On Saturday morning, I got up early and pulled on my running gear – as I have been doing most Saturday mornings over the last few months. But instead of my normal training run, this time it was a RACE DAY! I haven’t done a race of any distance since last September, so I felt a bit rusty.
I was running the Brooks Trailhead 15k, which I’ve actually run twice before under different names – the Seattle’s Best 15k in 2012 and the Emerald City 15k in 2014. And while I’ve certainly run much farther many moons ago, these days running a nine mile race feels like a pretty big deal!
I’m going to write more about my training later in the week (as part of celebrating National Running Day!) – but overall I’d say my training this spring has been…average. Not terrible, but not good – pretty much the same it has been every year that I’ve trained for something since having kids. Officially, I’m training for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and the See Jane Run Half Marathon coming up in the next few months, so this 15k fit perfectly into my training plan.
One thing I have done really WELL this time around is fueling for runs. This was a major area of weakness before (due to laziness), but I’ve carefully planned fueling and hydrating this time, and it’s made a big difference (imagine that!). I’ve noticed that morning running is much better for me. I run best on an empty stomach, so I’ve been fueling with only Gu’s and Shotblocks, rather than things like bananas or PB&J’s. While I’m running slower this year than I have in the past, my runs have actually felt better and I’ve been able to last all of my mileage, rather than burning out toward the end.
So with that said, before the race I fueled with coffee, a Gu, and a really concentrated sports drink that Casey made me. I brought another Gu with me to eat just before the race, and I planned to take advantage of the two Gu stations that would be out in the course.
I had actually registered for this race a few months before I signed on for the Brooks Ambassador program, but they still hooked me up with VIP access for race day. This meant I got a VIP parking pass, which was HUGE! Parking at Gasworks Park can be really tough since it’s a good sized race, and I was thrilled to not have to leave extra early and circle for spots. I picked up two friends on the way who were also happy to take advantage of my parking spot!
It was freezing cold and windy and I immediately regretted being in shorts and a super thin tank top. I had an internal shiver that I couldn’t shake. But the forecast predicted 70 and sunny for Saturday, and I’ve been overdressed too many times to make that mistake again. Thankfully, the sun came out right as we made our way to the start.
This was my first race in my Brooks Pureflows, and I can’t say enough good things. Actually, now that I think about it, I have NOTHING to say about the shoes – when I’m running, I don’t even notice them. Not a single rub, or blister, or area of discomfort – I lace them up and don’t think about them again. That’s a perfect running shoe, right?
As for the race itself, my strategy was to run a comfortable pace and not push it. I really wanted to last the distance and not end up walking (as I have so often in the past). Like I said before, I’m running a little slower this year (thoughts on that later this week!), so I knew I wasn’t going to break and personal records, and that’s okay with me.
The course started down the canal – a trail I’ve run so, so many times before. I felt strong and comfortable and the miles went much faster than I expected. My fueling felt perfect, and I had plenty of energy and my stomach felt great.
- Mile 1: 9:15 pace
- Mile 2: 9:04 pace
- Mile 3: 8:48 pace
I plodded along the out and back section of the course looking for the faces of my friends who were also running, and spotted most of them. Little did I know that just up ahead were two tiny people that would make my heart leap out of my chest.
I knew Casey and the boys would be out on the course somewhere, but I had no idea where I hadn’t expected to see them so early. I yelled and hollered like a fool.
And when I started to peel off toward them, Cullen ran straight toward me. Having them out there was such a huge boost right at the beginning, and I’m pretty sure it kept me smiling through the rest of the race.
- Mile 4: 9:14 pace
- Mile 5: 8:44 pace
- Mile 6: 9:19 pace
Somewhere around mile 6 I started to feel the mental struggles creep in – the finish still felt far away, my headphones were acting up and the sound kept cutting out, and I just felt kind of blah. Luckily I got a Gu station shortly after, and I think it helped give me a second wind.
Having run this course many times before, I was well aware of the hills through miles 7 and 8 – brutal and STEEP. For some reason they put a water station directly at the bottom of the first hill, so when I stopped to grab a drink I found myself walking up most of it. I think they need to move this one to the top to motivate people to run toward the water!
The hills were painful but I kept running and held to my promise that I wouldn’t take walking breaks (other than to get drinks and Gu’s!). I knew I slowed down but didn’t really care. The last mile back toward the park felt reaaaaally long, but I also knew my fan club was waiting there.
- Mile 7: 9:07 pace
- Mile 8: 9:56 pace
- Mile 9: 9.34 pace
I saw Casey and the boys, along with friends who were cheering and friends who had already finished. I yelled and waved and charged on toward the big blue pads!
I was tired by the end, but felt surprisingly good. I might be slower, but I feel better about the way I’m running. It feels smarter and more balanced, and hopefully continuing that will make me faster again bit by bit. The only frustration I had with the race is that I think it measured long. My running app logged 9.79 miles (instead of 9.3). and the two other friends I ran with both logged 9.6+ miles with their Garmins.
0.79 mile – 9:26 pace
According to my running app – which I forgot to stop for about a minute after I crossed the finish line – I finished in 1:30:26 – an average of 9:15 pace. Not my best ever, but about what I thought it would be, and a time I’m proud of at this point in my training. The official results say I finished in 1:30:15 – but since that’s based on a 9.3 mileage – the pace is a 9:24 average. Womp womp.
This actually happened to me last year too on the same course, by almost the same difference in average paces. Last year I blamed the Map My Run app, but this year the Garmins read long too, so who knows. The course does a lot of winding and looping around the lake, so guess it’s possible to have run an extra half mile in all those curves, but it’s still frustrating. Either way, I finished!
And along with a few other friends, I had my best running buddy, Lacey, out there with me. We’ve done a lot of training runs together this spring, and she’s kept me really accountable and motivated. I feel so lucky to have friends who enjoy running and keep me looking forward to running together each week.
I ran in the Brooks Versatile Lite Tank and Epiphany Stretch Shorts, which I’ve been wearing (and loving) on my training runs. The tank is really thin and sheer and perfectly lightweight. The shorts are light and swooshy and great for hot days. I only wish it had a bigger pocked for my clunky phone! Good running gear makes a big difference, and I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out!
We all hung around and chatted for a while after the race, because despite having already done my big run, the best was still yet to come. They had a 1K kids’ run and Cullen told me he wanted to do it, so I signed up him early that morning! It was very official, with banners for the kids and even pint sized race shirts – BEYOND adorable.
I asked Cullen if he wanted me to run with him and he proudly started he would be running “BY HIMSELF!” So I said I’d just line up in the back in case he changed his mind. Ready, set, GO!
And as expected, the minute the kids started charging ahead he got overwhelmed, turned around, and said he didn’t want to do it. So I grabbed his hand and told him we’d do it together.
And after the initial nerves wore off, he dropped my hand and smiled the rest of the way. Having just watched me do my race, I think he was really excited to do the same thing on the same course – he was so into it and so excited.
He has only done one other kids run before, and during that one he fell flat on his face and finished in tears. This was a much different experience!
As we got close to the finish where Casey was standing with the camera, he kept shouting “I have to wave to my dad!!” It was so much fun, and so impossibly cute. I just love this age, and I love him so much.
I finished just behind him and he grabbed his medal, which he then wore for the rest of the day, including out to eat.
It was a great day for both of us, and I loved sharing it with him. Although for the rest of the day he asked no less than 100 times, “Mom I won my race!! Why didn’t you win yours?”
I didn’t win the race itself, but it felt like a win to me. I had a great day and felt very loved and supported being cheered on by friends and family. A wonderful race around the water in the city that I love so much.
Two more weeks until the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, and I’ll admit – I’m nervous. I’m not sure I had four good miles left in me, but hopefully two more weeks of solid training and cross-training can only make me that much more prepared. Here’s to National Running Week!