I was looking forward to running my first road marathon in about two and a half years. Considering all my training had been focused on ultra distances and climbing mountain trails, I knew this wouldn’t be a fast marathon, so I just decided to cruise the course at a relaxed pace, take in the views, and remember what 26.2 felt like. Then Seattle got cold and I got a bad idea from one of my trail running buddies…
The Build-up to the Bad Idea
There are few things I enjoy as much as running in the snow. I was going to take Saturday off from running and rest for the Seattle Marathon… but then the temperatures dropped and a little snow fell in Seattle, so I had to go for a little trot around the neighborhood trails to enjoy it.
Wow – it was cold. I said I’d prefer cold over rain during the marathon, but this was pretty extreme. I was not looking forward to freezing as I walked / bused to the starting line on Sunday. Enter, the bad idea, courtesy of John:
@KevSmythe I’m planning on sandwiching a 4 hour marathon between a door to door jog tomorrow…how bout you?
— John Maytum (@jmaytum13) November 30, 2014
You don’t have to twist my arm…
At just over two and a half miles from my place to the start/finish, that would make it a nice even 50K. I’ve never run a road ultra, but I guess it was time to see what that was all about! If I wasn’t racing for time, I might as well make it interesting.
After a brief warm-up run (and some weird looks as I ran down the streets to the course with my race number on), I met up with John and his sister, Julie, (whom he was pacing as she ran her first marathon) at the start. Fortunately, the timing worked out well and there wasn’t enough time to really cool off, although plenty of folks looked like an interesting combination of cold, excited, and nervous. It was really fun to think back to my first race at this same starting line four years ago, having no idea if I was capable of finishing a marathon.
And we were off! Another thing I had forgotten about trail races was how CROWDED the starts are! Shuffle forward for about 45 seconds until you cross the start, then try not to trip over people for the next few minutes. Still fun, though! I love the route up 5th Avenue, through the heart of downtown Seattle.
Despite my gloves (and shoes), my fingers and toes were numb until we got onto I-90 (and into the sun) a couple of miles later. At that point, it was a perfect day for the race: Sunny and clear. I didn’t feel cold at all for the rest of the race. Crossing I-90 was great; the wind was minimal and the runners coming from the opposite direct made for great watching. I got to cross paths with my new running friend Amanda on the bridge (the only runner I ended up recognizing the entire race). I don’t think she recognized me at first – but it was probably the first time she saw me not wearing a Blerch costume.
Once we got to Lake Washington Blvd, I remembered why this is such an amazing race. The views (especially on this crystal clear day) were amazing. Everyone mountain ringing the horizon was visible. While I felt very comfortable, the same couldn’t be said for the spectators along the roads, although they tried to stay enthusiastic, to their credit. It was great seeing Matt, Arya, and the Seven Hills Running Shop crew cheering folks on out there.
I was keeping my heart-rate very low and, at the half way point, I decided to make a game of things and pick up the pace a little without beating myself up too much. It’s amazing what a few years of running on Tiger Mountain can do – running on Galer was totally NBD. Pretty sure I crawled up it a few years ago…
Maybe it’s just me, but I never feel fresh at the end of race, no matter how “easy” I take it. I crossed the finish line, grabbed the medal and energy bar they handed me, and went for the door out to the sidewalk, to make my way home. I tried to take a bite of the energy bar, but nearly broke my teeth (I guess they left them out in the 30 degree weather all morning). Oh well… two and a half miles to get home and get some real food.
The Seattle Marathon is an amazing race. Every Seattle runner should run it. The Seattle 50K? Well, I’m glad I did it… but I think my road ultra days are over. I’ll stick to the mountains for the long stuff from now on.
I don’t really stick to one brand…
- Shoes: Brooks PureCadence 3
- Shirt: Pearl Izumi Fly SS – Team 7 Hills
- Shorts: Nike 7″ Phenom
- Hat: Headsweats Thermal Reversible Beanie – Team 7 Hills