Friday, December 23, 2016

Last Chance to Run on the Floating Bridge! - Amica Seattle Marathon RR

There were a bunch of justifications I made, some of them silly, to do this race.
  1. My last race in Victoria was a race in Canada for the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and hence now this brings us to Seattle for the American Thanksgiving.
  2. A bunch of friends from Adidas Runners Vancouver and our Cambie Run Club were going down, so it was a bit of a no brainer for Jen and I to tact on this race to end the 2016 season with them. Also a chance to visit my good friends in Seattle, Michael and Daniel.  
  3. Also, mostly it was my last chance (eh hem…my first and maybe only chance) to run on the I-90 scenic floating bridge, which was my excuse for choosing the marathon over the half distance. The half marathon version goes near but doesn't actually go over the floating bridge.
Morning Start @ 5th Ave + Harrison St

Bonus: Also I guess there’s some added symmetry to do an east coast US marathon in Boston earlier in the year and now a west coast US marathon in Seattle to end the year.   

YES, I’m a bit of race snob when it comes to these minor details in race destinations planning. I’m all about the patterns.
  • Double heartbreak hills for my races in Boston and Zurich for 2012.
  • Double canyons from Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Canyon on LaSalle Street in Chicago for 2013.
  • Double marathon races in Toronto for 2014.
The Race:
Some great opportunities to pose under the Space needle prior to race start. We were lucky to have perfect conditions - dry not too warm, not too cold. It was raining heavily the day before. It was a casual late start for the marathon peeps at 8:15am. The half was originally scheduled for 7:30am but got changed to 7:45am. I got to watch Jen prep for her half race just a little bit earlier and afterwards, I mimic her exact pre race stretch spots and warm-up drills to get ready.

The anthem got played and we were off. My strategy was to run a little faster on the flats and then coast up the killer hills near the end. This means positive splitting more than what I would normally do. It also didn't help that the timing mat was at 13 miles instead of 13.1 miles.

This was a fun race, a scenic but brutal course. The elevation grade changes are steeper than I had hoped.

The course starts near the Space Needle and heads east towards Lake Washington in a generally giant counter-clockwise loop, with a twist to get on and off the floating bridge. Most of the hills are at the start and near the end.

It's like a scene from King Kong, we ran away along the hilly streets of Seattle towards these highway on-ramps. Seeing the mono-rail cars above was really cool! 

6-7km We run across a large tunnel to escape the downtown traffic

8-12km Flat and floating bridge! We head towards and back from Mercer Island, and a second tunnel. Too cool and fun!

The course settles down and is mostly flat with minor turns, also completing a loop around Seward Park (about half way). To my surprise, I wasn't sure if I was off course as there wasn't a half way timing mat. Of course, I later realized the 'halfway' mat was actually earlier at 13 miles.
Madrona Park view along the route

Now to the business end of the race...

31-35km welcomes the deadly hills. A cheer zone was at the bottom. Lots of people started to pass me! I was running until that point before approaching the big hill on Madison Street. Instead of an acute angle turn, Darn you Galer Street was taken to short-cut onto the big hill, which is steeper than the actual big hill. My jaw dropped. My legs without much hesitation came to a grinding screech. My pace band was thrown out the window. It was just getting to the finish line at this point. Many mountain goats such as Alan from our run club at Cambie were flying up those hills, making me feel like I was moving backwards! Gravity was also no help! Thank you.

The final 7km which is the portion I like to race the race within the race. I had nothing. Unlike Boston where I was charging. I was slowing down. Please end the suffering!

Over positive 5 minutes split, I ran 3:03:47. Not pretty style points, but not bad. I'll take it! The evil pacer for 3:05 marathon did it by half relays, so he was just charging towards the line. Curse his fresh legs! :) There's a race photo of us just before reaching the stadium finish, one of us in clearly more pain than the other.

Here's the nerdy graph of my recent marathon compilations. As you can see the obvious last 7km in general aren't so pretty.

After the race, Jen helped me grab my bags as I couldn't walk.
No passing outs! :) 

She also won some prize money for one of the top ladies to spend at the EXPO, superstar, I know! But the lady at the expo cashier heard about her generosity and wouldn't let her 'just' buy gifts for her friends, instead she ended up getting 8 more free shirts along with the original gifts. I don't think Jen wanted shirts initially, but now ends up getting more than she bargained for. Sharing is caring. :D

Memorial Stadium @ Finish area

Thanks for reading. Until the new year! Happy New Year, sad old year. Merry Christmas too.