It’s race day. The Seattle Half Marathon is not an “A” race for me, but it’s a race! I was up at 4:30AM for the race. After showering and getting ready, I packed my race check-in bag with some warm clothes. I ate a banana, had just a bit of coffee and met Denverlee in the lobby at 5:20AM. The others were taking the monorail to the start; we decided to walk. It was only a 20 minute walk!
The LLS booth was near the fountain by the space needle. When we got there (at around 6AM), there already were dozens of other runners waiting at the booth all dressed in purple. With nervous and excited energy, everyone was talking in high, energetic tones. We ate and drank a bit before settling down for a few logistics announcements and pre-race pictures.
Since I was one of the few early starters, I decided to split and head to the starting line. I checked in my gear and waited in a long line to use the restroom. Using portapotties is never fun but an essential routine before any race.
I felt good today. I was more relaxed than a normal race morning. I had no particular race strategy today. I was going to stop every few miles and take pictures. I was going to talk to other participants, spectators and LLS coaches during my run. I wanted to run the race on instinct. I wanted to speed up when I felt like it and slow down or stop when I felt the urge to take a few pictures!
7:09AM – Miles 1, 2, 3
At exactly 7AM, the race started with a peculiar explosion under the space needle. There was a bit of smoke around it that got everyone’s attention for a few seconds. The elite runners were off!
Instead of starting in corral number 3 (my bib number was 3388), I started in corral number 7. Most people were slower than me and I had to weave through traffic. The first mile goes a bit downhill before going up a steep uphill. It was nice and cool this morning. I was going to enjoy my run today. There were hundreds of spectators lined up in the streets. After a couple of right and left turns and a steep downhill on mile 2, I was already running the ups and downs of the third mile. My pace was around 8-minutes but I didn’t care!
7:30AM – Miles 4, 5, 6
The course goes through a boring and straight patch starting with mile 4. It is slightly downhill and uninteresting. It’s a good thing that this patch comes early in the race. At mile 5.5, the race goes up a gentle hill and makes a u-turn to come right back. It’s cool to see faster runners coming back towards you. This is when I stopped a couple of times and took a few Snapathon pictures. You can see them on app.snapathon.com and unlock them to remove the watermark for three bucks!
7:51AM – Miles 7, 8, 9
At the 6-mile mark, Aly (my LLS coach) was waiting for me. This is where the marathon runners split towards the right while the half-marathoners (including me) went left. I had run 6 miles at an average pace of just faster than 8-minute miles and I felt great. I stopped with Aly as she gave me my nutrition. I took a few more snaps as I ate the gels. She was surprised that I stopped to take pictures, but I was not doing this race for time; I was here to have fun! I was just a bit faster than most of the runners around me, so stopping was okay. I would catch up and pass them in the next few miles.
At the half-way point, the course went through a gorgeous tree-lined, shaded, slightly downhill portion with Lake Washington to your left. The military had lined the street with pictures of fallen soldiers. It was an emotional display with dozens of supports waving USA flags.
The 7th and 8th mile are uphill with a steep incline at the beginning of mile 8 that takes a lot out of most runners. Right after this incline, the course goes through a tunnel where I got hot for the first time today. It only lasted a bit longer than a mile but it felt like forever! Right at the end of the tunnel, I picked up a GU at the aid station.
8:15AM – The final miles
As soon as the tunnel ended, the cool air and gentle breeze hit us in the face. All of a sudden, I was loving life again. I still felt good and knew I would finish strong. At mile 10, right after the tunnel, the course went through a steady, curved downhill. I picked up the pace and passed dozens of runners. A few twists and turns later, the course passed by the Seahawks stadium where I stopped and took a few more pictures. The 11th mile of the course is very pretty with the giant Ferris wheel standing on the Puget Sound. Once again, I stopped for a few pictures for the final time before running to the finish.
8:45PM – The finish line
As I approached the finish line, I felt good. There is a final uphill after mile 13 that is tough but you can see the finish line with hundreds of spectators cheering you on. I finished strong with an official time of 1:46:52. It is obviously not my strongest showing but that was expected. I didn’t linger on too long at the finish line. I simply picked up a couple of things to eat and drink, and headed to the LLS booth.
I was the first one to finish from the LLS team. A steady trickle of finishers started right after me. Most LLS runners finished right around the 2-hour mark for the half marathon and the 4:15 mark for the full. I waited at the LLS booth for a bit before heading back to the hotel with Mary Ann.
On our way, we started talking to random people who had just finished the race and ended up having lunch with them at the Icon Grill.
Overall, a good race for a good cause! Tomorrow, I head back home.
|With Anisa of LLS after the race|