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Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Race Recap 2015

As you guys know, on Saturday morning I ran my 14th half marathon – the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon!

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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. :)

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Clockwise from top left:
Lora, Emily, Kristen, Janae, Meghann, Tina, Jesica, Lauren (Brooks PR), me!

MY OTHER RECIPES


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!

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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.)

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I lined up in Corral 3 with Lauren (our Brooks PR liaison/fearless trip leader), Jesica, Lora, and Janae. The matching shirts made it really easy to keep track of one another! :)

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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!

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A few minutes later, and we were off, too!

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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

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Look – the famous Brooks blow up guitarist! Love seeing this guy at all the races. :)

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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  • Mile 7: 7:52
  • Mile 8: 7:59
  • Mile 9: 8:17

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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.

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It felt so good to pop out of the tunnel into the fresh air again!

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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

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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. :)

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He snagged a couple shots of me powering by. Thanks, Steve!

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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!

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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.

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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. :)

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Whew – DONE!! 

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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.)

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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. :)

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Pretty medal!

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After the race, I met back up with Lora and Jesica, who both were running near me the whole time, and we relaxed on the grass for awhile and got some post race pics, of course. :)

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!

Comments

  1. 1

    Way to go Anne, you did awesome!!!

  2. 2
    Sabrina says:

    Hills at the end of races are so hard! I live in Anchorage and the person that sets the courses for many of the races has said that as long as he is in charge all races will end on a hill. Ouch! Way to go keeping a strong mental game!

  3. 5

    Great job Anne!! I think you should consider it a PR for a HILLY course :) It sounds like a challenging 13.1!

  4. 7

    Awesome job- the course sounds like a beast, those Seattle hills are no joke! I LOVE when there is chocolate milk at the end of the race!! Congrats on another great finish :)

  5. 8

    Anne, what an amazing effort!! It reminds me so much of my first (and only, so far) half marathon last summer here in San Francisco. My goals definitely “evolved” over the course of the race ;-) and ended up including the same as yours — not letting a pacer pass me, and not walking. I said goodbye to my A goal time by about mile 8! Yeesh. It also had a lot of hills at the end, plus one gnarly one earlier that took a lot more out of me than I expected it too. So, your post really resonated with me! But you should be so proud of such a great race!!

  6. 10
    Priya Mehra says:

    that sounds like a really tough race! I totally thought you were going to hit that complete PR, though! :/ but still, a new 2nd best on THAT course is so good! maybe try a less hilly course? Either way, i loved hearing about the track workouts, it’s so motivating!

  7. 12

    Great job powering through those hills! You’ll get that PR eventually but for now at leas tyou’re running STRONG races!

  8. 14

    I was rooting for you on Saturday! Even though you didn’t get a new PR, you still did a great job! Good job not walking at the end too! The Mercer Hill is horrible!

  9. 16

    Congrats on a great race! I’d consider that as good as a PR since downtown Seattle is so incredibly hilly. My last race ended with an uphill portion also – it really makes a fast finish so tough!

  10. 18

    Great job! Don’t forget it was probably a PR if you go by effort vs time. Hilly routes require more effort than flat ones right?! Seattle is on my bucket list for vacation so i’ll try and time it with this race in the coming years. Thanks for the recap.

  11. 20
    Brittany says:

    Great job!! All those sub-8 miles are impressive, let alone add in that they’re on HILLS. You rock!
    Not going to lie though, your recap with all the hills makes me super happy that Savannah doesnt have a hilly course!

  12. 22

    Way to go! You did a great job. Hills at the end? Wow.

  13. 23
    Jacquelyn says:

    Awesome race! Sometimes you have to positive split to see what you’re capable of (not that you aren’t capable of a faster time, but at least you know you left it ALL out there on that day and that course!). As always, love your positive attitude. Congrats and enjoy your accomplishment!

    • 24

      That’s so true — I hadn’t done a positive split in awhile, and sometimes I finish races wondering if I should have pushed it more since I had a lot left in the last mile. This race? Not so much! I finished totally spent and felt like I really gave it all I had – and that’s all I could have asked for! That’s probably why I wasn’t super disappointed about the lack of PR!

  14. 25

    Great work, Anne! I feel like this could have been my race report, too! There were moment when I thought I wokls PR, but those last few miles/hills were brutal. I actually exclaimed some choice words when I saw that last hill before the finish line! Haha. Can’t wait to do it again next year.

  15. 27
    Roadrunner says:

    Very well done, Anne. You hung tough, did much better than the last one there, and showed that speed work is key. Now to marry that with more distance and give it another go. Great work, impressive race!

  16. 28

    Congrats! Way to finish strong. Your positive attitude is so inspiring!!

  17. 29

    You rocked it! That is not an easy course and you powered through those hills : ) Awesome job! So glad you had such a fantastic time!!

  18. 30

    ahhhh the weather! sorry it wasn’t a PR, but a great race, especially given those hills! love your pics!

  19. 31

    Girl, you’re such a rock star. It was awesome meeting you, and I really enjoyed reading the full breakdown here! Hope to do it again soon!

  20. 33

    Wow, that’s an amazing time Anne! :)) I haven’t ever broken 1:50. Someday, hopefully!

  21. 34

    I travel up to Seattle every week for work – I would love to complete a race there!

  22. 35

    Seattle/Tacoma races are hard to PR on! I’ve run 3 races out here, ALL of which have steep, steep uphill finishes.

  23. 37

    Way to go!! PR or not, you’re still super fast and impressive!

  24. 39

    What do you use to take pictures while killing sub-8 min miles? I’m gearing up to run a full marathon in a beach city and would love to know how you get such amazing shots!

    • 40

      I use a point and shoot camera — I’ve had this one for years and it has served me very well – highly recommend it! I’ve tried doing action shots using my phone but it’s really hard – the point and shoot is the way to go. I just hold it in my hand the whole time or sometimes put it in my hydration pack. Since I hold it on my training runs too I’m used to it!

  25. 41
    adrianna says:

    you should be so proud of yourself! way to go, girl. killed it!

  26. 42

    Love this post! This half was my very first and I am completely hooked! Hopefully I’ll see you at another race in Seattle! #runhappy http://www.obsessedbyportia.com/rock-n-roll-half-marathon-finisher/

  27. 44

    PR or not, that is an awesome time! This makes me want to run a Brooks race pretty darn soon! Awesome job!

  28. 45

    Bravo!!! :D

Trackbacks

  1. […] racing the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon Saturday and the beautiful (but steep) Mt. Rainier National Park hike on Sunday, my legs were dead! My […]

  2. […] friends! As you guys know, I ran the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon a few weeks ago. I’ve been keeping things pretty low key on the running front ever since – the […]

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