Running & Good Times

Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Race Report

This race popped up on my radar after I decided to fly across the country to surprise my daughter on her last day of school.  The first thing that came to mind was the weather, which is very different in the northwest.  Shortly after arriving, I realized that I did not pack enough warm clothes nor did the Virginia climate prepare me for Seattle.

I would not normally sign up for a Rock ‘n’ Roll (RnR) event, but the timing could not have been better.  Getting an opportunity to chip away at completing a race in each of the 50 states was something I could not pass up.  This was my second city running a RnR race, and my third RnR event (my first two RnR races were in Las Vegas, NV).

Race Information:

The RnR race directors make these races look easy.  This is probably why they consistently have more than 30k people sign up for their events.  Everything from beginning to end flowed smoothly and felt planned.

Expo/Swag:

Due to my travel schedule, I attended the expo and picked up my packet on Friday with my high school friend, Erin.  Getting to the expo and around Seattle is relativity easy when traffic is light.  The expo was held at the Centurylink Field in the West Hall, a large open area.  Upon entering the expo area, we collected our bib and shirts.

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As usual, we were forced to walk through the Brooks merchandise area before we could see the 100 plus other vendors.  Our first stop was Altra Shoes where they were selling shoes for under $60.  Not a bad deal when they typically sell for over $120.  We spent an inordinate amount of time talking to a coach about the shoes and various aspects of running.  While many of the vendors were local, several others are typically seen at most expos.  One vendor, Honey Stinger, is a must to visit as they always have the best samples available.

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Course:

Prior to starting, I spoke with a couple of other runners who mentioned this year the race featured a new course layout. The starting line began in the shadows of the Space Needle along a nice park area.  To help keep runners together, over 40 corrals were established and the park is where they started (or ended).  So, we had to walk a couple of blocks to the corral in the front, Corral Two. This race had all of the racers lining up together.  This was my first time ever seeing this setup, but I am sure it reduced the logistical aspects of the events by having everyone in the 10k, half and full marathons start together.

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Unsure of the post-race weather, I decided to use the provided drop bag to pack an extra shirt and a rain jacket.  Making our way into Space Needle Park, I quickly located a row of UPS trucks that would carry all of the bags to the finish line.  The UPS workers/volunteers made bag drop easy – about a dozen trucks lined up taking bags by last name then organizing them inside the truck for an easy handoff at this finish.

Relief time!  Like any other race, there never seems to be enough port-a-jons!  Runners are like ants searching for food – lining up waiting for the next door to open.  Luckily, someone walked our way and told us the park had clean restrooms with no line just down the way.  Sometimes, it is hard to trust a stranger, but what did we have to lose?  I am glad I trusted a fellow runner, my 15-minute wait turned in to only 15 seconds.

I decided early on this was going to be an easy race, so I set my goal at 1:45 – this would enable me to enjoy the race from beginning to end.

After starting 15 minutes late, the Seattle Waterfront came into view within the first mile,  taking us past the aquarium and the famous Seattle Great Wheel.  At the 2.5 mile mark we made a U-turn and doubled back about a half mile where we ran through downtown Seattle on 2nd Avenue.

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As we started, the morning air was just warm enough that you could not see your breath until we started on the longest portion of the run, Rainier Ave.  Several sections along this 2.5-mile route were covered with trees and it seemed like the area never saw the sun, thus creating an effect that caused me to see my breath.

Making our way down to Lake Washington Blvd, we entered into a park area where we ran along the banks of Lake Washington.  Around the ninth mile, posters of hundreds of our nation’s servicemen and women whose lives were lost while protecting America’s freedom were patriotically displayed along the right road.  As we made our way past these brave heroes, you could hear a pin drop.  I had only ever seen a patriotic display such as this once before, and it made me feel proud to serve.  Just past the heroes, large American flags were being proudly displayed by several volunteer military members, and as we passed by they loudly cheered us on.

20160618_085603At this point the finish line was just a couple of miles away, but before we got there we encountered a hill.  This was not just any hill; it was a 200-foot climb in a short distance.  This is one area that either slowed you down and made you think twice, or you loved hills and made your way to the top quickly.  I knew this was coming, as I had studied this portion through the course profile and Google Maps, and would have to keep some energy in the tank so I could turn it on once I made it to the top.

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The last two miles were literally downhill.  Running on Highway 90 was to say the least an interesting feeling- can’t say I have ever run down the middle of a highway before.  At this point all of the runners around me were in finish mode, a couple blew past me like I was standing still and I was logging a 7:34 mi.  At the 12th and 13th mile markers, I was easily logging 7:09 miles towards the finish line.  This allowed me to achieve my goal of 1:45.

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After collecting my medal, I grabbed a chocolate milk and Gatorade to replenish my fluids and grabbed a few photos with my medal.

This was an amazing course and I’m glad I had an opportunity to see a portion of Seattle that I would have never been able to see otherwise.  This is a great city with some wacky weather!

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Elevation:

Wholly hills!  There is no way to properly train for hills living in the Coastal Plains of Virginia.  Just after crossing the start line we headed downhill then right back up.  The elevation change was relatively drastic compared to the short distance we gained then descended, except for the area around mile 10 to 11, where we climbed 200 feet in less than a quarter-mile.  From here we quickly descended towards the finish line.  The final leg of the journey would definitely separate the runners from the walkers.  Racing towards the finish line and barreling down the hill, we encountered the final hump, a car ramp.  It was a quick ascent that so steep, many were forced to walk.

Crowd Support:

This is another component RnR races are known for!  A different band rocked out at every mile and each one was great in its own way.  One of the bands that really stood out was the drum corp playing under a bridge.  Their sounds echoed throughout as the runners traveled into the distance.

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The crowds were absolutely amazing!  People were lined up everywhere along the course – safety permitting.  The biggest concentration was through downtown, at the 7.5-mile mark and the last 1.2 miles.

Weather:

It would not be Seattle if there was not the threat of rain, which was forecasted throughout the morning.  As I anxiously waited to cross the starting line, the temperature hovered around the low 50s.  This was going to be a perfect starting temperature.  Fortunately, it did not rain a drop during the race, but the clouds did give way as we collected our drop bags and post-race goodies.  Instead of sticking around to enjoy the rain, we made our way to a local coffee shop.

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Check out HappyRunningMom’s, she allowed me to use a couple of her photos.

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