Instead of many loops around a little lake, this is one big loop around part of a giant lake. This race has been done a few times before, but nearer the holidays. This is my first time here.
Some really great things. The race is free. I registered on line, but there was no cost. Clothing and money donations collected for those in need, so I did contribute a little cash. The start and finish are at The Balanced Athlete (indoor staging area) store at "The Landing" in Renton. Less than an hour drive and easy to find just off the highway. Big empty parking garage next to the store. 75 runners and I know many of them. Though I will run mostly alone, it will be comforting to have friends ahead and behind me. There will be five aid stations. That is amazing for a free event.
Some not so great things. It is a race and should count for Maniac stats, but it is very low key. We are told to keep track of our own times and results will not be published anywhere. No medals or shirts but I am fine with that. There are two clip boards going around and we add our names. When we are done we can check out, so they know that everyone is in. While the directions seem simple (keep the lake on your right) I know that there will be some tricky points. The course has been marked with flour arrows, many of which will be dough blobs after the rain. Not every turn is marked. But the RD gave some clear directions about some points and also said that we follow the little green signs with the bicycle icon, staying on a bike trail most of the way.
Still I am a little worried as I zoom in on the course map. I never carry my I-phone with me during races, but decide to do so today, despite the rain. It goes into a zip-lock bag and deep into my rain coat pocket, should it be needed. I also have a trash bag, hat and gloves that I will not wear. Carrying my water bottle. Forecast is for rain, could be heavy at times. It is raining at the start.
Start - We pose for a group photo and then are off. Taking my time, we make a turn and are on the sidewalk. Joe Schrum sighting. Wait for a walk signal, then onto a paved trail where the Cedar River flows into Lake Washington.
Mile 4-6 - Rain picked up and the trash bag went on. Sidewalk running with big downs and ups at every driveway. Rainier Ave is super loud as the cars go by on the wet roads. Make the turn onto Seward Park road and things quiet down. But a long uphill (with Fontanel street at the crest!) was not expected. This is all new territory for me. Photo op as I enter the aid station.
Mile 8-10 - Into Seward Park. Rain stops and the trash bag comes off. Been following Ted Eckert and gradually gaining on him. He is running for two miles, then walking and averaging a 10/mile pace. All of that works for me too. He knows the route and I would be smart to just follow behind him. On the sidewalks there was not room to run together, but here in the park there is room. I catch up to him right at mile ten, aid station, and he diverts to the restroom. I continue on my own, hoping that I find the way OK.
Mile 10-14 - Steady pace. Weather getting nicer. Easy route to follow and the course is the same as the Seattle Marathon, except we are on the sidewalk/trail instead of the road. Fun to see the I-90 bridge get close. I remember that I have my phone with me, so I snap a picture looking ahead and back too. Christy Hammond is not far behind.
I continue on. Plenty of water in my bottle, I decide to skip the next aid station....but they have cookies! So I take a chocolate chip and munch on it as I go on.
Mile 17-20 - On to Mercer Island. Overall pace has slowed with the steps, unsure turns and photo stops. I don't care. Up around the bend and there, standing still is the fast runner, very unsure of where to go. The paved trail splits off and there are no markings. I believe that we are to stay close and parallel to the highway except when we go above it on the "Mercer Cap". I tell her that I am 90% sure that this is the right we. She gets ahead of me pretty quickly. But farther onto the island, it gets more confusing. There are the green bike trail signs, (mostly) but no course markings. Lots of crisscross side paths and sidewalks. Coming back on one is the fast runner. She must be so frustrated! We navigate together now. I ask her name and when she says Amanda, I know who she is. I should have recognized her running form. I have no business running with her at this stage in a marathon, she is way out of my league. But that is the fun thing about these races, the unexpected company. We talk a bit and it is nice. Twice I ask locals if I am heading the right way, because it is not so clear. Finally we get off the island and reach another aid station. After a few more sketchy turns we are on a clear bike route and it should be straightforward from now on. I am keeping pace with Amanda who is probably going slow to stay with her navigator. But I will never hold this pace the whole way and it would be wise to dial it back for now. I send her on and we both will reach the finish and stay on course.
Mile 21-26 - Nice route right along I-405. Stop for a photo. Walk at times when I feel like it, but run slowly long stretches. No real wall, but tiring legs and little motivation. All alone and I am not even looking at my pace. Every once in a while I look back, but there is no one there.
Surprise on the course is to run right past the VMAC, home of the Seattle Seahawks. They have a playoff game tomorrow. I stop for a photo. Then I send a Snapchat to my family. Really not having my head in the race.
Clouds come in and it starts to rain a little. Finally I come up with a goal of beating 4:40. Uphill, then a nice downhill into Renton and I know I am close.
Mile 26.0 - Stopped at the first of two big intersections. Waiting forever for the walk light. Body thinks it is done running. Cross the street and have to wait again. Might lose that 4:40, but after I cross it is just a short way to the end.
Mile 26.4? - At the store. GPS reads 26.23, but the RD had said it would be 26.4. I go into the store and turn off my watch. Pigtails and Amanda are there to greet me. Body feels pretty good. I sign the clipboard and count the number that have come in, to determine my place. Need to get home, so I head out right away
Earliest in the year that I have run a marathon. Glad I did it and I would do this one again.
18th of 75
Race #375, marathon or ultra #134