Saturday, June 23, 2012

2012 Seattle Rock & Roll Half Marathon

The sun rose this morning over drippy skies and low 50's; but by race time the rain had quit, although still overcast.  It was really just about ideal running weather, at least for me.  Today was my fourth running of the Seattle Rock & Roll, once as a full and now three times as a half.  It was also my wife's second running.

I have been bothered by calf problems off and on all year, and the last month it had gotten worse.  Two weeks ago I actually quit running to try and get it rested up for today.  I was pretty apprehensive about the day and how long I would be able to run.  So much so that I had bought compression sleeves for my calves to wear under my compression tights.  Desperate for something to hold them together for one more run.

During the expo the night before we found a guy who was using KT tape to 'tape' people up so I waited in line for 20 minutes, explained the problem to him, and then got taped up.  Everything felt good through the evening and into race morning.  But still really no idea what would happen when I started to run.

Somehow I had ended up in corral 4, which is a bit faster than I expected to run; but at least it got me to the starting line within 5 minutes of the race start.  The run started good and everything felt fine; for about three and a half minutes.  At that point the left calf seized up and I was done.  To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, but since walking did not hurt nearly as bad as running, I opted to go ahead and see if I could walk the course.

In the end, I did manage to finish without, I hope, hurting myself to badly.  It is pretty stiff and sore right now, but will rest it for the next month or so, apart from a couple of backpacking excursions.  And since I had earlier run the Portland Rock & Roll race, I was now eligible for their Pacific Peaks medal.  

Since I was moving along at a 15 minute a mile pace, rather than the hoped for 8.5 minute per mile, I was able to do a lot more people watching.  It is truly amazing to see the variety of people who run half marathons.  Pretty much all body sizes and running styles.  While most of the runners are on the thin side, there were a number of linebacker body types out running, and even a few offensive linemen types.  I applaud all those who took the time and effort to get up off the couch and prepare for an event like this.  Whether you are one of those lithe little wisps that floated along the road, or more of a super-sized plodder, you did much better than 99+% of the rest of the population.

I watched some people float by, rapidly, who looked like they were putting very little effort into what they were doing; like running was as easy and natural as any other activity one might enjoy doing.  While there were others, some moving just as fast, who looked like this was a very painful process.  I suspect I generally look more like the later, while at the same time longing to look like the former.  To be able to cruise along effortlessly, mile after mile, after mile would be pretty cool.

Many of us wore basic black below the waist with a yellow, blue or black shirt.  But there were some out today who chose instead to be much more colorful.  There were a few pretty wild color schemes, lots of tutu's, some wigs (I hope), an Elvis impersonator, and a few other costumes.  The one that stuck out most to me was the guy I saw finish wearing a superhero cape, without a shirt (and he really, really, really needed one).  The gal, of substance, who ran by in a pair of too low tights with a phone in the little back pocket of her shirt was also a sight.  Every step the phone would bounce up and she gave a little plumber's helper audition.  

The course this year was a complete redesign from previous years and, in my opinion, was much improved.  It was a loop this year rather than having the start and end in two different cities.  The course was generally flat with only one hill of any note, and it was short.  The course this year also kept the marathoners separated from those of us doing the half after the course split the first time.  This was a real plus to the marathoners, because each time they joined back up with us they were going progressively faster than the half marathoners, who had been running just as long, but had not covered nearly as much ground.  Having the split course meant they did not have to try and weave through the slower runners and walkers.

For me, the bands were just noise along the way, but I did enjoy the cheerleaders, the folks with the flags, the signs (It's not sweat, it's your fat cells crying), and the crows chasing the eagle overhead.  The crowds were encouraging, as always, and the volunteers manning the water stations were great.  The finishers chute was good, with lots of drink and food and more volunteers.  The finishers village was a bit confusing at the end, but I did manage to find and hobble to the tent with the Pacific Peaks medal, given to finishers of both the Portland and Seattle events this year; providing a map in the finishers chute would have been helpful.

While the run itself was a disappointment for me, it was a well run event and I was glad to be able to be a part of it again this year.  And it was good to see my wife make her goal time of three hours for the half, a 25 minute improvement over last year.  She is already looking forward to next year; which is good to see.

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