Sunday, June 29, 2008

6/29/08 Seafair Marathon

With fresh legs and S!Caps electrolyte replacement that has worked amazingly in trial runs I have high expectations for Seafair. But then more and more people mention the hills. I don't mind the gradual inclines, but Bob Martin says that there are "steep little buggers" in there that you have to slow for. Then the weather forcast started looking bad. Saturday was hot and the forcast for today is mid 60s at the start and 85 by finish. All hopes of a PR go out the window and my main goal is to stay out of the medical tent. Mandatory packet pick up on Saturday took the better part of the day from me.

Start - Rise at 3:30 to make it to Bellevue by 5AM. Start is not till 7AM but we have to ride buses to the start line at Husky Stadium in Seattle. The organizers really played up how special it will be to run the 520 bridge over Lake Washington. Logistically though it makes for a tougher race. I board the second bus to leave, apparently about 400 runners who arrived after 6AM missed the race entirely as they were shut out of a shuttle ride. About 5,000 registered, most doing the half. The half and full will start at the same time, another not ideal situation with so many participants. I find a bench and sit. Meet a few Maniacs including #2. Head to the start line only to hear that we will be delayed 15 minutes so that more busses can get here. Meanwhile it is getting warmer. Finally we are off.

Mile 1 - Faster half marathoners are racing around me, one cuts right in front of me. Elbow to elbow with a mass of humanity. They should have had a more spread out start area with pacing signs. People are going all different speeds. I go with the flow and conserve energy, I am in no rush here.

Mile 2.5 - On the bridge. It does not live up to its hype. I am hot and looking for the aid station. Wow that is a bad sign. First station is overwhelmed but has some cups out.

Mile 4 - Hot. I think about Marci Martin back there. I could just walk and wait for her and jog in with her in five hours something, but I'll keep moving for now.

Mile 5 - Second water stop is in worse shape. I have to wait for someone to fill up my little dixie cup and I only take one. It was so hot I wanted to dump on my head, but I felt bad for those behind me. I am carrying my fuel belt with one water and one gatorade and I wonder if that is all I will have to get me through. Now there is an ambulance and a man on a stretcher is being wheeled right in front of us. We have to stop to let them pass. He appears to be OK and talking. That was a sober reminder that today is not a race day. Seriously just jog it in and have fun.

Mile 7 - Steep little bugger, except it is long too. Some shade is nice. I offer to switch bibs with any half marathoners around me, but no one takes my offer. I am just under a 9/mile pace overall.

Mile 11 - There is Steve Yee with a camera. I pull over, stop and hang my tongue out for a photo.

Mile 13.1 - I am off my planned pace, but not too much. Nice shaded stretch I start to feel better. I am passing folks. As I pass Manics I slow and have a little conversation.

Mile 15 - Steep bugger past the garbage dump. I am feeling a little nauseated, glad to get past the smell. I pop another S!Cap.

Mile 17 - Costco parking lot, how scenic. Now the steepest little bugger of all. Have to walk sideways to get up it.

Mile 18 - At least my head is clear. These hills would have had me fainting for sure without the electrolytes. On the downhills I am doing well and picking up the pace. Still passing folks and not getting passed much myself.

Mile 21 - Back down to lake level and the "fun" sets in. No more shade. Roads open to busy traffic with just a row of orange cones to keep us on the side. I am going to see orange traffic cones in my sleep tonight. Getting warmer.

Mile 23 - I've been taking some walking breaks. Not out of energy, just feel like I am in an oven. I have poured so much water on my head. The aid stations have gotten better, larger cups and plenty of water. I have been sprayed with hoses at least 5 times. My shoes and socks are all soggy and starting to rub. But now it gets worse. Long uphill. All of a sudden I feel like I am reaching into an oven. The heat is radiating off the road. In a few steps I recognize that this could get seriously bad for my health very quickly. My pace has been far better than I expected but now is not the time to go for speed. I start walking. As I look up the hill I see that everyone in front of me is walking too. There is no shade on the road, but a few small patches under nice little trees in a lawn. If I could get a super sized coke with lots of ice, I could just sit under that tree for a half hour or so, maybe take a little nap. Then I could jog in to the finish. But I keep moving.

Mile 24 - Top of the hill. There is a spectator and he has some bags at his feet. One bag is plastic and it looks like it has ice in it !! "Is that ice?" yes "Could I please have a cube?" sure "Thank you so much, I love you" The ice cube is actually two big round ones stuck together. It won't all fit in my mouth. I break it in half, suck on one and rub the other one on my neck and shoulders. So nice. Rub my wrists with ice, then put the cube on my head, under my white mesh hat. I have been soaking my hat all day, but it has mostly been warmish water dripping off it. Now some cool drops come out and drip on my knees with each step, I am running again. The ice in my mouth is getting so small, I want to cry. The cubes are gone in less than a half mile, but were my favorite companions on this race.

Mile 25 - More up, then down. Shade. Passed by the 4 hour pace team. Two pacers, no one else with them. I have not been looking at the watch, I did not think I had a shot at sub 4. I let them go however.
Mile 26.2 - Half marathon walkers merged with us for the last two tenths of a mile. I have to dodge large groups as I sprint to the finish. My name is announced, I cross the line. I get my medal and turn in my chip but there is not much volunteer attention at the end. Many races, there is a volunteer to look you in the eye and make sure you are OK. Here there are some cups of warm water and orange slices unattended. I walk off to find a cold drink. End up walking all the way to my car, then into the mall to find a Macdonald's where I could buy a supersize coke with lots of ice. This year I ran Yakima and Tacoma and thought "I will definately do this again next year". Today I am thinking "nice to check Seafair off my list, but no great desire to run it again"


Legs - A

Energy - A- (no wall)

Stomache - B+

Fuzzyheadedness - A

Heat acclimation - C


177th place of 533 marathon #21


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