It had been about 1½ years since I ran the Eugene Marathon, so I was looking forward to tackling the Seattle Marathon after running a handful of half marathons over the past year. Besides, running a marathon the Sunday after Thanksgiving is a great way to avoid overindulgence. On Friday, Justin and I headed downtown for packet pick-up and to drive a majority of the course. I was excited when I discovered I was race bib #2621 (26.2 miles – get it?).
On Saturday I went to bed with the sound of pouring rain and wind whipping through the trees. I mentally prepared myself for the worst, as the weather forecast for Sunday morning called for a 100% chance of rain. It was a great relief on Sunday morning to wake up to high clouds and dry pavement – YES!!! NO RAIN!!! Although the wind was still roaring with gusts up to 30mph, I was thrilled to not have to run in the rain.
Justin and I headed downtown giving ourselves enough time to park, use the restroom (maybe more than once), and make our way to the start. The atmosphere was lively as runners were lining up in the start corral, and crowds were gathering around to cheer. Justin waited with me until it was time to strip the jacket and squeeze into the crowd of runners. Game face on. Nerves twirling in the belly. Three, two, one…BOOM!
The first 2 miles were an adrenaline filled blur as we ran down 5th Avenue through the city and onto the I-90 expressway onramp. I quickly got into a groove at mile 3 as we ran on the expressway and entered a LONG tunnel (a first for me) that would spit us out on the bridge to Mercer Island. As I reached the end of the tunnel at mile 4.5, I saw Justin cheering amongst the crowd.
Miles 6, 7, and 8 on the bridge over to Mercer Island and back were probably three of my least favorite. For one, it was really windy and out in the open, thus I had to expend a lot of energy to fight forward. The concrete was also hard on my legs and uncomfortable to run on, given that I hadn’t done any training on concrete. Although I was running too quickly to see it, Justin captured a photo of a sign that I found to be quite creative. Go Seahawks!!!
Once I was off the bridge, I was a happy camper. Miles 9, 10, and 11 were along Lake Washington Blvd toward Seward Park. I saw Justin at Mile 10 and quickly stripped my arm warmers and gave them a good toss in his direction. Given the 50 degree temperature, I could do without any additional coverage.
I was greeted by Jill, Mary, Madison, and Kendall (my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and two nieces) at mile 11, as they were waving pompoms and ringing cowbells. There was NOT a more energetic group of people out there! After passing them, I completed a three-mile loop around Seward Park, met up with them again for one last hurrah, and continued on the road from which I had already traveled. I was happy to see Justin again at mile 16 before charging onward toward the finish…and I was super impressed by the race attire this guy wore – how is that possible?
Miles 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 were fairly flat, along the water, following Lake Washington Blvd toward the city. Once I hit the 15-mile mark, I started to notice subtle pains in my hips, IT band, and knees. The concrete course was taking its toll on me more than I had expected.
I knew before passing the 20-mile mark that I was going to have a few struggles along the last 6 miles. My hips and legs were aching more than they should have been for the distance. Psychologically I was feeling a bit defeated because I knew that the toughest part of the course was still ahead of me. When I approached the steep (killer) hill at mile 20.5 I saw Justin smiling and cheering. He ran alongside me as I slowly ascended “The Hill.” Oh, now I understand what everyone was talking about when they said the course was tough and hilly toward the end.
Mile 21 at Madison St. was when I realized that I would not be qualifying for Boston. The 3:35 pacer slowly passed me and disappeared over the hill into the crowd of runners. That was OK with me. By that time, I just wanted my body to get me through the climb from mile 21 to 24 without stopping or quitting. I never stopped once.
Once I reached mile 24 I could see the Space Needle and downtown in the distance. Hope spread through my body. I fought the strong headwinds, kept up a decent pace, and used what was left of my legs to get me through miles 25 and 26. As I turned the corner to enter the football stadium, I knew I had done the best I could do under the circumstances.
I loved that the finish area was in an outdoor football stadium. I told my husband that he should toss me as I entered the stadium, but I’m not sure I would have been coordinated enough to catch it by then. I crossed the line with a time of 3:40:13 and immediately wrapped up in a thermal blanket and made my way over to my husband. He was smiling and proud. I was overwhelmed and teary. It was a beautiful moment.
The Pros: Beautiful course with a lot of variety (freeways, bridges, tunnels, parks, neighborhoods, city), great crowds and cheer support all along the course, miles 10-20 are fairly flat and easy to run, temperature was perfect, finishing on a football field.
The Cons: The hills between mile 20.5 and 24 are mentally and physically tough, the course is 80% concrete (which is hard on the body), weather can be iffy (30mph winds = no bueno), post-race food options were limited and somewhat unappealing to me.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at the Seattle Marathon, however I do not think I would run it again. There are too many others I would like to pursue!
A special thanks to my husband for taking so many awesome pictures!!!