First road marathon in 1.5 years and it felt awesome. I’m pumped to be back, I’m pumped to be racing well, and I’m still feeling the buzz 10 days later!
Why have I waited so long to race again? After my ambitious 2012 racing schedule that included 11 road marathons in 7 states and 5 different countries, along with a 50k and a 50 miler, and capped off with the Leadville 100 I was pretty satisfied and a bit injured (my right knee would get really sore after about 20 miles without fail!). I then focused on a few trail races this spring; they all went really well. And then it was off to the CDT for a 3000 mile hike this summer. By the end of all this, I felt refreshed, strong, and ready to use all the strength I’d built up from hiking all summer. I feel injury free and have even lost a few pounds. So it’s back to racing!
Why the Seattle Marathon? We’re now Seattle residents and I felt like doing the big local race was a good place to start. Plus, it fit my schedule perfectly and the start was about a mile from our new home.
The Race Plan: I’ve done consistent speed training since mid-October so I had a good gauge of what I should be able to do. I knew my comfort zone and had a good sense of the lines not to cross as far as pacing was concerned. I knew to be prepared for hills late in the race as well as the potential for crappy weather. With all this in mind, my plan was to find my rhythm and pace early and if at all possible, to find some people to run with/behind for as much of the race as possible.
This was all made easier by having my friend and old training partner from Vancouver, WA Eric Dolezal running alongside me. He and I went out together running low 6 minute miles through the first few miles. We ended up pacing well with a taller guy as we made our way onto the I-90 bridge. I was ready for wind here and it didn’t disappoint. We were pushed from behind with some serious force on the way out dropping our pace down into the 5:40’s without changing our effort. This part of the course is an out-and-back so I was able to see where we were in the race as we neared the turn. There were two main packs, the front with a few guys, followed by a bigger chase pack. I guessed we were somewhere around 25th overall.
And then the wind hit! It literally pushed all three of us off track as we wobbled and surged in a path that was anything but straight forward and efficient. We caught a struggling runner and our new tall friend decided he didn’t want to be the wind block anymore for us. He slowed down and tucked in behind the slowing guy in front with the Guatemala singlet. I let this go for about 15 seconds and decided to go for it and charged into the wind. The other two went with me and after a minute or so I began to slow a bit. Thankfully, Eric took the lead and the tall guy followed in behind. After another minute or so our new friend jumped to the lead. And we proceeded to finish the windy bridge section together alternating the lead to share the work into the wind.
Once we got off the bridge and headed south towards Seward Park along the shore the wind dissipated and we dropped it down to low 6’s again. We ran comfortably fast and stuck together. We hit the half in just under 1:20 (1:19.55) and I looked at Eric and our friend and asked if they were both ready to do another 1:20 and get under 2:40. They chuckled and Eric said, “we’ll try”.
We stuck together for a couple more miles as we began to pick off runners falling back from the main pack. Between mile 15 and 16 I slowly began pulling away from Eric and our pacing friend. I never surged but at looking at my splits, I noticed I did steadily drop my miles to right around 6 minute pace until we hit the hills around mile 20/21.
I felt strong, I was eating Gu (6 in total), and I was mentally sharp. However, I was all alone at this point. Not only had I dropped my friends, but there was no one in sight ahead. I mentally kept telling myself to stay light on my feet not letting my feet get too far out in front of me, and to stay positive. I made a conscious effort to smile, wave, and say thank you to anyone I passed along the course cheering me on. As we turned up Madison and hit the big hills I dropped a 6:26 and then a 6:52. However, I was catching people. I dropped it into a lower gear and without elevating my breathing too much and kept my legs churning at a quick, steady pace up the hills.
The course rolled from there on in and I was able to clip off a 6:02 followed by a 6:19, 6:17, 6:15, and a 7:36 final 1.2 to close it out. I was hurting at this point but still strong. I was also running down quite a few guys as they suffered from the early pace. The finish line came at a great time as I was able to keep it together all the way through the line with a 9th place showing and a 2:41.43 finishing time.
What do I think about the Seattle Marathon? Really well run. The course was nice, it was well organized, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for the Seattle experience in marathoning. Thankfully, the rains held off and we only had to battle wind and hills in this race. Rain would have made it way more interesting though. Plus, the finish chute funneled us indoors to the Seattle Center with food, a changing area, and warmth. I had a couple really nice volunteer women help me track down Julie and get some ice for my knees too. I left feeling really positive about the entire experience.
What’s next? I’ve embraced a slightly new training style which I’ll detail soon on Urbyville along with my training for those that are interested. I’m now focused on the Rocky Raccoon 100 on 2/1 in Texas. I think I’m ready for a fast 100 miler and am still feeling the runner’s high after this positive racing experience. Thank you Eric for racing with me; Julie, Anita, and Kat for cheering, and for the mystery man that Eric and I paced with for the first 15 miles. Good experience that has me eager for more.