Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Seattle Rock and Roll Race Report: Runaway Bride Edition

posted by Leila Z. on ,

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Last Saturday I ran the Seattle Rock and Roll half-marathon, my third attempt at the distance. My three brothers and Greg's brother-in-law Fred were all running, too, so it was quite the family affair. I was excited for the race, since I had trained fairly seriously using a modified version of the FIRST plan (I generally ran five days a week, not three, adding two easy runs to what they prescribe). For the first time I had incorporated both speedwork and tempo runs into my training, and was eager to see the race results.

True, some might say I followed an unconventional tapering strategy going into the race. Instead of relaxing and putting my feet up for the week before the race, I got married! Totally worth it. :) And I did wear comfortable shoes for the ceremony and reception. The week actually wasn't stressful so much as very busy, and the cumulative lack of sleep caught up with me when I woke up Friday morning with that pre-cold feeling in my throat. I dragged myself to the expo Friday afternoon to pick up my bib, ($20 for expo parking? My cheapskate grad student heart died a little.) and I took Friday night off from the bustle of friends and family and sacked out early, trying to head off the post-wedding/pre-race illness.

Queen for a day, happy as can be with a Viking at my side and my comfy blue shoes on.
 When I woke up Saturday morning, I honestly could not remember why I had set my alarm for 5AM, let alone that I was running a race in a few hours (thank you, Nyquil!). I didn't feel too bad, throat-wise, but was very sleepy and not firing on all cylinders. I quickly threw on my clothes, tossed some possible necessities (Body Glide, water, arm warmers, extra layer, hairbrush) into my bag, and gobbled down a scrambled egg and tortilla. We picked up the brothers three and their entourage from their place and headed downtown around 6AM.

Parking was crowded, but we eventually found spots in a lot just across the street from the finish (score!). I took a 20-minute power nap in the car to rid my head of the cobwebs, then headed to the start. A less-Nyquil-ed me would probably have been freaking out about the late time, but I was starting waaaay back (Corral 20) so I knew it was fine to be a few minutes late. The line for the Porta-potties was intimidating as always, but I found a no-line bathroom! OK, it was four flights up in Seattle Center House -- but I just considered it my warmup.   

A quick kiss from Greg and a promise to see me at mile 10, and I was off! I didn't feel so fantastic as I had on some of my training runs, but the legs basically did what they were supposed to, and the miles were ticking off pretty evenly. The last two half-marathons I have done I died late in the race, so I focused on running the early miles conservatively as an extended warmup and consciously slowed down a few times. Another difference: I tried smiling and running more bouncy when I saw a camera -- not sure I've ever taken a great race photo but here's to trying!

A photo almost good enough to shell out $24.95! Too bad I already spent it on RnR expo parking.
I was running well and easy; it was a gorgeous day and the mountain was putting on a show as we ran down Rainier. Greg checked in with me around mile 7, then ran ahead to mile 10, where the plan was for me to put on my veil and run in together. Bridesmaid and "best dudette" Jackie was supposed to run with me miles 7-10, but she missed me and ended up doing repeated sprints trying (unsuccessfully) to find tall ladies who looked like me.

Around mile 8 or 9, as we ascended to the I-90 express lanes tunnel, I could feel some tightness in my legs and things got a little less easy, but I focused on making it strong to mile 10 where Greg was waiting. When I got there, he was waiting shirtless (easier for running) with a little black bowtie on -- a bit like a Chippendale. :) I took about 30 seconds to walk and put my veil on, and then we started back up again. I was very tired but concentrated on continuing to run, and was fed by the extra veil-related cheers from onlookers and runners alike. Several people wanted to chat about the wedding, but I made Greg field those conversations since I didn't have a lot of extra energy at that point. 

From the 12 mile marker on, it felt like the race did an extra lap of Seattle (Greg did not confirm this, though he agreed that it felt a bit longer than 1.1 miles to the finish). I tried to embrace the fatigue, and I had a distinct mental image of running hero Lauren Fleshman beckoning me further and further into the pain cave. I tried to trust my training. I tried to remember that I can be OK even when breathing hard. I tried to remember all those track workouts and tempo runs that felt like I would never be able to run again. I even had (barely) enough juice to run hard those last 400m (one lap around the track, no prob, right?). When I crossed the finish line, one of the volunteers said, "Are you OK?" and as I nodded yes, I didn't even realize it was a fellow former UW Biostat student until she said so.

Deep in the pain cave, courtesy of Fleshman Flyer
After stumbling toward some water, Gatorade, and chocolate milk, I found Greg and we headed back to the car to wait for the brothers. They did fantastic! Murray (2:01:34) and David (1:49:30) both had PRs, and Paul and Fred finished in 2:01:11 and 1:42:37, respectively. A great end to a great week for all. 

I feel deeply satisfied with my effort and race, and my finishing time of 2:25:17 -- more than a 6 minute PR! More than the time, I was especially pleased with my mental toughness and not walking except to put on my veil, a big difference from the previous two half-marathons. I didn't end up meeting either A (sub 2:20) or B (sub 2:22:32, Greg's marathon PR) goals, but I'm not too disappointed -- I gave it my all on the day. And I'll be back.

The siblings Z, post-race.


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