Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seattle Marathon 2014 Pacer Report


I had paced the Seattle marathon with ChuckIt a number of times. When I learnt that SGLRG had taken over responsibilities of pacing Seattle, I threw my hat in the ring, for a slot :) I got assigned to run the second half of the 3:25 marathon (7:49 pace). I was asked how I felt about running the 3:15 marathon (7:27 pace). I was wary mainly because I didn't want to risk falling short on a bad weather day. Moreover, my legs had not yet gotten it's zing back from Berlin...


November had been a crazy weather month. It had been alternating between warm + wet and chilly + sunny. The latter had made for some beautiful days if you could tolerate the cold. Seattle marathon Sunday was to be a cold day. On Saturday I tried out a run in similar conditions - the wind almost killed me. It was not slated to be as windy on race day, thankfully.

I set my alarm for 5:30 am. My sleep as usual broke before the alarm at 4:15 am and I could not get back to sleep. It's as if I have a mental alarm like Kramer -

Thankfully, the race start is just a 5 minute walk from home. I was debating running in shorts but decided to go with the comfortable route. I wore longs, a double layer on top, gloves and head gear. I even checked in warm clothes for the finish. At the start, I got my pics taken by the Marathonfoto folks. For a moment I wished I was running it all.

I got a ride from the Seattle Center Armory to Steward Park from Colleen and Jon. It was a cold yet sunny day (weather ranging from 28F-34F). I hung out in the van till it was time to get running. It was kind of lucky that the pacer shirt was black (so we were absorbing the maximum possible heat!)

Temperature: 31F(24F) - 36F(31F)
Humidity: 66%-49%

The second half was the tougher half so I really hoped that the first half pacers had banked some time. The bank time thrown around in the pacer meeting was 2 minutes. We planned to follow the Tazz pace bands. This provides elevation adjusted splits for a given course and goal time.

mile 13.1-14.1: 7:37
I waited patiently at the half-way point for the first half pacers to arrive. Came in with about 45s of a buffer. My pacing partner was not there... I continued alone. The pacer board felt heavy.

There was a pretty good pace pack at this point.

mile 14.1-15: 7:02
The turn onto Lake Washington Blvd and boom - a strong head wind. Holding the pacer sign was a challenge.

To make things interesting my shoe laces opened up twice! It was a challenge tying them when my fingers were numb in the cold! The folks in the group shouted out - "Don't leave us now!"

Finally, around the 14 mile mark my pacer partner joined up...

mile 16: 7:37

To negotiate the winds, we took turns holding the pacer sign. Some mile markers appeared to be slightly off. You couldn't help but marvel at the mountains glistening in the distance on this frigid and sunny day...
mile 17: 7:53
mile 18: 7:35
mile 19: 7:39
mile 20: 7:59
The first of the hills to dip into some of the buffer.

mile 21: 8:13
mile 22: 7:49
A serene and lonesome stretch where the pace pack begin to disintegrate. Finally, my mount began to unfreeze somewhat. The topics of conversation - hills, PRs and BQ...

mile 23: 7:46

mile 24: 7:37
mile 25: 7:42
mile 26: 8:13
Running into downtown Seattle and the turn into the stadium.

mile .22: 1:35
As I made it to the finish line I reflected on how difficult the final portion of this course truly is!

Final clock time: 3:24:11
Time for my half: 1:42:27

Some part of me wants to get revenge on my PW from 2009 on this course and run the whole thing again. Next year?

This is my last long run before CIM. As the saying goes - "The hay is now in the barn!"


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