I spent the first few months of summer training for, talking about, and eventually running the Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon. It was my big postpartum goal, and something I’d worked hard for through the spring and early summer. It was a good race, and I finished feeling strong, proud, and yet determined to still get faster.
I knew I had another race on the horizon, so I told myself I’d buckle down and really dig into training for just a few more weeks. And then Casey traveled almost non-stop for a month, we traveled ourselves for a week, and I ran exactly TWO times.
In early July, we spent a week in Ohio visiting with family and friends. Casey still does business there, but this was the last extended business trip he’d be dong for a while, and since he’d been traveling so much in the weeks prior – the kids and I tagged along. I tried to run my old favorite three-mile loop while we were there and felt like I was going to pass out and die. The Northwest sure has changed my ability to handle heat and humidity!
We flew back on a Saturday morning, and a few hours after landing I found myself at the See Jane Run Half Marathon expo, nervously picking up a packet. I’d signed up for the race months prior along with my friend Lacey, and when I registered I didn’t know we’d end up traveling. I felt dehydrated from air travel, sluggish from a week of indulgent eating, and extremely tired from a week of sleeping with a baby right next to our bed. I absolutely did not feel like running. I told myself to drink a ton of water, eat a big dinner, and to give it until morning before officially wimping out.
And then morning came, and I felt much more like myself again. And so I found myself at Gasworks Park with about a thousand other women (and a few men!), lining up to run a half marathon.
Lacey and I hung out at the start together and I started to feel very nervous as the clock ticked down toward 8am. I knew I hadn’t done much running in between races, but there was also a teeny part of me that thought maybe I could squeak out my sub-2:00 time because the course was much, much flatter this time around. Although the rising temperatures definitely weren’t working in my favor!
The gun went off and the runners got started! I felt pretty good at the beginning, settling into a pace that hovered between 8:40 and 8:50/minute miles. It felt good to be running a familiar stretch of trail that I have run a hundred times before.
In just the first few miles, I could tell the heat was going to be a problem. All you southern runners will laugh, but we are just not used to running in hot sun up here, and my body has certainly adjusted. It was about 75 and full sun – not terrible, but definitely not something I was well trained for.
The first few miles ticket by and I felt comfortable and excited to be running. We did an out and back on the canal trail, and then headed down and around the Lake Union loop for the middle miles. For some reason, despite many emails warning about the heat and saying there would be extra aid, I saw saw zero water stations from miles four to eight. On one hand, it kept me occupied – constantly looking ahead and hoping to see waving volunteers. On the other hand, I was HOT and thirsty!
As we rounded the lake toward mile eight I finally saw a much appreciated volunteer station. I grabbed several cups and downed them, and then grabbed several more and dumped them over my head. Years and years of running in the Midwest taught me this trick. A few of the volunteers looked at me like I was crazy – I don’t think North-westerners soak themselves as often! I was wet, but much cooler, and it felt great.
Just after that water stop, I walked for the first time. I keep telling myself that some day I will figure out how to give up the walking breaks, but I just haven’t been able to do it yet. I walked up a massive hill and then willed my legs to start running again at the top. They did, but I knew I was slowing down.
Just after the mile nine water stop – with another few cups of water over my head – a blog reader ran up along side me and said hello. I embarrassingly blurted out WILL YOU RUN WITH ME before she could even tell me her name – oops! Jess was also looking to run a sub-two half marathon, so I figured if I could keep up with her (she was looking super strong) I’d be in good shape. We chatted for just around a mile before I saw Casey up ahead. And instead of sticking with Jess, I wished her good luck and felt myself slowing down to a stop.
I should have given him a high five and kept going, but I felt all the energy drain out of my legs and I stopped completely. I was so hot and so tired, and the sun was such a drain at that point. He urged me to keep going, but I stood there for another minute or two before I finally plodded on. At that point I switched to a run walk and was going much slower.
Miles 10 through 13 had us running AWAY from the finish line (which we had just cruelly passed), and even though this was a very familiar stretch of trail to me, I found it sapping what little energy I had left. I got to the final turnaround at mile 11.5, and then scanned all the runners behind me looking for Lacey. I was shocked when I saw her just a few minutes later – she was killing it! And then I immediately regretted that we hadn’t run together, since we would end up finishing so close together after all.
I did one final dunk of water over my head around mile 12, and a minute later my bluetooth headphones cut out – what timing! I spotted Casey and the boys again but this time I forced my legs to keep moving. I tore off my headphones and Garmin, and tossed them to him along with my phone (which I was using for music). Just losing that little bit of added weight helped give me a small boost as I headed toward the finish.
I crossed the finish line in 2:03:14, and immediately poured ten more cups of water over my head. I was so happy to be done! And then I took my shirt off because I was so hot that I didn’t care anymore. I saw Lacey cross the finish line just a few minutes later, and I ran back to the finish chute to shower her with congrats. This was her first race ever and she ran so much faster than she expected – so, so proud of her!
Many thanks to Casey and the boys for cheering for me on yet another early weekend morning. I could never train and race without Casey’s support, and I am so grateful for all the times he freed me up for training runs and encouraged me to lace up and get out the door.
Hard to believe it took me so long to write this race recap! And in the weeks since I’ve done very little running. I think after back to back races, I just needed a bit of a break. I have one more half marathon lined up for late September, so I need to get back into my running shoes sooner than later.
I am really happy that running and racing has been so much fun this time around. I’ve challenged and pushed myself, and I’ve been really happy with the outcome. As far as this particular race goes, I didn’t beat my sub-2 goal, but when the race was finally over that was nowhere on my mind. I was happy I raced as well as I did coming off a week of travel, and in unusual Seattle heat (it reached 90 eventually that day!). And most importantly, I had a lot of fun running! Sure, it was miserable and I wanted to die the whole time, but I also enjoyed being out in the city and running in some of my favorite spots.
In looking at the breakdown of the results, I ran the first half of the race at an 8:41 pace, and finished with a second half at 10:08 pace – averaging a 9:25/minute mile pace overall. It is clear that going forward, I really need to focus on maintaining my speed over a longer distance, and to do my best not to walk in those late miles.
Looking forward to a double stroller run this coming weekend. Only six weeks until my next race – time to get serious!