When we first starting planning our trip to Seattle back in the spring, I naturally looked up to see if there were any races during that weekend. Aside from some Thanksgiving Day races, I found four half marathons over the long weekend, and finally set my sights on the Seattle Half Marathon. I didn’t register at the time, but still planned on running it. When we got around to booking our flights, my fitness level was at it lowest. But over the last couple of months, I worked my way up in mileage and completed a half marathon. So I registered.
Going in, I didn’t really have any goals other than to finish. I was on vacation, this was going to be a fun run, and the perfect opportunity to cross Washington off my list of states. But since I had to have some plan in mind, I decided to stick with a 9:30 pace and see what would happen. But I also reminded myself that if I didn’t run well, it’d be ok.
I woke up Sunday morning around 5am, got ready, was extremely nervous and got down to the start line just in time for the race to start. I planned on getting there a little earlier, but those nerves got me. I was hoping it’d be a clear morning like the rest of the week so I could see the Space Needle next to us, unfortunately it was pretty foggy so you couldn’t see anything.
Ready to race!
The half marathon started at 7:30 and the full marathon at 8:15. This was a wonderful idea since the starting area was less crowded as well as hopefully the race. I lined up between the 2:05-2:10 group. Honestly, I didn’t really check the elevation chart beforehand, it never occurred to me until we got there, and I heard from others, that it was a hilly course. I decided to stick between the two and let things happen. The National Anthem played, I still get goosebumps and almost tears before every race, and then we were off!
I spent most of the first mile just looking around. We started downtown and worked our way through the streets. I wasn’t familiar with the area, so I had the chance to see the city in a new way. I felt pretty well and my pace was good. I was a little concerned I was overdressed-two long sleeve base layers, but knew I’d figure it out later when I needed to.
We ran down 5th and had the monorail right above us. I didn’t see it moving, but thought that would be a neat sight for passengers to view. Right after the first mile marker we had our first hill, and it kept going for over a quarter of a mile. It wasn’t as bad as I expected, and kept trucking along.
We continued down 5th until we made our way to the Express Way. We started to have some incline and some great views of the city as it twisted around. I still couldn’t see as much as I hoped since it was foggy, but it made it somewhat more enjoyable. It was somewhere along here that I had a tap on my shoulder from a fellow Oiselle bird. We chatted for a bit, and she told me to save my energy now and that I’d need it from about mile 8 and on.
We parted ways, and continued along, still feeling pretty good and enjoying the chance to run. It was around the 4th mile marker that we made our way into the tunnel. I can’t remember really ever running in a tunnel, so I thought this was pretty neat, and it was, at least for a little while. I started to get warm and thought maybe I should take a layer off, but decided to wait until I got back out in the fresh air. I was also getting to the point where I was over the tunnel, and I just needed to get out. Finally we were out and back into the cold, crisp air. Perfect!
Mile 3- 9:58
Mile 4- 9:26
From here we turned left onto Lake Washington Blvd. But I was pretty jealous of the marathon runners, they’d get to go onto the floating bridge and down to Seward Park. I thought about taking pictures, but I was in a pretty good groove and didn’t want to mess things up. Google Maps does a good job capturing it, but just imagine that it was foggy and gray, and the water was barely visible.
This, but foggy. Photo: Google
We had a few rollers along the way, but nothing too crazy. I actually prefered the slight up and down so my legs wouldn’t get too bored with a completely flat route. I was still really enjoying myself, singing in my head to a really good iPod playlist and taking in the sights. I loved seeing the different style of houses on the waterfront and trying to sneak views of the lake.
I took my Honey Stinger chew a little after mile 6, still feeling good, still amazing at how beautiful the area was. But I was also aware that the hill would be coming up soon, so I started to brace myself for it. It was also around this point that Lake Washington Blvd. turned into McGilvera Blvd, which we followed until we turned onto E. Galer.
And this is where it hurt. We hit a hill, and it was not fun. It kept going and going, and I kept wondering, is this the big hill everyone talked about? It has to be. But I had no idea what was in store for my poor, little legs.
Just part of the up! Photo: Google
We turned onto E. Madison, and the hill continued to go up, and up. But I kept my head up, turned my legs over and made it to the top somehow. For a moment I wasn’t sure how I’d keep going, but I did. And I was greeted by the Oiselle Cowbell Corner, a nice reward for the treacherous hills.
Survived the hill! Photo: Sarah H.
Madison wasn’t too memorable, just a bunch of houses and a main street. I suppose I was a bit tired from the hill, but even so my legs were feeling good and I didn’t want to stop. We continued along to Interlaken Blvd. and I was surprised with how green and lush everything looked.
We passed by the Japanese Garden and Washington Park, I couldn’t help by smile was we were surrounded by trees, the vibrant green just standing out from the slight fog that still lingered. It was about this point that I truly felt like this was exactly what I was hoping for. It was cool, crisp, foggy and the fog was in and out of the course. When I imagine Seattle, this is what I thought of.
I could run this every day. Photo: Google
At this point I knew I had a 5k left, and I knew it wouldn’t be as hard as the final stretch in some previous races. We made our way onto Boylston and headed back towards the city. My legs still felt strong, but I was reaching the point where I could probably stop for a quick port-a-potty moment. I thought about holding on until the finish, but every time we went downhill, I knew I should stop sooner than later.
I finally made the decision to stop, but it was occupied. Luckily a volunteer told me about one down the street, so I continued along to the next one. It was occupied as well, so I about two minutes waiting in two lines.
After, I felt much better, and we made our way back onto the Express Way towards the finish. I wanted to pick up the pace a bit, but not too much where I would be too worn out. However, I couldn’t help but get excited as we got turned onto the city streets, knowing the finish was close.
Mile 12-12:38 (bathroom stop)
The final mile seemed to take forever. We were winding through downtown, but since I wasn’t familiar with the area, I still wasn’t sure where we were. I kept checking my watch, thinking I should see the stadium, but it was nowhere to be seen.
It wasn’t until we actually passed the mile marker that I realized how far off my Garmin was. When we passed the marker, my watch was already at 13.19, no wonder that last mile took forever. But I knew I couldn’t give up, I had just .1 to go!
Coming into the finish
I rounded into the stadium and was taken aback at everything. I looked around the crowd and searched for my sister and Darren. I didn’t seen anyone, so I kept going and crossed the finish of my 24th half.
Last. .1-.2? 9:20 pace
Seattle Support Team!
Overall I really enjoyed this race, and honestly it was probably one of my top 10 favorites. I barely looked at my watch or checked my pace, instead I just enjoyed what I was doing. It was such a fun course that had a variety of views and areas around town, but was also a bit challenging with some of the hills. It was a bit chillier than I had hoped, but it turned out it was perfect weather and I felt like I had the complete Seattle experience.
Definitely not flat
The only thing I had an issue with was my Garmin and course length. My guess is that the tunnel may have skewed things a bit and that I may not have hit the tangents properly. But not big deal.
I highly recommend this race if you’re looking for a destination race. Everything was put on well, from the expo to the race to the finish/recovery area. I never had any issues, and don’t remember hearing any complaints. I will certainly be back out there to run it, as long as I have family in Seattle!
Official Time: 2:10:36
Age Group 25-29: 201/444