2019 Dawg Dash 5K: Gearing up for Ducks-Huskies with a run with the dawgs

Dawg fans and their dogs cross the finish line in Red Square on the UW campus

Dawg fans and their dogs cross the finish line in Red Square on the UW campus

It’s a stressful week for many of us Ducks in the Seattle area. We play the Washington Huskies this Saturday at Husky Stadium with the Pac-12 North title likely on the line.

Selfie at the starting line

Selfie at the starting line

I began this week by infiltrating enemy territory. I ran the Alaska Airlines Dawg Dash 5K last Sunday (Oct. 13), racing in and around the University of Washington campus with more than 3,000 other runners and walkers. Most were dressed in purple and many were running with their dogs. This is an event I’ve done seven times previously, and it is always spirited and dog-friendly.

I chose this race for my October run (and my 235th road run overall) mainly because it was the most convenient weekend for me — not because I wanted to talk trash with Husky fans (I didn’t). It was a hilly and challenging course, running room was tight in spots, and I recorded my worst 5K time of the year.

However, the UW is a beautiful green, tree-lined campus to run through, and fellow runners were pleasant and accommodating, even if we all got elbowed or bumped on narrow turns. Fortunately, I avoided tripping on any dogs.

The lead Husky gets ready to run

The lead Husky gets ready to run

It might have helped that I wore no University of Oregon gear or colors. Instead, I dressed neutrally, wearing my nifty 2019 Hot Chocolate Run fleece top and a Microsoft hat.

However, when I did this run in 2013 in a UO shirt and cap, nobody really gave a damn. On Sunday, I focused just on doing the run and not trying to make a statement. And good thing, because this game may not go the Ducks’ way. I also didn’t display any serious running talent. Yet, it was fun.

Pushing myself downhill to offset slow uphill climbs

Finisher poses above the big dog

Finisher poses in front of the big dog

When I first ran this race in 2002, much of the course was in and around Husky Stadium to the south. Today, neither the 10K nor the 5K crosses Montlake Boulevard to the stadium side. The 5K covers a circuitous loop around the UW campus north of Montlake (see course map below), and the 10K does the same loop plus an additional jaunt around Ravenna Park further north.

I’ve run the 10K five times (the last time being 2015), and the 5K twice prior to Sunday. I got my best 5K time for this race (26:24) in 2007, prior to my ankle surgeries, and clocked 39:46 in running it again in 2013. Those courses were similar to what I ran on Sunday, except that I remember climbing a set of stairs in the two earlier races and did not have to do that again.

The 5K course

The 5K course

The latest course was again hilly, as I said, with both downhills and inclines. The major downhill came in the first mile in running down 15th Avenue N.E. on the west edge of campus. I tried to push myself hard down this hill because I knew I’d be pretty darn slow running uphill in the later stages of the run. After navigating course twists and turns and narrow passages, and working to sidestep the dogs and strollers passing me, I certainly did labor to make it up those myriad inclines in the last mile.

Naja Ferjan Ramirez, the 5K female race winner

Naja Ferjan Ramirez, the 5K female race winner

It felt the course ran longer than a 5K when I finally crossed the finish line in 41:02 (13:14 per mile). Sure enough, my MapMyRun app said I’d run 3.32 miles (not just 3.1). Can I use that as an excuse — that the course was marked incorrectly and we all ran too long? It’d be nice if I could, as I was striving to beat 40 minutes. Full results are here.

As it was, I finished 1,219th out of 2,185 runners and walkers who did the 5K. Another 883 ran the 10K, for an impressive turnout of more than 3,000 participants. The event is for a good cause: raising money for University of Washington scholarships (hopefully, not football scholarships).

Lots of friends and former co-workers I didn’t see

A kids' dash was held after the runs

A kids’ dash was held after the 10K/5K

With that many folks doing these races, I figured there would be runners I knew. Sure enough, friends such as Barbara Clements, Jonathan Stutz, and Kate Landry all posted race pictures on Facebook or Instagram (Barbara and Kate with their dogs).

Barbara is a former Bellevue Journal-American colleague who is now media relations manager at UW Medicine. I got to know Jonathan on a project team at Microsoft; he’s now a senior manager at Amazon. UW alum Kate is one of my favorite recruiters and is a client relationship executive at Kforce.

All finishers got medals

All finishers got medals

Congrats on your run, you guys! Sorry I missed you all.

I must mention a disturbing scene after finishing the run. A runner or spectator was laying flat on stretcher about 20 yards short of the finish line, being tended to by medics and others. It was serious, because a medical vehicle with flashing lights had just pulled up to this person, presumably to take him or her to a hospital. I am hoping this person survived and recovered.

What’s next for me?

The scene at the finsh line, with medics working in the background

The scene at the finsh line, with medics working in the background (click to enlarge)

Not sure about my running plans for the remainder of 2019. I am debating running the Seattle Half-Marathon again this year on Dec. 1, but have a business trip to a Fluke conference in Florida in November and am worried about having enough time to train. I may pick a shorter race. (In fact, I just signed up for the Green Lake Gobble 5K on Nov. 17.)


Posing with the dogs

Posing with the dogs

In December, I usually do the Jingle Bell Run in Seattle or the 12Ks of Christmas in Kirkland.

What I am doing this Saturday? I will be back on the UW campus at Husky Stadium, rooting against the home team. Go Ducks!

Posted in 10K, 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, ankle surgery, Fluke, Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, Jingle Bell Run, Running, Seattle Marathon, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon and 5K: Classy event brings out 1,150+ runners on a holiday

Elite half-marathon runners crowd the starting line (photo by Alika Jenner)

Elite half-marathon runners crowd the starting line (photo by Alika Jenner)

Post-Labor Day greetings! It’s amazing how fast 2019 is zipping by us.

Labor Day is a good day to meet a friend and do a road race together. The weather is warm but not too hot, and you can get a good workout in early and then spend the rest of the day relaxing, eating, and watching sports.

Friend Jackie Soo is looking strong as she heads into the last mile (photo by Alika Jenner)

Friend Jackie Soo is looking strong as she heads into the last mile (photo by Alika Jenner)

This is also the day of the annual Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon and 5K in Redmond, which more than a decade ago was known as the Super Jock ‘n’ Jill Labor Day Half-Marathon. I’m not exactly sure what year Super Jock ‘n’ Jill discontinued its ownership of this event and Overlake Hospital Medical Center took over as the main sponsor and beneficiary. It had to be between 2010 and 2012.

Regardless, Super Jock ‘n’ Jill remains an event sponsor and provides gift certificates totaling $850 for the top three winners in the men’s and women’s divisions and top two of the masters’ division (half-marathon only).

At any rate, I feel Overlake has taken a decent two-race event and raised the bar even higher for it. Things I like about the Overlake version:

  • Food and water before and after the races
  • Race results right at the finish line
  • A Starbucks located near the finish line at Redmond Town Center
  • Medals for all finishers, even 5K participants
  • Race shirts that I actually like to wear
  • A flat course, as advertised, that regularly draws 1,000 or more runners and walkers
  • Ample free parking

“Flat-course” advertising sells well

Jackie got this shot of me crossing the finish line

Jackie got this shot of me crossing the finish line

I ran the 5K in the holiday event this past Monday (Sept. 2). Jackie Soo, a friend from my Microsoft days, also did the 5K and patiently waited for me at the finish line. Post-race, we caught up on things over coffee drinks at the Starbucks at center court at Redmond Town Center.

Unlike many road runs where the 5K is the bigger draw, half-marathon participants outnumber 5K competitors at this event by more than 2-to-1. That’s because the half-marathon course is, as advertised, “one of the flattest half-marathon courses in the Northwest … get your PR here!” More than eight of the 13.1 miles is on the flat, flat Sammamish River Trail.

A post-race photo with our medals

A post-race photo with our medals

To wit: On Labor Day in 2016, the last time I ran in this event, I did the half-marathon. It was my 38th half and race No. 200 overall for me, coming after my first left-ankle surgery, but a year before my second. The course was flat enough that I almost beat 3 hours, finishing in 3:00:30. That has been the closest I’ve come to beating 3 hours ever since that first surgery in 2011; times of my last two half-marathons were 3:22:35 and 3:24:37. (I’ve now run 40 half-marathons total, with my PR being 1:55:33 in 2004.)

I considered running the Labor Day half again this year, but opted for the 5K because I didn’t want to do a lot of training in hot August weather. I may do the Seattle Half-Marathon in November; I liked the new course last year. But I digress.

Deja vu from 2016 in the last stretch 

The courseThe half-marathon and 5K runners started at the same time on a main thoroughfare (166th Avenue N.E.) through the Redmond shopping center and ran almost two miles together before the courses separated. It was crowded for about the first mile or so, as we turned onto the Bear Creek Trail for a loop around the south end of the center.

Runners then turned north onto the Sammamish River Trail. The 5K runners did less than a mile on this trail before splitting off onto the Redmond Central Connector trail for an out and back to Redmond Town Center. When this trail ends, you’re running on curving sidewalks behind condos for a time before you’re back on 166th N.E. to the finish line.

Turner Wiley, far left, won the half-marathon and Brett Winegar, far right, won the 5K

Turner Wiley, far left, won the half-marathon and Brett Winegar, far right, won the 5K

This last stretch was memorable from three years ago, as I ran as hard as I could to try to beat 3 hours in the half-marathon. Couldn’t quite do it. I guess the good news in 2019 is that I ran this part just fast enough to beat 40 minutes, as I finished the 5K in 39:48 (12:48 per mile). I honestly felt I’d run faster than that, but the clock said otherwise.

It was good for 254th place out of 369 finishers. Full results are here. Jackie, an avid hockey player and fan, came in at 30:55 (9:58 per mile), so she waited about nine minutes for me to cross. She said it was only her 10th race overall; it was my 10th race this year and 234th overall (my 5K PR is 24:32).

Some 790 runners finished the half-marathon, led by the impressive 1:05:25 (5:00 per mile) run by Turner Wiley. (The course record is 1:01:01, set last year. The world half-marathon record is 58:18.)

Back in a familiar neighborhood

Medals were awarded to 1,159 finishers

Medals were awarded to 1,159 finishers

I miss the energy and vibe of the Sammamish River Trail, even though I raced on it only two months ago. When working at Allytics from the fall of 2014 through this May, I walked several times a week on this trail or on the Redmond Central Connector trail. These days, my weekday walks at the woodsy Fluke Park campus in Everett are quieter and safer — I’m never threatened by a speeding bicyclist — but I do miss the colorful mix of recreational runners, speedwalkers, skaters, and skateboarders on the trail.

Pre-race fun near center court at Redmond Town Center

Pre-race fun near center court at Redmond Town Center

My next run will come after a week of vacation in Austin and then a week of business travel for Fluke to our offices in Bonita Springs, Fla. And the run will be in enemy territory — the University of Washington campus. I’m doing the Dawg Dash 5K on Oct. 13, the weekend before the Huskies host my Oregon Ducks.

I’ve run the Dawg Dash 10K or 5K at least seven times, and continue to do it even though the course includes stretches of grass and even steps to run up on the UW campus. It’s a convenient weekend for me to do a run, so I will make do.

Thanks for reading! Go Ducks and Seahawks!

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

2019 Fluke Day 5K*: Company-sponsored run adds nice touch to Fluke Day celebration

Lead organizer Kate French gets ready to start the Fluke Day 5K*

Race organizer Kate French gets ready to start the Fluke Day 5K* (Fluke photo)

For people who like to write about road runs, the Fluke Day 5K comes with an asterisk. That’s because the course ran short of the 3.1-mile distance. My MapMyRun app put it at 2.92 miles.

And they're off … except me in the pink shirt, getting my MapMyRun app started

And they’re off … except me in the pink shirt, getting my MapMyRun app started (Fluke photo)

Many of you will be thinking, “Close enough!” I am inclined to agree, even if my best 5K time this year was really not my best 5K time this year.

I enjoyed this run around (and around and around) the Fluke Park campus in Everett and am glad it was part of Fluke Day last Tuesday (August 6). By offering it, the Fluke Corporation is giving its fitness-minded employees more reason to be proud of this 71-year-old company and to participate in this annual event, which celebrates the Fluke history and legacy with product demonstrations, free food, an ice-cream truck, and more.

A couple showing off their finishers’ medals

There also were activities such as basketball shootarounds, ping-pong, cornhole, ladderball, miniature golf, and outdoor chess with the large pieces.

A lot of pride in the company comes out at Fluke Day, as evidenced by one employee dressed entirely in a bright yellow business suit with black shoes (the Fluke colors are gold and black). You see how many husbands and wives and other family units work there.

Samantha LeSesne (left), an FDS product marketing manager, gives a product demo

Samantha LeSesne (left), an FDS product marketing manager, gives a product demo for our wireless sensors

Let me put in a quick plug for the Fluke Digital Systems product booth, which I helped operate for the last half-hour of Fluke Day. It was educational; I learned a lot about our relatively new Fluke wireless sensors from demonstrations by teammate Samantha LeSesne — stuff I need to know. Thanks, Samantha!

Back to the run. Thanks to lead organizer Kate French and her team of volunteers for holding the 5K* for a fourth straight year as part of Fluke Day. It was unfortunate that only about 30 people (out of 1,000 or so who work for Fluke in Everett) took part, including Kate herself. Next year, I’d like to help with the marketing.

Great to do a race on work time

Fluke teams evangelize their products to employees from other units

Teams evangelize products to employees from other units (Fluke photo)

While working at Microsoft, I ran the Microsoft Giving Campaign 5K twice, in 2007 (when it was the Diversity Dash) and 2009. It became an annual event after 2009, and I could still enter it today as a Microsoft alumnus. Both runs were fun and I enjoyed the chance to do a race with employees on work time.

Ditto for the smaller Fluke run, which took place at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday.

I joined Fluke around mid-May, so I am just coming up on three months there, and hadn’t been to a Fluke Day before. It is celebrated on a vacant asphalt space the size of a football field just outside the Fluke headquarters building where I work. Three large tents hosting the food fest and product demos take over that asphalt field, which includes a basketball court and hoops in one corner.

Ping pong ... and ice cream

Ping pong … and ice cream (Fluke photo)

We began our run near the basketball court and did three laps around the western side of the campus, which was entirely behind our building and included a small pond in the center. We ran two-thirds of the race on an actual road through the woodsy park area that is closed to traffic. The remaining third was on the gravel trail behind the Fluke building that took us back to the asphalt space.

Official times were not tracked by anyone, but a race clock stationed at the finish line (which was the same place as the starting line) let us know how fast we ran. Even though I got lapped by several runners, my lap times (11-12 minutes) did not seem horrible for someone who has had two surgeries on his left ankle since 2011.

Thanks to all the volunteers, including Britta Jones who worked the registration table (and also ran)

Thanks to all the volunteers, including Britta Jones (left) who worked the registration table (and also ran)

I finished the run as the clock struck 35:34, which for 2.92 miles is a 12:10 per mile pace. Until I learned the course was under three miles, I was jazzed about bettering my previous 5K best this year of 36:43 in April (on a Marymoor Park course that seemed suspect). But not to be; oh well.

I beat five or six people, including walkers, but this was a friendly, good-natured bunch. The other participants seemed appreciative of the opportunity and many let me take random pictures of them.

Looking ahead to more running, less bicycling

My FDS teammates Sheri Smith and Hau Huynh pose for a Fluke Day shot

My FDS teammates Sheri Smith and Hau Huynh pose at Fluke Day

This was my ninth race of 2019 and my 233rd overall. (My 5K PR, by the way, is 24:32 in 2005.) I plan to do it again next year and, as I said, will lobby for a spot on Kate’s volunteer organizing team.

My next race is likely to be the 5K route of the Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon and 5K. This half-marathon is one of the flattest around, but I think I’m going to bypass it for the shorter run. I did my 40th half-marathon in March and will probably wait until next year or do the Seattle Half-Marathon in November for No. 41.

Fluke logoMeanwhile, my bicycling riding season appears to be over. I haven’t been able to find anyone to ride the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C., and Party) with me on Aug. 23-24. I decline to do it alone, even though I rode it with a friend in 2014 and it was by far my best bicycling experience. Maybe next year. I’m not really ready for such a ride now anyway.

Thanks, Fluke, for the celebration and the 5K*, and thanks, all, for reading this post.

Posted in 5K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Fluke, Marathons, Marymoor Park, RSVP, Running, Seattle Marathon, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Seafair Torchlight 8K Run: New course means parade-goers see a gaggle of runners twice

Two people who finished behind me cross the line on Harrison Street

Two people who finished behind me cross the line on Harrison Street

For the first time since I began running the Seafair Torchlight 8K Run in 2003, the course on Saturday night (July 27) did not include a stretch on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The aging viaduct is now being torn down, as most people know, which meant another new course was required for the Torchlight 8K and 5K runs in downtown Seattle.

Selfie at the starting line

The course designers probably felt their options were limited without the viaduct, and with the major red tape of trying to close the Highway 99 Tunnel to traffic. So they decided to try a double-loop course where the 8K runners plodded in front of parade-goers twice before making their way to the finish line.

That meant that both the 8K (5 miles) and 5K (3.1 miles) competitors jointly stampeded down Fourth Avenue along the parade route the first time, and then only 8K runners came back around a second time while those doing the 5K headed to the finish.

It also meant lots more running room in the second loop for 8K’ers at the tail end like me, and more attention focused on each runner. A runner tripping on a pothole or falling for some reason would have been eyed and guffawed by thousands. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me or anyone else that I could see. But I thought about the possibility as I ran carefully and watched for cracks in the street.

Elite runners, including Jamin King at left, get ready to race

These annual races take place before the start of the popular Seafair Torchlight Parade, where people arrive well in advance to make sure they secure the best possible seats for this huge summer parade (it runs for about three hours). Many parade-goers cheer on the runners, no matter how fast they are going. A dozen or more young children stand along the course with their hands out, waiting to be high-fived. You better high-five as many as you can — their parents are watching.

I didn’t mind this double loop along the parade route. I always enjoy this Saturday night race in front of a festive crowd, which is why I have run it 14 times now. I’ll be interested in what others think of the new course, and if the organizers keep it for next year.

Top 10 and Bottom 10

Great to chat with Jamin King at the starting line

Great to chat with Jamin at the starting line

More than 1,100 runners participated in the two races in 2019 — about 200 fewer than a year ago. I wonder if not having the scenic draw of the viaduct and its views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains affected the turnout, but hard to say. Whatever, many friends who normally do this run were busy with other things.

Jamin King was there, festooned in his bright orange Club Northwest singlet. Jamin is a software engineer as well as a fast middle-distance runner, and he and I worked together at Allytics in 2015-16, before he left for CommerceHub and then Microsoft.

The courseWe chatted at the starting line on Mercer Street just east of Seattle Center. I saw him again among the leaders when they lapped us on Fourth Avenue — my first trip through the parade route, his second. And I saw him a final time just as I was making my turn onto Harrison Street to head to the finish line. Jamin, in jeans and long since done with his race, said the magic words as I passed by him, “You’re almost there!” Thanks!

He placed ninth overall in 26:39 (5:19 per mile), after coming in second a year ago in 26:14. That’s two Top 10 finishes in a row in this race. Congrats, Jamin!

I, on the other hand, finished in the Bottom 10, as in 457th out of 466 finishers (including one who was disqualified). The good news is that I beat my last year’s Torchlight time by almost a minute, clocking 1:06:44 (13:20 per mile). It was actually my best 8K time since 2015, when I finished in 1:00:08. (My 8K PR is 43:02 in this race in 2007, before my ankle problems began.)

I had a quartet of runner/walkers I was trying to pass in the last mile, but they decided to run the last stretch to the finish line, and I could not catch them. Full results are here. It was my eighth road run this year and 232nd overall.

Coming next: Fluke Day 5K

The race started 15 minutes late as police got cars off the course

The race started 15 minutes late as police got cars off the course

The Seafair Torchlight Run and Parade are such signature Seattle events that I am happy to be a part of them.

I will be running in another signature event in a few days. Fluke Day on August 6 is the Fluke Corporation’s annual celebration of its founding in 1948. Along with the product demonstrations, booths, food trucks, games and activities is a 5K run.

My company has a park-like campus in Everett, and the course for the Fluke Day 5K will be on trails around our building that I frequently walk. Perhaps we will run a double loop around the building (I haven’t seen the course map anywhere).

Not far from where we finished, floats and bands lined up to march in the parade

Not far from where we finished, floats and bands lined up to wait for their turn to march in the parade

I’m eager to so this run and sincerely hope there are colleagues I can beat. After this, I am considering the Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon or 5K.

Thanks for reading! Football season is coming (not soon enough)!

Posted in 5K, 8K, Running, Seafair Torchlight Run, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Redmond Derby Dash 5K: Hot, humid race but fun time seeing former teammates

The post-race picture: Lynwood Montgomery, yours truly, Hayley Halstead, R.J. Taylor, and Brian Vander Yacht.

My fourth time running the Redmond Derby Dash 5K was a bit nostalgic. Like the other three years, I ran with one or more teammates from Allytics. This time, they were former teammates. I’ve missed them, and it was great to get together again after my first two-plus months at Fluke Digital Systems, making this hot, muggy race worth it.

These are the age-group winners (none of us)

These are the age-group winners (none of us)

Hayley Halstead, R.J. Taylor, Brian Vander Yacht, and Lynwood Montgomery from Allytics all joined me last Friday (July 12) — or should I say, I joined them. They all beat me too, but that’s OK. After two ankle surgeries, I have graciously assumed my role as the slow one in this group.

About 300 runners and walkers participated in what is a kickoff event for Redmond’s annual Derby Days community celebration. They included a 99-year-old woman, who almost beat an hour with her time.

We all had to endure the hot, humid weather that seemed to break out just in time for the 6:30 p.m. race on the Sammamish River Trail. It wasn’t quite as bad as last year’s scorching temperatures in the upper 80s, but it was close (high of 80).

Sun ruins this finish line shot

The sun ruins this finish line shot

This is a flat course, and in 2016 and 2017, I got my best 5K times of the year in this race. But the high heat made it a more challenging run for me these last two years. I tried to pace myself better this year by saving energy on the way out to the halfway point turnaround. I still wilted in the sun in the jaunt back to the finish line behind Redmond City Hall.

I did beat my last year’s pathetic time by two seconds, finishing in 39:03 (12:35 per mile). That was good enough for 185th place out of 294 official finishers. I’ve had three better 5K times this year (led by 36:43 in Redmond’s Beat the Bunny 5K in April), and only one worse. But I will take it and blame the heat. Full results are here. (My 5K PR, everyone should know, is 24:32 in 2005, so I did once run faster.)

Bicyclists didn’t interfere in this year’s race

Pre-race shot; where's Lynwood?

Pre-race shot; where’s Lynwood?

Lynwood led our group with a fine 25:24 time (8:11 per mile) for 51st place. R.J. was close behind at 25:35 (8:15) for 52nd. Brian finished in 30:46 (9:55) and Hayley in 32:31 (10:29), so all had good races.

These folks are now doing weekly runs together at Allytics. I’m glad they made the Derby Dash 5K their weekly run for the week ending July 12. They all eagerly posed for pictures of the group and they cheerfully caught me up on the latest Allytics news.

R.J., Hayley, and I worked together four-plus years at Allytics, so we go back a ways. They fit the run in before flying to Las Vegas over the weekend for the Microsoft Inspire and Ready conferences this past week. Both Hayley and R.J. are senior program managers for Microsoft teams at Allytics, though Hayley leaves in August to join Smartsheet as a marketing manager for channel partners.

Getting ready for the start

Getting ready for the start

Brian and I were content management teammates for Microsoft and other clients at Allytics and both of us often worked late into the evening. Lynwood joined the company late last year as creative director. It was a fun group for the run. Thanks for running with me!

As for the race itself, I’ve talked about it a bunch in previous posts. It takes place on the popular Sammamish River Trail stretch that roams through Redmond. You start behind Redmond City Hall and turn onto the trail running north, go 1.5 miles, turn around and come back. The good news was I didn’t see any bicyclists dangerously slicing through runners and disrupting the race, as I have in the past.

While the run was going on, the City Hall campus was festive and full of people. The first day of Derby Days featured food trucks, arts and crafts displays, a beer and wine garden, and a stage that hosted four music acts through the night, including Danny Newcomb & the Sugarmakers. I stuck around to catch a bit of the Sugarmakers. They played original music with a classic rock sound, and it was highly listenable.

An upcoming run is my first Fluke Day 5K

This was my seventh road run of 2019 and 231st overall (since 2001).

Danny Newcomb & The Sugarmakers play after the run

Danny Newcomb & the Sugarmakers play on stage near the finish line (click any picture to enlarge)

I’m signed up for two more runs in the next three weeks: the Seafair Torchlight 8K Run in downtown Seattle on July 27 and my new company’s annual Fluke Day 5K Run on August 6. That course is in and around the Fluke Park campus in Everett where I work and do daily walks outside.

Fluke Day is a celebration of the Fluke Corporation’s anniversary (now 71), with a full day of food and fun activities including the run. The 5K race is only for employees and their family members and friends, and I will be interested to see the turnout. Fluke has about 1,000 employees in Everett. Obviously, since I have been at the company less than three months, this is my first time doing this run.

Meanwhile, the Cascade Bicycle Club has another organized ride that I am pondering doing, the Seattle Night Ride on July 26. I enjoyed riding it last year but am on the fence about doing it this year because it is the night before the Torchlight Run. We’ll see.

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer. Thanks for reading!

Posted in 5K, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Cascade Bicycle Club, Running, Sammamish River Trail, Seafair Torchlight Run, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2019 Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle 5K and Woodinville Wine Ride: Museum running, wining on a bike, and more

The Brooks inflated doll towers over 5K runners at the starting line

The giant inflated Brooks doll towers over 5K runners at the starting line

I didn’t get to sleep in at all last weekend, but my near-triathlon spread over two days otherwise went pretty well. The back-to-back events, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle 5K on Saturday (June 8) and the 24-mile Woodinville Wine Ride on Sunday (June 9), were both worth doing.

Running on East Marginal Way

Me on East Marginal Way

More below on the bicycle ride that featured three wine stops. The 5K run that kicks off the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle races — the marathon and half-marathon were both the next day, when I was out wining, I mean biking — was clearly the weekend highlight for me. I’d run the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon (2010) and the half-marathon (2009 and 2011) before, but this was my first time doing the shorter race, which was added three years ago.

The 3.1-mile course meanders through the Museum of Flight in south Seattle, just south of Boeing’s main Seattle campus. For my 230th road run, it was absolutely cool to dash around the wheels and underneath the wings of numerous historic aircraft — a first.

The thrill of reaching the finish line

The thrill of reaching the finish line

The museum features an assortment of both military and commercial planes and space vehicles. It has a roof and gated fences, but otherwise is an outdoor facility. I wanted to stop and take pictures, but I worried that I would get stampeded.

Nearly 1,800 runners and walkers weaved through the complex in the first mile. The run then continued along the ultra-flat, four-lane East Marginal Way for an out-and-back through Boeing country. The finish line, like the starting line, was in the museum’s spacious parking lot, and included food booths, a rock band and beer garden.

Rock ‘n’ Roll organizers do it right

The queue at the starting line

The queue at the starting line

Running through the museum was a bit slow and congested, but there was loads of room once we got on East Marginal Way. I shook off some pain in my right hamstring in the last mile to finish in 38:14 (12:18 per mile), my second-best 5K time this year (out of four races at that distance). That got me 924th place out of 1,786 total finishers, and fifth out of 15 in my age group. Full results are here.

The courseNot only is the Museum of Flight an awesome venue, but the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series organizers put on a first-class event, with medals that could be engraved with your name and time, runners’ photos, lots of swag, music, and refreshments. I’m glad the organizers saw fit to add a 5K race for runners with less time to train, and also thankful to Brooks Running Co. for being a key sponsor behind the 5K event.

On Sunday, nearly 10,000 runners did the half-marathon and 2,100 the full marathon on different courses to the north in downtown Seattle and up through the Queen Anne and Green Lake areas.

The Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Marathon Expo is always full of great stuff

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon Expo at CenturyLink Field is always full of great stuff

These are the races where numerous rock bands play at spots alongside the course. The 5K had only a dee-jay spinning tunes alongside the course, but that was OK. I always wear headphones with music while running, and in doing the longer Rock ‘n’ Roll races before, I never felt compelled to stop and listen to any of the bands.

A shout-out is in order for my Microsoft and runner friend Jen Gaudette. She ran both the 5K and half-marathon and finished in the upper half of each. Congrats, Jen!

My bad left ankle would not have been happy had I tried to do that. So, I chose a bicycle ride for the next day instead.

The second wine stop at Cougar Crest Estate Winery was busy for several hours

The second wine stop at Cougar Crest Estate Winery was busy for several hours

Lots of wine poured, but no crashes seen

The Cascade Bicycle Club indulges beer lovers with its Seattle Bike-n-Brews ride in May. It did the same with wine lovers last Sunday with the Woodinville Wine Ride, taking bicyclists through Woodinville’s growing region of wineries, wine bars, and tasting rooms. About 500 riders turned out on a warm, sunny day.

The first wine stop at The Junction

The first wine stop at The Junction

The 24-mile course started and ended at the Woodhouse Wine Estates, a winemaking establishment just north of the Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia wineries. We rode west into Bothell and past the University of Washington Bothell campus, looped back east into Woodinville, and zipped south down the Sammamish River Trail into Redmond to circle around the Willows Run Golf Complex. Then it was back up the trail to the finish line.

Much of it was flat, but it felt good to climb a few hills and get some views from a bicycle of the I-405 corridor that I now drive everyday to my job at Fluke Digital Systems. I also got a chance to see a few areas of Woodinville and Bothell I hadn’t before.

The Woodinville Wine Ride courseThe course was a mesh of those from a number of rides and road runs I’d previously done. And there was the stretch of the Sammamish trail that was all too familiar from my marathon training days (my last marathon was in 2012). I got a chance to relive some memories of pushing myself through 20-mile Sunday runs.

Along the way were two stops for wine: The Junction in Woodinville’s Warehouse District, where you could order bottles or fill your cup (I focused on the big cookies from Costco), and the Cougar Crest Estate Winery, where the upstairs tasting room was way too crowded. I must say that the wine samples were relatively small, the riders all seemed to manage their alcohol intake, and I did not see any crashes or incidents.

I personally held off on any wine consumption until crossing the finish line back at Woodhouse. After riding for about two and a half hours, a cup of Riesling went down nicely in the hot sun.

It wasn’t the most exciting ride I’ve done. But a highlight was seeing former Microsoft co-worker Susan Woodside at The Junction wine stop. Great to see you again, Susan!

What’s next

Former co-worker Susan Woodside and me at The Junction

Former co-worker Susan Woodside and me at The Junction

For my next run, I am hoping to reunite with some Allytics teammates at the Redmond Derby Dash 5K on July 12. This race takes place after work on a Friday on the Sammamish River Trail. For at least a few hours that day, it would be nice if the bicyclists stayed away and let the runners have the trail.

Later in July, I have a chance to do another back-to-back bicycling and running weekend (I also did one in February). But I likely won’t. I am planning to decide whether to do the Seattle Night Ride on Friday, July 26, or the Seafair Torchlight 8K Run on Saturday, July 27, but probably not both.

Thanks for reading, Happy Father’s Day, and enjoy the summer, everyone!

Posted in 5K, 8K, Bicycling, Cascade Bicycle Club, Green Lake, Marathons, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, Running, Sammamish River Trail, Seafair Torchlight Run | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2019 Emerald City Ride: Not as scenic anymore, but still a thrill to ride carless freeways

Riding on I-5 just south of the Ship Canal Bridge

Riding on I-5 just south of the Ship Canal Bridge

This year’s Emerald City Ride was without the featured stretch on the Alaskan Way Viaduct because, well, the viaduct no longer exists. Replacing it with a jaunt through the Highway 99 Tunnel means that you can now escape the rain or cold for a couple of miles, but you miss out on the scenic views of Puget Sound, the ferry boats, and the Olympic Mountains.

Just getting on the Ship Canal Bridge, with the best views of the ride

Just getting on the Ship Canal Bridge, with the best views of the ride (click any picture to enlarge)

Still, some 3,000 riders turned out last Sunday (May 26) on a Memorial Day weekend because of the chance to bicycle several miles of freeway through Seattle without worrying about any cars. That part hasn’t changed, and it makes this once-a-year opportunity (provided by the Cascade Bicycle Club) still worth it. Many of the riders were parents biking with young children.

This is only a 12-mile ride, and the course is largely flat with just a few significant hills. But I got a decent workout anyway Sunday because I showed up fashionably late and had to push myself hard to make the I-5 express lanes cutoff time at the six-mile mark. When race organizers say they won’t allow any riders on I-5 after 9:30 a.m., they mean it. Fortunately, I got there around 9:22 a.m. so I could complete the ride.

No time for a food stop

The Emerald City Ride courseThat first part of this ride is northbound through the three-month-old tunnel — it opened last February, at the same time the viaduct was closed for its imminent dismantling (now about 90 percent completed).

Since I rode through the 2-mile-long tunnel in the inaugural Highway 99 Tunnel Ride on Feb. 3, it was not new to me. But I got a chance to relive the memory of how you start out fast on a downhill plunge, level off, and then climb the last mile or so up a 5 percent grade to make it out (it is the same situation going both northbound and southbound).

In my haste to make the cutoff, I didn’t even think about the next hill after coming out of the tunnel. But I was pedaling up Highway 99 to the Aurora Bridge, a gradual incline that I ran up earlier this year as part of the Hot Chocolate 5K. It is a stretch that I know well from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon, the St. Patrick’s Day Dash, and several other road runs.

Climbing to the north end of the Highway 99 Tunnel

Climbing to the north end of the Highway 99 Tunnel

We rode across the Aurora Bridge and then turned down into Fremont. There was a food stop at Gas Works Park, but I had no time to stop. They didn’t want us to stop either — they were putting away tables and booths, and urging everyone to keep riding to get to the I-5 entry way. I was glad to finally get there on time and not have to argue my way on, as I did in last year’s Emerald City Ride.


Four miles of bicycling down I-5 

Pictures at the finish line

Pictures at the finish line

Once on I-5, the best part of this new Emerald City Ride (sans viaduct) begins. You enter going southbound on the Ship Canal Bridge, and can stop to take pictures of Lake Union, the Space Needle, downtown high-rises, and the Sound off in the distance.

I simply like having multiple lanes to bike in, much in the way that I relished having all that room on I-5 northbound in running the new Seattle Half-Marathon course last November. You have four miles of free riding down I-5 until you exit back into downtown through the express lanes tunnel to Fifth Avenue. No cars, no stoplights — only young kids riding slower to watch out for.

My reward for completing the ride

My reward for completing the ride

I finished the ride in just over an hour, as I stopped several times to take pictures. The start and finish line was behind the Pyramid Alehouse that is across from T-Mobile Park in south downtown. For the second straight ride, I gorged on a sausage dog afterwards.

This was my third ride this year and 38th overall (since 2011), and I have at least one more planned for 2019.

New job underway at Fluke; plus what’s next

Getting to the finish line behind the Pyramid Alehouse

Getting to the finish line behind the Pyramid Alehouse

As I noted in my last post, my day job has changed. I left Allytics to become the content manager at Fluke Digital Systems, starting on May 13. Three weeks into the new job and I am enjoying the new challenge, with still lots to learn about the Industrial Internet of Things and the Fluke/Accelix product line and marketing strategy. So far, so good, but I do miss my peeps at Allytics.

I’m hoping some former teammates will join me in running the Rock ‘n’ Seattle Marathon 5K — it’s a 5K race on June 8, the day before the big marathon and half-marathon races (I’ve done both before, but will not do either this year). I like the idea that this run starts and ends, and runs through, the Museum of Flight in south Seattle.

Another I-5 shot, closer to the exit to downtown

Another I-5 shot, closer to the exit to downtown

The following day, I’m bicycling again — the Woodinville Wine Ride, a 24-mile ride through northeast King County sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club. I did this ride in its inaugural year of 2015, when the course was a simple, unremarkable spin from Woodinville to Seattle via the Sammamish and Burke-Gilman trails.

I signed up for this year’s event because the course through Woodinville’s wine country seems a bit more interesting than the previous one. I’m hoping the swag again includes a wine glass.

It is a second weekend this year where I’m running a road race one day and doing a bicycle ride the next, so wish me luck.

Cheers, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Posted in 5K, Bicycling, Burke-Gilman Trail, Cascade Bicycle Club, Hot Chocolate 15K/5K, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, Running, Sammamish River Trail, St. Patrick's Day Dash | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment