Sunday, June 14, 2015

Race Recap: Seattle Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon

I thought my legs would be a little sore after yesterday's half marathon in Seattle but I'm actually feeling great! Oh Seattle, you are gorgeous but hilly!
This weekend, I ran my first Rock 'N' Roll Marathon Event
Disclaimer: As part of the Rock 'N' Blog team, I paid for my flight, and accommodations, but received the race entry and VIP access complimentary
My mom, sister-in-law, two nieces, London and I drove down to Seattle on Friday morning. We stopped at some outlet stores before making our way to the Expo at Century Link Field (where the Seahawks play.) The Expo was well laid out and pretty big! There was no line to pick up my bib, and shirt, so we could have been in and out fast but we wanted to spend some time exploring. Brooks had a big "Happy Island" set up where you could play games and win prizes. 
Of course, I had to join in! Cloe, London and I raced two mountain climbers and won stickers, t-shirts and hats. I picked up some Body Glide and a Sparkly Soul headband and the kids found some foam fingers and cowbells.
We checked in to our hotel, explored the market and then had supper with Jen before calling it a night around 9:30.
On race day, I set my alarm for 4:08am and had a hotel wake-up call for 4:15. I managed to sleep fairly well (despite a toddler who moves around non-stop, talks in his sleep and insists on taking up 90% of the bed haha!)
I ate my peanut butter sandwich, drank some water and spent about an hour getting ready and scrolling through social media. Since it was already 12 degrees I decided to wear shorts, a tank top and a hat. I decided to walk to the starting line but got a little bit lost so it took me almost 40 minutes. I found the VIP area and sat down and relaxed while I waited for Jen. 
The VIP area was awesome. It had private gear check and free parking (which I did not have to use but I hear it was fairly close!) They also had a breakfast buffet, mimosas (yes, some people were drinking before the race) and washrooms stocked with extras (like sunscreen!) The VIP area was close to the starting area and overlooked the concert venue. 

Jen arrived about 6 and I told her I was keeping an eye out for Janae. Janae writes Hungry Runner Girl one of the first blogs I started reading. She is a super speedy runner (and works hard for it) and it a single mom to an almost-three-year-old girl named Brooke. She is open and honest about her grief over her relationship with her husband ending. I can relate to all those feelings and have found comfort in her words more times than I can count. I eventually spotted Janae and told Jen I was going to go talk to her. So, we waited until she was done eating and introduced ourselves. Just as I imagined, she was so sweet! I definitely felt like a bit of a "fan-girl" at first but left the conversation feeling like friends. We also met Megan from Meals and Miles who I've also followed for quite some time. She was so nice too! She is expecting a baby girl in October and totally rocked their first race together!  

We left the VIP around 6:40 and made our way to the Corrals. I was in Corral 6 which put my fairly close to the starting line. They were releasing each Corral about 1 minute apart to help with congestion. I loved the idea! After the wheelchair racers took off, Sugarland's guitar player rocked the national anthem and then fireworks went off from the Space Needle signalling the official start of the race. It took about 5 minutes for my group to reach the starting line and, before I knew it, we were off. 

Since I'm still recovering from my back injury I decided to take this race easy. I always have a sub 2 goal in my head but knew that was out the window once I saw the HUGE hill at mile 1. I didn't want to push myself and risk getting hurt before my training for the NYC Marathon kicks off in a month! So, I kept the pace nice and easy and really took the race in.
I thanked volunteers, spectators and cheered on other racers. I high-fived people, along the way, and even took out my camera to get some shots as I ran. They had a different band playing each mile which was a really cool idea. 
My pace was all over the place. I had some miles at 8:15 and then others at 10:15. I was just enjoying racing for fun. Don't get me wrong, I struggled up some of the hills. I didn't walk but I wanted to.
At one point, we ran through a big long tunnel. It was dark and stuffy but kind of cool. It reminded me of the tunnel at Mile 12 of the NYC Half. Everyone was yelling and cheering and there was a stereo set up that was blasting tunes.

Then, we saw a police officer telling us to move over to one side. I knew something was wrong when I saw an emergency vehicle blocking off the other side. As I ran by, I saw paramedics working on a guy that was laying on the road. I hope he's okay...
We also got to run alongside the water which was stunning! I miss living so close to the water! At this point, they had photos of local soldiers killed in the line of duty and friends and family holding American Flags. I immediately started getting choked up. I decided to thank every single person holding a flag. My brother serves in the Canadian Navy and has been deployed several times. I can't imagine losing someone I love because they're fighting to protect me and my freedom. That was a very special touch and, although emotional, added so much to my race experience.

At one point, we got to run along the interstate. Apparently, some people don't like this part of the course but I thought it was cool! You could see the skyline and there was lots of room to spread out. As we neared the end I noticed a bunch of people slowing down and crowding around someone on the ground. I approached the group and stopped running. There was a guy, unconscious, on the ground and people were trying to help him and comfort those who had been running with him. I asked if medical had been calling and they had. I spotted them running towards us and a few of us took off. I was blown away by how many people stopped to help and weren't worried about their time but on helping this guy. 
I later heard a 27 year old had a heart attack, on the course. I'm not sure if it was either of the two guys I saw but I'm glad he's okay.

As we ran back into downtown Seattle I looked down at my watch and knew I wasn't going to come in under two hours. I wasn't concerned about my time but on the fact I had told my family to expect me around 9. I started speeding up so they didn't have to wait too long. 

The course ended up about a half kilometer hill (mean Rock 'N' Roll haha) and then you rounded one final corner before you spotted the finish line. 

Up, Up, Up Hill!
That's where I spotted my family too! The kids had made signs and were ringing their cowbells and waving at me.

I decided to run over and say hi. I ran straight to London, told him "Mommy's almost done" and that I would meet them at the finish line. I sprinted to the end and threw my hands up in the air as I crossed the finish line. 
TIME: 2:08:10
OVERALL: 3489/11012
DIVISION 339/1226
GENDER: 1518/6920

After the race, runners are lead down this path to the exit area. Along the way, people area handing you food and drinks and your medal. I took everything as I was hungry! I quick found my family, took some photos, and then London and I headed to the VIP area.

They offered massages but I didn't want to have to worry about London while I was getting one so I passed. I did help myself to two full plates of fruit from the buffet! We also watched a bit of the concert since we had a birds eye view. 

Janae and Megan were both there and I chatted with them both again. Janae told London his mommy was a rockstar which I thought was super sweet. He loves to watch me race (and run with me) and we spent about 5 minutes chasing each other around the VIP area so he could get his run on. 
I would definitely do Seattle again, although I don't think it's a PR course unless you love hills! I also think the VIP experience is worth it! 

I'm heading to Rock 'N' Roll Vegas, in November, and thanks to my experience in Seattle I am even MORE excited!!!
Congratulations to all the runners and a big thank you to the organizers, volunteers and spectators for an awesome experience!

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