Rock n Roll Seattle Race Recap

Back in February, I decided to run my first marathon.  Due to work constraints and timing issues, I chose the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon to be my first, on June 21.

I trained using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan, and for the first time in my life I actually followed a training plan almost exactly.  I had a couple of weeks where I skipped a short run, and even a week where I skipped a long run when I was worried about injury, but I arrived in Seattle confident that I would finish the race.  From the beginning, I was hoping to run in 4:30 or less.

When I registered for the race, my friend Junior volunteered to pace me, and over the course of my training, his goal time for us kept getting faster.  LOL  I knew it was a lofty goal, but set out on race morning with Junior’s 4 hour goal as my goal too.

photo 1

The race started at the Space Needle.

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Junior had a bunch of running friends who were also running RnR Seattle, so we met up with them before the race.  They have a pre-race tradition of taking over one of the early start corrals at RnR races, and Seattle was no different – we gathered in Corral 2 for a group picture, then stayed there for the start.

photo 1

Starting in Corral 2 was a very different experience for me in a big race.  It was wonderful to not have to dodge and weave around huge crowds of people for 2-3 miles (or more), and it helped us start out at the desired pace – we were aiming for about 8:40/mile through mile 18 or 20, to build a cushion for the last few miles.  And we started off right around that pace… in fact, we ran mile 2 in 7:40, which is my fastest mile split since high school!

The course was beautiful.  The first half was relatively flat with a few hills, through downtown Seattle and along the lake.  Check out the views!

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Around mile 7 or 8, Junior tripped and fell on the uneven pavement, and I had to jump out of the way so I wouldn’t trip over him.  I tweaked my knee a little bit, but it only hurt for a couple of seconds, so I assumed it was ok, and we kept on.

We made it through the halfway mark and were still on pace for a sub-4 hour finish, although just barely.  To that point, every single split of the race was a PR for me (5K, 10K, and 13.1) – the half split was a PR by 11 minutes!  Unfortunately, I started to fall apart not long after that.  I hadn’t followed my race fueling strategy to that point – I’d planned on fueling every 4-5 miles, but didn’t use my first gel until mile 7ish, and my 2nd one at mile 12ish (or possibly later), and I just wasn’t able to overcome the energy deficit when I finally started fueling regularly.

(selfie somewhere in the first half of the course)

Around mile 14 or 15, the course shifted to highway running for about 10 miles.  Highway running, if you’ve never done it, kind of sucks.  I was having a hard time finding level ground to run on, and was really struggling by this point.  I definitely was doing more walking than I’d wanted to do, and we were falling way behind our 4-hour goal pace.

After what seemed like an eternity, we began to go back into downtown Seattle.

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By this point, I was counting down the remaining distance in half-mile increments, mentally fighting with myself to run it in.  The race ended on a fairly steep uphill, and Junior took off sprinting up the hill.  I dragged myself up the hill behind him, saw the 26 mile marker and the finish chute, and dug deep.  Somehow, I found the energy to run fairly hard into the finish – not my typical finish line sprint, but definitely a much harder run than I’d been able to manage over the final 10K of the race.  Junior finished about a minute ahead of me, and managed to get some pictures of me crossing the finish line.

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All in all, I’m pretty happy with my performance overall.  My official time was 4:31:26, so I was pretty close to what I’d hoped for from the beginning.

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My overall positions were pretty good – top 35-50%, depending on category.  As I mentioned before, my splits through the halfway mark were all PRs (and I guess technically, so were the 2nd half splits, since I’d never run an official race over 13.1 before, LOL).  I wish I’d executed my race strategy a bit better, especially with fueling.  I definitely learned a lot about myself, and about longer distance running, so hopefully I’ll be able to do better next time.

(Junior & me after the race)

After the race, we found part of the group, grabbed a beer in the beer garden, and then watched the headliner concert: Sir Mix-A-Lot!


It was a great end to a great day!

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