2018 Rave Green Run 5.4K: Small run with a big dose of Sounders pride

Roger Levesque, a fan favorite for the Sounders when he played from 2006-12, discusses the team in a post-race ceremony. At right is KJR's Dick Fain.

Roger Levesque, a fan favorite for the Sounders when he played from 2006-12, discusses the team in a post-race ceremony. At right is KJR’s Dick Fain.

In looking over September race possibilities, I chose running the Seattle Sounders’ Rave Green Run a second time, three years after doing it the first time. This year’s run, held last Saturday (September 15), was in a different community and seemed like a vastly different event — smaller, yet better.

The finish line leads into the Southcenter Mall parking lot (click the image to enlarge)

The finish line leads into the Southcenter Mall parking lot (click the image to enlarge)

In 2015, I did the inaugural Rave Green Run 9K race through the hilly streets of Kirkland. About 2,000 people did either the 5K or 9K that day, but I don’t remember much excitement or Sounder revelry. Of course, that was a pretty so-so season for the team (it was the year prior to the Sounders winning the 2016 MLS Cup).

Times have been better since. The Sounders won it all in 2016 and followed up their championship by making it to the MLS finals again last year. This year, they are in the midst of a second-half run (despite last Wednesday night’s loss) that has them playoff-bound again.

Roger Levesque presents the award to race winner Kevin Gallagher (20:10)

Roger Levesque presents an award to race winner Kevin Gallagher (20:10)

As for the race itself, after being held the first year in Kirkland and then two years in Redmond, it took place this year in Tukwila, where it looks to have a permanent home. The course started and ended at Southcenter Mall and traveled through the Starfire Sports complex where the Sounders train. It now is a single race of 3.3 miles, or 5.4 kilometers (at least for 2018).

These changes worked for me, because it felt like a more authentic Sounders’ event, with die-hard fans. The cool medals, the lime green event shirts, the Sounders garb for sale, and the after-race awards ceremony featuring former Sounder great Roger Levesque and KJR Sportsradio’s Dick Fain all made it memorable.

The new location apparently didn’t work for everyone, however — only 517 runners participated in the race, a smaller turnout compared to past years. “People have to get used to the new location, but it will grow from here,” the race director, a pleasant, friendly woman whose name I did not catch, told me in a conversation.

Nice straight shot to the finish line

The Sounders Band played at the starting line and the finish line

The Sounders Band played at the starting line and the finish line

I won’t say that the course was all that special. It was mostly flat, but there were curbs to hop over, sharp turns, narrow and crowded trail sections, and frequent terrain changes from street to trail to Starfire grassy field to tunnel to sidewalk to street again, etc.

And why was it 3.3 miles rather than a straight 5K (3.1 miles)? Who knows? It might have been because they wanted the finish line to be inside the Southcenter Mall parking lot, rather than a few blocks to the east. Whatever; the distance was fine.

What I really liked about the course was that the final 0.3 miles was a straight shot west across Baker Boulevard, where you could see the finish line from a good distance away. This was what I also liked about the Seafair Torchlight Run this year, and the 2005 Victoria Marathon, where I got my marathon PR (4:29:46). In that B.C. race, I could see a huge scoreboard with a clock and pictures from a half-mile away, and just had to run to it.

In the last stretch to Southcenter, I was able to pass a few people that I couldn’t catch earlier. But I finished the race in a shabby 42:07 (13:33.4 per mile). This was a slower time than I was expecting, but it made more sense when I learned that the course was 3.3 miles, not 3.1. I ended up 307th out of 517 finishers. The Sounders’ band played as we crossed the finish line. Full results are here.

Scored tickets to a Sounders’ match

Ah, the finish line!

Ah, the finish line!

The highlight of the event for me was the after-race awards ceremony with Levesque and Fain, whose radio station is now the home for Sounders’ broadcasts. They talked positively about the state of the Sounders and how Coach Brian Schmetzer is successfully getting the team to peak at playoff time.

When Fain was done emceeing, I got a chance to talk to him about his moving to afternoon drive time on KJR — which took place earlier this year after he had filled in for a few months to replace the departed Mitch Levy in the morning.

Volunteers get the time mat ready at the starting line

Volunteers get the time mat ready at the starting line

Fain said he’s having “an absolutely great time” doing the afternoon show with Dave “Softy” Mahler, he said. “For me, this change has been a really good one for my schedule and my family.” Levy, who was let go after the news media reported his police arrest for allegedly hooking up with a prostitute, is not communicating much with anyone at the station these days, Fain added.

Hanging around to chat with the race director about the turnout and other aspects of the event landed me four tickets to last Wednesday’s home match with Philadelphia (which the Sounders lost on a late goal, 1-0). She reached into her pocket and said, “Here are four tickets to see the Sounders; enjoy.”

Unfortunately — or, perhaps, fortunately, because of an ugly Philadelphia win — I was unable to attend the match due to other commitments, and gave the tickets to co-workers at Allytics.

Next race another 5K in Issaquah

Bright green event shits at the registration table

Bright green event shirts at the registration table

This was my 220th race overall (since 2001) and I enjoyed this event, even if it may never be as big as the Seahawks 12K and 5K Run in April.

I am next running the Issaquah Run with the Fishes 5K on October 7. I am focusing on shorter races for awhile to keep my bad ankle healthy, but still looking to do a half-marathon — likely the Seattle Half-Marathon in late November.

Post-race eats

Post-race eats

Now that the weather is turning cooler and wetter, my next bicycle event is probably the Chilly Hilly in February. I wanted to do another big ride in 2018, but none of the late-season races worked out time-wise.

Thanks for reading. Go Sounders! Get a win, Seahawks! Finish games, Ducks! Next year, Mariners!

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Posted in 5K, Bicycling, Chilly Hilly, Marathons, Seafair Torchlight Run, Seahawks 12K Run, Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Columbia Winery 10K Run: Back-of-the-pack jockeying to stay out of last place

My co-worker Hayley Halstead and I pose with the Mariner Moose after the run

My co-worker Hayley Halstead and I pose with the Mariner Moose after the run

In planning my August race schedule, the Columbia Winery Charity Walk & Run in Woodinville fit nicely. I wanted to do my 219th road run (since 2001) on that particular weekend and I also wanted to run a 10K. This event had a very reasonable fee ($35) and is for a great cause: to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital (nearly $25,000 was raised).

Hayley's shot of me heading to the finish line

Hayley’s shot of me heading to the finish

My only concern: The 10K field looked like it might be a bit too swift for me. I based this impression on reviewing the event’s 2017 results — which showed my latest times trending toward the bottom — plus the fact that strollers and dogs are not allowed and walkers are discouraged.

In other words, with this being my first 10K in 2018 and longest race since my most recent ankle surgery, I was a real threat to finish last. Alas, I signed up anyway.

Sure enough, my fears were realized. At the end of the first mile, I was running neck-and-neck with a woman for last place. I thought there might be runners behind us, but when I turned around, I saw a course marshal on a bicycle following us, representing the tail end of the 10K field. That meant that I had to find a way to pass a few people.

It made for an interesting race on a warm, dry day in Woodinville’s wine country. Temperatures were in the 80s; fortunately, the Puget Sound-area smoke of recent days (from wildfires up north) didn’t impact the race.

Joined by the Mariner Moose and Hayley

Columbia Winery is just across the road from Chateau Ste. Michelle, the region’s best-known winery, and next door to the former Redhook Ale Brewery, which has closed and is now being reconstructed into a Teatro ZinZanni circus and dinner theatre.

A ceremony with a Children's patient preceded the start

A ceremony with a Children’s patient preceded the start

The course was an out-and-back on N.E. Woodinville Drive, starting and ending at the Columbia Winery headquarters. It was not the loop course that was advertised on the website, in which the second half of the run was to take place on the Sammamish River Trail. I realized this change during the run, and I’m not sure why it was made, but I rolled with it.

The revised 6.2-mile course took us into Bothell, Woodinville’s next-door neighbor, and we actually ran underneath Interstate 405.

Regardless of the course switcheroo, this was a quality event. Nearly 800 people did the 5K or 10K. The Mariner Moose was on hand to greet finishers and pose for pictures, and ex-Mariner pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ryan Rowland-Smith handed out awards to the top placers and prizes to raffle winners.

Plus, I got another chance to do a race with Hayley Halstead, my Allytics colleague, friend, and frequent running partner. I made a pitch at work to get slow, out-of-shape people to run the 10K with me — people I could beat. Hayley answered the call. However, she is not slow or out-of-shape, and I cannot beat her anymore. Oh well, it was great having her there.

She passed me within the first mile, ran a great race, and patiently waited for me at the finish line — even took some pictures of me as I tried to put on a finishing kick. Thanks, Hayley!

Setting the pace again for run-walkers

The Moose entertains as runners are finishing the 10K

The Moose entertains as runners are finishing the 10K

Back to the race. So, in the second mile, the woman I was running neck-and-neck with moved ahead of me and I never saw her again. But I caught up with and passed another woman, who passed me back, and then I passed her again. As we headed into the third mile, I also ran past a young man walking along the course as he checked his phone. Indeed, he had a race bib on, and was simply pooped.

I also caught up with a man and woman both doing the run-walk thing. They began using me as their rabbit — I’d run a steady pace and catch up with them, and then they’d dash off and get way ahead. And then start walking. It was rinse and repeat through the halfway point turnaround in Bothell. I remained ahead of them and the two others.

Former Mariner pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, far right, presenting awards

Former M’s pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, far right, presenting awards

I am frequently the rabbit for run-walkers, but I like my odds with them. They tire out fast doing that strategy. As I built a lead on two of the runners, and passed another woman in mile 5, I had the two run-walkers to deal with the rest of the way. But … they noticeably started walking more and running less. And their runs eventually became a way just to catch up with me, not move ahead. I beat them both to the finish line by 26 seconds.

Runners hanging out before the race (click any picture to enlarge it)

Runners hanging out before the race (click any picture to enlarge it)

All told, I finished 232nd out of 237 runners, with a time of 1:22:32 (13:17 per mile). That was four minutes ahead of the last-place finisher. I will have to accept it; the 1:22 is the same time as my last 10K, in February 2017. My 10K PR is 51:44 in 2005, so I’m a half-hour slower than I used to be. Still, I enjoyed the run and the competition. Full results are here.

Congrats to Hayley on her time of 1:12:36. She will be under an hour in probably her next 10K.

Half-marathon plans on hold

Hayley shows off the cool white event t-shirt

Hayley shows off the cool event t-shirt

The Overlake Labor Day Half Marathon and 4-Mile Run is September 3, and I am likely to opt for the 4-miler (unless my daughter’s plans to visit home Labor Day Weekend make this run expendable). If I don’t do this run, there are several others to do in September and October.

I need to get some more long runs in before I tackle a half-marathon, as I learned from this run. The Seattle Half-Marathon Walk in November sounds better right now. I can run and walk that event with others who are doing the same thing.

Thanks for reading! Let’s hope this awful smoke blows away soon for good.

Posted in 10K, 5K, ankle surgery, Running, Sammamish River Trail, Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Seafair Torchlight 8K Run: What I’ll miss and won’t miss about running on the viaduct

Sorry, no viaduct shots. This is a group posing in the finishers' area

Sorry, no viaduct shots. This is a group posing in the finishers’ area

Cynics in the running crowd say Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct will live to see another run, that we’ve heard it all before about how it’s coming down soon. But I disagree. I believe the Highway 99 tunnel will be funneling traffic through the Seattle’s west side this fall, and the viaduct above it will be torn down by the end of this year.

Crossing the finish line together

Crossing the finish line together (click on any of these pictures to enlarge them)

So that means the 2018 Capital One Torchlight Run (it’s official name) last Saturday night (July 28) was the final jaunt for runners on the scenic thoroughfare along the Seattle waterfront.

I enjoyed this last chance to run on the viaduct. I did the 8K race (there also was a 5K), of which about half was on the viaduct and half through downtown streets crowded with spectators awaiting the Seafair Torchlight Parade that followed. This was a new course for 2018, and an awesome one! Too bad it has to change again next year because of no viaduct.

Former Allytics colleague Jamin King finished second overall

Former colleague Jamin King finished second overall

More on the course below. What also was great was that the intense heat the Seattle area has been experiencing — several 90-plus degree days in a row — seem to subside a bit Saturday night. I can’t explain why; maybe it was just being closer to the Puget Sound. My last race, the Redmond Derby Dash 5K on July 13, was miserably hot.

The Torchlight run was not only a cooler race, but had a more festive, run-for-fun vibe. About 1,330 runners finished either race; with 900 opting to run the shorter 5K. The event shirts were bright pink; I wore mine and you could see pink everywhere. And I saw runners taking selfies on the viaduct to capture a memory of this aging structure that has long been a part of Seattle’s history.

Will miss those scenic runs

The ecstasy of finishing a race

The ecstasy of finishing a race

I’ve done the Seafair Torchlight 8K Run 13 times now, and all courses have included the viaduct. So have the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon, the St. Patrick’s Dash, and other races I’ve completed, plus at least one bicycle ride. In other words, I’ve gotten to know the viaduct.

Here are some things I will miss about running on it:

  • The great views. Ferries crossing the Sound. Elliott Bay. Bainbridge Island in the distance. The Olympic Mountains. A chance to run alongside this scenery. Need I say more?
  • The smell of pot. In the six years since marijuana was legalized in Washington state, I’ve been smelling pot on lots of different runs, walks and bike rides. In the Torchlight Run, I can always count on pot vapors on the viaduct’s last stretch north before the Battery Street Tunnel. That’s when we run under a bridge where spectators can stop and watch the runners.
  • The camaraderie with other runners. Even if I’m at the back of the pack, there always are many fellow runners plodding along on the viaduct. We don’t high-five each other, but there is a certain amount of bonding going on anyway.
  • The thrill of making it to the Battery Street Tunnel. This means you’ve conquered the viaduct and are close to finishing. Some people hoot and holler going through the half-mile tunnel, but I save my energy for the rest of the run.

What I won’t miss:

  • The tire chains and automobile waste along the road. Three years ago, I accidentally caught my feet in a discarded tire wire on Seneca Street leading to the viaduct and fell on my face. I got up and finished, but have been nervous about this happening again — especially when I see all of the hubcaps, wheel rods and other automobile parts along the side of the road.
  • The potholes. Running on the viaduct always entailed being careful where you stepped. Running on a gimpy ankle, I face that in a lot of places. But the road surface on the viaduct has been neglected for some time, probably because its days are numbered.
  • The abrupt race turnarounds, followed by the uphill climb. The Torchlight Run always required that you run down a hill, turn around quickly, and then go back up it. No biggie, but I won’t miss this.
  • The runners with strollers always catching up and passing me. During the climb back up that hill, when I am at my all-time slowest, I start feeling the strollers passing me. But, to be fair, they pass me on flat stretches too.

Speeding (well, sort of) to the finish line

What I liked about the 2018 Torchlight Run course was that the start/finish line was on Fourth Avenue near Westlake Park, where the most spectators are gathered to watch the parade.

The energy of the crowd made for a good runners’ push up Fourth to Seneca Street, where you ran down a steep hill to get on the viaduct. Even better was the finish, however. You had a half-mile or so of parade-goers cheering you on to the finish line. I had enough left for a finishing kick; I just had to make sure I didn’t trip or fall in front of thousands odf people (potentially embarrassing).

Getting a selfie in the starting line

Getting a selfie at the starting line

I finished in a not-so-swift 1:07:34 (13:35 per mile), achieving my goal of beating my last year’s time by almost a minute. Overall, the race felt great, in part because I started slow and saved energy for the second half of the race. Full results are here. My 8K PR is 43:00, which I did in this event in 2007.

A shout-out here to former Allytics colleague Jamin King, who ran an incredible race to finish second overall in 26:14 (5:16 per mile). Jamin, who runs for Club Northwest, now works for Microsoft. His Club Northwest teammate, Michael Eaton, won the race in an amazing 25:00 (5:01 per mile).

Longer runs ahead

All finishers got cool medals

All finishers got cool medals

This was my fifth race so far this year and 218th road run since 2001.

I am pondering running the Columbia Winery Charity 10K in Redmond on August 18 or the Seattle Marathon 10K at Seward Park on August 26. One of those would be followed by the Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon in Redmond on Labor Day (September 3). This is ambitious and potentially risky. But my ankle surgeon has okayed it, as long as I increase my training at a smart pace.

A closer look at the event shirts many wore

A closer look at the event shirts many wore

After that, I’m sure I will be ready for a bicycle ride — possibly the Harvest Century 45-miler in Portland in late September.

Thanks for reading! Hoping our heat wave is over — and the Mariners heat up again.

Posted in 10K, 5K, 8K, Bicycling, Harvest Century, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, Running, Seafair Torchlight Run, Seattle Marathon, St. Patrick's Day Dash | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2018 Redmond Derby Dash 5K: Boiling on a Friday the 13th

Great to see a mom and daughter finish strong

Great to see a mom and daughter finish strong (click on all pictures to enlarge them)

No, this wasn’t the Seattle-To-Portland (STP) bicycle ride. Or the Ragnar Relay, an 187-mile relay race from Blaine to Coupeville, Wash., also this past weekend. This was only the Redmond Derby Dash 5K, a 3.1-mile run after work on Friday.

These post-race refreshments were soon gone

These post-race refreshments were soon gone

But I am still going to complain about the heat. It’s my best excuse for running a slower time than I wanted.

Temperatures were in the upper 80s in Redmond on Friday, July 13, but with the humidity, it felt worse. And on the stretch of the Sammamish River Trail where we raced, shade was limited.

The heat may have limited walk-up registration this year

The heat may have limited walk-up registration

This road run is part of the annual Redmond Derby Days festival, and also featured a band, food trucks and a beer-wine garden. The up-and-back course is meant for your fastest 5K of the year, but not for me this year. It turned out to be a harder, more taxing run than I was expecting, and my last 5K at Marymoor Park was faster.

I got by with a little help from a few friends, Allytics colleagues Brian Vander Yacht, Chris Saleski and Kerry Stevenson, who were running the race for the first time. The course started and ended behind Redmond City Hall, about a mile from our offices in Redmond.

Good races by Allytics colleagues

Great to have Brian Vander Yacht (center) and Chris Saleski (right) join me in this race/ ASmnother colleague, Kerry Stevenson, couldn't stick around for a post-race picture

Great to have Brian Vander Yacht (center) and Chris Saleski (right) join me in this race. Another colleague, Kerry Stevenson, couldn’t stick around for a post-race picture

Some 382 people signed up for the run, and there were 367 finishers — runners and walkers of all ages. Overall, the times seemed to be a bit slower than normal (not just mine) because of the heat. For example, 21-year-old Devin Wolff (a University of Portland runner) finished in first place for a second year in a row, but his winning time this year was 16:18 (5:15 per mile), compared to 15:54 a year ago.

Also, there were 36 people who took more than an hour to complete the race, compared to only nine in 2017.

I finished 190th at 39:05 (12:35 per mile), behind my time of 37:08 (11:59 per mile) last year and 35:40 (11:29 per mile) in 2016. (My PR is 24:32 in 2005.) I’d like to use my ankle as an excuse — it was my fourth road run since ankle surgery last December — but I really can’t. I am a few steps slower these days, but my ankle pain is minimal (#knockonwood). Thanks, Dr. Powell.

It was good to see my workmates run well. All beat me — Brian finished in 29:56, Kerry in 34:18 and Chris in 38:19. Full results are here. In early June, Kerry ran her first marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon, so this was a short, flat, change-of-pace run for her. Congrats to all of them!

Shout out to Brian too, for a fine effort in his first road run. The former offensive lineman for Central Washington University beat 30 minutes for his first 5K, and should be under 25 minutes soon if he stays with it.

Fewer bicyclists and skateboarders during the race

Hustling to the finish line

Hustling to the finish line

The Redmond Derby Dash 5K is run on the busiest stretch of the Sammamish River Trail. The 10.5-mile trail used by many bicyclists commuting home from Microsoft, as well as skaters, skateboarders and pedestrians just out for some exercise.

The good news is that I didn’t see or hear about any accidents or collisions between the runners and trail users this year. Two years ago, I had to fend off a skateboarder about to plow into me in the last mile of the run. It could be that the “Alert” signs about the run, placed in spots along the trail over the past two weeks, caused some users to avoid the area during the race.

A local band played classic rock before, during and after the race

A local band played classic rock before, during and after the race

Not having to dodge many bicyclists and skateboarders made the run better this year, but the heat was exasperating from the start. The race started at 6:30 p.m., after the work day, but it hadn’t cooled down any as the heat wave through the Seattle area was in full swing leading into the weekend.

During the week, I told the other Allytics runners to get off to a good start, hold steady through the turnaround at the halfway point, then try to turn on the speed coming back to the finish line. I did get off to a good start, then got winded. I labored to get to the turnaround, and then didn’t have much of a finishing kick.

But I finished. In one piece. It was my 217th road run since 2001, all without a DNF.

Races and bicycle rides ahead

A busy beer-wine garden with a food truck after the race

A busy beer-wine garden with a food truck after the race

Looking forward to my next run, the Seafair Torchlight 8K Run, which will also be at night on Saturday, July 28. But I’m looking forward first to an eight-day vacation to New York and New England.

There are lots of possibilities for August, including the Obliteride Bicycle Ride on Aug. 11, the Lake Union 10K on Aug. 12, and the Seattle Marathon 10K on Aug. 26. We’ll see which ones I can do. RSVP on Aug. 17-18 is unlikely.

The 2018 race shirts

The 2018 race shirts

Thanks for reading! See you after my vacation.

Posted in 10K, 5K, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Marymoor Park, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, RSVP, Running, Sammamish River Trail, Seafair Torchlight Run, Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2018 Seattle Night Ride: Adventurous ride through the dark in Seattle

This is how the finish line looked when I got to it

This is how the finish line looked when I got to it

So now I know what this Cascade Bicycle Club ride is all about. I can cross it off my bucket list. I’ll probably want to do it again, and I’ll make sure I can see better next time when we start slippin’ into darkness.

Two riders with lit-up glasses at the post-ride party

Two riders with lit-up glasses at the post-ride party

At the Seattle Night Ride last Friday, June 29, I joined more than 600 other bicyclists, including lots of families with young children. This popular 14-mile jaunt just north of downtown begins at dusk and ends in near-total darkness.

The course starts and ends in Ballard and runs through some interesting parts of Seattle that I had trouble recognizing in the dark. In other words, I didn’t really know where I was much of the time. But because I always stayed within a group of riders leading the way, I got through the ride without getting lost — or worse, slamming into any cars, pedestrians or other bicyclists. Fortunately, it didn’t rain at all.

This ride can be done in an hour, but most people take it slower and safer and make stops at the two rest stops provided. Counting stops, it took me about 1:50 to get to the finish line party at the Peddler Brewing Co. brewery in Ballard.

Colorful riders around me

The front of the start as riders turn onto 15th Avenue NW

The front of the start as riders get ready to turn right onto 15th Avenue NW

It was still light out when we started at 9 p.m. in front of Peddler Brewing Co., where the Cascade Bicycle Club had set up their registration tents. Lines of people were still registering up until the start.

When we finally did start, bicyclists had to cross the starting line in several waves and then ride near-single file to safely accommodate cars on the road. The first half-mile is on some of Ballard’s busiest streets.

Soon we were on the Burke-Gilman Trail heading east to Fremont, riding in colorful packs with many lit-up riders. Some had colored lights around their helmets, others had cool glow-in-the-dark rings around their tires, still others flashing lights on their backpacks or jerseys, even on their glasses.

Rider hugging at right has flashing lights underneath her top

Rider hugging at right has flashing lights underneath her top

The minimum requirement was a white headlight or helmet light and a red backlight — which was what I had. My lights worked the whole night, but my helmet light, I learned later, was on dim. Silly me. One or two clicks and I could have had it on bright and seen so much better. Lesson learned about checking this before the ride.

As it was, I stayed close behind some riders with better lighting to see in front of them. Visibility wasn’t an issue until the last few miles back to Peddler Brewing, when I got a bit too far behind the course outrider (support team member) I was following. I got out a small flashlight I brought for a little help.

In my defense, however, I saw a few people riding without a headlight or helmet light at all.

Scenic stretch along Elliott Bay

The course had us on Burke-Gilman for two miles east to the Fremont Bridge, which we crossed and got on the Ship Canal Trail going back the other direction (west). I am not that familiar with this trail, and lost track of the direction we were going. But it didn’t matter, as I was simply following the pack.

Riders line up for Krispy Kremes at Fisherman's Terminal

Riders line up for Krispy Kremes at Fisherman’s Terminal

Near the four-mile mark, we had our first rest stop at Fisherman’s Terminal. I really didn’t know where we were, but I was still having great fun riding in the cool night air. The lines were long here for Krispy Kreme donuts. I took a few pictures, then a bathroom break. Back on the road.

We headed south on city street bike lanes between the Interbay and Magnolia neighborhoods, then merged onto the Elliott Bay Trail along Puget Sound. I had figured we were riding along Elliott Bay, but it was confirmed when I saw the big Seattle P-I globe (which I wasn’t sure still existed, but it does, and I know the P-I offices are on Elliott Avenue).

At the overpass leading to the Queen Anne business district

At the overpass leading to the Queen Anne business district

This stretch was the most scenic, even in the dark. I was able to keep up with two speedy riders ahead of me to see where I was going; I didn’t see the few bumps and cracks in the pavement, though. In the end, no biggie.

Instead of continuing straight into downtown Seattle, we turned left and rode up hills into the Queen Anne business district. At the start was an overpass over W. Thomas Street where I stopped to get some pictures. I then joined a pack of riders as we navigated the streets behind the Seattle Center and Key Arena, then got on the bike lanes of Mercer and Westlake streets.

Last stop: Lake Union Park, which I should have recognized

Lining up for the start in front of Peddler Brewing

Lining up for the start in front of Peddler Brewing

The second and final rest stop was at Lake Union Park in south Lake Union, right across from Amazon’s many corporate office buildings.

This park was the start and finish line for the Lake Union 10K that I ran in 2016. I’ve been here several times. But in the dark, I didn’t know exactly where we were. Still, I had a cookie and watched a few minutes with others as a swing band with a dozen musicians entertained riders.

In the last four miles, we rode up the trail on the west side of Lake Union, crossed the Fremont Bridge again, headed west on the Burke-Gilman Trail and then made our way back up to Peddler Brewing. It was only 13.55 miles total, but with the darkness, this seemed like a longer ride, and I was glad to be done.

The free ride souvenir: A Seattle Night Ride fanny pack

The free ride souvenir: A Seattle Night Ride fanny pack

The finish line banner provided the entry way into the post-ride party at Peddler Brewing. I wanted to stay and sample the brews at this local establishment, but decided it would be easier to find my car and drive home if I didn’t.

This was my fourth organized ride of this year and my 35th since I started riding again in 2011. I am glad I did it, but as I said, next time I have my lighting working better so I can be comfortable riding solo, if necessary.

Next: back to running

I hope to do at least one more bicycle ride this year. But for now, I’m looking forward to two July road runs: The Redmond Derby Dash 5K on the Sammamish River Trail on Friday, July 13, and the Seafair Torchlight 8K Run in downtown Seattle on Saturday, July 28.

The Derby Dash will be an after-work run and I’m trying to get some Allytics colleagues to do it with me. It’s on a totally flat stretch of the Sammamish trail, and is usually my fastest 5K of the year (which might be walking pace for many others).

The Torchlight run, right before the annual Seafair Torchlight Parade, is one of my all-time favorite runs. A year ago, it was my final run before ankle surgery five months later.

Thanks for reading. Happy July 4th, everyone, and Go Mariners!

Posted in 5K, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Burke-Gilman Trail, Running, Sammamish River Trail, Seafair Torchlight Run | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Big Backyard 5K: Fundraiser for King County Parks is well worth the entry fee

Crossing the finish line together!

Crossing the finish line together!

The Seattle area has two major parks that can host “backyard” races and enable runners to avoid cars, large potholes and hills: Magnuson Park in Seattle and Marymoor Park just south of Redmond. Thank goodness for both of them.

Hayley gets a shot of me running to the finish line

Hayley gets a shot of me running to the finish line

While Magnuson is a Seattle city park, Marymoor is located in unincorporated King County and run by the county’s parks department. So I was more than happy to pay a reasonable $35 entry fee to run the 2018 BBY (Big Backyard) 5K last Sunday (June 3), which benefits King County Parks including Marymoor. (T-shirt was included.)

This was my third road run since ankle surgery last December, and my 216th race since 2001. Probably 10 percent of all those races have started, ended or traveled through Marymoor Park, though it would take me awhile to do the math. Of the 34 organized bike rides I’ve done since 2011, the percentage is even higher.

What’s more is that Marymoor and two trails that connect to it — the Sammamish River and East Lake Sammamish trails — have been some of my primary training grounds for races and rides the last 20 years. Indeed, I am grateful to live and work near this vital recreation center for the region.

Some guilt in missing the Flying Wheels ride

Hayley and me post-race

Hayley and me post-race

Last Sunday’s race was the 9th annual Big Backyard 5K, but my first. It’s usually the day after the Flying Wheels Summer Century, which has been my focus the last six years. This year, because of my bike fatigue from riding the 7 Hills of Kirkland on Memorial Day, I skipped the Flying Wheels and did the BBY 5K.

Allytics colleague C. Hayley Halstead joined me; we got a good workout and it was awesome to do a race again with Hayley (the last one we both did was the 2017 Hot Chocolate 15K). I have a bit of guilt about missing the Flying Wheels ride for the first time since 2011, and had it not been in the same week as the 7 Hills ride, I wouldn’t have.

So, instead of riding my bike from Marymoor Park to points all over east King and Snohomish counties, I simply ran from one side of the park to the other and back. Our 3.15-mile course approached the Sammamish River Trail to the west and the East Lake Sammamish Trail to the east, but did not step onto either trail. The race stayed inside the park and started and ended near the Marymoor Velodrome, in the center of the park.

A trainer leads pre-race warmups

A trainer leads pre-race warmups

It was a family-friendly race with no goofy costumes or beer gardens, although there were dogs and the usual strollers. Nearly 850 ran or walked it, and the run drew a large number of workers at nearby Microsoft and their spouses and kids. There was a kids’ dash too, but dozens of kids participated in the main 5K.

Improved on my earlier 5K time

Marymoor’s running trails are narrow, and there was congestion throughout the run. I ran for a time next to a guy carrying a backpack with a small child in it. But running room  opened up for me after a half-mile, as we ran toward the softball fields on the west side. Hayley said she spent much of the race dodging kids.

Post-race fun

Post-race fun

The second 1.5 mile of the race was a hairpin turn with the elite runners heading to the finish line as the rest of us running out to the Connector Trail turnaround near the East Lake Sammamish Trail. Not a lot of running room on the divided trail, but no mishaps.

I was happy to lower my post-second surgery 5K time to 38:34 (12:25 per mile), an improvement from the 45:27 time in my one earlier 5K in late April. It was good for 431st place out of 844 finishers. Hayley finished ahead of me at 33:22 (10:45 per mile) for 302nd place. Full results are here. Nice job, Hayley!

More finishers

More finishers

Interestingly, this was the first time I’ve run this particular Marymoor course, as it was different than courses for the Washington Beer Run 5K, the Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon 4-mile run, and other races I’ve done at the park. Most runs spill onto the Sammamish River Trail, but because this one didn’t, it was flatter and faster.

Another flat 5K coming soon

A decent race t-shirt

A decent race t-shirt

I have another chance soon to beat this time (my best time since 2011 is 34:29). Myself, Hayley and a few others at work are planning to run the Redmond Derby Dash 5K on Friday, July 13. If I don’t do the Washington Beer Run again on June 17, this will be my next race. It covers a flat stretch of the Sammamish River Trail near Redmond City Hall and is usually my fastest 5K of the year.

Before I forget, best of luck to Allytics colleagues Kerry Stevenson, who is running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon, and RJ Ricker, who is running the Half-Marathon this Sunday! Wish I could join them. Maybe next year.

Thanks for reading!

Posted in 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Marathons, Marymoor Park, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, Running, Sammamish River Trail | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

7 Hills of Kirkland 2018: Ranking these hills by level of agony

Riders tackle a midway stretch of tough Seminary Hill. Photo courtesy of Woodinville Bicycle.

Riders tackle a midway stretch of tough Seminary Hill. Photo courtesy of Woodinville Bicycle.

Another year, another challenging Memorial Day ride. I joined about 950 other riders in the 7 Hills of Kirkland bicycle ride last Monday (May 28), an event sponsored by EvergreenHealth to raise money to fight homelessness. I’ve done this ultra-hilly ride six times now and it doesn’t seem to get any easier.

I need to smile when a photog is facing me. Photo courtesy of Woodinville Bicycle.

I need to smile when a photog is facing me. Photo courtesy of Woodinville Bicycle.

Having done it six times — the traditional 40-mile route four times, including the past two years, and the Metric Century (60 miles) twice — I feel uniquely qualified to rank the hills. Keep reading for that.

But first, the good news about the ride is that I conquered all of the hills again and that I finished in the four-hour time frame that I normally finish in (maybe a little better). And no ankle problems. The bad news is that I was a tired wreck afterwards.

Riders heading to the finish line at Marina Park

Riders heading to the finish line at Marina Park

A shout-out is in order to all of the Century (100 miles) and Metric Century riders that passed me on the final hill or on the home stretch into downtown Kirkland. I was very impressed with the fitness level of those 100-mile riders I saw on Monday.

With all the tough hills involved in the traditional route, I cannot imagine doing this Century. I’ve wanted to, but really need to be in better biking shape. Century riders must tackle 12 hills in all, as they venture into Snohomish County and back. They start two or three hours earlier than the traditional route riders, and to see them storm past me at 25 mph in the final mile to the finish line was incredible.

Four challenging hills, three not so difficult (but keep them in!)

The traditional 40-mile route

The traditional 40-mile route

Now my rankings:

1. Seminary Hill (455 feet elevation), located between Kirkland and Kenmore: This lakeside hill through a forested area twists and turns, but I consider it the toughest because it requires about two miles of straight climbing. There really aren’t places to stop and catch your breath unless you want to risk getting hit by a car or blocking the path of other bicyclists. A photographer is stationed along the road, so smile. It’s your third hill, but your first real challenge.

2. Winery Hill (390 feet), located in Woodinville: Shift down for hill No. 6 because it is the ride’s steepest. Located right off Woodinville-Redmond Road, it’s also the one that makes me the most nervous. I’ve always been able to climb it, but I must weave back and forth on the road to do it — I can’t just take it straight on. So I worry about cars coming down the hill, located in a view-property subdivision. Fortunately, traffic is limited. Also, once you conquer the 0.3-mile steepest portion, the hill becomes doable. Still, getting to the top is a relief.

3. Rose Hill (525 feet), located in Redmond and Kirkland: Finally, you reach hill No. 7, which has the most elevation of all and goes on for more than three miles. Normally, I don’t have a ton of trouble with this hill because it is steepest at the start but then levels off with flat spots and smaller hills. But this year, my energy was sapped by the time I started climbing Willows Road, and then got passed by every rider in sight (including century riders) going up Old Redmond Road. When I finally hit the crest on N.E. 60th Street in Kirkland, the long downhill stretch that follows into Bellevue was life-saving.

4. Norway Hill (475 feet), located in Bothell: This is hill No. 4 on the course, and close behind Rose in level of agony. It goes up hard, then levels off, then starts up again, then levels off, then has another bump. Just when you think you’ve reached the top, there is more. As much as you get tired of the sow grind to the top, the easier stretches make it bearable.

The same course map by city

The same course map by city

5. Kingsgate Hill (412 feet), located in Kirkland. I honestly don’t know where this hill (No. 5 on the course) starts and ends. You have a food stop at EvergreenHealth Hospital after crossing under I-405, and then proceed to a steep hill that lasts about a block. Yeah, it’s shift-down time, but it ends quickly. There is more to climb after that but not much.
Getting to the top of Kingsgate Hill seems like no big deal, but … that’s OK.

6. Juanita Hill (285 feet), locaated in Kirkland: Hill No. 2 on the course is harder than Hill No. 1, but not by much. During this mile-plus but tame climb up Juanita Drive, you’re only thinking about Seminary Hill to come soon.

7. Market Hill (210 feet of elevation), located in Kirkland: Market Street going north is the first hill after leaving the start at the downtown Marina Park, and it isn’t a huge challenge. But it wakes you up and gets you warmed up.

The first mile is a warmup up Market Hill

The first mile is a warmup up Market Hill

Since I did the Metric Century version of this event in 2015 and 2016, here are my rankings with two additional hills added:

1. Novelty Hill (470 feet), located in Redmond: Trust me, this is a killer hill. It’s steep, it goes on for about three miles, and you are riding next to cars blasting past you at 70 or more mph on Novelty Hill Road heading east. I really didn’t feel safe going up this hill, but you also get to go back down it (wheee!), so there’s that. 2. Seminary Hill. 3. Winery Hill. 4. Rose Hill. 5. Norway Hill. 6. Education Hill (390 feet), located in Redmond: You’re tired, and still have Rose to do after this hill, but it is manageable and not particularly long or steep. 7. Kingsgate Hill. 8. Juanita Hill. 9. Market Hill.

A busy finish line at Marina Park

A busy finish line at Marina Park

Since I haven’t ridden the 7 Hills Century, I cannot speak to two of the additional hills, Maltby (471 feet) in Maltby and High Bridge (291 feet) in unincorporated Snohomish County. But I have ridden up the other Century hill in different rides, Stillwater (320 feet), between Carnation and Duvall. I would rank it just behind Norway Hill — it starts off extremely steep, then levels a bit and becomes an easier climb.

Passing on Flying Wheels for a 5K run

The reward for finishers is strawberry shortcake

The reward for finishers is strawberry shortcake

What’s next? Well, what isn’t next is the 2018 Flying Wheels Summer Century on Saturday (June 2). I’ve done the 100-mile route of this great Cascade Bicycle Club event the past four years, but with my ankle-surgery layoff I am not in shape yet for a ride of this length. I was planning to do the 47- or 67-mile routes this year, but then decided to avoid a second long bike ride for the week.

Instead, I am running the BBY (Big Backyard) 5K race at Marymoor Park on Sunday (June 3). I certainly need to work on my 5K time, and this will allow me to catch up on some other stuff this weekend.

I hope to do another big bike ride later this summer — possibly even RSVP in August. I’m also hoping to do the Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon in early September.

Thanks for reading!

Posted in 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Marymoor Park, RSVP, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments