As expected it was a nasty day when I woke up early in the morning. The half marathon was slated to start at 7:30, so I was going to meet Loren and Guenna at the office around 6:30ish which meant I had to leave around 6:15ish. I ended up getting up around 5 or 5:15 to have plenty of time to go through my pre-race routine to make sure that I didn’t forget anything (which is of course much easier than a triathlon since there’s only one event). Nonetheless, my packing / preparation list included:
Equipment Normal Weather
Breathable top (synthetic material)
Glide pits, nips, groin
Zoot compression socks
Watch – Charged (Charger if packing)
Gu’s (1 per 25 mins)
Race belt with bottle (sometimes I carry a bottle and sometimes I don’t)
HEED or Nuun in a plastic bottle to sip on prior to race unless I plan on running with water (only have done that for Super Jock and Jill Half Marathon)
iPod (Ziplock if raining to keep dry)
Vest (rarely use on race days)
Arm warmers (LOVE!)
Trash bags for rain / heat @ start
Top that can be ditched for warmth (old long sleeve shirt that is donated after I leave it on side of road – did this for the Portland Marathon)
*Note – for a longer run, I define colder weather as something that is less than 40 degrees F or ~4.5 degrees C. For this run, I actually did not wear long pants. I wore running shorts plus arm warmers and my compression socks (which are long).
But since it was cold and wet, I also had a garbage bag for my torso and legs that I ended up wearing to the start of the race and then tearing off right before the gun.
Enough about equipment, so for the race in the morning, I was listening to my iPod and also water proofing it the best I could (and even brought a backup one just in case). Listening to all the adrenaline pumping music and the “I am a Champion” speech (see below) was getting me psyched up.
When I got to the office, Loren and Guenna were already there and getting ready with their stretches. We decided to try to meet around the finish line or back at the office to shower and have a celebratory beer.
One MAJOR COMPLAINT about the Seattle Amica marathon organization is that there appears to be NONE. For the 2nd time, I had to jump the steel barrier to get into the race. Not only is this dangerous, but it’s just poorly organized and managed. I just can’t understand with all the fees we pay and all the time they have to prepare, how they can’t better stagger people for the start of the race.
After a quick porta potty stop, I jumped the fence to get started. The weather wasn’t that bad, and the adrenaline kept me warm. There was barely a drizzle, so I was optimistic that the gods would smile down upon us so we could have a great run.
Like any race, it’s jammed packed running down 5th Avenue. I had to remind myself not to get caught up in the emotions and try to jump out of the gates. But I did find myself doing some weaving and alternatively running on the sidewalk and the street to try to find a running groove.
Going in, I was shooting for a 8:26 pace which would calculate to a 1:50:33 race. I had done some practice runs that got me close to that on the grueling Magnolia Loop so I felt that I would have a legitimate shot especially with the adrenaline and pacing opportunities of following other runners.
After 5th heads East onto 90, I think I was at a 8:00ish pace which I felt good about. And then after we get off of 90 and go along the water in Madison, I was at a 8:00ish pace still around the 4 mile marker, so I felt very good that I would beat my time goals. I know most people preach that one should pace themselves and start slow and then finish strong. But one of the greatest runners ever, Steve Prefontaine, loved to jump into the leadership position to see if the competition could keep up. And my best race ever at the Scotia Bank Half Marathon, I had a punishing pace of 7:40 miles and also managed to finish strong at 1:40:36, so after much practice I think I know my body enough that the benefits of a strong start outweigh the drawbacks primarily for 2 reasons. First, it is incredibly hard to make up time in a long race. So mentally, if I was at 8:45 at mile 4, I would be quite demoralized. But when I was at 8:00ish, I pretty much knew barring injury, I was going to hit my time goal unless I finished at a 9:00 mile pace for 9 more miles. So I visibly remember when it hit me, I did literally get a jump in my step because to get to that 8:00ish pace at mile 4, I was still feeling pretty good and didn’t feel like I emptied my tank to get there. Second, after a lot of trial and error, I realized my recovery time is actually quite quick after some training, so I would rather go out a little faster for longer and then throttle back to a slower pace to regroup. In a training run that may be harder, but in a race environment the energy and the opportunity to chase down someone or use someone as a pacer is just much easier for me.
I remember having high energy from mile 4 to 6, and then when I got to about 6 or 7, the realization that it was raining harder, I’m getting more tired, and heck, there’s still half the race in front of me set in. I was feeling worried yet still confident. Then the hills and elevation climb come around miles 8-12.
I was really having to push myself to attack those hills. I was saving the “I am a Champion” song for the last push when we cross I-5 and go for the 1-2 mile home stretch. After I finally crossed over, I started playing that for my last energy bump and then started shouting out with them – “I am a champion!” I’m sure others were probably thinking, “You are a FREAK!” But I didn’t care- anything to power me since I was doing well and on pace for maybe a 1:45-1:48 finish. Then on the last down hill around mile 12, I felt some cramps setting in on my calves. This was the main issue that head me back for my 2009 Portland Marathon training.
On the one hand, since I’ve dealt with cramps in the past, I knew how to handle it for my body while trying to continue to run at a reduced pace without triggering a full on cramp attack. On the other hand, I have to admit it was demoralizing with the cold rain and the finish line so close, I could smell it.
BTW, I usually like to shed my top at the end of every race to get an extra psychological bump, but this was the 1st race that the conditions were so bad and cold that I didn’t even bother.
I ended up finishing at 1:49:12 with an average pace of 8:20 miles. The cramps took a bite out of me, and I ended up running 1/3 of an extra mile on the course since it’s measured point to point. So instead of running 13.1 miles, I ended up running around 13.4 or so I think since my watch said my average pace was around 8:18ish I believe. I found Loren there, and he had a great race and beat me by a little over 3 minutes. So my hat off to him since he trained hard and produced a fantastic result.
And the icing on the cake was that I heard “Babe!” and I looked up to see my lovely wife and daughter there. So I walked around (battling cramps) to them which was awesome. My only regret is that I didn’t get a family picture because of the rain coming down, and I was just exhausted, cramping, and getting cold quickly. So Alice got great parking and dropped me off at the office to wait for Loren and Guenna.
Taking off my clothes, my breathable synthetic top weighed like 5 pounds because of all the rain. But I was very satisfied with my run because I beat my time and lost weight and got healthier with a little fitness challenge with Loren. Now we just have to find a place to celebrate and to keep the motivation up to maintain the healthy living which isn’t easy with the holidays and nasty weather here in Seattle…I wonder if it’s much easier in the Southern hemisphere where it’s summer now?
Owell…I truly felt like a CHAMPION, and here’s the clip again
Keira has had two attempts to meet Santa, but it’s just not going to happen this year. The first attempt was at Northgate and when we got here they said “Santa went to go feed her reindeer”…trying to make it sound like it wasn’t Santa who was the lazy one! So we had to leave in the hopes of trying to catch Santa another time.
Keira and I went to Uvillage 2 days later to see Santa there. But low and behold, he was out to lunch again. So unfortunately we’re going to have to give up and try again next year. She didn’t have a chance to sit on Santas lap, so we went to a kids store and I plopped her on a bean bag to play around. Hehe
(yes, I know the pink boots don’t match her outfit, but they were warm and the only ones that didn’t fall off her cankles. I had other black patent shoes for the photo with Santa!)