I have completed the Seattle Marathon before. It happened perhaps 7 years ago, and after that initial time I said “no more”. The idea of running a super-challenging course, with a steep hill around mile 18 seemed counterproductive. I will leave the decision to take part in the marathon up to each individual runner – after all, the event has been drawing a steady interest from runners from the Pacific Norhwest and beyond. However, I have come back a number of times for the half marathon distance, offered along with the marathon, finding the shorter hilly course a lot more manageable and pleasant.
Barb and I decided to continue this streak of 13.1 mile fun this year, and run the Seattle Half Marathon as a sort of a fitness test race, an opportunity to see where each person is as far as their ability to maintain a good pace comfortably, with steady effort. Having backpacked all summer and fall, neither of us was in peak race shape, rather using the late fall and early winter to prepare for some races early next year.
The Seattle races take place over the last weekend of November, which usually means a gloomy, rainy and miserably overcast day. Not this time. The skies were clear and sunny, while the temperature was a teeth-chattering 25 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s about -4 degrees Celsius!) at the half’s starting time of 7:30 AM. We were literally freezing our butts off.
The first few minutes of running brought on much needed warmth – I have always found that being seemingly under dressed and cold before a race start means not overheating and having to throw away a nice shirt or jacket, worse yet, having to tie it around your waste like a soccer mom or a retired librarian. In fact, sporting a long-sleeve wool shirt and a pair or running shorts proved quite sufficient, even in those frigid conditions. The only possible reason to consider wearing anything for warmth would be the fact that all the clothes thrown away along this race course would be collected for charity. Time to sport that old sweatshirt that has been begging to be donated for years.
My race went just as it was planned – a steady effort throughout, being comfortable with a decent pace, taking the big hill (which comes around mile eight for the half marathoners) in stride. I even ended up running negative splits, since I took it easy in the initial stages, and had a little energy to spare in the last three miles, once the course took me from the western shore of Lake Washington back towards Seattle Center and the Space Needle, where the race started. Not my fastest half, but I was quite satisfied with the well executed strategy and the strong finish. Barb on the other hand recorded a personal best for the distance, harboring great hopes of improving upon that in the near future.
I am uncertain if I will run the full marathon distance in Seattle again. There are simply too many races with flatter courses, that offer a greater opportunity for a good result. However, I will always consider coming to Seattle in late November, if nothing else, to visit friends and to run a fun race.
@poindexterendurance on Instagram
Barb is @wildlifesangria