As you guys know, on Saturday morning I ran my 14th half marathon – the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon!
This was my second year running the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (<—last year’s recap) as part of the Brooks Run Happy Blogger Ambassador trip. (To read more about our trip, check out this post from yesterday: Running Happy in Seattle Adventures.)
Brooks made us matching team t-shirts for the occasion this year – so cute! The shirts all had our names on the backs, too. :)
Having run the race at a casual pace last year, I decided that this year I wanted to race it. I’ve had a bit of an intense spring, racing wise, having kicked things off with the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Half Marathon (casual pace/for fun) in March, followed by two 10 milers (the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and the GW Parkway Classic 10 Miler) in April, both of which I raced. So while I was going into this race a little burned out on long runs, I also had a spring of racing (and track workouts) under my belt. It felt good to have my speed back after focusing on full marathons in 2013/2014!
Like last year, we were lucky that Brooks put us up in a hotel right downtown that was only about a 15 minute walk to Seattle Center, where the race started and finished. I laid out all my race gear the night before (so.much.gear.) so all I had to do in the morning was wake up and throw it on/eat some food (half a bagel + nut butter + a banana).
We met up in the hotel lobby at 6 a.m. and had plenty of time to walk over and get lined up by the race start at 7. (We were also extremely fortunate to have access to the VIP tent, so checking bags/hitting the porta-potties was faster than usual.)
Shortly after we lined up, the National Anthem was not sung, but played – on electric guitar by the guitarist from Sugarland! Super cool. At 7 a.m., the elite runners started – their race start was kicked off by a firework set off on the Space Needle!
A few minutes later, and we were off, too!
As you guys know, my goal was to try to set a new PR (personal record) during this race, so right from the start I made sure to push it on pace and not let myself settle in to something more casual/comfortable. I really have to focus to keep going this quickly or else before I realize it my legs have let me go easy on them!
My goal pace was about 7:50 minute/miles; the first few miles had some rolling hills so I tried not to blow it out too much on the downhills – and to stay strong on the uphills, too. I aimed to stay within about a 7:35 and 8 minute mile pace and succeeded.
- Mile 1: 7:38
- Mile 2: 7:41
- Mile 3: 7:59
Look – the famous Brooks blow up guitarist! Love seeing this guy at all the races. :)
I remembered from last year that the course splits just before we arrive on the waterfront around mile 5 or 6, so I knew when I saw these signs that beautiful views were coming!
I was still feeling strong at this point and still focused on trying to keep my pace down. So far so good!
- Mile 4: 7:36
- Mile 5: 7:49
- Mile 6: 7:46
Like last year, there were military personnel and volunteers holding flags along this part of the course – as well as memorial signs up remembering those killed in the line of duty. This part of the course is very powerful, as you can imagine.
I knew that my watch would be off a bit on pace/distance (it always is during races), so anytime we passed a mile marker I checked the time elapsed on my watch (the official time at the mile markers was off for me since I started a few minutes behind the official race start) and compared it to my pace chart that I printed out before the race. This was so helpful – definitely doing this for future races, too! I wish I’d had this at the GW Parkway Classic – my watch told me I was on pace based on my splits for that race, but the course was a bit long so my watch pace was off!
Anyway! I was still more or less on track but starting to lose a little steam by the time we reached the monster hill at mile 8ish (it shows up as mile 9 on the elevation chart below). You guys – this hill was such a beast. I did my best to power up it, and I succeeded, but it really wore me out. For those who ran the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll, I found this hill steeper/more intense than the Calvert Hill. Oof.
- Mile 7: 7:52
- Mile 8: 7:59
- Mile 9: 8:17
After the huge hill was when I felt like I really started to lose steam. My quads were sore from the hills and my legs were started to feel pretty tired. Even though my watch splits were still sounding strong, I knew my watch was a little off because based on the overall time on my watch compared to my pace chart, I was starting to slip on the PR front. Bad timing for a long, boring, stuffy/hot tunnel – although there was a cool light machine and a guy with music in there, which sounded almost magical because it reverberated off the walls.
It felt so good to pop out of the tunnel into the fresh air again!
Mile 10 was a rough one. The hills were really getting to me and I was having trouble keeping pace – and then, sometime during mile 10, the 1:45 pacer group passed me. (I was aiming to finish under 1:43:44, my PR). Nooooo!!!! It actually gave me a second wind, and I sped things up again for mile 11 and left them in the dust. I wasn’t ready to give up on my PR, although I knew that if the 1:45 group was near me I was significantly off time already and probably couldn’t catch back up at this point, especially given that the end of the race was quite hilly.
- Mile 10: 8:05
- Mile 11: 7:42
Once we came off the highway and into downtown (during mile 11), while I was still feeling pretty strong and pushing it again, I saw my brother out cheering! Yay! Thanks for coming out, Steve – it was awesome to see a familiar face out there. :)
He snagged a couple shots of me powering by. Thanks, Steve!
Seeing my brother gave me a nice boost of energy – but then, the hills started again. I remembered from last year that there were a LOT of hills at the end of this race, and when they started up again my legs were just not having it. The 1:45 pace group passed me again, this time for good. Womp, womp. But even though I knew I wouldn’t be getting my PR, that didn’t mean I was going to give up on the race. I was feeling rough but I still wanted to do my best to finish strong!
Yay, my favorite part of the course – the Ferris Wheel view! Blurry shot – clearly I was getting too tired to take good photos at this point. ;) This was a nice mental boost, though, because this view is so beautiful.
The last two miles of the race after the beautiful water sighting were REALLY tough. I was pretty spent, the hills were fierce, and I was ready to be done. My new goal: Do. Not. Walk. Normally, in the last little bit/half mile of a race I really blow it out and go as fast as I can – but this one finishes on a steep uphill and it was all I could do to just keep running. I refused to walk – I would finish this strong!
- Mile 12: 8:09
- Mile 13: 8:01
- Last 0.41 mile nubbin pace: 8:39
Finally – the finish line! An uphill finish is so mean, you guys. But I made it. :)
Whew – DONE!!
My final time was 1:46:09 (8:06 min/mile average pace), which, while not a PR, is actually my second fastest half marathon!! I was pretty pleased with this, especially given how hilly this course is. (My PR is from a totally flat course.)
As you can see, my watch pace/distance is off – my watch said the course was 13.41 miles. Everyone’s watch said the course was long – either it really is long or we didn’t run the tangents. :)
It was an insanely gorgeous day out. After stretching out and catching our breath a bit, we headed back over to the VIP tent to meet the rest of the Brooks team.
We hung out there for an hour or so, enjoying the music (there was a live band down below) and the weather, and I dug into some yogurt and fresh berries to tide me over until brunch, which really hit the spot after a sweaty race. Plus tons of water. I was so thirsty – that sun felt hot! (During the race, I ate most of a mocha Clif Shot Gel and a couple Margarita shot bloks, and I pounded a chocolate milk at the finish line, too.)
So there you have it! Another half marathon is in the books. No new PR, but I’m really proud of how I did – and how I stayed strong at the end and didn’t totally give up/walk the last hills just because I knew my PR was out of reach.
I’ll get that new PR someday, my friends – but until then, I’ll continue to enjoy the ride. :)
A huge, HUGE thank you again to Brooks for having me and the other ambassadors out to Seattle, covering our travel costs, and providing us with free bibs and VIP access for this race. It is a big honor to be a Run Happy Ambassador and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to run this beautiful race with them twice in a row! <3 Also, mad props to our Brooks buddy Derek, who ran this race as his FIRST half marathon – and finished in 5th place overall with a 1:15 finish time. Totally insane. :) And a big congrats to Lauren, Kristen, and Tina for setting new PRs! So proud of you guys!