Sunday, July 29, 2012

Seafair Torchlight Run Results and Race Report

Subtitled: Another PR goes down!

If you're just looking for race results, here you go.

Now let's talk about the race itself!

A little history first. It seems absolutely impossible to me, but going through my old race numbers, I think this is my first Seafair 8k since 1990! Wow. They called it the Seafair Henry's 8k back then. I don't recall the first thing about the race or course from that long ago, but it was downtown, which means we probably ran along the Viaduct, because of the Washington State Law that says any race in downtown Seattle proper must be run along the Viaduct.

Weird race prep for this one. Me and the kids drove all the way from Corvallis to Gig Harbor, WA on Saturday morning. After I deposited them at the Grandparents' house, I then drove on to Seattle for the race. No, five-plus hours of driving is not recommended for pre-race strategy.

So I wanted to get to Seattle Center a little early, as I had find parking on Torchlight Parade night, pick up my number and shirt, take the shirt back to the car, then get back to the start line and get warmed up. Oh, and the registration said packet pickup was at "Seattle Center." Period. Ummm, it's a pretty big place. Could we nail it down a little better than that?

Anyhoo, I found a few folks that already had their numbers and got directions on where to go. Long story short, I got the parking, shirt, number, put away the shirt, found out the race started a half-hour later than I thought and had a WHOLE lot of time to kill.

But then people-watching at Seattle Center is a pretty decent way to kill time, so that's exactly what I did.

With the race starting at 6:30, I knew it could be a hot one, and I had no clue of where exactly the course went. I figured we'd have a little shade from buildings, but I didn't know how much.

So with 5k runners and 8k runners all lined up and running together, we were about 3500 strong. I knew we took off down 2nd, went down a decent hill immediately, and would eventually finish going back up that same big hill. And that's all I knew.

With KIRO copters filming overhead, we were off!

I wanted to beat my lifetime 8k PR of 37:40. My only plan was to keep the pace under 7:30, but as fast as possible while keeping my heart rate at a decent range (I don't wear, and never have worn, a heart rate monitor,but I can tell by my breathing and shortness of breath when I'm going too fast).

We ran from 2nd to Denny then right to 4th Ave and headed downtown. That's where all the crowds were waiting for the Torchlight Parade and it's pretty amazing running in front of that many people. They estimated the crowds at between 200,000 and 300,000 and they're mostly very positive with a lot of kids looking for high fives. It's pretty fun.

I enjoyed the shade between the huge buildings on 4th very, very much. I also liked the slight downhill for much of that stretch. The only problem at all along this stretch was the bad surface of the roads. Lots of potholes, huge metal grates, metal construction plates, etc. Reminded me of the horrid downtown streets from the Portland Tri a few years back. I clocked 7:07 on my first mile, which I thought was a little fast, but not too bad. Then I ran the second mile in 6:52! Wow.

OK, that's too fast, and I knew that was too fast, but I felt pretty good. And it was on a section that had a lot of downhill. So I didn't check myself too much. I just figured I'd keep it up as long as I felt it.

We finally turned down toward the water and moved onto 1st, still running south. We went past CenturyLink Field, otherwise known as Seahawk Stadium, and I knew the good times were just about over. It was also around here that everyone in front of me cut off a corner. Hey, we weren't up in the front with the leaders. And it was only about 20 feet everyone was cheating going around a corner without getting to the cone. No biggie.

But it still bugs me. I ran all the way to the cone before making the turn. I don't know what the people behind me did, and don't really want to know. I do know that the 20 or 30 people in front of me cut the corner. Every single one of them. Irritating.

So we made the turn to head back to the barn and, of course, we headed onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Yep, and it's uphill when you're heading north. Now, I know the elevation doesn't look like much, but it's a steady climb going onto the Viaduct there.

And the sun was blazing into our faces now that we were out of the downtown area.

And there were no more cheering crowds now that we were on the Viaduct.

And we met back up with the 5k runners...and walkers...who had branched off a while earlier...and they meandered in front of the 8k runners at random points...while they took photos of themselves in front of the new Seattle Great Wheel.

It took some concentration here. I was tired, I was hot, I was annoyed at having to dodge walkers...and I knew I was slowing down. Mile three time: 7:14. That's OK. Mile four time: 7:45. Uh-oh.

When we finally took the exit off the Viaduct onto Western, I was a happy guy. I knew we were getting close there. I just needed to hold on a bit longer. I also knew we had that very last hill at the end, but didn't know anything between here and there.

I found out soon enough.

We took a right onto Broad St. and OH MY went straight frickin' uphill to the sky! It was only a block long hill...but sooooo steep. Just before that hill, I knew I had the PR in hand. After that hill, I knew I had to keep the pedal down or I might miss it.

Got back onto 2nd, fought through a huge mass of walkers on the last hill and made it to the finish line with a 37:17. A full 23 seconds off of my now-previous PR.


That was good for 224th out of 1872 8k runners. And 17th out of 105 runners in my division.

So the go-out-too-fast-and-hang-on plan works once again.

All I can say is, it's a nice feeling to set a lifetime PR when you're 45 years old. I was smiling for a good couple hours after I finished the race.

Next up on the PR pain train? The Fall Festival 10k, right here in Corvallis.

See you there.

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