Race report: Seattle Marathon 2010

(My apologies for the long delay in posting this… I’ve been busy, um, healing?)

Seattle, WA – 11/28/2010

First off, the big question: did I finish?  Drumroll… I did!  Next year the goal is to finish without injury, but I’m getting ahead of myself…


I was very impressed with the speed with which I was able to procure my race packet (bib, timing chip, etc).  I went in at around 4pm on a Friday, expecting long lines as it was Thanksgiving weekend and lots of people would have the day off.  They had the packets split up by 1st & 2nd letters of your last name, and had plenty of staffers, so there weren’t any lines at all!

I then went into the next room to retrieve my goody bag and tshirt:

I took a lap around the expo, but it was about what you would expect: various companies showing off their latest gizmos, free samples of energy bars and recovery drinks, and racks upon racks of shoes, shirts, and other gear for you to buy.

The goody bag had the usual assortments of treats and offers, plus shaving oil, for some reason.

Carbo Load

I ended up at Bizarro Italian Cafe for dinner the night before, and had a delicious puttanesca, and loads of bread.  I’d also had a bunch of pasta for lunch, so I was feeling pretty good about that.

Before going to bed, I laid out all my gear for the next day.  I made sure my timing chip was in my shoes so I couldn’t possibly forget it.  I had my water bottles lined up on the counter, ready for filling.  I also made my pre-race meal for the next morning: whole wheat pasta with chicken, olive oil, basil and oregano.   Yum!

Pre-race Jitters

I was pretty calm all morning, until I realized why I seemed to be ready to go with way too much time to spare: I’d forgotten to shower!  On the plus side, getting dressed twice assured me I definitely wasn’t forgetting anything.

My parents arrived at 6:30am to drive me to the race.  My start wasn’t until 8:15, but the half-marathon was at 7:15 and I wanted to make sure were found parking before then.  We did, and I got to watch and cheer for the start of the half:

I’d decided to drink 20oz of nuun-water, and be finished with it an hour before the start so I’d have time to digest most of it.  This worked out perfectly, as did eating my pasta 3 hours before the start.  I had plenty of energy without any nasty belly sloshing.

The Start

I don’t have any pictures of the start, but it was pretty darn exciting.  With the first few steps I transformed from someone who’d never done a marathon to someone who had at least attempted a marathon.  I still wasn’t sure, at that point, that I would actually finish.

The first 6 miles were pretty standard (except for the 10,000+ people running next to me).  I hadn’t tried Gatorade’s ‘perform’ before, but I have to say: YUM!  I grabbed a cup of that at every aid station, and hardly touched my little water bottle.  In fact, I found that little bottle to be getting pretty darn heavy after the first 8 miles, and eventually I just stuck it in my pocket because my wrist was hurting.

The weather was perfect: low 40s and clear.  At a couple points the sun even came out, but I was usually under tree cover when it did.

The Pain

Around mile 12 the back of my right knee started to hurt.  I was expecting pain in my right heel and/or right hip, where I’d had some trouble during training, but not in my knee.  I was also feeling pretty tired at that point, so I let myself walk for a couple minutes to rest and assess the damage.  It felt like I might have strained the tendons, but wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, so got up to pace again and stuck to it.

I passed my parents a couple times on Lake Washington Blvd (they’d relocated from the starting line), and I was surprised at how grateful I was to have them out there cheering for me.  It really, really helps.  Especially when they take pictures! 😛

I kept trudging along, walking and drinking Gatorade at every aid station, but the pain behind my knee kept increasing, and I had to take far more walking breaks than I liked.  By mile 18 I only kind of had to pee, but convinced my self I really really had to pee just so I could stop running!  I don’t think I’ve ever so enjoyed my time in a porta-potty.

The spectators had some great signs all along the route.  A couple that I remember were “Who needs toenails, anyway?”, and “Great stamina men!  Call me!”  The gal holding the latter even had little tear-offs with her phone number!  I chose not to take one… maybe next year when I don’t feel like I’m dying at the time (she was in the middle of a major hill).

Around mile 21, I was again next to a gal I’d been near most of the race.  I commented on the pain I was in, and she was right there with me.  A few minutes later she said she didn’t think she was going to make it.  I tried to be helpful and said there were only 4.5 miles left.  That may have been a bad thing to say, as she dropped out shortly after, asking one of the aid people how to arrange a ride to the finish line.  Dang.

By mile 23 I was in pretty terrible pain.  I would run as long as I could stand it, then limp along for a while until I got angry enough to push through the pain and run some more.  On the plus side, I totally nailed my nutritional needs (gels every 45 minutes and gatorade every 2 miles), and I never hit the “wall”.  I always felt I had enough energy to keep going, it was just the pain that was getting in the way.  I kept doing the math and finding that I was so close to hitting my max time goal of 5 hours (I was long past my speedy goal of 4:30).  In the end I just couldn’t do it, but I sure as hell tried (which is why I’m still hurting a little today).

On one of the final downhills, I commented to the guy next to me “I used to love running downhill”. He fired back “I used to love running!”.   Ahh, bonding through pain and comedy.

On the last uphill section I was passed by a guy wearing a full foam superman costume.  That was a bit depressing.  Next year I’m totally beating that guy.

The Finish

As I came down the final stretch and into the stadium, I spotted my parents and friends waiting for me, with awesome signs of their own.

I did my best to smile, but I think it was more of a grimace.  At least I finished at a run.

here’s a video of me crossing the finish line

So, I finished, limped over to where the army guys (huh?) were putting medals on the finishers, limped to where the volunteers were removing timing chips and wrapping us in giant hot dog blankets, then limped over to an open spot to wait for my cheerleaders to find me.  I was DONE!!!  WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Owowowowowowowowowowowowow.

Then it was time for the victory shot:

And finally, at long last, the victory meal, this time at Mama’s Mexican Kitchen:


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