2014 Emerald City 15K Race Recap.
This weekend I laced up my racing shoes! I am currently training for the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon coming up in a little less than a month (eeeeep), and I’m really trying to give this race and training a solid effort. I’m going to talk more about running and my training in general at the end of the week, but for today – how about a race recap?
I actually did this same 15k two years ago when I was training for the RNR Half back in 2012, but it had a different name back then. I was so excited to see that they brought it back this year – now as the Emerald City Run – with a fun Wizard of Oz twist!
Up until race day, I had done two seven mile runs – one in Seattle on Mother’s Day, and the other in the pouring rain last weekend in Atlanta. I knew running 9.3 miles would be a stretch, but I also thought that doing it as a race would be really motivating to help push me through the extra distance.
It’s funny how different running and racing is now as a mom with little ones (compared to younger years where I could obsessively worry about just myself!). I was up twice with Graham the night before, and pre-race activities included diaper changes, outfit changes, bag and stroller packing, and eventually slurping down a large coffee and half a PB&J for myself.
I was really excited about this race because it started and ended at Gasworks – one of my favorite Seattle parks. We got there early enough for me to grab my packet and shirt, and hang around for a few minutes with Casey and the boys. Then they headed off to breakfast and I headed off to the starting line.
I haven’t been running with my Garmin this time around (meaning post-Graham), but I’ve been using the Map My Run app on my phone instead. My phone is the only thing I carry with me, and I synch it up to a pair of bluetooth headphones. That way I can just listen to a Spotify playlist, and rather than looking down at a watch constantly, the MMR app just updates me at each mile with my current split. Less to carry on me while I run, and less distraction by pace and mileage.
At 8am on the nose, we were off! My general strategy for my long runs up until now was to just run as fast and hard as I could for as long as I could. But I was afraid to do this on race day since I knew the mileage was going to really challenge me at the end. I also knew – having done this race two years ago – that the last two miles were full of ugly, ugly hills. I tried to just run a comfortable pace, without going out too fast.
- 1 mi — 8:24 min/mi
- 2 mi — 8:34 min/mi
- 3 mi — 8:39 min/mi
Once I started running, I spent the first three miles focused on pretty much one thing – Where are the porta-potties!?! I hadn’t paid nearly enough attention to my own fuel or hydration before the race, and I was feeling it. Lessons learned! Finally at mile 4, I saw a water station up ahead with a porta-potty sent down from heaven. I got in and out quickly, and was thrilled to see I’d kept my pace under nine minute miles despite the stop.
- 4 mi — 8:53 min/mi
- 5 mi — 8:40 min/mi
- 6 mi — 8:50 min/mi
I rounded Lake Union feeling thankful for perfect running weather, legs that felt pretty comfortable, and the very loud Katy Perry I was blasting. I kept picturing Casey and the boys at the finish, and I really wanted to look strong for them. And then just as I had remembered, we headed into the U-District and the course became a roller coaster of hills.
The downhills were just as hard as the uphills because they were so steep. I willed myself to keep pushing, but found myself slowing to a walk at each steep hill. The people around me were running and honestly not really gaining on me all that much, so I told myself that it was okay to power-walk the hills and conserve what little energy I had left.
- 7 mi — 8:37 min/mi
- 8 mi — 9:22 min/mi
And speaking of energy, I have a lot of work to do in re-learning how to properly fuel and prepare for longer distances. It has been so long since I’ve done any serious running, and I foolishly forgot that it takes more than just lacing up running shoes to go out and successfully run. I was hungry going into the race, and had nothing but a few sips of watery Gatorade throughout. I could feel my energy depleting with every step!
My app told me that mile 8 was my first mile run above a nine minute mile pace, and I tried to dig really deep and keep going. I had held a good pace for so long, and I really didn’t want to blow it at the end. The last mile felt like an eternity.
- 9 mi — 9:17 min/mi
And just as I turned the corner to head back into the park (and finish line), I saw a familiar double stroller in the distance, and it was exactly the push I needed.
- 9.6 mi — 8:51 min/mi
A blurry mama stopping for a few quick kisses. Definitely worth a few extra seconds on my time!
This was the first race where I felt like Cullen really understood what I was doing, and what he was there for. His face lit up when he saw me, and he cheered and waved and smiled. I have thought about him cheering me on at races since he was a tiny baby, but it was so much better than I ever could have imagined. I can’t wait for Graham to understand it all too! I kissed them both and was on my way to the finish!
And 9.3 official miles later, I was done! My Map My Run app said that I ran 9.57 miles in 1:24:44, giving me an 8:51 pace. I was PUMPED. I had really hoped to be under nine minute miles, and I felt awesome.
They had a booth at the finish line where you could enter your bib number and get live results, so I headed over to see what my official time was there. It ended up being 1:25:16 – giving me a 9:09 pace. And while I should have felt proud and excited to have still run a great race, I was quite honestly disappointed. I know that’s silly, but I couldn’t help but feel bummed.
I had felt so strong while I ran, and I felt a bit cheated that perhaps my running app had mislead me to think I was running faster than I actually was. Definitely something to consider during these next few weeks of training! But I gave it all I had and was proud that I’d conquered a new distance, and gotten that much closer to being ready for the half marathon next month.
After the finish in 2012 (which I ran at a 9:20 pace!)…
And 2014 — what a difference two years makes!
I had a really hard time getting back into running the year after Cullen was born. I didn’t enjoy it and did it mostly out of a bizarre sense of obligation to both myself and my former love for the sport. This time around has felt totally different. At seven months postpartum, I feel more motivated and energized by running than I have in years.
Running reminds me that despite my heavy breastfeeding boobs, physical reminders of childbirth, a mind that longs to sleep through the night, and arms tired from the weight of a growing toddler – I am so much more than “just a mom.” Running is something that I love to share with my family, but ultimately running is for me.
Less than a month until the big race, and I’m hopeful for a few more good runs before then. I’m excited to be part of the local running and racing scene again, and am looking forward toward the next finish line.