With a title like that I know you are going to have to read the whole blog post eh?
Saturday was, as it almost always is on race day, an early start. The Seattle Rock and Roll marathon was in town and I had snagged a $45 entry a year ago when they announced the race so since its local it was really a no brainer. With all the marathons last year this race will be my 10th marathon (or longer) so I was hoping for a good race with a PR. I'd had 6 months rest since my last race, training had been pretty good with one really amazing long run and one where I crashed and burned at 3:00 due to heat. I was hoping for clouds and 50s but nature had another ideas and when we hit the cars at 5:30 it was already too warm for my liking.
25,000 people in a point to point marathon is always going to be interesting. The organizers put on buses but only from one location so we had friends and relatives carpool us down - that was very nice since they also had to get up at 4:30. The traffic was chaos down in Tukwila. Apparently the real late comers were getting out on the freeway and walking. We walked a half a mile up the road and I just got to my corral as they started the race. People everywhere.... bathroom lines crazy and I didn't get a chance to go which was going to come back to haunt me. The start was very fluid. Every 90s they slid us all forward and sent off another 700 or so people and I crossed the start line around 7:20
As always there are people in the wrong corral. Come on runners, sure you ran a 4:10 last year but now you are injured for whatever reason so move back. There's no reason I should be passing you before mile 1 while you pretend to power walk. Corrals are about keeping the race moving not about boosting your ego.
The 1st couple of bathrooms are no surprise crazy but I'm convincing myself I don't need to go and I can tough it out. By the 3rd I wasn't feeling so sure but the 20 person queue wasn't worth losing time for. My pace is pretty good. Just under 10:00 including the 1st water stop. The 4:15 bunny is right behind me and I think that's a pretty good sign. I noticed that when there is a band (every mile) there was a couple of porta potties hidden away so I decide to strike at the next one. Sadly others had also noticed so there was a slight line and for some reason the people in front of me all seemed to take far longer than one would expect and I take a glance as the 4:15 bunny runs by. This will turn out to be my last sighting of the rare creature.
Once that was over I felt much better. The course was very pleasant. Only one significant hill approaching Seward Park and followed by a great downhill. I'm still under 10:00 pace, a little over my 2:08 goal for half way but not too bad. Its getting warm though. I'm already tipping water down my back to stay cool which is never a good sign. The supporters are crazy and by mile 6 I've lost count of people calling my name and I've had to show my shirt to many other runners to explain how I appear to know everyone in Seattle (it has my name printed across the front). The water stops are fantastic - no shortages of fluid or volunteers. You can see that the Rock & Roll organisers know what they are doing.
Somewhere during these miles I eat some of my gel and I notice I have got Chocolate gel on my hand. Its one of those things - sometimes you squeeze the packet on your hand, sometimes you get it on your face and wipe it off. So I wipe my hand and think nothing of it.
Oh and while I think about it here's a little rant to the ladies (sorry but its ALWAYS ladies almost always in matching TShirts) who think that its OK to walk 3 or 4 abreast on your walk breaks. Many places on the course are not very wide and when you take up of half of the space then everyone else backs up behind you. There's 25,000 other people out here trying to go the same way as you are.
Oh and another rant too - yes I know you have a fancy Garmin watch that has all sorts of alarms on it that can go off if your heart rate or your pace is too high or too low but if those alarms are going of every 30s its really distracting to everyone else around who instinctively look at their watch to see what is going on. In the end I speeded up just to get away from you!
We hit the I90 bridge at mile 10ish and head out and back. Its very exposed and hot but I am feeling pretty good and clock a really good mile on the way out. Just after the turn around I notice a knot in my right calf muscle. I stop to stretch and it doesn't seem to help much. I walk a little and can't feel it so I put it down a something that will go away as I run like most little tweaks do and I slow down a little just to make sure. Mile 11 wasn't very fast and as we rejoin the half marathon crowds and pass half way at 2:14 I realise its still there. Not getting worse but not getting better. Also I now need to run a sub 2:00 half marathon to PR. Given the heat, the pain in the leg and the speed I will need the PR has pretty much gone at this point so I decide to stop and stretch and walk for a minute again. Walking is fine but as soon as I start running there is the knot.
Once again I find chocolate gel on my hand and check my supplies - one of them must be leaking. I can't find the leak but one seems a little empty so I finish it up and throw it away. There seems to be a small amount of gel in the pocket on my shorts which seems to be how I'm getting it on my hand. But thankfully the leak appears to have been stopped.
As we pass the turn off to the finish line the half marathon runners say goodbye and I head off on the extra 11 miles (we already did an extra 2 on the bridge). The final run is a long out and back on I-99. Its a long slow uphill followed by a long downhill. I stop to walk and rub my leg to see if that helps and it makes no difference. Its still not getting worse but its not so annoying its all I can think about. At least I can walk just fine but I really, really don't want to walk in my 10th marathon. Not that anyone would notice - I've been passing walkers since mile 13 - far more and far earlier than I've seen in a marathon before. There's obviously a lot of under trained marathon runners in this race - they can't ALL have been injured during the race. Many of them went out far too fast and are now paying the price. I've slowed down too though so people are passing me as well. I dare not speed up in case something pops in the leg and the heat is getting to me.
At the top of the hill I hear a friendly voice and C from my running group is there with the camera... always good to see someone you know. He thinks I'm looking pretty good and also notices all the walkers. I hit the turn around and check my pace and realise that not only is this way over PR its going to be over 4:30. So I tell C to pass on the pace information to the finish line supporters and start the downhill right into the sun.
My pace does pick up a little and half way down I realise I have chocolate on my hand so I stop to check where its coming from and realise that its not just a small patch there is a LOT of sticky gel. My entire right buttock is glued to my shorts and its running down the back of my leg to my knee. As I tipped water over my head its slowly washed the leaking chocolate down onto my leg where its dried on. You can imagine what it looks like. The guy behind asks if I am OK - he thinks it looks like blood until I explain. I try to wipe it off but its crusted on - its obviously been there a while. People have been reading the back of my shirt and commenting but nobody thought to point out that it looks like I pooped myself? I stop at the next water stop and the lady there thinks its blood too till I show her. I use some water and a spare shirt to clean myself up as best I can. It smells good but once again I wonder why nobody pointed out to me I appeared to be bleeding from my nether regions.
Still I got a bit of a rest - maybe it helped my calf muscle... nope. I'm getting tired now but nothing I shouldn't be able to run through. I'm so far off the PR now though that there's no point for any heroics. An injury would be self inflicted at that point so I just keep up my nice 10:45-11:00 pace and have a little stretch at each water stop until the end is in sight an I hear the cowbell crew.
Nice fun race and though my 4:40 isn't close to my best time I think its a fine time given the heat and running 16 miles of the race with some sort of a cramp. Thankfully it never got bad enough to have to walk it in. Oh and a free beer at the end - you can't complain about that even if it was Miller.