I did it! I finished the inaugural Seattle Rock n Roll Half-Marathon! The race started at 7 am in Tukwila. I stayed in downtown Seattle, so at 5:30 am I headed down to the buses that were shuttling runners to the Start Line. It was in the low 50s and cold. The bus line wrapped around the block a couple of times but luckily, I like to run in a long-sleeve shirt so I had a little bit of warmth.
It took forever for the bus to get to the Starting Line. There was a 2-mile traffic back-up getting off the freeway. With over 20,000 runners, perhaps they should have had police assistance in managing the traffic at the off-ramp. It took us almost 45 minutes. People in cars were stopping along the freeway and letting runners out so that they could walk in along the off-ramp. It was pretty crazy.
By the time we got off the bus, we had just enough time to grab a bagel, and head to our corrals. I was in corral 17 – the group that predicted a 10:15/mile pace with a finish in 2 hrs and 15 minutes. This is exactly what I ran in my last half-marathon so at the time I registered, it was a realistic result. But since my injury, I’d been running 12/min miles and should have dropped to a lower corral, but to be honest, I was too lazy.
My goal was to keep to a 12-min/mile pace and finish in 2 hrs 36 minutes.
My official start time was at 7:27 am. I was a little worried about the start because I usually require more time to warm-up, but I kept moving and doing dynamic stretches as my corral moved up to the Start; I just hoped it was enough.
There is only one way to described Miles 1-4 – hills. There were four hills in the first four miles. Now I actually like hills – where there is an up, there must be a down = rest. I take pride in my ability to run hills; I just tuck my head down and charge up, but by the time I reached the fourth hill, I was annoyed. I sent my aunt (who was waiting at the finish line) a text msg that said, “F’n hills!” LOL!
When we studied the course map, my aunt said, “Just make it through the first four miles; then you’ll be running alongside Lake Washington.” But when we got through four miles, we still weren’t at the lake! Instead, ran through some pretty pricey neighborhoods that were alongside Lake Washington. The people lived there set up lawn chairs on the sidewalk and cheered us on. It was great; I loved it!
We finally reached the lake at Mile 6. This was my favorite stretch. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day in Seattle, and running alongside Lake Washington was perfect. We ran lakeside for about 3 miles. I just cruised along and felt like Miles 1-9 just flew by. I was hydrating every 2 miles and ate GU at 4.5 and 9 miles. I was feeling good!
Then came Mile 10 and things started to fall apart. Somewhere along here, we separated from the full-marathon runners. They headed toward a bridge and we ran through a tunnel (I’m told it was the I-90 tunnel). I didn’t expect a tunnel and it completely threw me from my rhythm. My Garmin (what I use to track my distance, time and pace) stopped working because it couldn’t pick up a GPS signal. There was a band playing in the tunnel and the noise level was painful. Before the tunnel I still felt fresh, but once inside the tunnel my body changed and I thought, “Can I finish this? Can I keep going?”
When I emerged from tunnel, I had no idea if my Garmin would continue where it left off or catch up to where I was. We were running through freeways and the course signs confused me. There was a sign that said “13 miles”, then one shortly after that said, “13.1 miles.” I knew the tunnel couldn’t have been 3 miles long and there was no Finish Line. I was so confused. I yelled at a Coach, “Am I done?” He told me I had 2 more miles to go. The longest two miles of my life.
We came down the freeway to find Safeco and Qwest Fields directly in front of us. That was cool. A guy passed me who’s shirt said, “What do you mean Jesus died? I’ve been talking to him all morning?” That gave me a good laugh. And I needed it because the last two miles were tortuous.
Once we left the freeway, the surface streets were lined with cheering spectators. It made you “think” you were almost done, but really, there were two miles left. My hips hurt, my feet were screaming, but surprisingly, my hamstring felt ok – no pain. I was never so happy to see Mile 12. But right after the mile marker, there was a downhill (which was hard to run down) and then the final uphill. I was cursing. I felt like I was punk’d during the entire last mile. I thought the end was near but nope, a little further to go. Then I turned the corner, thinking I’d see the Finish Line, but nope, another corner to turn.
Finally, I made the last turn and had the Finish Line in sight, but it seemed so far away. I had told myself I’d sprint once I saw the end, but at that point, I had nothing left in me. However, when I did cross the line, I told myself, I would hold a pose so my photo crossing it would look strong. And I did.
At the Finish, there were all kinds of cameras and I didn’t know which one was the “official finish line camera” so I held my right arm up in a fist the last few yards across the line.
I’m not shy to say that I am really proud of myself for finishing this race. The hamstring injury was painful and frustrating but I’m glad I surrounded myself with the right people to guide me through. I never doubted I could run this race and I wouldn’t have let anything stop me. I was shocked at how many people walked during the race. As much as I was tempted to, I kept hearing Michi’s voice tell me, “Whatever you do, don’t stop!” And I didn’t, not once.
After I got some water and food, I met my family, my cheering crew. I ran the race with my Uncle. It was his first half-marathon and he did awesome! As I stretched and took inventory of my body, I wasn’t as stiff as I though I’d be. We walked the 1.3 miles back to our hotel and I went straight to the whirlpool. Then my uncle left us to golf 18-holes (crazy!) while we walked down to Pike’s Place for lunch.
As expected, later that night and the next day I stiffened up, but it was no where as painful as my first half that I ran last November.
I’m so glad I was apart of this inaugural race. It was such a fulfilling and more importantly FUN experience! Oh and I beat my goal time!
PS I started the race with "Thriller" and ended with "Remember the Time." Thanks MJ for getting me through!