Saturday, June 26, 2010

Freeway Marathon marks my Super Six and Life 25

Another city, another marathon but this one marked a few milestones for me:
  • Half-way point in total miles for the 2010 Rock n Roll Endurance Series
  • My 25th career marathon
  • My 11th US state - completing a marathon in each
Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon is the 6th event in the 2010 Endurance Series and while Chicago, in August will be half way through the number of events, the series was front-loaded with full marathons (5 of them). Seattle provided near-perfect running conditions, some gorgeous scenery and some not-so-nice out and backs.
The event started at the health and fitness expo on Friday where
Competitor Group allowed me
to pick up my Super6 Heavy Medal. And heavy it was - over a pound. This is the next to last
medal in their progressive medals program - or so it appears. The folks at Competitor keep telling me they are planning something special for 14 so we'll see what they come up with.

Race #6 started in Tukwila, Washington, a suburb of Seattle and as usual, the stellar event organization by Competitor Group shined early on. I walked from my hotel, the Inn at the WAC the few blocks to where the downtown buses collected us to shuttle up to Tukwila and there were an ample supply of transports. I waited around for my fellow SMSers a while but when it was time to board, I got right on. The temperature at the start was just perfect - mid 50s and overcast. No wind, low humidity and lots of local adrenaline.
After wishing my colleagues well, I met up with @adamrisu in corral 2 and we took off just minutes after the starting gun.
The first few miles were rather uneventful as we passed through some industrial streets, past a few junk yards and scrap dealers (didn't exactly show Tukwila in its best light) before entering some nice quiet neighborhoods where everyone came out to cheer.

The highlight of the run came a few miles later along Lake Washington which provided sweeping lake views to the right and gorgeous wooded neighborhoods to the left. I will definitely have to return here during one of my many business trips to Seattle to run here again.
After this, the race turned into people acting like cars, as the majority of the rest of the event was on freeways and highways. we took a short out and back jaunt into the lake region on the Interstate 90 bridge. The
tailwind on the way out was nice as were the views but the headwind on the return sapped a bit of my energy. Since Lake Washington I had been running with another San Francisco Bay Area runner doing his first full but lost him in the wind.

We then came into the city on I-90 then merged onto Highway 99 for two, yes two out and backs. This event played a rather cruel mental game with us 26.2'ers in that we turned onto H-99 just as the half marathoners were turning the other way and heading to the finish, then on the way back south on 99 we passed right by the finish are and continued on south for another out and back. Ugh.

Thankfully, however, my good friend and fellow SMSer Faisal was waiting for me at the mile 18 turn around in North Seattle and rode his bike alongside me, keeping me company and energized through this whole last section. Faisal - you da man! Thanks a ton!

With 27,000 runners I can certainly see why Competitor Group was relegated to the highways as running on the downtown streets might have been a bit congested if all the halfers and full marathoners were on the streets together, but only us crazy marathoners made the turn onto Highway 99, so hopefully they will look at this next year.

The nice part on Highway 99 was the northbound loop as it provided nice views of Puget Sound and the Seattle downtown skyline. There was even a Norwegian Cruise Lines tour loading for a trip up to Alaska. Man, the cruise ships today are enormous!

The weather was a real godsend for this event as it helped a ton with keeping my body temperature down so I could keep a strong pace and never had to use any of the water stops.
My trusty Amphipod water bottle filled with PowerBar Endurance drink and my PowerBar Gels kept me going strong. But I gotta say, the freeways really took their toll in the back half. After holding a 3:15 marathon pace for the first half, I couldn't hold it and watched the 3:20 pace group, then the 3:30 pacer pass me by in the 20s. No matter. I'll take a 3:33 and the fact that I live on to race another day.

After finding Reesa and the SMS crew at the finish we headed over to the nearest pub for a
victory dance - Guiness -- and the world cup match between the US and Ghana. Hats off to the boys from Africa for the victory and heads held high for our boys. They played a strong game and have nothing to be ashamed of. We'll get 'em in 2014!
Rock & Roll Seattle marked the 25th marathon of my career taking me halfway to my long-term goal of completing 50 marathons by my 50th birthday.

Next up is Rock & Roll Chicago Half Marathon in August. The next full is Rock & Roll Denver in October. I'm looking forward to the short break from 26.2s so I can focus on the summer TNT season. Go Team!

Thanks again to everyone who has thus far supported my efforts and my fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We've raised $7,500 thus far but have $2,500 still to go, so keep the donations coming!

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