Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday, I ran the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon with a HUGE group from my running club (there were more than a hundred of us)! I had a fantastic time and would definitely run this again next year, if I'm still in Seattle (unlikely). My ONLY regret is that I couldn't take a stab at a PB, since I'm a slave to marathon training; it would have been a perfect day for it - great weather, flat course. But, cry me a river: I have marathoner problems.

The course is a point to point. The start and the parking were in Marymoor Park in Redmond. I got there early because I had to pick up my packet still and the running club was meeting for a photo at 7:45. There were loads of people directing us where to go and good signage. There was a bit of a line to funnel into the parking area, past the people who were collecting the $1 parking fee, but nothing crazy, and I had plenty of time. But, I did hear from people who were trying to arrive a bit later that they ran into giant backups trying to get off the highway and get into the park. In the end, the organizers held the race and started 15 minutes late. I don't think they did anything wrong here - I just think runners didn't allow for enough time to get 2,000 people to the start line!
SGLRG, by Ross Comer
It was great to see people from my running club before I even got out of my car! After I picked up my packet, we wandered for a group photo, and then I started in on a few warm-up miles. I needed the miles to get to my scheduled 16 miles. Plus, it was actually pretty chilly at the start - mid 30s and really foggy - so it was actually nice to be moving and shaking things out, rather than just standing around getting even colder. I love being out there warming up with just a few other people wearing bibs, because you all kind of exchange secret smiles about this wonderful and crazy thing that we do. I'd also note that, as someone who runs at night 90% of the time, it can take a few extra minutes for my legs to wake up in the early morning.

Photo: Ross Comer
Anyway, I found my friend and running buddy and we waited just a few minutes for the start. I thought about putting in my headphones, but ended up running without them. I really wanted to be present in the run and enjoy the scenery and the experience, rather than disassociating with a podcast. I've been doing that more and more and I really love it. After a few last minute photos, we were off with the cheers from our injured runners (who decided to have a grand time walking the course, since they couldn't run) in our ears. The two of us stayed together for the first mile and a bit before I got sent on ahead. I thought the organizers did a great job only allowing the number of registrations that the course could support, because, after the first half mile or so, I never had any trouble with crowding.
Photo: Ross Comer
Photo: Ross Comer
This is the most beautiful course, right along the bank of Lake Sammamish, on an improved (but not paved) rail trail. For the longest time, the Lake was covered in mist and you could just see private docks receding away into the wall of fog. It was stunning. Then, suddenly, the fog was gone and it was beautiful "why didn't I bring my sunglasses" sunshine. SUNSHINE! IN SEATTLE! IN MARCH! I KNOW!!!! The whole thing was pancake flat other than one little tiny hill where we moved from the trail to the road (the trail is closed for some reason) to run to Lake Sammamish State Park. Once we got into the park, things got pretty hilarious, because we had to run laps of the parking lot to get up to the correct distance (I think it was almost two miles of parking lot)! It was kind of awesome to watch lap after lap of runners making their way in the gigantic lot. Even though you didn't exit the parking lot until after mile 13, you couldn't see the finish line from there, which would have made things both easier and harder.

Start line fun!
The medal is great (I LOVE BALD EAGLES) and they had tons of great food (and chocolate milk!). I really appreciated that they'd transported all the bag check bags to the finish line (it was still cold). I had time to see my friend that I'd started with finish, which was great! They'd even left the medal podium up, so we took photos up top! Afterwards, they had school buses to take everyone back to the start/parking. I must say, I prefer point to point races where you do the bus ride AFTER the race, rather than the masochistic pre-race ritual of watching the miles creep by and thinking "WTF have I gotten myself into!?" I did feel a bit bad for the woman sitting with me, who realized that she was supposed to have picked her bag up at the finish line just as we pulled into Marymoor Park.

This is where my calf started cramping in the parking lots.
As for my own race, I was pleased. My goal was a nice, steady run at 11:05 pace, as the Hansons have decreed for me. I just kept chugging and ended up with an overall pace of 10:58, which I'll chalk down as "close enough." I'm pleased because I did exactly what I set out to do: I never felt overstretched. I don't even think my breathing ever got heavy and I think I accidentally qualified for the Half Fanatics, too. I had a weird experience in the last two miles or so, where I could FEEL that my left calf had cramped up at the top. I just kept running, though, because I was reasonably sure that if I stopped it would only be worse or that I would have a hard time starting to run again. I wanted to know that I could push through it, in case it happens on marathon day. Weirdly, that cramp hadn't really gone away until I woke up on Sunday morning, despite my best effort at eating salty food, foam rolling, Epsom bathing, and compression. I've never had that happen before!

I was also pleased because I had such trouble with my legs the last few days - I had a really tight sacroiliac muscle (right where your leg meets your torso - at the "crease") and I only did a two mile run on Thursday as a result. With a lot of awkward foam rolling, it felt better and I didn't have any of those problems during the race. I am definitely a bit sore and stiff today - I think that's because the race was so flat, so it was the muscles working the whole time. Runners! You can't please us! This course is TOO FLAT, that one is TOO HILLY! NOTHING IS EVER JUST RIGHT! *grin*

Finally, I think I need to continue to need to work on my nutrition strategy. I carried a bottle of water, took on a tiny cup of nuun at the last aid station, and took a Clif Blok every two miles (OMG, loved the strawberry flavor they sent as a present for signing up for their pace team in Eugene!). I think that's only ~24g carbs per hour, though, and that needs to be improved. Plus, I still think a salt tablet along the way might have prevented the cramping. I'll keep thinking. Maybe I need to make sure I regularly take on electrolyte drink along the way, in addition to the Clif Bloks or equivalent? I will say that I think bloks or chomps are the way for me to go - it's just so much easier and more efficient to pop one out than the maneuvering I have to do to take on a gel!

Anyway, I loved the race and I loved meeting up with my teammates afterwards for a great pub celebration!


Anonymous said... Reply to comment

Congrats on the race! Funny I found your site with a photo of me and the hubby running in the parking lot before I did a face plant over a speed bump. Super sore, but I'll survive to race again. Cheers, debi @