Sunday, November 27, 2005

Seattle Marathon (Washington)

November 27, 2005
Marathon 34, State #28 (Age 37)
Seattle, Washington

This was my first marathon I had planned since our move to the Pacific Northwest.  As Homeyra said, this is the first marathon I've run in the city where we lived since she met me five over five years ago.  The race falls on Thanksgiving weekend which was anything but typical for us.  First it was nice to have my mom & dad in for 3 weeks.  We decided to spend an nontraditional holiday, at least for us growing up in the mid-west, skiing.  We planned on skiing at Crystal Mountain close to Rainier on Thursday with the marathon only a few days later on Sunday.

Sunday came quickly and the biggest challenge for the marathon was figuring out what to wear.  At the expo Friday and Saturday it rained practically all day.  I had run an ultra a few weeks earlier in Oregon in the rain and hoped not to have to do that again.   Fortunately Sunday came with clear skies.  The marathon starts in the Seattle Center area which is within a 1/2 mile from my office, which made for a convenient place for parking.

Homeyra came for the start of the race and we got a couple photos around the space needle and the EMP.  The race began down the street which has the current monorail tracks above.  It was big news in Seattle Saturday night right in front of the Westin where the expo was that two trains had crashed.  Apparently the tracks were designed so that two trains couldn't be in this one section and that the drivers were supposed to yield to the other train.  Ends up driver error which didn't yield caused a collision and the people in the trains had to be rescued.

Back to the race.  We continued up 5th Ave. all the way through downtown Seattle which is decorated and lit up for the holidays.  This was a gradual uphill, but the sites and excitement of the beginning of the race made the hill insignificant.  The end of 5th Ave. leads to an on ramp towards the I-90 which goes across Lake Washington.  It was clear and a beautiful site in all directions.  Their are three bridges over I-90, one in each direction and the middle bridge an express lane that changes direction depending on time of the day.  The express lanes were exclusive just for the marathon.  There was a turn around on Mercer Island after going through one of the underground tunnels.

Heading back to Seattle, the view of the city is blocked by Capital Hill.  After exiting the bridge the course turns south and along the coast of Lake Washington, makes a loop around Steward Park, and back along the Lake again north past I-90 and through some very nice suburbs.  So far the course has been mostly flat and knowing that would soon change, the course headed back up Capital Hill and another park.  The mountain hills of Seattle were both loved and hated.  Much of the course was shielded by the wind by the hills.  I dressed with layers and while shielded was warm and removed my shell while unprotected areas I was glad to have my outer protection available.

A top of one of the last big hills, finally I could see the Seattle Center area and the Space Needle where I knew the finish line was.  Since the Space Needle can be seen from nearly everywhere in the city, it was hard to judge how far to the finish line.  By this time the runners were very spread out and you go through a little industrial area of the city which is not full of spectators.  Eventually I made it to Dexter Ave. and made the turn onto Mercer where I had parked my car, so I knew the finish line was in my grasps.

I was greeted to a warm welcome inside the stadium and the family mom, dad, Homeyra, Parisa and our roommate Christy.  It was a chili finish and my crew had a warm set of dry clothes I quickly changed into.  I was disappointed at first that there was no food at the finish line until I went into the building beyond the exit where there was a great layout of food and drinks.

There were great sales at the finish of previous years tech long sleeve jerseys for $2 and cotton shirts and pullovers for only $1.  We loaded up on food and headed home.  Another state I can add a check mark!


Saturday, November 5, 2005

ORRC Autumn Leaves Run 50k Ultra (Oregon)

November 5, 2005
Marathon 33, State #27 (Age 37)
Champoeg State Park, Oregon

This marathon was sort of a spur of the moment decision.  I traveled to Portland several weeks before this ultra for the Portland Marathon which I didn't run, but worked the at the expo at the Marathon Geeks table.  I met Celia from the Oregon Road Runners Club and she invited me down for to run one of her events. 

There were many factors that led me to decide to run this event.  First, I really wanted to complete my west coast states while living in Seattle.  Secondly, I was already in shape since I was preparing for Seattle marathon in a few weeks and made for a perfect long training run.  Thirdly, since I didn't get to run Portland while in town only a few weeks back. additionally I knew 06' would be busy with my Ironman's interfering with the two marathons in Oregon I've considered for 06' (Crater Lake or Portland) the timing couldn't have been more perfect.   Fourth, I had never run and ultra and thought, "what the hell."  Lastly because I got a complimentary entry from my contact at Oregon Road Runners Club.

Homerya, Parisa & left Seattle Friday afternoon getting stuck in heavy traffic which the normal 3-3.5 hour trip took 5.5-6 hours.  We got a hotel close by in Wilsonville and called Celia to join us for dinner at Chili's.  There were multiple start times for the three events, 13.1, 50k, and 50 mile.  I decided before sleep to shoot for the 9 a.m. start.  We got a late start with Parisa tagging along, so I showed up to the park with only minutes to spare.  I checked in and made it to the start line is less than 5 minutes, pausing briefly for a start photo.

The morning of the race the clouds were heavy, but it was barely a drizzle.  Within the first 5 miles the rain began and didn't let up the entire 31 miles!  Fortunately because of the race course design of 6 5-mile loops I was able to change to dry clothes each loop.   I ran the first 26 miles in my gortex trail shoes which I'd never run that long before and my feet were getting sore.  I reserved a dry pair of shoes with my last change of cloths at mile 26.  It felt great to have new shoes, but by this time it was a steady down pour and my dry shoes barely lasted a mile into my last loop.  I had run most of the race with two guys from Oregon, Mark (a marathon maniac) and Trey.  I hadn't had a long training run over 13 miles since Grandma's marathon, so I began to slow down my 5th lap.  I got to the 28 mile mark at approx 4:30 and made a conscious decision to try to break 5 hours.  I busted ass and probably ran better than 8 minutes miles my last 3 miles.  I pushed hard and it hurt, but was worth it.  A couple from Portland that passed me in the 5th lap I finally caught up to and whizzed by.   They both congratulated me at the end of the race as they appeared to slow down.

Homeyra and Parisa had returned from the warm dry hotel and were at the finish line to greet me.  As small of an event as this was, there was still chiropractic massage and minor adjustments at the end underneath the shelter.   There was hot chocolate and hot chicken noodle soup to warm your bones as well as a 6 foot subway like sub, and variety of other snacks and treats!

We headed from the race to downtown Portland and did some shopping.  Homeyra was excited to see the whole state of Oregon is sales tax free!  We ventured to my friend and fraternity brother Tim's home for the night.  He took us to a great restaurant in Beaverton called Beaches.  By this time we were all exhausted and headed back to his place for the night.