Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seattle Half Marathon 2011

Race day dawned this morning (at least it would have dawned if not for the heavy cloud cover) warm, wet but no rain and with little wind, although the forecast was calling for heavy rain and wind during the race.  I was up early to eat some breakfast, slowly get dressed and gear up and then head to the start line.  By the 7:30 start time I was lined up with 6357 other crazy's, getting ready to run 13.1 miles, for no reason other than desire, or maybe insanity.

I was lined up to run with Phil in the middle of the pack when the gun went off; and we just stood there.  Eventually you could see the crowd ahead start to move and finally it was our turn to start the slow shuffle toward the start line.  About the time we crossed the line the crowd was finally starting to jog a bit and we slowly build up to cruising speed over the next half mile.  The predicted rain also started about the same time and would be with us for pretty much the whole race, along with an occasional heavy gust of wind.

The Seattle Half Marathon starts at the Seattle Center, runs south on 5th Ave, up onto I90, through the tunnel and then off the freeway and north along Lake Washington.  It eventually runs through a series of parks before coming back to the commercial section of Seattle and looping back to the Center.  The course is moderately hilly, with one substantial hill between miles 7 & 8, and is mostly fairly scenic, apart from the couple of miles spent on I90.  The course is also fairly crowded with runners.  I was never really in the clear, always surrounded by other runners and sometimes struggled to break through slow lines of traffic.

I felt good for the first third of the run and made fairly good time.  But by the midway point it became obvious that this was going to be a 'hang on to the end' kind of run.  Once I had crawled to the top of the big hill and recooperated a bit on the backside of the hill I started to get a second wind, or something, and was able to move along through the parks OK.  But by the time I was back into Seattle the legs were turning to rubber and there was no spring left; the 2 hour goal was looking to be in serious jeopardy.  But finally the final stretch came into sight followed soon by the finish line.  I managed to cross in 1 hour 59 minutes and 35 seconds, a personal best by over 3 minutes for this course.  I ended up finishing in 1847th place overall and 37th out of the 140 men in my division and that felt pretty good.  And even better was that no one over 71 years old beat me this year.  I still remember getting beat by an 80+ year old woman the first year.

By the time I finished my feet were sore and bloody; 13.1 miles in wet Five Fingers without socks is not a good combination.  The legs were sore and the tank was drained.  Ate at the recovery area, went back to the hotel and took a hot shower and ate some more.  Then headed for home, stopping along the way to eat some more.

All in all I had a blast and am already looking forward to next year.  Why don't cha plan on joining me next year?

By the way, Phil pulled away in the last 3 miles and finished 20 seconds ahead.  Way to go Phil.

Also, much thanks to my lovely bride and support crew for her help and encouragement.


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