Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seahawks 12K (4/19/15)

Months ago, when we planned to go to Seattle this past weekend for some Mariners baseball, we signed up for the Seahawks 12K Run in nearby Renton.
Friend Tera has done the race a couple times and recommended it - plus, I don't really need an excuse to register for a race - especially one where I'm encouraged to wear my tutu ;)

The weekend was a near-total disaster, with so many things going wrong that I can't even remember it all. But Sunday's race was a high point!

Our train broke down Saturday, so we missed packet pickup. Because the crowds were supposed to be huge, and there was limited parking close to the race, the plan was to get there really early to grab our bibs.

We parked just a block from the race area (which was a big shopping center) and walked right up to get our bibs and shirts before the big crowds gathered. Without trouble, Mom and Dad were able to switch from the 12K to the 5K.

I was so distracted by all the things going wrong with our weekend that I didn't take any pictures at the race. Not a single one. Until we were all the way back to our hotel:
An empty storefront served as the gear check, but since we were parked so close, we opted to put our warm clothes in there.

Because of a breakfast debacle at the hotel, we arrived at the race with empty stomachs. Fortunately, there was a Panera Bread in the shopping center. Unfortunately, many, many other racers decided to fuel up there, too. We stood in line for a long time to order fruit and oatmeal, and when we finally got our food, it was cold (yum!). But we were desperate and without other options, so it would have to suffice.

After ditching our clothes and hitting the port-a-potties, Eryn and I jumped into the starting chute for the 9 a.m. 12K. Amazingly, Tera spotted me - and we exchanged a pre-race hug for luck. Each wave started with some fanfare - and apparently an appearance by the Seahawks mascot, dancers and drum line, though I couldn't see them through the crowd.

This race was large - capped at 12,000 runners. And almost everyone was dressed in Seahawks shirts, jerseys, flags or tutus. I loved it! Mom, Eryn and I all wore our green tutus and blue tank tops. Dad apparently didn't get the memo and wore orange:
As always, I didn't study the course ahead of time. I knew it was an out-and-back and there were some hills. Oh, and it went to the Seahawks training facility. That's it.

I've only run one other 12K, so I didn't have a good sense of what this distance (7.46 miles) would look or feel like. I planned to go by feel and see what happened. I did look to see that my PR from my first 12K was a 9:14 average. I tucked that in the back of my mind and went to work.

It was very crowded at the beginning, so I spent a lot of time weaving. That gets old really fast. Actually, it was never not crowded. Fortunately, I was able to run on the other side of the center line for some of it. Having that wide-open path feels good. (That's one of the things I enjoyed about my last race - the openness of the field)

About 2 miles in, I heard a siren. I soon realized that it was the motorcycle escort for the lead runner coming back on the course. I was at 2.25 miles when he lapped me! (He ended up winning with a 5:08 pace!)
One of the most amazing things about this race was the crowd support. Everyone cheered for that runner as he went past. And then the next one. And then the next one. And pretty soon, here came the lead woman. We cheered even louder for her! I can only imagine the mental boost those runners got as they ran past a huge crowd cheering just for them.

Runners are the best!

The course had lots of rolling hills, so I shortened my stride on the way up and then took full advantage of gravity on the way down. I felt like I had a good rhythm, and I watched my average creep down. I was running controlled but also pushing a little. The out-and-back provided a nice distraction as I watched the other runners coming toward me. Also - snagged a high-five from Tera as she zoomed past. She's really fast!
The course was gorgeous! Once we left the shopping center/industrial area, we ran next to Lake Washington.

The training facility was at the turn-around point. I rounded the corner and spotted the water station... and some Seahawks players handing out cups of water! WHAT?!? I didn't know that was going to happen! I don't know who the players were - not Wilson, Sherman or Lynch - but they were still Seahawks!

I really wanted to stop and gawk, like many other runners were doing, but I was doing so well with my pace that I let myself take just a moment to take it in. I also saw the little helmet car they drive at the games, as well as the big grass field where they practice outside, overlooking Lake Washington. And through big glass garage doors, I saw some weight machines. It was so cool!

I got back in my groove and started picking up the pace. The temp was near-perfect, the wind was light, and the left lane was mostly clear. I started pushing a bit more. I was passing lots of people, including men, and felt awesome that I was kicking butt in a neon-green tutu!

One woman gave me a "nice job" as I passed. But to keep me humble, a woman pushing a newborn in a giant stroller zoomed past me. It's all relative :)

I kicked as hard as I could at the end, rounded the corner to the finish line and barely crossed the pads before I was stopped by the crowd.

The finisher area was JAM PACKED like a cattle chute. It was very well organized but no where near big enough. I think I was in there 15+ minutes, getting water, bagel, banana, shoe chip removed and finally this awesome medal:
I was completely cooled off by the time I got out of the chute, and the wind was chilly. So I ran to the nearby car and grabbed our puffy jackets. Then I went back in search of my family.

I had a slight panic moment when I realized we never made a meet-up plan. The place was big, and all 12,000+ people were dressed the same! Thankfully, I finally spotted Mom and Dad (yay for the only orange shirt!), and then Eryn.

We were hustling to shower, pack, check out of our hotel and then beat it downtown for the Mariners game, so we didn't hang out. But it looked like there were lots of freebies and Seahawks things to photograph.
I ended up finishing in 1:08:36, an 8:56 average pace! (My Garmin had the course long at 7.66 miles) That's an 18-second-per-mile PR!

I usually finish VERY middle of the pack. But I'm starting to move up! This time I was 924 out of 4953 and 80 out of 560 in females 35-39. WOOHOO! That's not the middle of the pack :)
I'm most excited about my splits. I negative split the entire race, aside from the mile I was distracted by the professional football players!

 My splits:
  • Mile 1: 9:28
  • Mile 2: 9:24
  • Mile 3: 8:55
  • Mile 4: 8:51
  • Mile 5: 9:22 (Seahawks!)
  • Mile 6: 8:45
  • Mile 7: 8:30
  • Mile .66: 7:57
Sub-8 for the last .66?! YES!

We've gone to opening weekend two years now, and I hope we go again next year and make the Seahawks 12K a new family tradition :)

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