While the joy of spending Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in four years was a good enough reason to fly across the country, the fact that the Seattle Marathon was that Sunday didn't hurt in the decision-making process! After running my first marathon, the Disney World Marathon, in January, and a few smaller races here and there, I was ready for another 26.2 miler. I trained and trained. I traveled to Rhode Island and Chicago and even Germany and kept training.
My lofty marathon goal is to run it in under 4:30:00. My "this race or at least the next race" goal is to finish in 4:45:00. Knowing that the last several miles of the Seattle race were uphill AND I was recovering from a chest cold...my goal was to be under 5:00:00, or at least beat my Disney time of 5:13:50.
The Saturday before, my parents, brother (David), and I drove to Seattle over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge:
We checked in at our hotel on 5th Ave, and walked a short couple of blocks to the race expo. I shouldn't compare anything to Disney...but the organization and layout was nowhere near as efficient. True to our family's tradition, though, we had hours to kill, so we just patiently waded through the lines and chaotic crowds. I got my race number, safety pins, timing chip, race shirt, and swag bag. We tried many sports drinks and bars. I finally bought a Tiger Tale.
Mah bag o' swag:
David, Mom, Dad, and I took the monorail from Westlake Center to the Seattle Center, where we saw the Seattle Shakespeare Company's performance of Hamlet. It was quite good. I was struck, as I always am, by how many cliches Shakespeare invented.
We met Bethany (a friend instrumental in my running obsession) for dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. She was running the half marathon, so we both needed some good ol' pasta. Soon after carbo-loading, we returned to the hotel and called it an early night.
Early on the morning of November 28th (my parents' 29th wedding anniversary, by the way), I quietly shut myself in the hotel bathroom and starting eating my peanut butter bagel and drinking water. I got dressed in my Disney marathon shirts (long-sleeved over short-sleeved), laced up my shoes, and velcro-ed on the annoying timing chip:
(It's a large enough to race to use the D-Tag system, for goodness' sake, instead of this bulky monstrosity which caused a cut on my ankle that is still healing!)
Once I fueled and clothed, I woke my parents up to say goodbye...
...and enjoyed a very brisk, 32 degree F, one-mile walk to the starting line at the Seattle Center. It was calming and focusing.
I arrived just in time to catch Bethany as she started her half marathon in a flash of pink!
After the 17,000ish half marathoners were off, the 2500ish full marathoners accumulated at the starting line.
I found the pace group for my goal time of 4:45:00, and decided to follow them for a while. While waiting, I chatted with an older guy who was running his 37th marathon of the year. He was from Florida, and complained about how "cold" Washington was that day. I informed him that it was EIGHTEEN DEGREES when I ran my race in Florida, so this was downright BALMY. He didn't have much to say to that.
Soon, we were off! From Seattle Center, we ran down 5th Avenue by the shops and hotels, including our hotel! My dear family screamed encouragement at mile 1:
We ran past Safeco and Qwest Fields and on down I-90. I pulled ahead of the pace group on the steep downhills, but made sure to run conservatively. Within a few miles, I warmed up enough to tie my long-sleeved shirt around my waist.
We ran about two miles across the I-90 bridge, over Lake Washington, to Mercer Island. Then, we immediately turned around and ran back across the bridge. Hmm. Out-and-backs can be really boring, but there were a few interesting characters who passed by me. Like Superman. But my favorite? Kiltman. If you know a tall, good-looking man who ran the Seattle Marathon in a kilt, do let me know.
At the turn-around, I turned on my music. There are different philosophies about running with music...I say, if I'm going to be running by myself for five hours, I can bring Muse, Basshunter, Scooter, April Smith, and the cast of Glee.
Once off the bridge, we took a left and ran along the lake to Seward Park.
Don't I look EXACTLY like a T-Rex?
I saw KILTMAN again as he left the park! GO KILTMAN!
Somewhere in the park, the pace group caught up with me and I followed it again. I passed the half-way mark at 2:24:35!
SADLY, during mile 16, I had to use the port-o-potty. Thankfully, this race had them a'plenty, and the one I used was miraculously still clean and well-stocked with hand sanitizer. (In this respect, Seattle beat Disney!) I timed myself: I lost just over two minutes.
I totally lost the pace group, of course, with my pit stop. Somewhere after this, I started run-walk intervals--five to ten minutes of running, thirty to sixty seconds of walking. By now, the group of racers in my vicinity had settled into the people who'd finish with me. We spent the last six or seven miles alternating passing and being passed by each other. Once my walking breaks synced with a woman who was racing her THIRD MARATHON in THREE DAYS. She has my deep respect.
Around mile 20, the injustice started. At mile 20, people are really tired and things start to hurt. Various parts of them. In the Seattle Marathon, the hills start. The uphills. The steep, awful uphills. After beginning to power up them, I decided to save my strength and walk. I hate hills. A couple hills were too long to walk the ENTIRE thing, so I ran-walked. Long long long. The worst hill had a water station just at the top: the volunteers congratulated us for surviving. THANK YOU. THANK. YOU.
At some point, we left pretty Seattle neighborhood for pretty Seattle woods and trails overlooking Lake Washington and, on the other side, the University District and Husky Stadium! GO DAWGS!
I gave up on 4:45:00 pretty much in the restroom, but for sure on the hills. I still believed I could finish in under 5:00:00, though.
FINALLY the hills seemed to be over and we had less than two miles left. Mile 25 was actually a lot of downhill, which was BEAUTIFUL. That close to the finish, I sped up. I FLEW down those hills.
Oh no! Another uphill! No matter, I JUST PASSED SUPERMAN! I AM BEATING SUPERMAN!
What?? One more uphill! How rude!
But then, I entered the finish chute, where my mother and sisters spied me!
I kept going!
I HEARD DADDY YELL MY NAME!
I CROSSED THE FINISH LINE!!
I was SO CLOSE to my goal of being under 5:00:00: my official chip time was ***5:01:48***.
(The 5:48:14 in the picture is counting half marathon time; the 5:03 is full marathon clock time.)
I was relieved to survive the hills and at least get a new, shiny personal record (PR): I beat my Disney time by 12:02. :D
A marine gave me my medal:
And, after finding water, bananas, chicken broth, and hot chocolate, I gave cold sweaty hugs to my family! I could barely talk to them, however. That chest cold? Turned into a sore throat and destroyed my voice. Something about running for five hours in the cold...
They are the cutest support team I've ever had! :D
On the way home, we got Arby's (cheddar and beef sandwich, curly fries, and chocolate milkshake) and Starbucks (caramel brulee latte). I had calories to replace!
So, my goal of finishing in under five hours eludes me for the present. But don't worry--I plan to run the Marine Corps Marathon in DC this October. And up next? The NYC Half Marathon in Manhattan on March 20. :D