting and the ice and snow melted and my SnoTrax were back on the shelf.  The Seattle Marathon Expo was on Friday and Saturday before the marathon.  I finished my easy run of 4 miles and headed to the expo.  I love going to Seattle since I live in a fairly small town, but I hate parking and sometimes worry about turning down a one-way street the wrong way. 

I entered the Westin Hotel and followed the crowd of nervous runners to the expo on the third floor.  Packet pick up was complete and I made my way through crowds to get my goodie bag and shirt.  It's funny to see people already wearing their Seattle shirts.  I've never been able to wear my shirt until after the race!  When I wear it, it's because I finished the race!

Super Jock N Jill, a local Running company with super informative staff, had a good sale on some running items.  I bought myself and my husband running pants and one pair of arm warmers.  I've never worn arm warmers but decided I'd give them a try.

Saturday night, I emptied my running drawers once again to find THE outfit.  Out came the tights, shorts, tanks, tech long sleeve, jacket, gloves, arm warmers, socks and hats.  I climbed into bed at 10:00 p.m. and waited for my alarm to sound at 5:00 a.m. 

Jeff was already up and getting ready to work when my "Oriental Sounds" alarm went off.  It is such a nice way to wake up as opposed to the obnoxious BEEP BEEP BEEP alarms. 

I felt nauseous all morning and forced myself to eat a piece of bread with peanut butter.  I held back the food after gagging on each bite.  26.2 miles is a long way to go and I've never done well with nothing for breakfast.  All runners have to experiment with what food works for them during races and some things I've learned about myself:  I must eat something, dairy doesn't settle well, oatmeal makes me burp, 2 cups of coffee gives me an acidic stomach, two pieces of bread with peanut butter is pushing the limits, and one piece with peanut butter is just right.  This is trial and error that all runners have to figure out for themselves.

6:20 a.m. and I finally made my way out of the house.  Late as usual but I had spent the night before combing google maps to find the best route and parking situation.  The traffic was minimal and I chose to take Alaskan Way to Mercer and avoid the exits closest to the Seattle Center.  It was super easy with light traffic as I entered Mercer.  My plan was to find street parking and if that didn't work, I would scarf up the money to pay for a lot near the stadium.  I did one loop of the neighborhood and chose a parking lot as the start time was drawing near and I needed time to get into a porta-potty.

As I stepped outside my car, the air felt cold but not icy and the skies were clear and the wind was non-existent.  I left my coat and long sleaves in the car along with my longer tights.  Today it would be a tank, arm warmers, a fleece hat to keep my ears warm, gloves, and shorts with a running skirt.  I needed to cover up the cheesecake from Thanksgiving!

As I jogged toward the start, I found a lone porta-potty and thanked the Lord for providing me with my own secret toilet.  Twenty minutes until the start and I found my running family.  I met Steve Walters who will be making the Yukon Do It! medals.  He also was completing his fourth marathon in four days to complete the Quadzilla that started on Thanksgiving.  There were other Marathon Maniacs loitering around, getting psyched to finish their 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th marathon of the weekend. 

My plan was to meet my friend, Beachbody mentor and Maniac buddy, Jessica Bienvenue at the start.  She was going for a 3:40 today and we planned to start together, each running our own race but if we ran together, that would be awesome.  I had no real time goal except to hopefully come in front of the Quadzillas!  Jessica had forgotten her timing chip at home and found a race official who saved the day by giving her a 1/2 marathon walk number and chip. 

She found me at the start, I helped her lace the velcro ankle band through her laces and we nervously waited for the countdown.  My Garmin waited until the last minute to locate...argh!

We're off and I can see Main Maniac Tony Phillipi up ahead.  I know he's faster than me but I tried and tried to catch him just to say hi.  No luck.  I lost sight of him sometime after the 2nd mile.  I think I took off too fast given my training.  The first mile had me at 6:44 which didn't seem possible. 

We entered the Tunnel at about mile 3.8 and lo and behold, Maniac Steve Walters passes me.  I tell him he's moving pretty fast for this being his fourth marathon of the weekend.  He says he's not sure how long he can keep it up.  He kept it up the entire race and finished in 3:23- that's a 7:44 average! 

We headed across the Mercer Island bridge and turned around which gave everyone a great view of all the runners and cheered on fellow Maniacs.  I was incognito today so I received a lot less "Go Maniac!" cheers.  As I neared the end of the bridge, another runner told me I was doing great and she had been trying to catch me for awhile.  We talked and what do you know?  She's from Port Orchard and her dad had put on a local race that ended a few years ago.  She was surprised I knew who she was...small world!  I knew her because of her running accolades and told her about the Yukon Marathon.  Her friend told her about it and hopefully she'll be running the half-marathon. 

I felt pretty comfortable running and until mile 9, most of my miles are under an 8:00 pace.  After that, all but three miles are in the 8+ minute range. 
I hit the half-way point at about 1:45 exactly, right at the 3:30 finish time pace.  I'm no fool and know what's coming my way so I accept that a 3:35 is more likely. 

Mile 14 and I heard a stampede of runners...the 3:30 group is roaring by and I attempted to keep step with them.  It didn't last very long. 

Around mile 16, I made a pit-stop and lost a couple of minutes.  During that time, Pedro, another Quadzilla had passed me and he ended up finishing in 3:31!  Absolutely amazing!

A young (20 years?) runner caught up with me about mile 17 and asked me what pace we were running.  This was her first marathon after having only done one half-marathon at a 10:30 average pace.  She was moving lightening fast in comparison.  She wanted to run together for a while and we did some math to figure out what she would need to run to get a 3:40 for a Boston qualifying time.  Her friend jumped in to run with her and at an aid station, she ran ahead while I slowed for gatorade.  I found her friend at mile 23 and he said she was still up ahead and doing great!  I think she must have BQ'd on her first marathon! 

Somewhere along Lake Washington Boulevard, I caught up with Jae-Byung Jung, another Maniac.  This was his only marathon of the weekend.  As we ran stride-for-stride, we both agreed that we had bonked, aka hit the wall.  Now if you don't know what this means:
BONK (running terminology): 

"hitting the wall"

The dreaded point (and awful feeling similar to what your body would feel like if you ran into a wall) during a race when your muscle glycogen stores become depleted and a feeling of fatigue engulfs you.

Example:  Your legs change molecular structure from muscle to lead, one of your lungs apparently has stopped working, and you are unable to figure out what mile you're in or what your finish time will be if you run 10 minute miles.

We talked a little but mostly were silent partners in our quest to finish.  Somewhere along the way, we arrived at 3:45 as an acceptable finishing time so long as we just kept up our easy pace.  Whether this was before or after a flash of pink ran by, I don't recall.  Maniac Robert Lopez ran by us so fast at mile 23 or 24 and went on to finish in 3:35...another Quadzilla runner.  As he passed, my mouth shouted, "You suck, Robert!" before I could stop it.  Now I meant it in good humor and he laughed like a mad man as he went on his way.  I'm pretty sure I wanted to say, "Wow!  Way to go, Robert!" 

Sometime around the pink flash, my right calf was tightening and warning me that if I dared to "toe-off", it would not be pretty.  Heel-toe, heel-toe.  This is definitely not an economical way of running but after suffering calf-cramps in the past, I would do anything to avoid them. 

We made it to the last mile!  Running down a hill was painful in my quads and I skipped the last aid station.  As we rounded a corner onto Mercer, I hear a very chirpy voice behind me telling me to "Let's go!"  Jessica!  I had 3:36 on my watch with maybe .3 to go.  She looked so strong and determined.  I tried to "go!" but my legs left their spring somewhere in Lake Washington.  She flew by me on the uphill and when I crested the top, I gave it everything I had.  The crowds on this last stretch are amazing! 

As I ran into the stadium, the soft turf under my feet and cheering all around me, suddenly I felt I could run fast!  I sprinted to the finish line and saw 3:40:09 and my watch read 3:39:54!  So Jessica got her qualifying time!  I saw Bill Barmore and Matt Hagen, Maniac volunteers at the finish.  Jessica was in front of me and she was crying happy tears. 

My parents were there too!  What a wonderful surprise!  Why is it you can run for so long and the moment you start walking, your legs go on strike? 

We made our way to the finisher's area and found our Maniac family telling their race stories and basking in the glow of finishing one or more marathons.

This year's Seattle Marathon is one of my slower marathons of the year but at the end, I was happy and loved having my friends to share in the experience but I missed seeing my husband at the end.

Next up is Pigtails Marathon on December 18th!


Past Seattle Marathon times:
  • 2002- 3:51:47
  • 2003- 3:47:20
  • 2004- 4:05:15
  • 2005- 3:42:25 (First Boston Qualifying Time!)
  • 2006- 3:50:39
  • 2007- 3:20:05
  • 2008- 3:29:12
  • 2009- Did not run
  • 2010:  3:39:53

Me, Jessica Bienvenue (Boston Qualifying Time) and Melissa Williams (Quadzilla)