Seattle Marathon Race Report ( or my 11th Marathon)

The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…Nigel Tufnel (Spinal Tap)

 I made the decision after Boston to run a late fall marathon because I just didn’t want to train in the heat of the summer. I know my limitations and racing in early October has bitten me twice with heat. So I was going to take it entirely out of the question. The decision was made to run Seattle after brunch when we already had a few adult beverages. My sister-in-law also decided to run her first half marathon there as well. It was on.

Training went well except for some days when work responsibilities just made it impossible to run during the week when I traveled. I trained with the Pfitzinger 18/70 plan once again. I did all of my long runs. I really didn’t race much this year so I ran the Prairie State Half as a fitness test in early October. I ran in in 1:37:32 (missing the AG podium by a spot) and it encouraged me to shoot for another Boston Qualifier time. The entire family came with me and we stayed at our first Airbnb. It was a great condo in the heart of Seattle’s downtown, closer than the host hotel to the start/finish and cheaper. A downstairs coffee house put an exclamation point on it. We visited with my cousin and her family on Friday night for dinner who live out there.

Seattle View

My wish for cold weather came true. In fact it was my coldest marathon start ever at 34F. Fog was everywhere.  There was a very light zephyr of wind which made it bearable and made running in shorts comfortable. I wore my long sleeve Boston shirt over a short sleeve tech shirt. Running events are where I never feel like I’m bragging about Boston. The marathoners were last to go after the half marathoners. I saw my sister-in-law and wished her good luck as she was in her first mile as I walked to the race start. She was incredibly nervous/excited prior to race day and just wanted to finish. At 8:15 AM we were off. The course is mostly flat but the race director had said at the expo that “no one negative splits this course”. The course elevation did not look that formidable, but I took the man at his word and decided to go out a bit faster than my 3:28:xx qualifier pace.

 Mile 1 was slightly downhill so I tempered the pace a bit and it came in right at the planned 7:55.  After Mile 2 we prepared to enter the express lanes of I-90.   Hell we’re not that fast.   It was here I noticed a  few tents in the grass on the sides of the expressway from homeless people.  Not cardboard boxes but lightweight camping tents. I thought about throwing my long sleeve cotton shirt here over the fence near the tents.  They need it more than I do but it was still too cold at this point.  Off to our right was Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field.   No tailgaters that I could see for the Seahawks game later.  The half marathoners and Marathon walkers (yes you read that right) were separated in another lane when I noticed a woman face down and not moving.  It must have just happened because no one was helping her yet.  It was then I noticed frost had formed on the bridge we were running.   She was up by the time I passed and she had a nasty cut on her face and was being helped.  Better watch my footing.  The first timing mat was at Mile 4.5.  34:34 (7:41 pace).  Better back it off a bit.

We headed for an out and back on the I90 floating bridge (second longest on Earth) which heads to Mercer Island.   It was cool running that close to the water and being surrounded by it.

Mile 5 – 7:32 Ummm…back it off there killer
Mile 6 – 8:23 What…don’t back it off that much.
Mile 7 – 7:23 Did I forget what pace feels like…this is nuts.
Mile 8 – 8:23 But I had an excuse.  Had to leave some liquid in the porta-a-potty which were conveniently located with the mile marker sign taped to it. We head off the bridge and west along Lake Washington’s shore.
Average is 7:52 pace at the second timing mat.  Mile 8.1 and all systems go.

The next 3 miles are enjoyable but if there was less fog I could see more Pacific Northwest scenery.   Houses were along our right side and the race leaders were headed past us on the other side of the road.

Mile 9 – 8:07    Mile 10 – 7:51  Mile 11- 7:54 Mile 12- 7:55   I was glad to be slightly ahead of pace but could not figure out why pace was so erratic.  The race field is not huge and no one is running in packs.   I am not running with anyone as we are spaced out. Usually there are giant packs all running the same pace.
Mile 13.1  – 1:43:37 (7:55 pace)

It was here we ran around Seward Park. No roads just an asphalt path

A Wikipedia Seward Park photo.  The fog made it look way different.

Mile 14 – 7:56  We head north on the opposite side of the path and view the slower runners going the other way

Mile 14-15.  Good to see both feet of ground.

Mile 15 & 16  – 8:20 average.  I have to hit the portable again at Mile 16.  I need to figure this fluid thing out in future marathons because it’s costing me 20-30 second every time I stop.

Mile 17 – 8:02   Mile 18 – 8:02  Mile 19 – 8:01 Got the pace finally knocked trying to hold back for the next stretch 

It is about here I begin to run with a younger couple maybe in their late 20’s. We’re running the same pace so I try to stick with them.  She is looking stronger than he is and wearing a neon orange long sleeve shirt and slightly ahead.  We’re about to head into the toughest section of the course.   Mostly uphill from Mile 20-23.   Cruel.  Just cruel.

A look at the hill grading from 20 -26.2

Mile 20 – 2:36:58 Overall (7:51 pace) Holy crap.  As we make a left hand turn at Galer St (Mile 20.44)  The street goes straight up (5% grade).  It’s not long but steep. My muscles were temporarily overwhelmed and I walk about 15 steps up the first part and resume running. It was more the shock than fatigue.  We climb 135ft in the next half mile .  Mile 20 clocked in at 8:30
Mile 21 – 8:45 We enter the Botanic Gardens. Lots of turns and more uphill.  This would be a cool place to just walk.   I’m picking off people slowly.  Pass someone and find the next victim.   So I’m surprised at the pace here.  Orange girl and her partner are keeping pace behind me.
Mile 22 – 8:06 Still passing people.
Mile 23  – 8:32 The grade gets a bit silly here.  Strava calls it the East McGaw Street Climb.  Strava puts me in the top 10 for this section so I’m not fading.

Mile 24- 8:10 Almost home now and I haven’t looked at my watch in 3 miles because I don’t want to get discouraged.  Just run on feel baby and love that fatigue in your legs.   At the water stop which is uphill, I walk through it to get one last drink.  Orange girl passes me and yells to me “C’mon you can do this”.   I yell back, “I got this”.  I start running and pass her at the top of the hill…and never saw her again.
Mile 25- 8:09 There was a very short insane downhill on Republican St. that I brake a bit because it surprised me.  Almost home now.  A pacer passes me running by herself with no pacer sign.  Is she the 3:30 pacer?  For some I still have not looked at my watch since Mile 21 but decide to go with her just in case.
Mile 26 – 8:14 Uphill one more time as we head into Memorial Stadium and finish on the field.  I blow past pacer girl and see my family. Glance at the clock.

Pacer girl in green.  Still have no idea which pacer she is.

Finish time: 3:31:26   My third fastest marathon out of 11. 12th out of 97 in my AG.  72nd out of 466 Male masters (must be a destination race for fast old guys).  I’m good with the time due to the late hills on this course.  A flatter course might have been a BQ time. The elevation chart on the website was very deceiving since there is a lot of up/down in the last 10k. A positive split for sure and the RD was right. Garmin read 26.29 miles so I ran the tangents well.

I get a big hug from my son and it made me really emotional for a second.  My sister-in-law was shooting for a 3:20 time in the half.  I joked she needed to beat Al Roker’s time at the 2010 Chicago Rock n Roll half.   Turns out she had some ankle pain from Mile 8 on and I told her it was a big accomplishment to finish even if it was in 3:40 something.  She was mad just the same which makes her an official racer because of that kind of thinking.  The recovery area was indoors which was plus to get warm.  The drop bag recovery is cruel though because you have to climb stairs of the stadium to get it.  Just mean…..
There weren’t a lot of spectators on the course.  I should have known because my cousin and her husband who live here weren’t really aware of the race.  It’s a small race, only 1633 marathon finishers in total but scenery was very different for this Chicago guy (aka Flatlander).   This was a day that fit the Pearl Izumi motto: Endure and Enjoy