As with all my races, ‘Seattle Weekend’ came quickly. Although we left by 1pm on Friday, I did not know about the crazy traffic. I would have left sooner, but I did not get the memo that this weekend was projected to be among the worst traffic ever due to all the activities. (Note to self: check local papers online before destination races) In fact, there were so many activities, late hotel planners like myself were scrambling. I made a mistake (first time ever) and scheduled the hotel for Saturday night, thinking the race was on Sunday, NOT Saturday. Luckily Anne caught it a month out, and we were able to find a hotel that was only three blocks away for $218. (Traffic was a nightmare, but we were able to get to the expo for about an hour before it closed).
The Seattle Pacific Hotel is not a prestige hotel, but it served it’s purpose. It did have a decent bed, a fridge, a microwave, an airconditioner, and a clean bathroom. AND it was sooo close to the Seattle Center. Seriously three small blocks and we were there. We were able to ‘sleep in’ till 5:30, get ready and head out to the race in what seemed like time to spare. If looking for a close hotel, and you can’t find anything else, The Yelp reviews are much harsher than what we experienced. Yes it’s run down- yes they overcharged and monopolized for the race, but it worked out for us.
Once again, I got the VIP treatment by Rock ‘N’ Roll, and Anne did too. Compared to the weather at Portland, Seattle’s was magnificent. No need for heaters this time or tents to huddle under, but the shade was nice for later when it did protect from me the sun after the race. I enjoyed the views from VIP (perfect view of the stage for later). It wasn’t long before it was time to line up for the race. (It seemed to come quickly- as I only had been up 1.5 hours compared to the last R&R where I was at the race 2.5 hours before the race started.)
I was in corral 13 and it took about 11 minutes to get to the front. This is where I saw John Bingham on the Starting stage and went fangirl! I squealed in delight and ran to the side of the corral and blew him a kiss. He is so awesome due to the fact he sent one back! Just what I needed to keep me energized the entire race.
I really enjoyed the course. It seemed quite a bit of the course was shady, and with great views along the way. (I am sure the great weather helped!). Miles 1-2 were through the downtown, and after that we hit neighborhoods until about 6 miles. I loved the costumes and themed aid stations. I think miles 5-6 were a gradual uphill, but i didn’t bother me, and I reveled in the awesome view of MT Rainer. Mile 7ish the race ‘split’ and the half folks went left and the marathoners went right. I say ‘split’ because there was a path for the marathoners to run (after they joined with us again, which was about mile 13 for them). It was here that we saw more amazing views of the lake then started the mile of sniffles.
For about a mile (or more it seemed like) there were tributes to those who battled cancer, some honored, some in memory of. Having lost a brother to Lymphoma, this was a little tough, I don’t think my partner noticed that I went a bit quiet. Then came another (even longer) mile of tributes to fallen Soldiers of Washington, ending with people holding large American flags at the end. I luckily had been warned about this by Ben. It was humbling, here I was racing and enjoying live, and they gave their lives so I could. I luckily kept it together with the sniffles and did not break down in a pile of goo. It’s why I haven’t done The Marine Corps Marathon. I would be a blubbering mess at Arlington. (I know this because I am tearing up just from writing this article and thinking about it.)
The pace car and first male marathoner passed us at mile 8. Wow! I started 12 min behind him AND I he was at mile 15ish and still passing me. Amazing!) . Soon we turned into a tunnel and began another slow gradual uphill section. It felt surreal to be in the tunnel, and I couldn’t help but feel a little crowded when it is filled with numerous runners, limited to one lane. As we came out of the tunnel- about mile .5 Anne was starting to lose her energy. Unfortunately for her (and others I am sure), the hills did not let up. There was only a slight reprieve at mile 10, and then it was back uphill again.
Soon we turned left onto a street for a steep downhill towards the Waterfront. Heheh, and what goes down must come up! in Seattle That’s right readers, YAY for more hills! The last two miles were pretty much all uphill I think. But let me tell you, that view of the Waterfront and the Ferris Wheel were one of my favorites views all day! Soon there was another tunnel, and after we came out, we passed our hotel! We were close not and almost done, but there was another challenge facing us. Anne was really tired at this point, and turning the corner at about Mile 12 almost broke her. (HAHAH my perspective only :P) What greeted us in all it’s shining glory was…da-dah-daaaah…another hill! A pretty steep one in fact. She had been warned, but I think she forgot about it. We toughed it out (sort of :P) and made it across the finish line!
The medals were, of course, awesome. The chute was organized, and we moved quickly. I knew we had VIP, so I took a chocolate milk and left the other goodies for others. (I still think Rock N Roll needs to have some sort of bag/box to hold things you get in the finish line chute!) After leaving the chute, I went to get my Pacific Peaks medal. I was dismayed to find a long line, but it moved quickly. I don’t think I was in it more than 5-6 minutes. I soon found out why it moved so quickly. Once you get to the front, the volunteer keys in your bib number and hands you your medal. I think it was 10 secs maybe 15. Off to the VIP area. (I will note I saw that Dr Dribble was there also! He was busy taking photos and had a bit of a line, so I kept moving).
I cannot say enough awesome things about VIP treatment. They have all the foods at the finish line (save bananas – again another thing they could add that I think people would love) but they also have extra yummy breakfast and lunch foods, with some desserts too. Beer or Mimosa, chocolate milk and Gatorade to drink if we chose. They had assisted stretching and massages, and again had the cell phone charging station which Anne took advantage of. Lots of neat little perks that make a destination race so nice.
We sat with Ben and Joe again and enjoyed the post-race bliss. Ben got a PR! (Grats Ben!) I enjoyed the fact I was not going to be sore the rest of the weekend, unlike him, so no regrets on my part for not racing. I ran into speed skater Apolo Ohno, who ran his very first race ever! He smiled at me, but I didn’t know it was him at the time. I had only seen a few pics of him, and usually they are his racing pics, so I didn’t even recognize him in in his Team chocolate Milk uniform. Still, he seems like a congenial guy.
I left just after the The Presidents of United States of America took the stage, but Anne confirmed that Sir-Mix-A-Lot was just as awesome as the Presidents. We had a great view of the bands as the played on Fisher Green field from where we sat. (There were tons of booths, food trucks and more outside the VIP area, so you can have a great time without VIP too.)
This was by far my favorite Rock ‘N’ Roll to date. It was well organized, Well Run, Great folks, and the runners were in such good spirits, probably due to the great weather and the amazing views. It is a hilly race, especially at the end, but aren’t all Seattle races? If looking for a great Destination race, you can’t go wrong with this one! Now to get Rock Encore Medal in the mail!