Sunday, July 08, 2007

Seafair marathon 2007 report

Seafair Marathon - Take 2

Bellevue, WA. 7:00am
Temperature: 57F-62F
Humidity: 74%-62%

"The best marathons are the ones with hills. That makes it a road race. Otherwise, it’s a track race. London and Chicago are so flat that they’re essentially track races.”

- Bill Rodgers, four-time winner of both the New York City and Boston Marathons. This quote was posted on the Seafair marathon webpage.

The Seafair course is not a PR course! It provides a good challenge and is ideal for masochists. Chuck Engle in his race report last year described it as one of the most difficult ones he's run and he's run a few :) The course has 1826ft of ascent and 2067ft of decent. In comparison Boston just has a 929ft of ascent and 1381ft of decent. More than just the numbers it's also the quality and placement of the hills - you get back the elevation climbed in reasonably steep declines.

This marathon fulfils a niche for runners - there are very few marathons that you can run in decent temperatures in July. Before leaving for the race I checked the temperature map. Apart from the Seattle area the rest of the nation was reeling under the effects of the heat wave.


After running this marathon last year I ended up pretty whiney. I intended to run it as a training run but ended up neither running it as a training run nor racing it. I swore I would never run this race or another marathon as a training run again. The race this year had half the number of finishers as last year so I was probably not alone.

Last year was my worst experience of the marathons I've run. I've never repeated a marathon before. Why of all marathons would I run this again then? Last year I had just moved to the area and the course meant nothing to me. Having stayed here for a year now, this is kind of a local marathon for me. The start is less than 10 miles from my home. I did not want to associate this marathon forever with last year's memory.

I decided to run the marathon as a training run again - this time really as a training run. So what would make this a training run? I generally run my long runs in the 8:20s so I figured 8:35s (3:45 finish) would seem appropriate given the challenging course. My time last year was 3:45 so I did not want a new PW too. I ran a 1:35 half a couple of weeks back so a 8:35 pace seemed reasonable. I ran a 14 miler on Thursday and an 11 miler on Friday so I surely did not taper for this. My schedule had a 20 miler so I adjusted the miles to allow me to fit in all 26.2.


This is the first time in my life I've seen a race start early. I was still scrambling from the PJs when I heard the race gun. The race started 2 minutes early. On the positive side I had an empty start line to cross. It was a unique experience to start behind everyone and have to make my way through. Luckily this was not Chicago or MCM else getting through the masses would have been brutal.

mile 1: 8:32 (174)
mile 2: 8:43 (166) +0:14 from split
mile 3: 8:34 (164)
mile 4: 8:37 (172)
mile 5: 8:35 (172)

The first 5 miles is the most challenging section of the course. It's a steady climb to the highest elevation on course. From the downtown Bellevue start, the course moves to the Bridle trails. The Bridle trails section is my favorite part of the course - very peaceful. I wished there was more than one water stop in this section...

mile 6: 8:24 (165)
mile 7: 8:14 (165)
mile 8: 8:21 (158)

The decline in these miles was nice especially since I was not running with fresh legs. Mile 8 had a steep decline which accounted for most of the decline. I decided that I would take it very easy on the downhills to minimize quad damage. I did put in more effort on the uphills. There were quite a few marathon Maniacs running this one. I guess that's why they're called "Marathon Maniacs" :)

mile 9: 8:19 (160)
mile 10: 8:11 (170)
mile 11: 8:23 (166)
mile 12: 8:08 (166)
mile 13: 8:12 (169)
Half: 1:50:33
mile 14: 8:33 (168)

Another series of climbs... This race has no crowd support since it's really unreasonable to expect people to make it to the course - residential neighborhoods, trails and highways. So the encouragement from the volunteers & cops was much appreciated. There was a marathon relay going on as well so each time we crossed the exchange point the waiting runners cheered for us. There were two sections where we ran with the half-marathoners – this and to the finish from mile 20.

mile 15: 8:46 (164) +0:11 from split
mile 16: 8:28 (157)
mile 17: 8:49 (164) +0:22 from split
mile 18: 8:42 (165) +0:17 from split
mile 19: 8:37 (166)
mile 20: 9:06 (157) +0:41 from split

I guess the most irritating past of this section was the large offsets between the mile markers and my garmin mile splits. A 41s offset for mile 20 would have driven me crazy if I was shooting for a PR.

mile 21: 8:59 (158) +0:20 from split
mile 22: 8:27 (158)
mile 23: 8:40 (163)
mile 24: 8:25 (165)
mile 25: 8:40 (160) +0:12 from split
mile 26: 8:34 (169)
mile .22: 1:56 (172)

This section might appear innocuous but it is pretty brutal. The declines are steep and could trash the quads of anyone trying to race this. The climbs (even the ones that look like bumps) can end up being very painful. I saw people stretching their quads and quite a few giving up and starting to walk. Even the last half mile to the finish is a climb - no mercy there :)

Chip: 3:44:12 @ 8:33
OA: 95/399
Male: 77/250
AG: 9/25

Bib #:56
Avg HR: 165

I really appreciated seeing watermelons & sliced oranges along with the other usuals at the finish. Why can't more RDs think like this? The medal was top quality - one of the most beautiful in my collection.

I am happy with my execution of the "traning run" plan. For the most part I locked into 8:35 pace. I don't know if DOMS will set in tomorrow but so far things look good. My hammies feel pretty good.

I might just become a Seafair marathon streaker if I stay in the area. I don't think I will ever be able to race it though. It would just take too long to recover and ruin any fall marathon plans.


Blogger Phil said...

Now that looks like fun (except for the climb out of Bellvue perhaps). Folks like you understand why I signed up to run Carlsbad again in January ... running hilly marathons through beautiful terrain just feels good.

Congratulations on your average pace. You ran a great race.

7/09/2007 11:30 PM  

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