This race report is later than usual because Kevin and I headed to Mt. Rainier National Park for a couple of days after the race. It was a great trip, a little active recovery hiking and lots of relaxing. We were completely unplugged, no wireless access and no cell phone service. It's crazy how strange that feels in today's world, but I know it was good for me.
The weather for Seattle RnR was good, the forecast saying a high of 60 degrees with a chance of rain. I decided to wear my Oiselle team singlet with capris and arm warmers since it was fairly cool, plus I felt safer from chafing in capris if it actually were to rain. Technically I wore something brand new for the marathon by wearing my Oiselle team singlet, but it felt GREAT when I tried it on and I have yet to find something from the company that I wouldn't run a marathon in. As I expected, it was crazy comfortable and I had no issues at all.
It was about 50 degrees at the start, cloudy but not raining, and I was quite happy with that outcome. Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk from the start area, so we headed out around 6:20 for the 7 am start. There were plenty of porta-potties near my start corral (number 25) and I didn't have to wait in line long. After that Kev and I stretched a little until it was time for him to go to his own start corral.
Before, feeling strong and ready in my Oiselle team singlet!
The gun went off and the race started at 7 am, but my way-in-the-back corral didn't move for a long time. I chatted with a guy next to me, it was his first marathon and he was excited but worried about his training not being good enough. I hope it went well for him, but sadly I didn't see him after we started. The corrals went off one by one, reaching mine at 7:39 am. Finally, we were off and running!
I started out at my target pace, which was 11 minutes per mile. I needed to be under an 11:30 average pace to meet my sub-5 hour goal, and I really thought that would be easy based on my recent runs. I've been running shorter runs in the low-mid 9s, the half just under 10s, and I felt good about the marathon between 11 and 11:30. For the first 8 miles, this was no problem.
Mile 1 - 11:00
Mile 2 - 10:58
Mile 3 - 11:15
Mile 4 - 10:58
Mile 5 - 11:00
Mile 6 - 11:05
Mile 7 - 10:54
Mile 8 - 10:54
I'd been feeling a very slight side cramp coming on from mile 1, and by this point it was making itself known in a bad way. I kept ignoring it and telling myself it'd go away, running with my arms over my head every now and then. At mile 5 we went up a steep but short hill that made everyone sad, but I powered through remembering how much harder Hurricane Point was during Big Sur.
Shortly after the hill we split from the half marathon and began making a nice loop around Seward Park. I passed Kevin during the out and back section and gave him a high five along the way. The scenery was fabulous and we were along the water, definitely my kind of run. I especially loved the Alaska Airlines water stop in this section of the race - they all wore inflatable airplane hats!
Unfortunately, I was slowing down and starting to struggle with the cramp situation as the miles ticked by.
Mile 9 - 11:15
Mile 10 - 11:18
Mile 11 - 11:13
Mile 12 - 11:27
Mile 13 - 11:25
We reunited with the half marathon just after the mile 12 marker, although now I was alongside the walkers from later corrals. I don't remember much of this next section except that I wasn't feeling awesome, and the next thing I knew were were going up a short super steep hill to the highway. The half went left and the marathon went right to continue over the longest bridge ever to Mercer Island.
Mile 14 - 11:37
Mile 15 - 11:39
Mile 16 - 12:37
Mile 17 - 14:05
Mile 18 - 12:39
Mile 19 - 13:33
Mile 20 - 13:08
Mile 21 - 14:19
There it is, mile 16 and my downward spiral. I'm not proud of it, but I gave into the cramp and started to walk/run. At the time I was sure I needed to do it because I felt awful. Did I really need it? In hindsight I feel I should have been mentally stronger than I was, but I really don't know. It's so unusual for me to even get side cramps that I was at a loss for handling it.
The bridge to Mercer Island was an out and back, and this was by far the most mentally challenging part of the course. It was exposed to sun and you could see the whole highway bridge extending out in front of you. There was only one water stop on the bridge and no bands or music. Even more, this section had lots of tunnels.
I passed Kevin during this section, and he looked really good at his mile 18. After my turnaround I passed Maureen and her running partner, and I was SO happy to see a familiar face in a time of mental struggle! Also during mile 20, I found ladies that I'd met at the blogger meet up the day before (including Heather) and chatted with them for a few minutes. Again, yay for familiar faces.
Finally, somewhere mid mile 20, I was feeling somewhat better and ran up the hill to mile 21. The cramp never went away entirely and by this point I was getting really frustrated with it, but some of my later splits were a bit better.
Mile 22 - 11:29
Mile 23 - 11:50
Mile 24 - 13:17
Mile 25 - 12:30
Around the time I hit mile 25, it started raining pretty hard and it was so cold. By this point I didn't really care, I knew that I had a mile to go and I needed to keep moving! My muscles felt strangely good, no leg tightness or intense fatigue like I have experienced in the past, but I was still stuck with that pesky side cramp.
Mile 26 - 11:38
Finish Time - 5:11:15
The end of the course brought a short, steep uphill finish but alas it was the end. I was done! They handed me a medal and a water and I was on my merry way. My awesome husband was there waiting for me even though he had finished over an hour earlier (4:13:08, also a PR for him!) He could have gone back to the hotel and stayed dry, but instead he met me in the pouring rain to walk back together. We skipped the beer tent in favor of our dry hotel room and showers, but really the festivities seemed to be closing up anyway as everyone scattered to find cover.
That's how Seattle RnR went for me, here a few race details for anyone considering the event.
The course. The course was harder than I anticipated, definitely hilly. Only a couple of the hills are steep, but there are quite a few long, slow grades throughout the race. The section in Seward Park was beautiful, by far my favorite section. The highway bridge out-and-back section to Mercer Island was brutal, both mentally and physically due to the grade and exposure. There were quite a few tunnels too, so if you aren't a fan you might not like this course.
The race staff made the splits for the half/full marathon super easy to see using both signs and ropes. I can't imagine anyone missing the split because it was so well marked each time. Even more, there were a lot of people cheering where the first split was and I felt so excited to go the marathon direction.
The support. Volunteer support along the course was great, and most water stations had a good rhythm down. They had long stretches of people to hand out both Gatorade and water and it wasn't congested at all, a nice plus. I carried my bottle with Nuun but took water sometimes in addition. There was a station with Gu, but there was no fruit along the course as I've seen in other marathons like Chicago and Big Sur.
Finish line food didn't seem plentiful, but I believe it's because they started packing up when it rained. I was handed water right after but had to ask for the Gatorade from a bucket they were covering. My husband said he had bananas, bagels, a fruit cup, and chocolate milk but I didn't see any of those items. I did however get a Jamba Juice smoothie which was wonderful! I'm so glad Jamba Juice didn't pack up early.
General Organization. The race was well-organized with respect to managing a large number of runners. The start corrals kept the course flowing, prevented crowds, and made it easy to line up. They had plenty of porta potties at the start and along the course, aid stations were often enough aside from the Mercer Island bridge, and the half/full splits were easy.
The only organizational issue I found is that they really focused on the half and not the full. There were less bands when we weren't with the half, and a few of the bands I did see on the full course were not playing when we ran by. The finish line food was being packed up when I went through, and I know there were lots of people behind me. The headliner bands were all finished playing by the time most people finished the marathon, again focused on the half. That said, I'm glad we chose this race to visit Seattle and to experience the RnR race.