Race Summary: Rock N Rolling Hills Seattle Marathon - I didn't prepare for this

7:23 PM
My legs are jello and resisting every impulse to move on command.  The discomfort increases as we crest the top of the hill and fall within our small marathon finishing chute.  

The crowds are enthusiastic.  My heart is pounding.  There's no more I have to give.  Every inch is a fight now.  I want this under the 20 minute mark.

"Did I do it?" I wonder to myself as I cross the finish.  I'm unsure as the gun time is greater than 4:25:00.

I struggle to breathe as I bend over in exhaustion and glee.  That was epic and actually exciting I think to myself, unsure of how we got to this place.  This moment.  This great achievement.  

This was one of those "wait, what? Sooo...  there's a marathon there that weekend?  While...  Oh, I see.   Hmmmmm.   Let's throw that on the calendar!  Plus, I got to see Shawn and other BMR crew.


Packet pickup = standard expected fair.   With one exception...  I noted that expo wasn't as jam packed as prior RnR expos.  Do I sense a decline in vendor participation in these things?  Just a note.

If you're ever in Seattle, spend the time venturing around downtown.  It's a hilly, laid back, diverse city!  With traffic issues for days!  It's as if the entire single interstate is under construction.  Expect delays.  EVERYWHERE.

Being a port city, there's an industrial feel to the metro.  Large military population to boot due to nearby bases.  Add to the fact Microsoft and Amazon have their headquarters to the east of the metro and you have a tech city with a blue collar feel.  I like.

As a street graffiti fan, there is street art all over the place and I loved it.  I allowed the art to take me to parts of the city where tourist possibly shy from, but there are some real talent on the walls of buildings, trains, and walls in the industrial district.


With every city, there is a homeless problem.  Some cities just hide it from the public view.  Seattle, not so much.  Which is refreshing.  People are people and there seems to be comfort with all classes interacting and among each other downtown.

Race day started with a cool morning with the furnace (sun) gently veiled thin clouds under a tree lined street is where it all begins, with temperatures in the upper 40's / low 50's.


With a Start one block away from the iconic Seattle Space Needle in front of the Seattle Center, the Marathon and Half Marathon course share the entire first 12.75 miles in harmony.  Winding through city streets, nearby neighborhoods, ports of Elliot Bay, industrial complexes, Lake Union Park, and Interlaken Park (Factoid: Interlaken Park is next to Volunteer Park where Bruce Lee's grave site is located).  Sprinkled with hills.  Hills.  And some more hills for kicks and giggles.

The final 13 miles of the marathon takes runners on an out and back and out and back along the Pier on route 519 which provides skyline views of the city, the bay, and the Seattle Great Wheel, with the first turn around at CenturyLink and Safeco Field stadiums.


The second leg takes runners into Fremont to the Woodland Park Zoo for a .5 mile run within the zoo on hard pack and hard surface trails, sprinkled with more hills!

Trail Run within a Road Race?  Awesome!

Have you picked up on the common theme?  Hills.  The course is full of them.  1400' of elevation gain.  Check the Elevation chart from my fitness app below.

But the ever changing Settle weather is the star on this day.  As mentioned, the start was cool. The sun peaked out for a spell during the early morning.  As things started to heat up, the Seattle weather hit the remix button and swiftly brought clouds in with a gentle breeze before giving us slower runners a cold refreshing drizzle / light rain to keep us cool.  In short, the weather was perfect running weather!

Numerous aid stops were not sufficiently staffed.  The volunteers worked with what that had and pre-filled cups with water and electrolytes to minimize the impact on runners.  I found it just as easy to slip in and grab my own cup as it is to grab one from the hand of a much loved volunteer.

The local news didn't help as they were telling people to avoid downtown due to the numerous street closings because of the number of events going on downtown.

I came into this run not expecting much.  It wasn't planned.  I haven't been training.  Took the past 8 weeks off (not running as much; but still everyday).  May was my lowest running mileage month in 18 months! 

Thus I started off with the 5 hour plus pace group.  First hill and enthusiastic running quarters dumped me with the 4:55 hour pace group.  Thought to myself I'll stick with this crew if I can and we'll just let it flow.

By hill two and turn 5 through a neighborhood, found myself between the 4:55 pace group and the 4: 40 pace group.  The thick crowds and the pacing was up I figured to make up time for the hills.

Body felt good.  Heart rate wasn't up.  Legs wanted to be let loose.  So I went with it.  Figured I would burn out and blow up at some point, but we were here for 5 hours or more anyway right.  So let's enjoy it and see how far we can push it.

So I charged the hills and let gravity take me down.  I laid back in the flats and stayed hydrated.

Before I knew it, we were charging down the back side of the "King of Hills" around mile 9.5 heading back to the city.  I was still holding a decent sub 10 min per mile pace!


Still feeling pretty good and now I had gained on the 4:25 pace group.  Figured I would hang on to this group for as long as possible, again thinking the wheels would fall off at some point.

Graced with a tail wind heading into the tunnels to the first out and back, I slowly put some minor distance between myself and this group.

Before the turn around I saw the 4:15 pace group pass on the other side.  I thought to myself, no way I'm this close to them.  Is it possible for me to gain?  I still feel pretty decent and we're coming up on mile 16.

Runners know, anything can happen in 10 miles.  Especially when you're pushing it in unfamiliar territory and your body hasn't been in this type of zone or environment.  But what da hell!

Mile 16: starting to feel tired but I wanted to see how far I could push the pace and for how long.  Still expecting the wheels to fall off.

Mile 18:  Slight climb.

Mile 20:  Yeah, I'm not feeling this anymore.  But my body is in overall good shape, so it becomes a mental game.  If I'm not injured, push through the pain!

Mile 21 - 24:  I'm back at the Daytona 100 in my mind.  Legs want to quit!  Especially with all this climbing.  But I'm so close to an epic "Personal Best!"  "If I can endure the suffering for under an hour I'll be close to a 4 hour and 15 minute finish" I thought to myself.

Next to last climb coming out of the zoo
As the back and forth between my body and my mind continued, I saw Arizona running mate Tina on the course and it game me a breath of fresh air to push.

At the crest of mile 24 you're downhill!  I knew the downhill went beyond mile 25 and I thought it continued downtown to the finish, so I pushed and pushed harder as the cold rain cooled my body.

No more fuels or water, we're just going to run this one out!

I'm ecstatic as I turn onto the downtown streets, knowing I'm coming in under 4:20 but wondering how close will I be to the 4:15 mark.

I prepare to turn off the after burners, when as we turn towards the needle I realize to my dismay.  There's a fucking hill right before the finish!?!? 😲😐😓

I fight back the surge of negative emotions and thoughts as I exclaim loudly "Are you serious!?"  Nearby officer begins to laugh.

My legs are jello and resisting every impulse to move on command.  The discomfort increases as we crest the top of the hill and fall within our small marathon finishing chute.

The crowds are enthusiastic.  My heart is pounding.  There's no more I have to give.  Every inch is a fight now.  I want this under the 20 minute mark.

"Did I do it?" I wonder to myself as I cross the finish.  I'm unsure as the gun time is greater than 4:25:00.

I struggle to breathe as I bend over in exhaustion and glee.  That was epic and actually exciting I think to myself, unsure of how we got to this place.  This moment.  This great achievement.  

Quick glance down at the Garmin drenched in sweat and rain.  My eyes strain to read the numbers due to my quickened heart rate and elevated pressure.

Watch Time:  4:19:17. (Official time 04:19:08)


...wow!

I have no words.  I shuffle my way and receive my medal.  I'm in a daze and yet, I'm walking.  I think back to my first marathon January of 2014.  My legs feel similar.  I definitely pushed and fought for this.

I'm still in disbelief as I return to the car.  But a flash in my mind reveals the planting of a new seed.  Where once my goal was a sub 4:30 marathon within the coming 24 months, the thought "A sub 4 is possible for you."

And it's passing flash thoughts like this which drives me to another place, another level, another training plan, another mindset of possibilities I've never thought possible before.

If anything Seattle has planted a seed of possibility which may not result in achieving the goal, but definitely has altered my path.


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