Seattle Rock N Roll Half-Marathon recap (in half the words)Posted: July 19, 2011
Common courtesy is that after your friends, family, and one very kind-hearted stranger donate their hard-earned money to a fabulous charity, on behalf of your hare-brained and ongoing compulsion to do endurance events for reasons unknown, that you tie up all the loose ends and tell them how the event actually went down. For all they know at this point, maybe I didn’t even show up… In case anyone is getting nervous at this point, I did show up and successfully put in my 13.1 miles. And just in case you missed me talking about it ad naseum, here is a picture of my walking buddy Sandy and me with our finisher medals.
Last year I wrote the world’s longest recap and recounted every moment of those life-changing 26.2 miles. This year I was thinking maybe I would go a different way and in half the words (or less) share a few select moments that stood out.
My walking buddy, Sandy, and I planned to walk together but also both agreed that the event is ultimately a personal experience. So, in that light, if one of us had to stop off for a pit stop the other one would keep going and hopefully we would catch up. Around mile 5, Sandy cut off to take advantage of reasonably short port-a-potty lines (Side note, these events have notoriously long lines – two years before at another half-marathon I watched hundreds of runners go by me while I waited impatiently in line…). As agreed, I kept going. I did slow down to a more casual pace, thinking she would easily catch up to me, but eventually I realized that wasn’t going to happen, so I picked back up the pace and figured I was on my own. Then nature knocked on my door, and I ducked off the trail to a park restroom about a mile later. When I got back to the course, Sandy was about 20 feet ahead of me, as if we had planned it that way. We stayed together the rest of the way along the course and over the finish line. This may not seem like much, but when you are sharing an event with over 25,000 other people, reconnecting like that is far from a given.
The other moment that stands out for me was around Mile 12. We bumped into Coach Siri and it is always very motivational to see the coaches. For whatever reason, it always puts a little extra pep in my step. After the requisite Sandy photo op, we headed to the viaduct where the race splits and the half marathon goes left towards the finish line and the full marathon turns right for another 12 miles. I was getting tired and my hips were sore, but I experienced a brief moment of pure joy that I was able to go left and did not have to continue on for another 12 miles (in case you think my math is wrong, the courses do not match each other exactly). In fact, I may have enjoyed that moment more than actually crossing the finish line. As monumental as my marathon experience was last year, I was really VERY happy not to be doing it again this year.
I got to the finish line and after chatting with my other TNT teammates, Brian took me home where I practically dove head first into an ice bath (the only time this season that Brian got the pleasure of recreating “Lyda on the rocks”). I was never in imminent danger of being booted off the course like I had been last year and enjoyed Sandy’s company as well as seeing the bands and cheerleaders. This being my third time at this event, the course was familiar, and I felt a quiet sense of satisfaction in accomplishing my training goal. I was mildly disappointed to finish in just over 4 hours when I had hoped to come in just under that, but as my new non-stranger friend, Steve Bralla, reminded me – whatever time I finished in I would have wished it would have been faster, or my form better, or… So the best we can do is to find a way to be comfortable with not ever really being fully satisfied in our performance, which ironically is the very thing that drives our success in the first place.
Finally, if I haven’t expressed it adequately already, THANK YOU to everyone who has so generously supported me in this effort. I literally could not do this without your help and the fact that so many of you have stepped up more than once makes me even that much more and I am humbled by your donations on my behalf.
I guess I will recount one other memory. As many of you know, I walked this event in memory of my friend Gil, who lost his battle with Leukemia a couple of years ago. Gil was, well, a weird dude and life was rarely dull or normal if you spent any amount of time with him. He was not a runner and probably would have found a half-marathon a rather mundane event. Later that day, Brian and I were driving back from the store and we encountered a group of people in bright multi-colored body suits that covered their heads and even down to their fingers, riding old fashioned bicycles (with bells and baskets on the front) across the intersection. This was nowhere near the race course and was hours after the event finished, and it had to be one of the most random things I had seen all day (or any other day for that matter). It was frankly a rather Fellini-esque moment. I could not help but think of Gil and smile.