Monday, June 25, 2012

Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon Race Report

Well, it's done.  What I've been training for for the last 14 weeks - the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon - is over, fin, finished, completed, dunzo.

 We did it!

Let's just rip the band-aid off, shall we?  No need to keep you in suspense.  I didn't PR.  I DID hit my B goal of sub-4-ing (3:57:41 to be exact).  I didn't hit my real goal of feeling great the whole time.  Maybe that's not possible for me.  

 The course

And it went... okay.  I'm very pleased with how I executed the first 18 miles.  I did this MUCH better than my last marathon (Portland, 2010) even though the end result is nearly identical.  I forced myself to slow down approximately 500 times in the first 10 miles.  After 10 I decided to just let myself do whatever.  My Garmin is all over the place due to saying I ran 26.6 miles and also due to the 400 tunnels we ran through, but the chip splits pretty much show what happened:

5K -        28:04     (Average Pace - 9:02)
10K -      55:04    (Average Pace - 8:51)
Half -  1:55:37    (Average Pace - 8:50)
17.6 -  2:35:13    (Average Pace - 8:49)
20 -     2:58:23    (Average Pace - 8:55)
End -   3:57:41    (Average Pace - 9:04)

Yep, it appears I did pretty well through mile 18, progressively going a little bit faster and faster until then.  Which makes sense, that's about when I stopped feeling great.  But let's back up a bit.  Hold on folks, this is going to be a long one.

We got to the race pretty uneventfully.  Wake-up call at 4:10am (um, that's TOO EARLY!), sat in traffic on the way to the much more congested new starting point, I unfortunately missed the blogger photo while I waited in a never-ending port-a-potty line, and then we were off!

 Photo Shoot in the Never-Ending Port-a-Potty Line Pre-Race

Miles 1-3: 9:12, 8:33, 8:50
Easing into it.  This worked well because I didn't feel warmed-up right off the bat (in races sometimes I do).  I didn't have to worry about holding myself back much until mile 4 or 5 (mile 2 was downhill so 8:33 seemed still reasonably slow).  The first 5 miles FLEW by because I was talking and running with people the whole time - these miles were GREAT.  Ran with Jordanne and Luke for the first two miles.  Although I hadn't been able to find anyone pre-race I was happy to come up on Zoe, and then in Mile 2 I got to run past the Nuun headquarters and their cheering booth, see Becky and Caitlin, and show off my sweet Nuun tattoo! 

Miles 4-6: 8:49, 8:47, 8:42
I next came across Lauren and her friend, and ran with them until the turn-off for full marathons right after mile 5.  Along the way I got to see Kerrie, Jill, Kim, and probably others I'm forgetting.  It was PERFECT because by then I was ready to speed up but they were running my perfect pace and kept me from speeding off into bonk-ness too early.  Hit a nasty hill in here that had a HORRIBLE downhill after it that was so steep I was worried about slipping and falling.  That needs to be changed (listen up course directors!).  Took GU #1. 

Miles 7-9: 8:30, 8:39, 8:49
I was really sad when I had to leave Lauren and all the fun I was having seeing people on the half course.  I knew miles 6-20 were going to be some lonely ones and was wishing I had a running buddy.  I did really enjoy these miles running through Seward Park though.  Beautiful views to look at and the water was just so incredibly calm like glass.  I felt bad the half marathoners didn't get to run through here.  Had some nice flashbacks about the Girls On the Run 5k. :-)

Miles 10-12: 8:39, 8:31, 9:32
Coming out of Seward Park I finally decided to stop and use the bathroom (mile 12's split).  I'd had to pee for quite a while, and I won't lie, I considered just going on the run.  But then when I saw a port-a-potty right before the marathoners were to join the half marathoners again I knew it was now or never (at least not again for a while without a wait).  Lost a minute or so in there, which I worried would come back to bite me because by then I knew I really was in the hunt for a PR (previous PR of 3:55:08) and that it would be close.  Took GU #2. 
Miles 13-15: 8:40, 8:37, 8:41
In here I passed by the "Wear Blue to Remember" section which involved pictures of soldiers who have died in the war and the line of American flags - and I was nearly sobbing it was so incredibly moving.  We're not talking a single tear either - which ended up making me not be able to breathe!  We owe our soldiers so much.  Took GU #3. 

Miles 16-18: 8:45, 9:06, 8:41 
We entered my least favorite part of the race, (that's a lie, my least favorite part was DEFINITELY the last 4 miles, but my least favorite scenery / terrain wise), what I'll call the I-90 miles.  We had to cross I-90 and then turn around and cross back and this was over FIVE miles.  I did NOT approve.  By then the sun was out (yes, after my 10,000 weather tweets, NONE of which reported the sun, I appear to have a sunburn and wished I'd had sunglasses), so the sun was blaring with no shade (except for the tunnels), there wasn't much view because we were in the express lanes in the middle so it was just cars on either side of us, and the slant on the road was TERRIBLE for much of it.  Not a fan of this part of the course at all.

Mile 19-21:  9:22, 8:42, 12:26 (a lie!)
I think mile 19 is real though I'm not sure why it's so slow.  Mile 21 is definitely fake, just check out mile 23's split below (lots of tunnels on I-90 and no Garmin satellite reception).  I intended to take my final GU #4 in here but by now my stomach was not too happy.  I took one at the aid station and carried it for at least a mile in my hand debating about whether I thought my stomach could handle it or not.  In the end I ended up throwing it away.  I'm sure this didn't help my poor finish but on the other hand it could have ended in even more nausea disaster. 

Robyn, who is a SAINT I tell you, so wonderfully volunteered to run with me for the last 6 miles.  Even if she hadn't come, the idea of this truly pulled me through the I-90 miles, which were pretty bleak.  It made the end of the race feel like 20 miles instead of 26, since I would keep saying, just 3 more miles until Robyn's here - then she'll pull you along!  So when she didn't show I was disappointed but figured I'd passed her or something had happened.  And sure enough - she couldn't get on the course because of the isolation of I-90!  I felt so bad that she was driving all over the place early on a Saturday!

Miles 22-24: 6:25 (uhh, I don't think so!), 9:02, 9:42
You can see the pain is here.  But Robyn finally showed up!  Thank goodness, seriously.  I've never been so happy to see someone (sorry JMan).  As much as I walked these final miles, I can only imagine how much more it would have been if she hadn't been there.  In retrospect it was really quite funny because she would tell me stories (yes, she is just that AWESOME) and I would have a million questions and / or things to add to what she was saying but by then, even though it was my legs that felt like two 10,000 pound anvils made out of razor blades attached to my body, my breathing was also so labored that I could basically only grunt responses like a caveman.  I'm sure I completely impressed her with my skills at a potential future running partner.  I don't think I'm going to get a second interview folks!  

Miles 25-26.2: 9:47, 9:28, 9:23 (for .51, it says I did 26.51 total miles, .31 extra)
There was just pain.  The last 4 miles were very very difficult.  With 4 miles to go I felt despair - it did not seem possible that I could run 4 more miles or that I would ever have the relief of being done.  There were also a ton of evil hills in the last 6 miles of the race which were sooo not appreciated.  With just 4 miles to go all I needed to do was run 4 miles at around 9 minute pace to PR.  It was so close, I was right there, and I knew it.  I kept doing little calculations at every mile marker (since my Garmin was SO off) and I even had a few minutes of cushion at one point.  I do think I maybe could have done it if the last 4 miles had been pancake flat.  But I just could not make it up the hills without walking.  Okay okay, there was some walking on the flat as well.  So obviously, I didn't run 9 minute miles, and therefore didn't make my goal.  My stomach was NOT liking what I was doing by this point either. 

When my watch beeped 25 (about .3 ahead of schedule) I was finally feeling like I could finish this race, and had picked up the pace (well, as much as I could at that point), until the final hill hit me in the last half mile of the race.  HOW EVIL.  Seriously.  There wasn't even a downhill following it to help you recover your strength.  So there was absolutely no finishing strong.  I was probably running a 13 minute mile when I finished.  EVIL.  That part of the course MUST be changed.  

Total elevation gain was 1,154 feet, so really not that bad for 26 miles.  A lot of it was pancake flat though so when a hill hit, it was often a serious one.  Further, as you can see, most of the hills were in the last 6 miles, when you're hurting the most. 

So, I didn't PR, and wouldn't have even if I hadn't stopped at the bathroom.  2.5 minutes off, so 1.5 minutes off without the bathroom stop.  My Garmin says my average pace for 26.51 miles is 8:58 and I like a number in the 8's WAY more than the 9:04 they gave me so I'm going with that!

 Surprisingly - I don't know this girl nor remember her!  Go Team Nuun!

The Nausea:
I've never faced nausea in a race before and it didn't let up until nearly 3 or 4pm that day - when I could FINALLY eat something (a delicious FatBurger burger I might add) which is when I finally felt human again.  I'm not exactly sure why.  Perhaps it was the veggie curry I had at the blogger lunch the day before or the calzone I had at dinner the night before.  I don't think drinking the Gatorade helped - it was strong Gatorade (normally it's nice and watered down in races which I prefer) and this is the first training cycle I have fueled pretty much primarily with Nuun instead of being more varied.  I suppose that means I need to carry my own water but it's so nice not to carry and they did such a great job of having plentiful aid stations.  The last GU I had was an Octane one I'd never had before and I thought it was DISGUSTING but I've fueled with all different kinds of GU all training cycle so I kind of doubt it was that.  Whatever it was - I need to NOT do it next time!  I think being able to stomach at least one more GU would have helped a lot.

 Kerrie took these lovely gems of me after the race.  I just wanted to lie down and never get up!

Would I do this FULL again?  No I would not.  Why, you ask?  Because: a) I don't like to do races more than once with a few exceptions, and 2) I hated the I-90 section so much and that was almost a quarter of the race.  Would I do the HALF you ask?  Yes, of course I would.  It's my hometown race, it seems entirely unlikely that race envy wouldn't take over when everyone else and their mom in this area is doing this race again next year. 

Did you actually read this far?  If so, pat yourself on the back.  Did your eyes glass over there for a bit in the middle?!  If you made it, you deserve some bling.  Maybe even an EXTRA medal for doing both Portland Rock n Roll and Seattle Rock n Roll, kinda like this one:

Ohhhhhh yeah. I like how glittery the Seattle medal is! :-)

The End.