The Seattle Marathon is held Thanksgiving Weekend in Seattle, Washington. For some reason I was drawn to trying to run a marathon and since I live in Seattle, this one just made sense. It was weird when I first made up my training plan for the race. I could not fathom that I had to run 20 miles on a training run and that 10 miles would be a short weekday run. I have played soccer for 20 years but all this running was crazy to me. My training was going well and I was building up mileage for the 2004 race. Then it all went wrong. I had run 14 miles the previous weekend and was feeling good; this was my longest run ever. The following Sunday during my soccer game, I slid in for a loose ball and collided with an opposing player sliding in for the same ball. He went in cleats up and the bottom of his foot hit me square in the shin and broke my Tibia and Fibula. This unfortunately ended my marathon training rather abruptly. The race was a month and a half away but I would be in no way healed by then.
I had to have surgery to add a rod and screws to my Tibia and the Fibula was allowed to heal on its own. My doctor’s told me I would have to take 6 months to heal and that meant no running or soccer. It turns out I am not a good listener and did some running and soccer after 3 months and was fortunate to avoid any setbacks. I decided when I was laid up that I would train again for the 2005 race and started up once again when I could run without pain. Once again my training was progressing well when I needed to go in for another surgery almost a year after the initial injury. I was going in to get the rod and screws removed since I did not need them once I had healed. Unfortunately they we unable to remove the rod but they did take out the screws. The healing process was another 5 weeks off from running which would only allow me 5 weeks to get up to peak fitness for the race. Believe it or not I did take the full 5 weeks off and started back up with vengeance when I could. I was able to build up to 20 miles 2 weeks before the race but was suffering from a bit of ankle and IT band pain from the quick ramp up in miles.
The Seattle Marathon course starts and ends at the Seattle Center, right below the Space Needle. The run starts off through downtown Seattle early in the morning before the city has woken up. It then gets on Interstate 90 and follows the Express Lanes through the Mount Baker Tunnel and onto the I-90 Bridge. After an out and back section onto Mercer Island the course gets off the freeway and follows Lake Washington Boulevard to Seward Park. The halfway point is along the trail around Seward Park and the course then goes back along Lake Washington Boulevard for 6 miles before turning left up through the Arboretum. The biggest hill on the course is when you leave the lake shore and head toward the park. The run through the park is on a twisty road through the trees. On the far side of the park you come out on the north side of Capitol Hill and just have to run down into the city to the finish.
Race morning was cold but not raining. The day was supposed to be partly cloudy and in the upper 40’s for the race. I got to the race early as I was full of adrenaline. To my surprise I ran into a couple friends from my Fraternity who were running the race and I decided to run with one of them who had about the same pace plans as me, just to finish! It was a little surreal lining up to do my first marathon with thousands of people. After the gun went off we took off downtown. It is a slight decline and with all the excitement I can see how people go out too fast. We tried to start conservatively and would take each mile depending on how we felt. Neither of us had done this before so we had no expectations. At the end of the tunnel we saw some of our friends cheering us on and we continued out onto the bridge. The morning was warming up by now and we were feeling good. We finished the out and back section and were almost to the half way point when my IT band started to really hurt. I had made a bad choice as it turned out and grabbed my lightweight running shoes instead of the ones I regularly run in. I guess you need to make mistakes in order to learn from them.
My IT Band hurt for the next 7 miles to the point that I was taking some Advil and just gritting my teeth. Nothing I did helped though and we just continued on. My friend Jeff who I was running with is of similar build and since we both had beanies on, all kinds of people would shout out “Go Twins” and stuff like that. It was kind of amusing. At mile 20 we hit the big hill, well it is not all that big but it is the biggest on the course. While many people talk about this being the wall, this hill was my lifesaver. The varying incline helped relieve my IT band issues and I felt renewed at the top, we were going to finish this thing. We also ran into another group of friends cheering people along so that might have had something to do with it a well. The last 6 miles came much easier than the previous 7. I was a bit more tired but not hurting nearly as bad. We cruised pretty good and actually sped up as the race went along. I had to do some coaxing but I got Jeff to sprint with me to the finish line and we finished in 4:09:47. Not too bad for our first one, at least that is what we were thinking.
Some of my family had made it over to see me finish and we went out for lunch afterward. It was funny because after the race I went home and watched some football on the couch. My roommates were just waking up and I had already run a marathon! Overall I would definitely recommend the Seattle Marathon. While not the warmest or easiest it is very scenic, well organized, and the cool weather is great for us cold weather runners. After all I had been through over the last year, finishing was great. As always, your mileage may vary.