"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Recap

Let me start with the expo Friday and then move quickly to the actual race. As we (mom/dad/brother/sister -- all ran the half) headed up to Seattle there was a post on the race Facebook page announcing that Scott Jurek would be doing a Q&A at the expo. Good stuff, but he was on in an hour and we were still 2 hours away. We figured by the time we got inside he would be gone so we quickly dismissed any thoughts of hearing Scott or meeting him.   

The Rock'n'Roll check-in has been a breeze both years. They really have this down to a science. After arriving and getting our bib numbers, shirts and swag bags, we set off into expo. As my brother an I were wandering through the grossly overpriced race apparel I came around the side of clothing rack and who is sitting at a table five feet from me? Scott Jurek. He was signing autographs and talking to people and the line was only 6 or 8 people long, so I told my brother we were getting in line. He wasn't quite as excited but he was playing photographer so we got in line and eventually my parents and sister joined us.

Scott Jurek, ultramarathon legend
Scott Jurek: Nicest. Guy. Ever. Took time to talk to each person, ask different questions, and actually hold a conversation with each person rather than just signing the stack of pictures in front of him and moving on. Whenever someone wanted a picture he got up from his chair, came around to the other side of the table, took his time, kept talking and made sure the picture snapped was a good one before returning to his chair. Genuinely good guy. Back when this whole running thing started (just over two years now), most, if not all, of my family passed around a copy of Born To Run, which prominently features Scott and his experiences in the documented race. I don't know if the book got us all to start running, but it definitely got us through the initial hurdles of becoming regular and consistent runners.
Last Minute advice from Scott Jurek

When I came to the front of the line I asked him if he would sign my bib number instead of the picture. More than alright he said but before signing it he started talking to me about my running. After a time he said he was going to write "Dig Deep" on the bottom of my bib (and then sign the top) so that when I looked down at it late in the race it would serve as a reminder. He did the same for the rest of my family and then we posed for a couple of pictures. Cool stuff.
Travis @ Finally Airborne

When it comes to the actual race I don't have much to report in the first 15 miles. Aside from meeting up with Travis from Finally Airborne and passing my dad and two other people I knew from home on the bridge, the first 15 miles were pretty uneventful. I tried to treat the whole race like any other Saturday run and for the first 15 miles, that's really what it was. Nothing of significance here, just cruising along at a good pace feeling good. I pushed passed the halfway mark in a fairly easy 1:53:12. The Mile 15 marker comes up after leaving the downtown area and getting back onto the freeway heading towards Aurora Ave. It was here that I had the thought, "ok, this is where the race really starts."

I knew what to expect the final 11 miles: a couple miles of hills, two out and backs and a run to the finish line. The hill going north on Aurora Ave (approx miles 16-18) was taxing, but after running it last year I was more prepared for its length. Though I took a few brief walking breaks through the aid stations, I really tried not to walk. I knew I would be in the ballpark of 4 hours if I just kept going and that was the goal. I'm actually really pleased with how I pushed through the thoughts I had to walk, even if it meant slowing my pace slightly.

I didn't need to look at my split times from last year to know that I was running almost almost an identical race from a time perspective (once I got home and looked at how close they were, it's very interesting, as least to me). Last year I crossed the final split marker, at mile 24, 3:42:00. This year: 3:41:28. I knew that if I was going to beat last years time (and PR), I had work to do. I kept pushing, despite wanting to walk. When I finally turned off of the freeway onto the exit ramp leading to Quest field I was exactly 7 minutes from last year's time of 4:07:22. I knew about how far I had left and knew that it was going to be awfully close. I gave it all I had left (and started weaving in and out of people as I passed them). 6 minutes...5 minutes...4 minutes...man,it was going to be close. 3 minutes...2 minutes...I turned the final corner and could see the finish line up ahead. With my legs on fire and wanting to walk for just a second but knowing I couldn't, I sprinted (relative term after 26 miles) down Occidental Ave. 30 seconds...15 seconds...ahhh!!!....and through the finish line at 4:07:20. PR by 2 seconds.

There's a certain brain fogginess that kicks in immediately upon finishing. It seems like I'm thinking completely rationally all the way up until the finish line. I'm calculating split times and pace and generally aware of my surrounding, but once I cross, get handed a couple bottles of water, get my metal, and sit down about 20 yards later, its like my brain needs time to readjust. I saw my brother standing along the fence about 20 feet away looking at me, but it was all a daze. After a few minutes I got up, inhaled 7 or 8 bananas, a couple of oranges and about a half gallon of water and I walked off fine.

It was a good race. I did PR, but still didn't break 4 hours. I did all I could do though and so I'm pleased with the outcome. As I replayed the race in my mind on the trip home I couldn't come up with any point in the race where I slacked off and mailed it in. Maybe I could have walked a little bit less through the aid stations but that would have saved me an extra minute or two at best. I know I didn't leave 7 minutes out on the course and so I'm content with the result.

In other news, while at the expo my youngest sister decided to sign up for the marathon next year if I would help train her. She's going to learn what sweating at 5:30am on a Saturday feels like. My parents also both signed up for the full and my wife may sign up for it too (more on that later. Stay tuned...).
Committing to Seattle RnR 2012!

It's a quick turnaround this week, with only 9 days between Seattle and the Foot Traffic Flat marathon on July 4th. Probably won't do much more than a 2 or 3 mile run later this week while trying to recover/prepare. July 4th also happens to be my 29th birthday so at some point in the day, after the marathon, I'm going to run 2.8 more miles to make 29 for the day. Just because.

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