Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon 2015 Pacer and Race Report

The run-up...

I go way back with this race and it's "ghosts". I had run it's predecessor, the Seafair marathon, twice. I had also paced the Seafair marathon back in 2007 - the only race ever to have crossed the 520 bridge. The route was novel and had potential. However it was also a year the temps hit the 90Fs and of gross mismanagement. That was it for the event. The Rock and Roll franchise took over the Seafair marathon in 2008. I had paced the new RNR Seattle half in 2011, when it still used to start in Tukwila. I had never run the full. A couple of years back the pacing responsibilities shifted from Chuckit to SGLRG.

I've now become a regular with SGLRG and was able to seek out a 3:15 marathon pacing gig this year. SGLRG pairs up pacers for distances and pacers run only half of the marathon.

I had six weeks between Prague and RNR Seattle. I did not run for the first eight days after Prague. My mileage for the last five weeks were - 55, 88, 70, 54, 28 (6 days). Another goal was to test out the taper for the Pfitz XX/87 plan, which I intend to follow for Chicago. I'm gradually getting to realize that when I run high mileage in training, I need to run more during taper. Else my body ends up getting confused and "wierd-ed out".


Pacer goal: Run the first half at even effort (following the Taz band splits when it seemed accurate). We (I was pacing with Francis) aimed to have a 2 minute buffer. So the target half split was 1:35:30. This would give Nick, Cyrus and the pace group a buffer to compensate for the hills, heat and the traditionally long mile 26.

Race goal: 3:08:30. This would be a BQ and also be my second fastest marathon time. I already had a BQ for 2016 and this would not count for 2017 but it was a good and challenging goal to have.


I ensured that I made it to the expo on Thursday. I also had a pacer shift from 7-8 pm to it was good to double up picking up my race packet and the booth duty. The expo was smaller than when I had last gone to a RNR expo. There weren't folks from Cliff etc. Friday, from what I heard was a traffic nightmare since there was a large convocation going on next door...

The weather was forecasted to be sunny, in the upper 50s at race start (7am) and would rise to the lower-60s by the time I expected to finish. While not ideal marathon racing temperature this was normal June weather in Seattle. Also, we were lucky that it cooled down for race day - this week had seen some HOT days. The day after the race also was significantly warmer.

I treated this race as I would have treated any goal marathon. I did carbo-load leading up to the run. Being at home meant that I could eat what I wanted and I could sleep at my own bed. I woke up at 3:15 am to get in some calories and then got in a couple more hours of sleep...

When I was about to head out I discovered that my GPS was almost uncharged. I didn't have enough time to get it charged :( The start of the run was at the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is). This was just a 5 minute walk from my apartment but I needed to make it there by 6:15 am for our pacer photo-op. In hindsight I should have left the GPS to charge and then come back and picked up after the pacer picture. This would be my first run in a long time that I ran "naked" (without a GPS) and my first "naked" marathon ever. I would realize that in the final miles this would really matter...

Resigned to not having my GPS, I dropped my bag, made a porta-potty stop and headed to corral 2. This was the designated corral for the 3:10, 1:35 and the 3:15 pace groups. It only made sense for us to move to the back of the corral, with the 3:10 folks in the front of the corral.

Brooks CEO talks, the National anthem by a musician in some Grammy winning band (which I cannot recall) and then fireworks by the needle to kick off the race (there was light out so it wasn't as dramatic as they promised but it was cool race start none-the-less). We started about a minute and a bit after corral 1... 


Temperature: 55-63F, Humidity: 74-60%, Cloudy/Sunny

Making our way out of downtown toward the International District
mile 1: The target pace for this mile was around 7:20 but we were quite a bit slower than that. We stayed behind the 1:35 group and they were off to a slow start. I was depending on Francis to keep track of the pace since he had a GPS! Cyrus and Nick started off with us (they would take the light rail from Westlake to the half way point). We also got to know the folks running in the pace group a bit. There was a guy who just ran Newport and had a PR of 2:37 when he was young. He talked about condos downtown being $30k in his days ... There were guys shooting for BQs.

mile 2:

This was a downhill mile and after the slow start it only made sense to pick up the pace. This of course is my first race report which won't have any mile or km splits. Thanks to the timing mats though, I do have some time splits...

mile 3:
5k: 22:32

mile 4/5:

Francis and I alternated holding the pacer sign... I made it a point to get either water or Gatorade at the water stops. I also kept up with my marathon gel strategy - a gel every 4 miles. Actually in this race I ended up with 7 since I took a chocolate gu at one of the waterstops...

Reach Lake Washington (overlap with Seattle Marathon)
mile 6: 
The full marathon split from the half. I told the folks in our group to savor the next few miles because the second half would bring them tunnels, hills and car exhaust.

10k: 45:01

There was a huge Brooks "Run Happy" barge at the 10k point. It was kind of a neat landmark on course.

mile 7-10: Steward park loop
I noted how lucky we were to have these cool conditions. A cloud cover had moved in for the moment too. Francis did a good job facilitating some banter. For instance he asked me which was my favorite marathon of all the many I did. It made for an interesting conversion with the group.

mile 11: I gave the folks in my pace group a heads up that we would be leaving them soon. Separation anxiety is always tough ;) 

The handoff and miles along Lake Washington to the I-90 bridge
mile 12/13: Cyrus wasn't around at mile 12 but he did jump in a little after. I handed the pacer sign to him and prepared to move ahead on my own. 

half: 1:34:30
I wished my group (which had stayed intact to this point) well and moved ahead. Francis stayed with me for about a half mile before he decided to stop running. He had initially considered running the whole marathon as well.

mile 14:

The half marathon merged with marathon for a bit here. There were clear signs indicating that the half runners should stay on the left yet so many of them were venturing onto the right. This was quite irritating for me since I was having to swerve past them. At this point I really did not want to expend the extra energy necessary!

There was a row of flags in memory of the fallen...

Things came to a head at a water stop when I ran into a lady who was ambling around in the right. A little bit of race etiquette?

There was a brief out and back before we had a short but steep climb to the I-90 bridge. I saw Bruce at the turn-around. It was nice of him to be out there even though he had his BQ race at the "Light at the end of the Tunnel" marathon the next day.

Along the I-90 bridge

mile 15/16/17:
17.7: 2:12:22

My GPS did have a couple of hours of battery life so I could have turned it on at the half way point. However, I kind of was enjoying running free for the moment. That was a mistake.

The miles on the bridge were warm and lonely. It was me and myself running on the concrete and through the tunnels. A couple of folks in my pace group were running with me for a bit. We saw the race leader (a guy from the US army) pass by on the other side quite early on...

The road on the bridge was also angled so my calf was having to work extra hard. It would take the longest after the race to recover...

mile 18/19: 
I remember seeing the mile 19 marker in the tunnel on my way out. So I anxiously waited to see it on my way back.

mile 20: 2:26:01

Mercer island tunnel... Next time I drive through the expressway I will have a different perspective on this tunnel :)

Out of the bridge and heading home on the I-90 expressway
mile 21/22/23: As I was heading off the bridge I saw Joe on his medical bike patrol... I knew I was fading here. I tried to keep going for as long as I could. Normally in a marathon my GPS would keep me distracted. While I could notice and observe more in the last few miles it's a mental game...

Downtown and to the finish
mile 24/25/26:  
I finally started walking at mile 24. Cyrus and Nick would proceed to pass me. Physically I was quite capable of running. It was more of a mental thing. I did not feel like running. My brain won! I ran and walked. Definitely, walked the climbs.

Through the viaduct ...

To that last painful climb that graces both our main city marathons... I ran the downhill and walked up the climb. 

mile 26.2:

I had to run once the finish line was visible... You always do!

Loka greeted me at the finish line. He asked me how it felt. Me - "Difficult!"

The walk to the packet picket was quite an annoyance. It was all the way to the other side of the finish so I left my stuff with Eddie and went on a trudge to find it! The finishers marathon jacket post race was a nice touch!

It was good to be able to quickly get home and recoup... No planes to catch to make it back to home base!

I live to fight another day!


Net time: 3:18:56 @ 7:36 min/mile
Clock time: 3:20:05
Overall: 66/2032
Division: 13/185
Male: 58/1124


The cool thing about running "naked" was that I was less worried about things such as mile markers being off or my pace in general. I noticed more things during the run since I no longer was looking at my watch. The disadvantage was that I did not have that motivator in the final miles. I desperately pined for mile markers which could not come soon enough.

Mentally, the desire to run any more non-goal marathons had gone after this race... I was mentally scarred... for 3 DAYS ;) All is forgotten three days later :) I would like to pace the full in Skagit and I'll maybe want a re-do for this marathon next year as well :) !! 


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