Surprise! I ran a half marathon on Saturday.
Early last week, I was hit with the overwhelming desire to do a half that weekend. It just sounded fun—and I knew there was trail half I’d considered earlier this year, so I went to the website to check it out. Alas—the race was sold out, and so I decided to shelve my race desire and hold off until See Jane Run in July. That was the last I thought of doing a half marathon that upcoming weekend.
Then Friday morning came around. A coworker sent out an email to my office’s runner distribution list (yes, it exists) asking if anyone wanted her bib for Saturday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll race. She is/was injured and didn’t want her entry to go to waste—essentially, the bib was up for grabs.
It took me all of five minutes to consider the offer, and after deciding that sacrificing a morning of sleeping in was definitely worth running a free race, I emailed her back and presto…I was running the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half! I had been planning on doing a long run that day anyway, so I figured I might as well get a medal in the process 🙂 Plus, I’d never done a Rock ‘n’ Roll race before, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about—especially if it wasn’t going to cost an arm and a leg to do so.
It was definitely a low-stress race eve and morning. I didn’t do much to prepare ahead of time other than stretching a bit more on Friday night. And, considering that I’d run three days in a row already at that point, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of fast legs. But, that’s the price you pay for an impromptu race, so I went into it without much of a strategy other than to have fun and enjoy the race atmosphere. I also decided to try racing for the first time without headphones, mostly to see how it felt, but also to soak in some of the “rock ‘n’ roll” atmosphere.
BF dropped me off with plenty of time to meander around, find some blogger peeps, and get set in my corral without any stress. Luckily, I didn’t need the porta-potties because they had perhaps the longest lines I have EVER seen at a race. Yikes…happy to have dodged that potentially very stressful situation.
I was in corral 6 so it didn’t take too long before we were shuffled to the start line and were sent off. Woo, race time! I wasn’t wearing a timing chip, just my Garmin, and it was kind of fun to feel like a phantom runner. The beginning was crowded, and per usual a lot of weaving happened. It was inevitable, but apparently my pace was more panicked than I thought because once I was able to get past the crowds I was looking at a low 7:00s pace. Holddd up there homegirl, this is supposed to be fun.
I dialed in and tried to find my rhythm. To tell you the truth, those first three miles were kind of tough. My breathing was distracting me, and although I run without music a lot of the time, it’s normally at a slower pace, and I think race-day conditions got the better of my heart rate—consequentially increasing my breathing. Also, I was already hot—definitely not my favorite racing conditions. And by not my favorite…I mean absolute least favorite.
But I tried to relax, got excited when I saw the Oiselle/Nuun/runner gals a little after mile 2, and finally found a comfortable pace.
Here’s also where I admit that while I definitely didn’t have a set time goal, I still wanted to use the race as an opportunity for pacing practice. So while shooting for another ~1:40 was tempting, I decided that aiming for just a sub-8:00 average would be both more feasible and more constructive.
Clearly, I was all over the place, and I really wanted to work on just getting comfortable and cruising.
We circled away from downtown at this point and headed on a long stretch of road. I started feeling much better—more relaxed and in control—and started enjoying the atmosphere and the scenery. I thought the whole band element was kind of fun, and even though I was kind of missing my music, it was nice to hear all the various sounds of the race. I got more than one “Go Ducks!” which I realized was due to the Eugene pride I was sporting 🙂
The course veered left during these miles and took us along the water on Lake Washington—easily my favorite part of the run. Lots of people cheering, lots of enthusiasm, just generally a happy running ethos.
I was definitely feeling the increasing temperatures, but it was encouraging to know that we’d shortly be headed back toward downtown. Not so encouraging, however, was knowing that all the hills on the course were still to come.
A STEEP ascent lead us up into the I-90 tunnel, which is never my favorite in Seattle races, but there was a band inside which made it a little more tolerable. We were nearing the 10 mile mark when I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was a guy who goes to my lifting class who said he “recognized the back of my head.” Kind of fun.
He passed me pretty quick, and it gave me a bit of a jolt to keep treking toward the finish. I loved exiting the tunnel and eventually flying down the I-90 ramp back toward downtown. I recognized the same place I picked up Nicole last year when she was running the full, and it felt really good to actually be running the race this year.
It was very noticeably still getting hotter, and running on the highway gave no relief from the sun. Still, I tried to start some mental math and garner some energy for a solid kick at the end.
Alas, no kick was had. Not sure if it was the heat, the hills (of which the end had way too many), or the fact that I was running on very un-tapered legs, but I was toasted. However, I was still excited for the finish line and did what I could to get there with a smile. The crowds at this point had also thickened and provided a lot of encouragement.
The finish line chute was definitely exciting, and despite feeling hot and tired, I was really happy crossing at the end. Two weekends in a row of finish lines, I feel lucky.
As for time, my Garmin showed a 1:43 and change for 13.2 miles. I’m not sure if the tunnel threw off my distance calculation or if the course was long, but it doesn’t really matter.
I was a little sad I wasn’t closer to 1:40 for a bit, but then I knocked myself off my high horse and decided to be satisfied with the run. A 7:50 average on tired legs and a dehydrated/not carb-loaded stomach isn’t anything to complain about for an impromptu race.
Ultimately, I had a great time at Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was a beautiful day with a ton of fun people and a fat ole medal to boot.
I feel really grateful for both the opportunity to have run this race (for free!) and also for the physical ability to do a half on a whim. It’s definitely not lost on me that I was injured a year ago and could only run about 3 miles at a time. A lot can change, and I only hope the healthy legs will continue!