"I'm a marathoning grandma who discovered that by honestly sharing my running journey and its highs and lows, others have been inspired." Wendy was one of the training program mentors for our Spring Half Marathon training program. We asked her to share a race report from the 2014 Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. You can following along in her running journey via her facebook community, Wendy Would.
For some reason, the week before the Seattle Rock N Roll ½ marathon, I was very nervous and excited. I had even recently run two 1/2 marathons, one of them being the Portland RnR. But I think maybe I was excited to run with my niece, Marci, again and to be running with the training group from Fleet Feet. Personally, I didn’t have any first-time half marathon runners in my mentor group, but there were plenty in the program overall. This race was the culmination of 16 weeks of training, and we had run some serious training miles together. Adding to the excitement was the size of the race (over 18,000 runners), the great, positive outpouring of community support for this event and the perfect running forecast for no chance of rain and mild temperatures.
The morning of the race, the Fleet Feet group was to meet at a local coffee shop. For some reason, Marci, daughter Mariah and I were running late and missed the meet up. I felt badly because I knew there were people waiting for me who were counting on me to pace them. Luckily, we ran into most of the group as they were walking towards the Seattle Center (note to self: next time exchange phone numbers before race day!). The Fleet Feeters quickly dispersed as we approached the Center. Some runners headed to gear check, some of the faster runners went to their start corrals and some of us went to find the Brooks Rock Star Porta Potty (thanks for the VIP hook up unnamed awesome guy!). After we all took care of business, we lined up in our assigned corrals. There were several dozen corrals, each containing a few dozen runners. As the starting group inched forward, we could hear the countdown and air horn for each corral to start running. This makes the waiting even more exciting and makes the tummy butterflies even more active!
I started the race with one of my mentees, Gina, and an adopted mentee, Steph. We all stuck together through much of the race, and it was a lot of fun. Gina and I had decided mid-race that even if we didn’t set a personal record for this race, we felt we were giving it our best effort. I finished the race feeling the same way. I saw Steph at the finish and she also felt good about her performance. We saw group member Jeremy who had a strong race as well.
We started the race running south towards and then on Rainier Avenue and then cut across to Genesee. The sights along the course got very beautiful as we ran along the familiar route of Lake Washington Boulevard. It’s always spectacular to see the sun shining brightly on the water. Running through the shaded section of the road was very emotional as pictures of sick and deceased cancer patients (posted by Team in Training) and fallen soldiers, punctuated by military personnel and family members holding flags, lined the course. All I could do was say thank you thank you thank you thank you as they cheered us on.
Throughout the race, the cheer squads and folks cheering us on were tremendous. I understand a large part of the city hates these races as it shuts down traffic, so this makes up for those runner guilt feelings some of us have. Side note to race directors: I wish they did a better job of screening the bands. Personally, as a runner, I want to hear an upbeat rockin’ song, not a slow, quiet, “the burning embers of my heart are slowly dying as you slice through my soul with a dull knife …” songs. Could just be me, though. My favorite band (as was the case in Portland) was the military band. These bands are very talented, very well-rehearsed, professional and sharply dressed in uniform. The military personnel surrounding these bands are always up for a high five from a grateful, sweaty runner.
As we ran up to a familiar hill, as badly as I wanted to walk it, I had a flashback to last year’s marathon and Coach Jaime standing at the top. I told Gina we had to run this hill and sure enough, near the top were mentors Emily and Heidi and Marathon Maniac Rufus. Phew! That was a close one! Unfortunately, I was walking (clearly out of the way of the runners – my own pet peeve) on a flat spot later in the race as the same crew biked past me. If they saw me walking, they were kind enough not to say anything.
I welcomed the cool shade of the tall buildings as we ran through downtown Seattle. I knew this was going to be short-lived, as we still had the exposed Viaduct to conquer. As expected, it was hot and sunny on the viaduct, but the volunteers and bands were no less enthusiastic. We turned into the dreaded Battery Street tunnel. To run in a tunnel on a warm, summer day is like running in a sauna with hundreds of other out of breath runners. It’s hot. There’s no air circulation. Your main goal is to get out of there as quickly as you can.
The race ended on an uphill straightaway, which definitely makes for horrible finish line pictures. But the finish line itself was exciting and the many volunteers handed us our medals and water quickly and efficiently. Past the finish line, vendors offering chocolate milk, Gatorade, fruit, bagels, energy/protein bars, bread and pretzels were set up. I really think swag bags should be offered at the finish line instead of at the race expo!
Once we cooled down and stretched and I collected my Sasquatch Pacific Peaks medal (for running both Portland and Seattle), Marci, Mariah and I went to collect our free beers. We joined Rufus and Fleet Feeters Katie, Kristen, Jane and Rich from the Fleet Feet group and planted ourselves on the grass to enjoy the music. The finish line bands were Presidents of the United State of America and Sir Mix A Lot. I didn’t think I was familiar with either, but ended up recognizing a lot of the music they played.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, and I loved the energy at the after race party. While I was sitting with the group, a woman flopped face first onto the cool grass beside me. Noticing the unopened bottle of Gatorade in one hand and a bagel in the other, I asked the obvious: “Did you just finish the marathon?” She did and said she’d been dreaming of that cool grass for many miles. We chatted a bit. She’s a 40-year-old middle school teacher from Pacifica, CA. My daughter later asked me who she was since it seemed like I knew her. Nope! That’s what I love about running events. We all have this common thread, and it’s enough to strike up a conversation.
As we sat on the grass and enjoyed the music, I was able to watch some more Fleet Feet runners work their way to the finish line festivities, including first time 1/2 marathon finishers Anni, Janny and Emily! It was fun to see their excitement and receive their hugs. This marked the finale of another successful Rock N Roll marathon and another successful Fleet Feet training program!
Thank you, Wendy for this awesome report! You are an awesome mentor!