After the race, I decided to camp out in Starbucks and write my recap. (Yes, I know I still haven’t written about Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego. Patience, grasshopper.) As I started to type, I could see marathoners still plugging away (first start for elites was at 7:00; last corral started about 8:00). This meant those folks had been out there for 5.5 hours and were just passing by mile 24. If you’ve never tried to walk for 5.5 hours (at any speed) you have no idea how much dedication that takes! About 15 minutes later I saw the very last marathon runner go by, a Team in Training coach by her side, and the official police escort and course sweeper vehicles right behind her. I’m thankful that Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series leaves the course open long enough to make the marathon distance less intimidating for those who are new to marathons, or slower runners/walkers. I don’t know who that last finisher is, but if you know her, please tell her she is a Rock Star in my book and I am very proud of her.
Sometimes, the chaos produces awesome. I was very lucky to experience that this weekend!
My planning for this race was an epic FAIL. First, I originally bought tickets to fly into Sea-Tac Saturday morning, landing at 7:20. Thankfully another blogger pointed out that the race was on Saturday, starting at 7:00 a.m.! Southwest doesn’t charge a change fee (and they have my undying LUV), so I just had to pay the difference between my old ticket and the new one. (Let’s think of that as a stupid-tax, shall we?) Second, I’d planned to stay at the Seattle HI, since staying there for Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego worked out so well. But I got distracted and didn’t make a reservation on Tuesday when there were many spots, and when I got back to it on Thursday it was booked solid. Thankfully all the crazy travel I did for work helped me accumulate a load of Marriott points, and I was able to score a room with them at the Courtyard, one of the host hotels. Third, the various running groups I’m involved in didn’t make solid plans for Friday so I thought I’d be wandering Seattle alone, but then Briana of Mat Miles Medals let me know she was coming in early Friday, and things worked out perfectly.
Friday’s flight in was uneventful. (Other than the flight attendant singing an awesome song about Seattle, which was fun!). It was easy to hop on the Link light rail from the airport to Pioneer Square, and walk the few blocks to the Courtyard. My double-queen room was enormous and gorgeous, and I was a wee bit sad when I arrived because it would have been fun to stay more than one night. (I’ve got plans to stay with a friend from…sixth grade? No, fifth grade!) Briana met me at the hotel and kept her luggage in the room during the day, so she wouldn’t have to tote it around until she met up with her h0st for the weekend. We hit up The Pike Brewing Company for lunch, which is what I did when I ran this race in 2013. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the vegetarian options there, and they had a delicious apricot cider on tap!
Then it was time to hit the Expo. Briana introduced me to the proper, non-annoying (or at least not in anyone’s way, and in zero danger of hitting a person, a thing, or a Disney ride) use of the selfie-stick.
I intended to take a bunch of pictures like I usually do, but wasn’t really inspired. So here’s a picture of me with a big fish. (I had other plans for this photo, until I realize the fish was safety-pinned to the mannequin. While I understand why, I think it’s sad to think anyone would steal the fish!) Per usual there was a ton of cute Brooks stuff that I petted but did not buy. To be fair, I think half my running shirts and jackets and pullovers are from Brooks, and my main running shoes are Brooks Pure Cadence (and yes I currently own three pair), so they probably were not too upset.
Once again Toyota kinda stole the expo with their display. This time it included the interactive vehicles, the SpongeBob car (which I think had the cameras installed to take groupies), and SpongeBob-themed swag for the kiddos to win (including one of those crane machines).
We each had a few errands to run at the expo, and also wanted to see what was new. Briana had just been named an ambassador for Sparkly Soul headbands (congratulations!), so we headed there first. The Rock ‘n’ Roll expos do tend to have the same race sponsor spaces and some of the same vendors, but each also features some regional flavors. Speaking of regional, Nuun is headquartered in Seattle so they were at the expo with a great special (two tubes and a bottle for $10). Since I’m a Nuunbassador, and totally in love with the tropical flavor for workplace hydration, I had to stock up. There’s definitely a Nuun giveaway in this blog’s near future. Anyway, after romping around the Expo (and wondering where PowerBar was??) we headed over to Pyramid Alehouse so one of my Seattlite friends could pick me up for dinner.
I carb-loaded with Indian Food. Oh yummy, delicious, vegetarian, Indian food. Specifically, we went to Maharaja, which is at 105 1st Avenue S, Seattle. I’m not sure why it wasn’t packed, because the food was good and so was the price–the vegetarian feast for one was $20 and came with a samosa, rice, choice of two vegetarian dishes (I picked chana masala and malai kofta), a side of dal, raita, and rice pudding for dessert. Delicious!
After dinner I took a soothing bubble bath and then went to bed. Early. But before I went to bed, I had to take the obligatory “flat me” picture. I’m not sure who started this, but every time I see one I think of the book Flat Stanley. (In the original, the bulletin board over Stanley’s bed falls on him and flattens him out. He has various adventures, and gets mailed to visit relatives, etc.) Anyway, here’s Flat Bain in all her glory.
I slept like a rock. Except for waking up once because I’d thrown both of the duvets on top of me (I like a lot of covers) because that was too hot. Then when I woke up I didn’t want to get out of bed because I thought the room felt too cold (it was 67). When I checked the weather app on my phone it told me that it was in the 50s outside, and predicted 50s until after I thought I’d finish running. That led to a slight panic–and no further motivation to get out of bed–as I didn’t pack any toss clothing and didn’t have a garbage bag. The hotel’s laundry bags were too tiny. Eventually I managed to convince myself that I HAD TO GET OUT OF BED and just put on some clothes and go. I made a cup of coffee to console myself, and then swallowed some EnergyBits (with water, not coffee!).
The hotel was a fair walk from the start. It took me about 30 minutes to schlep over there, during which time I started to feel a little warmer. The sun was already out and there were zero clouds, which made me glad I’d slathered on some sunscreen. In case you’re wondering, your glow-in-the-dark-white runner started with a thick coat of the Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30 lotion, which sinks right in and has a dry sort of finish, and then added a layer of Neutrogena sunblock stick in SPF 70. (Why yes, I did get sunburned the last time I did Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle. How did you know?) I tried to stay in the sun, lest I start to freeze over again.
Of course I was too slow on the draw with my camera as the fireworks went off to start the elite corral. This year they had fireworks launch from the Space Needle, which was kind of cool. I did manage to snap a shot of the elites running.
I didn’t take nearly as many pictures along this course as I usually do, because (surprise!) I was actually really focused on the running. I started out with a mile run, then switched to 1:1 intervals, which I kept until I hit the nasty hill up to the highway at mile nine. Brooks had the usual Brooks guy inflatable, but also a boat-float on the lake!
Seattle is really green and gorgeous this time of year, reminding me of just how much I miss the verdant Pacific Northwest. The course along the lake and the park were really incredible.
One of the unique features of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle course is a mile staffed by, and dedicated to, U.S. military servicemen and women. The first section had photos of those who gave their lives, with their names and ranks and dates. The aid stations? This section of flags? Held by military, former military, and members of Wear Blue Run to Remember. (There is a great video up on the website right now for Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle.) The first year I saw this mile, I cried. To me, it is one more testament to the power of how running can change a life, create community, and change the world. It came on a lovely piece of the course, just before the marathon and half marathon split.
The last few miles of the half course are both interesting and annoying. On the one hand, I find it really fun to run through tunnels usually reserved for the highway. Maybe I’m too much of a goody-two-shoes, but it feels like I’m doing something wrong! On the other hand, running on sloped concrete is tough. Aside from the tunnel, the last few miles also run the road (highway?) right across/above the water’s edge. There are people cheering from the road above on the right, and the open water and the ferris wheel on the other side. I love running with the water at my side.
Every race has creative signs held by the cheering squads. Currently in the popular rotation are:
- Run Like You Stole Something
- I trained for months to hold this sign
- If Brittany can survive 2002, you can survive this
- Never trust a fart
Run now, beer lateAs I rounded one of the final corners, I saw my new favorite sign. Simple message, easy to read, colorful, and held up by a person high-fiving and actively cheering every runner that went by. I don’t think the spectators understand just how important they are to the race.
After crossing the finish line and collecting my medal, I slowly walked through the runner-food. While carrying three bottles (water, gatorade, chocolate milk) proved cumbersome, I was happy my skirt had pockets to hold most of the other snacks. The sun was out and it was a gorgeous day, so I laid down on the grass to collapse for a short period of time before collecting my Six String and starting the walk back to the hotel.
I was pleased to see an active recovery area sponsored by Gaiam. When I travel for a race, I can only bring one recovery tool since I try to stick to a carry-on. It’s either The Grid roller or The Roll8. Maybe if I don’t have to pack warm clothes I can also fit in a yoga mat. It’s tough, because all runners know you’re supposed to do some self-maintenance after a long run–maybe stretching, or yoga, some foam rolling, work with Yoga Tune Up balls, or something else. Also, with a concert going on and a city to explore, it can be hard to make time to recover properly. But when you cross the finish line and find an area complete with tools, yoga mats, and people to help, you’re more likely to jump in and do at least a little.
Gaiam was also giving away DVDs (yoga for runners, and a foam roller instructional DVD) to those who entered a raffle. Hopefully a bunch of those runners used those DVDs at home. Seriously, running is SO MUCH BETTER who you do a little self-care and body maintenance.
After a shower, I settled in at Starbucks to start writing this blog entry and caffeinate. From there I meandered over to the Sounders shop–can’t go to a game without a scarf!–then settled into the pub for a cider or two before meeting up with a friend for the game.
I got to see my first Sounders game and they won! Great way to wind up the day.
I wrapped up the weekend by spending Saturday night and Sunday with a friend I’ve known since 5th grade. Her cats were relatively indifferent, but her son (he’s 4) decided I’m the coolest and was not happy when I left Sunday night. Apparently I must go back to Seattle immediately so we can play more.
Want to read more about this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle? Here’s the link to another Rock ‘n’ Blog team review: Pretty Little Grub. Here’s a photo essay by another team member: photos by Andrew Rich.
Did you run Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle? (What was the marathon course like?)