Last Saturday was my big race!! I’ve been training all spring, and it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s already June and the race is over. I’ve done this race twice before (in 2012 and 2014), so I was excited to give it another go. The last two times I did this race, it was my comeback race after having both boys (and I was still breastfeeding when I ran the previous races). I was excited to do it again now much farther removed from the whole postpartum experience.
Another thing that made this race very different from the last, was that this year I’m part of the Brooks Run Happy Blog Ambassador Team! The entire weekend was a total Brooks experience, and it was incredible. I’m the only local runner in the group, so it was a treat to get to spend the weekend with talented runners from all over the country, some of whom I’ve known for many years!
The weekend kicked off on Friday at lunchtime, and Casey graciously worked a half day so that I could sneak away to the Brooks headquarters and meet the rest of the crew. We started with lunch on the rooftop patio overlooking Lake Union – one of my favorite spots in Seattle! We ate with Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks, and it was really neat to hear him talk about all things running, Seattle, and even – blogging!
Next up we got to meet with all the different product designers for different shoe lines, men’s and women’s apparel, and Moving Comfort sports bras. We saw all the new merchandise and colors coming in Fall 2015, and I seriously cannot WAIT to get my hands on some new pieces. Check out these amazing neon tights for fall – the brighter the better, right?
A few things that stood out to me during the product presentations that I thought were worth passing along:
Brooks is moving into a new system of categorizing their shoes utilizing four quadrants – cushion me, energize me, connect me, propel me. The hope is that these will help runners to choose the perfect footwear for their needs!
Athleisure – the style they are looking to create that blends fashion forward designs with comfortable, quality athletic gear. I feel like athleisure is the definition of my comfy mom wardrobe – I’m basically always trying to wear sweatpants without looking like I’m wearing sweatpants…
Brooks has revamped consistency across all sizing, and is now offering sizes 0 to 22 in apparel, as well as A to F cups and 30 to 44 bands in Moving Comfort sports bras. Love that there is something for everyone!
Of all the things we looked at over the course of the afternoon, my favorite was checking out all the new colors and styles in the Heritage Collection. The next collection of colors and designs was created around the theme “mother nature” and it is beautiful.
I have three pairs of Heritage Chariots myself, and have to talk myself out of buying another pair on a consistent basis (these are next on my list!. They are the perfect shoe for walking with kids or dogs, or for heading out to a yoga or barre class in – much cuter than a pair of traditional running shoes, but much more comfortable and functional than something like TOMS.
After we looked at merchandise for a while, it was time to stretch our legs on a tour of the building. I had actually toured it once before when I first joined the Brooks team, but it was neat to see some other spots that were new to me, and to check out some of the product labs.
It was really interesting to see just how MUCH testing goes into creating the perfect shoes. There were molds and pieces of shoes everywhere!
I jogged a bit with the group and then walked back to the Brooks HQ with Meghann (who is pregnant!). At this point the rest of the girls went to the expo (which I had already been to that morning), and I snuck home to squeeze in some time with the boys before bedtime. After they went to sleep, I headed back downtown to meet everyone for a pre-race dinner at Serious Pie.
The rest of the blog ambassadors flew in for the race and were staying at a hotel downtown. They offered me a hotel room for the weekend even though I live right here in Seattle, which was incredibly generous. I only opted to use it for one night – the night before the race – because I thought it might be easier for both me and Casey if I was already downtown in the morning. My running buddy, Lacey – who was running the 8k, crashed with me and we stayed up way too late talking and having sleepover fun.
Race day morning came very early and I was up and ready to meet the group at 6am on the dot. The Brooks team made us these amazing shirts with our names on the back – it was so easy to spot each other throughout the morning!
We had access to the VIP area before the race, which was pretty awesome. It was stocked with hot coffee, a full breakfast buffet, clean bathrooms, and plenty of space to get ready and stretch out. Just before the start, we all headed into our different corrals to get ready for the race. As the gun went off for the elite runners, fireworks shot out of the Space Needle!
I took zero pictures during the race, so the following pictures are all borrowed from my blogging buddies. I’ve been running slower this year than I have the past few years, so I wasn’t expecting a personal best. That said, my training has gone really well and has been very consistent, so I was feeling confident and hopeful that the race would go well.
I had no pace goal for the race, and I don’t run with a Garmin anymore (I need to get one of the new fancy ones!). I do use the Map My Run app on my phone so that I have a general idea of how I’m running. We got started and I felt great through downtown and into Rainier Valley.
- Mile 1: 8:50 pace
- Mile 2: 8:10 pace
- Mile 3: 9:02 pace
- Mile 4: 9:05 pace
Despite fueling how I always do, I could tell very early on in the race that my stomach was a hot mess. I knew there was no way I’d make it the whole race without stopping, but I tried to hold off as long as possible. I felt pretty good otherwise and was mentally high fiving myself for adding some good new stuff to my playlist the night before.
- Mile 5: 9:12 pace
- Mile 6: 9:04 pace
- Mile 7: 9:47 pace
Somewhere between miles 6 and 7 I finally stopped and took a much needed break. I felt a million times better afterward, and was really glad I’d decided to just lose a few minutes rather than be miserable for another hour.
Casey told me he was planning to be cheering at mile 8, so I spent most of my race fixated on just getting to that point. There was a really intense memorial mile lined with American flags and photos of soldiers who died in combat. It was right along the shore of Lake Washington in Seward Park, and it was absolutely beautiful. Also, this float – amazing!
I came out of that mile and looked around and realized there was no way Casey would be cheering nearby – it was a section of the course that headed into the highway tunnel and through areas with no spectators. Just then we headed up the biggest hill of the course, and I was actually relieved Casey wasn’t there, because I felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace.
- Mile 8: 9:13 pace
- Mile 9: 10:04 pace
My one goal for this race was to run the whole thing. For years and years, my races have all started strong and then ended in a crash and burn (with lots of walk breaks). It has been frustrating to not be able to shut down this voice in my head that always convinces me to walk. But like I said, my training has gone really well and there was little to no walking on any of my runs, so I knew this was finally a real possibility. Despite the massive hill in the 9th mile, I kept running.
I passed a lot of points on the course that I could vividly remember walking through last year – shaking my head in frustration that I just didn’t feel like I could run anymore. This year, I turned my music up and plowed straight through. I still hadn’t seen Casey, but we were running along I-90 and the 99 Viaduct, so I knew it would be a few more miles before spectators lined the course again.
I finally saw Casey and the boys at mile 11, and it was a huge energy boost. I ran to the sideline and gave all three of them kisses, yelled that I felt great, and kept on going. At that point I knew there was no way I was going to walk no matter what – I had already run 11 miles!
I think if I had seen Casey at mile 8 like I expected, I would have had an adrenaline crash going into the big hill, and I would have been a lot more likely to walk. It turned out perfectly that I saw him going into the homestretch! The last part of the course has some brutal inclines, and despite honestly feeling like I might vomit at the finish line, I focused on taking one step after another.
- Mile 12: 8:30 pace
- Mile 13: 9:21 pace
- 0.67 miles: 8:54 pace
My watch clocked me in at 2:05:01, which is a 9:09 pace over 13.67 miles. However, my official Rock N Roll time was 2:06:47, and a 9:41 pace over 13.1 miles. It’s frustrating that they are so far apart in pace and that the course measured a half mile long for me. But despite any of that, you couldn’t wipe the smile from my race as I ran across that finish line. It was the first race I finished in years where I felt strong and proud and like I’d really given my best effort – both in training and in racing.
I found Casey and the boys and was on such a runner’s high – I felt SO happy. The kids had done great, and poor Casey was a total trooper who hauled the kids all over downtown so they could cheer for me (and forgot to take the stroller – oops!). We were all able to go to the VIP area afterward together, which was amazing. I was so excited to introduce my family to the other Brooks girls, and hear how everyone else’s race had gone.
We all hung out for about an hour afterward – swapping stories, sharing pictures, and hearing about everyone’s race experience. One of the Brooks PR guys ran his first half marathon and ended up 5th male overall – finishing in 1:15 – is that not insane??
I feel so lucky that I got to share this race experience with the other girls – a few who I just met, and others I have known for years and years. Meghann and I have been friends since 2009, and this was the third time I’ve been lucky enough to see her out in Seattle. Next time I see her she’ll be a mama!
I’ve been running for a long time and have done this race twice before on my own. Something about being part of this Brooks community has been so inspiring and motivating to me throughout my training, and I think it had a big impact on me truly embodying the Run Happy message.
I’m one of the slowest runners in the group, and it doesn’t matter to me at all. Being surrounded by such talented and like-minded women was really powerful, and it reminded me all of the reasons I love both running and blogging.
I have another half marathon in just a few short weeks, so I’m hoping I can hang on for dear life and continue to get my runs in each week, and hopefully have another successful race.
I feel better about running than I have in a long time, and I’m really proud of myself for getting up to run at 6am almost every Saturday morning for the last three months. I’ve run pushing a double stroller, I’ve run after bedtime, and I’ve run in the pouring rain. I’m hopeful that more mileage and more training will eventually make me even faster, but for now I’m content to just Run Happy.