Having run hot weather marathons in Tucson, Barcelona, and Salt Lake City, it never crossed my mind that the heat could be an issue in Seattle. Was banking on overcast, cool temps, and maybe even a drop or two of rain. Not! Turned out the Emerald City had been rainless for about a month prior to Saturday's race. No change for race day. It was probably mid-50s at the 7am start, as 17,000 half marathoners and 7,000 full marathoners lined up at the Tukwila start. By the time I finished over 5 hours later it was surely into 70s. It was certainly not TOO hot, but the heat and blazing sunshine were something to contend with.
The RNR folks loves them some starting corrals. In Seattle there were over 30 of them. For RNR San Diego last month they dropped the ropes that kept the corrals separate after the elites took off, which allowed everyone else to move up and then begin when we inched up to the start. For some reason they didn't do that in Seattle. They kept the corrals in tact, moving one up after the previous one was released. I was in corral 24, and didn't pass under the balloons for 45 minutes! As I looked back from there I could see nothing but full corrals. I'm guessing those at the end didn't cross the start for at least an hour. Not good.
The first 3-4 miles were pleasant enough, although not very scenic. A mix of residential and commercial areas. The next 8 miles could not have been more beautiful, through posh Seward Park and along the western shoreline of Lake Washington. A Kodak moment brought big crowds of runners to a halt at mile 7, as a bald eagle was spotted perched at the end of a tree branch over the water's edge. I didn't have my camera.
We reached the I-90 highway at the 9 mile mark, and turned east across the floating bridge. Once out on the span, another chance for an awesome picture. Snow-capped Mount Rainer not too far off to the south. Once we hit the eastern end of the bridge we turned around and headed back across and up into the first of a number of tunnels that knocked out my Garmin. Lost the satellites for about 1/2 mile.
It was not long after coming out of the tunnel that the Seattle skyline rose in the distance. Just before heading into the downtown area we passed by Qwest Stadium. It would be the first of three times we'd run by the finish. That plays with your head a little. This is where the 1/2 marathoners turned south while the full folks headed in the opposite direction, where the biggest hills of the course live. Actually they're the same hill...we just ran up it from both sides. My northbound ascent was blessed with the mile 17 Mars bar moment. I was so ready for that!
Once we'd put the long, gradual, southbound climb to the 20 mile marker behind us, it was pretty much downhill til mile 25. That's where the last short climb kicks in, before the very welcome downhill along the west side of Qwest to the big 26...and a sizeable, cheering crowd. Nice!
Elite Racing put on a very well- planned and executed event for 25,000 people. I think they need to do the corral start thing differently. It's just goofy to wait upwards of an hour to reach the start. And...the out-and-back for the last 3 miles is just brutal, and ugly. There's gotta be somewhere else those miles can be achieved.
As far as how I did...stuck with my 3:1 run/walk intervals until mile 23-ish, then geared down to 2:1, mostly because of the heat. I turned in a 5:12, which I am happy with. Marathon 27 in the can...the 8th of the 12 in 12 challenge.
Next up, San Francisco at the end of July. Then, nearly six weeks "off" before Rochester.