2016 Lake Union 10K: Fun run that includes a post-race breakfast

Food line

Last weekend could have been a great one for bicycling. Both the RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party!) and Obliteride rides took place, but I took a pass on both. RSVP would have been fantastic, but I couldn’t find a riding partner to share the logistics. Obliteride, a ride for a great cause (cancer research), was simply too expensive.

Finish lineSo instead, I ran the Lake Union 10K on Sunday (Aug. 14), a race I’d never done before. I’m glad I did, because the course is a breezy run around the lake, through Fremont and the edge of the University of Washington campus. It starts and ends at the very well-groomed Lake Union Park near downtown Seattle.

Also, the organizers, Portage Bay Café and 5focus, provide a post-race breakfast of eggs, French toast, strawberry shortcake, fruit and other goodies.

Monte near finish lineMoreover, the event benefits the Puget Sound chapter of Girls on the Run, and has a strong health and fitness vibe. Some 1,255 runners and walkers completed the 6.2-mile loop, including several teams from the nearby Amazon.com headquarters in south Lake Union.

This race took place on an 80-degree day, but it was early enough (7:30 a.m. start) to miss the serious heat.

Bottom line, I will probably run it again.

Course didn’t really rim the lake

I can’t say the course is perfect. I imagined it being one that actually touched the edge of the lake. Instead, it looped around Lake Union more loosely on streets and trails, and did not offer many breathtaking views.

Starting lineBut I still enjoyed the jaunt north up a wide-open Westlake Avenue, across the Fremont Bridge, and through trendy Fremont on the Burke-Gilman Trail. You then cross the University Bridge on a narrow path that doesn’t accommodate runners and strollers side-by-side. A tight squeeze, but I made it.

The way back to Lake Union Park on the lake’s eastside is anything but straight as you weave through neighborhoods and businesses, and don’t often see the lake. It was fine, because you avoided cars.

CourseI really liked the last, sidewalk stretch along Valley Street on the south end and the straightaway to the finish line.

I finished in 1:17:54, a 12:33 per mile pace. Full results are here. This was a tad slower than the 1:17:10 I ran at last year’s Seattle Marathon 10K, but better than any other of my post-surgery 10K times. My 10K PR is 51:44 in 2004, and I’m happy to say that a majority of my 10K race times are still under an hour.

Long lines for food

One other point: Though I talked about the post-race breakfast, I did not partake in it. The food looked great, but the lines were just too long, and I wasn’t all that hungry after the race. If you’re reading this and you did have some food, please leave a comment.

LU2Congrats to Facebook friend Joyce Szymanski for her fine race. I didn’t see her or anyone else I knew at the race, but many people milled around Lake Union Park afterwards — largely because of the breakfast, but also because of the sun and fun vibe.

I’m running another 10K, the Seattle Marathon 10K, on August 27. Then on Labor Day, I am doing the Overlake Medical Center Labor Day Half-Marathon beginning at Marymoor Park.

The latter will be my 38th half-marathon and my 200th race overall (since 2001). It will also be my 63rd race since my ankle surgery five years ago this month, when I thought I would never run again. Looking forward to the finish line.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

Posted in 10K, Bicycling, Burke-Gilman Trail, RSVP, Running, Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Redmond Derby Dash 5K: Friday night fight for running room on busy trail

Finish line

It was such an easy decision: Do a Friday night 5K run right next to where I work in Redmond. I was pleased that three workmates of mine at Allytics — RJ Ricker, Hayley Halstead and Kathleen Esses — agreed to run the Redmond Derby Dash 5K on July 8 with me.

Derby3The weather was warm and dry, the course was flat and straight, the vibe was energetic and festive, and a rock band was playing at the finish line. This run kicked off Redmond’s annual Derby Days celebration. Not much to complain about. My only nit: The runners didn’t have the Sammamish River Trail to themselves for this event.

Yes, that is a lot to ask. This popular trail that runs through Redmond, Woodinville and Bothell before it connects to the Burke-Gilman Trail is a major recreational and a transportation corridor through the Eastside. Bicyclists love it; many use it to commute to work at Microsoft. Skaters and skateboarders love it too. Closing it for an event is, well, not going to happen.

Running or roller derby?

About 400 runners and walkers participated in this race (286 were timed; the rest chose not to be timed), and they joined a smattering of bicyclists, skateboarders and other non-participants on the narrow trail. And it was an out-and-back course starting near Redmond City Hall. So after a hairpin turnaround, faster runners sprinted back just beside the slower runners and walkers going out. Congestion ruled.

Our team for the day, from left, RJ Ricker, yours truly, Hayley Halstead and Kathleen Esses

Our team, from left, is RJ Ricker, yours truly in the shadows, Hayley Halstead and Kathleen Esses

I don’t want to suggest there were major problems — that’s not the case. But, as a slower runner going out, I noticed the race leaders having to avoid getting hit by bicyclists passing them. This slowed their times, I’m sure.

I had a couple of skateboarders myself squeezing my running space. One got close enough to me in the last mile of the run that he threatened to bump me on my left side, which includes my gimpy left ankle. My instinctive reaction was to elbow him away, and I accidentally knocked him off his board, though he didn’t fall. I felt bad about that, but I didn’t want to get hurt as I was laboring to reach the finish line.

Derby10Kathleen, the fastest runner in our Allytics group on this day, said her race included a lot of jockeying for position with another runner or two, and it sounded a bit like roller derby.

Yes, this is a popular trail, especially in early evenings of summer. Despite the some bottlenecks during the race, we all had enjoyable runs and some of our best 5K times. Lesson for me: Get over it; this race IS a bit like roller derby.

Times and tips

My time was 35:40 (11:29 per mile), my best 5K time since May 2015 when I ran 35:27 in the Husky 5K at the UW Bothell. Kathleen (25:07), RJ (25:53) and Hayley (39:09) also had among their best times of 2016. Full results are here.

It was my eighth road run of this year and 197th overall — getting close to 200!

Lining up at the starting line pre-race.

Lining up at the starting line pre-race.

My few tips for this race:

  • Stay to the right, obviously. This is what I always tell myself while doing walks or training runs on this trail. Bicyclists speed past you with limited concern for your safety; they just don’t want to have to use their brakes. (P.S. I do like to ride this trail myself, but I know I’ve got to slow down through Redmond.)
  • Push yourself. This is a race to get a PR, so no need to hold back. Your first and third miles should be strong and your second mile steady. The course is straight, so there’s only the one turnaround to slow you down.
  • Watch your back. While you are running hard, you need to just be aware that a bicyclist, skater or faster runner may be trying to pass you. Again, it’s a busy trail, and people get on and off at various trail spurs along this route.

What’s next?

Teammates at the starting line

Teammates at the starting line

My July is nearly spent, with other, non-running weekend commitments. I’m planning to do the Seattle Marathon 10K in August and the Overlake Labor Day Half Marathon in early September.

I’m also hoping to do another long bicycle ride, perhaps the Obliteride in August or  Ride Around The Sound in September.


Thanks for reading! Till next time. Keep moving!

Posted in 10K, 5K, Bicycling, Burke-Gilman Trail, Running, Sammamish River Trail | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Washington Beer Run 5K: Perfect excuse to drink beer on Father’s Day

The starting line at the first-ever Washington Beer Run 5K

The starting line at the first-ever Washington Beer Run 5K

My expectations were low for the inaugural Washington Beer Run 5K — especially after I was one of the first three runners to arrive for the race at Redmond’s Marymoor Park last Sunday (Father’s Day, June 19). I am never one of the first people to arrive for a race; most of the time, I’m one of the last.

I tried to get there early because packet pickup was just before the event. Turns out, race organizers had just gotten there as well, and were setting up the tables and tents in front of me. OK, how small of a race will this be? I thought. But soon, more and more people started arriving, and lines began to get longer.


Ultimately, we had a race with about 500 runners and walkers. It turned out to be fun. The weather was sunny and warm, the course was flat, and I had my best 5K time of the year (by my watch). And my bad ankle got through it OK. And the beer afterwards tasted awesome.

Run is part of Washington Brewers Festival

This run was held in conjunction with the Washington Beer Commission’s 11th annual Washington Brewers Festival, a beer garden on steroids featuring 110 breweries and 500 or more craft beers.

The race shirtApparently, the event organizers felt a Sunday 5K race would help the festival turnout, as few runners will turn down a beer after finishing a race on a hot day. Good move.

More on the beer in a second. Let me just say that my main disappointment was that the race was untimed. No chip on the bib, no chip to wrap around your shoelaces. Perhaps, timing chips will come with the second-annual race.

Had I known it was not a timed race, I might have skipped it. The day before was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon, which I forgot had an 8K (it didn’t in the years 2009-11, when I last did the half-marathon or the full marathon). With major bicycling rides recently, I haven’t trained well enough for a half or full. If I’m in the same situation next year, I will likely do that 8K race.

Runners cross togetherStill, based on my watch, I finished the Beer Run in 36 minutes, which is my best 5K time this year (yes, it’s been a slow year; my previous best was 37:00 at the Valentine’s Day Dash). This makes sense because it was a completely flat loop within Marymoor Park, with ample running room despite many runners with strollers who passed me. There were bicyclists and runners who weren’t part of the race clogging the course, but this didn’t cause too much of a problem.

Also, the last three-tenths of a mile was a dirt trail to the finish line, but the mud on the trail was hard. I had to watch my footing because of rocks and holes along the way, but it was a short stretch. For most, this would be a fast course.

Running tips, brews sampled, and more

My few tips for this race are:

  • Stay to the right, wherever possible: When bicyclists and others decide to use Marymoor Park, they don’t care too much if a race is going on. Best move is to accommodate them.
  • Warm up well: Again, this is a flat course, and one where you could get a PR. Break a sweat before the race to get ready.
  • Watch your footing on the dirt trail section: There are just some holes, puddles and sharp, protruding rocks to avoid.
  • Plan to sample a few beers: The 2016 fee for this race was $60, which is steep for a normal run. But this fee includes a ticket to the Brewers Festival, were breweries big and small from around the state are represented. You get to try as many as nine different brews before you exhaust the race fee. So try a couple; if you have a designated driver, you can try more.

The Brewers Festival

I walked over to the Brewers Festival following the race, and sampled the Landwink IPA from Woodinville’s Triplehorn Brewing and the La Raza Mexican Lager from Farmstrong Brewing of Mount Vernon. Both were light beers and just right for my taste. I was dehydrated and thirsty, and they went down fast. But I had to drive home by myself, so I decided to stop drinking at that point.

A Seattle band called WingsNThings played Beatles and Wings hits as people made their way around the different brewers’ booths for samples. I didn’t stick around long enough to see how wild the party got. But it was a good time and a decent, challenging run — my seventh road race this year and my 196th overall.

Beer8My teammates from Allytics will do this race next year; I’ll make sure of that.

What’s next for me? Not sure. I’m looking for road races to do in July that don’t conflict with my niece’s wedding and other plans, as well as another good bicycle ride.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

Posted in 5K, Bicycling, Marathons, Marymoor Park, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, Running | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Flying Wheels Summer Century: 104 gritty miles in 85-degree heat

First food stop is Camp Korey in Carnation; you also stop there again after a loop through Duvall

First food stop is Camp Korey in Carnation; you also stop here again after a loop through Duvall

I’ve got some friends in low places — the lowest gears on my Trek 1.1 bicycle. It’s a good thing I rediscovered them recently, because they helped me conquer some tough hills and a 104-mile course in 85-degree heat last Saturday (June 4).

Call it the high spark of low wheel gears. Or something like that.

Riders coffee up at the starting line

Riders coffee up at the starting line

The new, longer course in the 2016 Flying Wheels Summer Century took myself and several hundred other riders through 11 different cities in east King County. It was a long, hot, sweaty, but enjoyable ride, aided by the camaraderie of a group of us back-of-the-pack riders who soldiered on until we hit the finish line at Marymoor Park.

A big thanks to the volunteers for the food stops run by ride organizer Cascade Bicycle Club. They kept their food and water stations open until most of the last bunch of riders came through.

Back to my low gears. I’ve had this bike for three years, but have neglected until recently to fully utilize the lowest back-wheel gear. Duh, you say. OK. Fair enough. I just didn’t realize that using it, combined with my lowest front-wheel gear, could make climbing steep hills much easier. I’d gotten used to not shifting down all the way on my right side.

Riders reach the crest of Inglewood Hill Road

Riders reach the crest of Inglewood Hill Road

Anyway, I made it up the Flying Wheels ride’s steepest hill, Inglewood Hill Road into Sammamish at the 4-mile mark, and that gave me some early momentum for the rest of the ride. After that, I felt confident I could conquer the four or more other tough hills throughout the course. And I did, including the climb back up on the East Lake Sammamish Plateau from the east side on Issaquah-Fall City Road.

I hadn’t been able to get up Inglewood Hill without walking my bike a short distance since my first Flying Wheels ride in 2012.

Not as tough a ride as 7 Hills of Kirkland

Another shot from Camp Korey

Another shot from Camp Korey

Let me be clear about one thing: Unlike the 7 Hills of Kirkland Metric Century ride I completed five days earlier, the hills were not the hardest part of the Flying Wheels Summer Century. It was a longer ride, but actually an easier one on my body. The toughest part was riding all 104 miles in such heat, while staying hydrated and avoiding being sideswiped by a car or suffering a flat tire.

I did it. Took me more than nine hours to finish. But it felt great.

It was my sixth century, which is bicycling’s equivalent of a marathon. It was my fifth time riding in the Flying Wheels event, and 26th major organized bike ride since 2011.

Some highlights and lowlights:

  • New course takes me near my home: Since my first Flying Wheels in 2012 (I did the 65-mile route in 2012 and 2013, and the full century the last three years), the course has always veered north to Snohomish. This year, it dropped that northern loop in lieu of a more southerly one through Issaquah and Newcastle, and back to Marymoor Park through Bellevue. It was cool to ride the last 15 miles through Factoria and east Bellevue, near where I live. (See route map below.)
  • Eastern loop includes climb up — and ride back down — Snoqualmie Falls hill: This 1.5-mile hill is steep and narrow, but a perk of having it on the course is the high-speed, wind-in-your-face, “Wheeee!” ride back down. Other fun downhill jaunts: Union Hill Road toward Carnation, 228th Avenue S.E. from Sammamish to Issaquah, Newcastle Way, and the final downhill to West Lake Sammamish Parkway and Marymoor Park.
  • Food stops were well stocked: I try to avoid eating much at these stops, because in earlier rides, I actually gained weight after a long ride. But last Saturday, in the heat, I made sure I had enough fuel. I enjoyed a chocolate muffin at one stop and a cookie or two at another. There were lots of oranges, bananas, cookies, energy bars, pastries, peanut butter sandwiches and more. Thanks, Cascade! A ton was leftover too; hope it got eaten by someone.
  • Scorching heat hit in the afternoon: The morning hours of the ride were bearable. But by the time I got into the second half of the ride, in the early afternoon, the 80-plus degree heat suddenly slowed me and many others down. It was most intense in miles 70 through 90, heading from Fall City through Issaquah.
  • Great to see more women do this event: I don’t have an official count, but I’m estimating that 2,000 or more people participated in one of the four different 2016 Flying Wheels routes — 23, 45, 63, and 104 miles. Around 35-40 percent were women bicyclists, which is encouraging. It is the reverse of road runs, where women dominate participation, but still nice to see it climb closer to 50 percent in bicycling.

By the time myself and a group of others reached the finish line, the after-ride party had ended and a concert featuring The Lumineers was under way nearby at Marymoor Park. It was still a feeling of accomplishment to complete this ride, even at 6:30 p.m.


Here are my tips for this event:

  • Train for this ride or else skip it: You can do the shorter rides, such as the 23-mile route that is mostly around Lake Sammamish, with little training. But the longer routes require more fitness and stamina, as you need to hit cut-off times to continue riding certain distances (in other words, you needed to reach 44 miles by noon to continue on the 104-mile route).
  • Know your limits: I determined early on in the ride that I was going to attempt all 104 miles. But I was prepared to reevaluate things at the stops at 63 and 79 miles; I decided each time to stay the course, rather than take a shortcut to the finish line. If you feel you’ll be out of gas in those last 20 miles, it’s unsafe not to cut the ride short.
  • Make yourself eat and drink enough water during the ride: As I said, the food was plentiful. You need to eat enough protein and carbs to keep up with other riders and stay safe. Fueling up and staying hydrated, especially at the early stops, is a good way to avoid problems and mishaps later in the race.
  • Meet fellow riders at the stops: There’s nothing better than meeting fellow riders whose chatter and support can keep you motivated. I enjoyed talking to several riders throughout the ride, and many of those conversations gave me inspiration to finish.

What’s next?

The scene at the Marymoor Park starting line

The scene at the Marymoor Park starting line

I honestly want to do another long bike ride soon, perhaps even another century. Maybe I’ll find someone who will ride Seattle-to-Portland (STP) in July or RSVP (Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party) in August with me. Or perhaps I will raise money for cancer research so I can do Obliteride in August for the first time.

In the meantime, my next event is the Washington Beer Run 5K on Father’s Day, June 19. I got my timing messed up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon the day before; I signed up for the Beer Run at the urging of Allytics co-workers, so I’m doing that instead.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

Posted in 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Marymoor Park, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

7 Hills of Kirkland Metric Century 2016: These hills had me pleading no mas

Race photogs catch me, Neil Strother and another rider climbing Seminary Hill between Kirkland and Bothell

Race photogs catch me, Neil Strother and another rider climbing Seminary Hill 

This ride was my annual lesson in how I don’t do enough hill training … and how I am no longer 25.

I rode the 7 Hills of Kirkland Metric Century on Memorial Day, my fourth time doing this  event and my second time riding the 60-mile version. Organizers said about 1,200 bicyclists participated this year, evenly divided among the three routes.

You climb seven challenging hills in the traditional 40-mile route, 11 hills in the metric century and 14 hills in the full century (which I haven’t yet done).

Smiles at the top of Seminary Hill

Smiles at the top of Seminary Hill

The 11 hills throughout north and east King County again got the best of me. So did the 70-degree heat. I had enough strength to get to the finish line, and barely enough to enjoy my strawberry shortcake — an annual treat for finishers — afterwards.

No one wears tutus or costumes to an event like this (unlike the road runs I do). This is indeed a tough ride, with 4,635 feet of elevation over the 58.2 miles in the metric century. My legs and quads felt every bit of that.

No time to rest, however. I plan to do the Flying Wheels Summer Century, a 104-miler, on Saturday. But as I write this, I don’t want to think about that.

Toughest of the tough hills

The finish line heading into Marina Park

The finish line heading into Marina Park

The EvergeenHealth 7 Hills of Kirkland ride starts and finishes at downtown Kirkland’s Marina Park, and is for a good cause: Proceeds benefit Attain Housing, a charity that seeks to end homelessness on the Eastside.

I’ve written about most of these hills in my previous 7 Hills posts. The four toughest for me in this ride were:


  • Seminary Hill, in the Finn Hill area between Bothell and Kirkland. You speed down a drop of more than 400 feet along the northeast shore of Lake Washington, only to have to ride back up 455 feet in a steady, steep climb of nearly two miles. It’s the third hill you face and it sobers you up quickly.
  • Winery Hill, in Woodinville. This is 390 feet of super-steep climbing up a residential area. I need to weave back and forth on the road to make it up the first, steepest section. That’s not safe. This is the toughest hill overall, but, fortunately, it’s only a half-mile climb.
  • Novelty Hill, in east Redmond. This steady climb at the ride’s 31-mile mark is never fun, because it lasts nearly three miles. You chug your way to the top of Redmond Ridge as cars loudly speed past you, showing little regard for your suffering or safety.
  • Rose Hill, through Redmond and Kirkland. This is the final hill, and when I do the 40-mile route, it’s not so daunting. But in the longer rides, it goes on forever — 525 feet of elevation over about three miles. Good thing for me that it is followed by a downhill and then a flat stretch along the Kirkland waterfront to the finish line.
Thanks to Neil Strother for riding with me

Thanks to Neil Strother for riding with me

Fortunately, I had someone to ride with me up some of the hills. A friend and former colleague of my wife’s, Neil Strother, contacted me before the event about riding together. It made it a more enjoyable day.

But Neil only wanted to do the 40-mile route; I couldn’t talk him into riding the metric century (and he couldn’t talk me into the shorter ride). So our joint ride ended at the 26-mile mark, where the routes split. I soldiered on to face Novelty Hill and three other hills without him, while he headed to ride up Rose Hill and then pedal to the finish line.

A few tips for riding this event

Busy repair tent at the first food stop

Busy repair tent at the first food stop

It took me about six hours of riding time to do the metric century, as I rode the last several miles in the midst of a pack of full-century finishers. The full century adds a 40-mile section through the upper Snoqualmie Valley and south Snohomish County. Most of this section I know well from other rides, such as Saturday’s Flying Wheels ride.


My tips for the 7 Hills ride are:

  • Train for the hills. Unlike me, do some climbing in training rides to prepare your body for the strain of getting to the top without stopping.
  • Stay to the right. Most drivers are in a hurry, and don’t care about your struggles. They will zoom past you and hope you don’t weave into their path. Staying safe in any bike ride is the most important part.
  • Enjoy the downhills! Most uphill climbs are followed by sharp descents (as many as 10 or more decent drops). Relax and proceed at a safe rate of speed and in control. Slow down heading down blind corners.
  • Fuel up on protein and carbs and drink plenty of water. The hills can take a physical toll; make sure you are adequately nourished and hydrated.
  • Leave something left for the last hill. Rose Hill, as I said, is a long, steady climb. It’s hard to do when you are totally spent, as I can attest. So plan for it.
Ah, strawberry shortcake at the finish line; it's a tradition at this event

Ah, strawberry shortcake at the finish line; it’s a tradition at this event

This was my 25th organized bike ride since 2011, and my 12th of 50 miles or longer, including five centuries. I’m just hoping that I am rested and ready for my 26th on Saturday, which is expected to take place in high 80-degree heat.

After the Flying Wheels ride, my butt will be sore. I’ll go back to running for June and July.

Thanks for reading! Till next time (provided I make it to next time).

Posted in 7 Hills of Kirkland, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Running | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 Fiesta 5K Ole Run: A Capitol Hill funfest for taco lovers

This was a challenging 5K for many, so I can appreciate her enthusiasm

This was a challenging 5K for many, so I can appreciate this runner’s enthusiasm. Photo by Monte

I ran my first Fiesta 5K Ole Run in Seattle’s eclectic Capitol Hill neighborhood last Saturday (May 7), as part of my 2016 quest to do some different road races. My first impression: This event is a much bigger deal than I thought it was.

I swear I saw Macklemore near me in the congested masses at the starting line. He was wearing a white T-shirt and bantering with friends. He is known to live nearby. I checked the race results and there is no Ben Haggerty (his real name) or Macklemore. But perhaps he ran in the untimed Red Wave, where results weren’t listed.

About 2,000 runners and walkers participated altogether, but it seemed like a lot more people. The race starts and ends at Volunteer Park, and the long, skinny course extends both to the north and south around this woodsy, grassy, 48.3-acre park. You pound your way along old, pothole-laden streets through upper middle-class neighborhoods. The run was crowded, challenging and deceptively hilly, but I didn’t trip over a pothole, which is good.

The Allytics team: Hayley Halstead, RJ Ricker, Monte Enbysk, Michael Caporale, Renee Rapin, and Kiersten Walker. Photo by James Taylor

The Allytics team: Hayley Halstead, RJ Ricker, Monte Enbysk, Michael Caporale, Renee Rapin, and Kiersten Walker. Photos by James Taylor

Five co-workers from Allytics, plus another former co-worker, did the race with me, and it was fun getting together afterwards. What I believe we all learned is that this 5K run is mostly an excuse to eat tacos and drink beer the rest of the day.

Tacos with kimchi? No mas

The real selling point of the event, held every year around Cinco de Mayo, are the numerous taco trucks with their wide variety of eats to choose from. There were tacos with kimchi, tacos with pho noodles, tacos with steak and all kinds of meats and toppings you might not expect in a taco shell. I hesitated, but decided against having one; however, I did watch others enjoying the food.

Scouting out the food pre-reace

Scouting out the food pre-race

Also, the beer garden was lively — and open from mid-morning until late afternoon. Wearing your race bib enabled you to get a free flavored light beer from Budweiser, such a Bud Light lime or watermelon or pomegranate. I had a lime, and it tasted awesome.

And it’s a good thing I only had one beer, because finding my car after the run was quite an experience. This is a Seattle neighborhood that I don’t know well. I parked about a mile north of the park, but after the race got my directions crossed and started heading south to hunt for it. Before I got too far, I asked someone where Boston Street was, and they said they’d never heard of it. Red flag. Am I lost?

Great run, Renee!

Great run, Renee!

I got a break when someone else nearby heard the conversation and Googled the street for me. They let me know I was a mile or so south of it, and I’d have to walk back to the park the way I came, and keep going in that direction (north). After a call to my wife for more directions, I was able to find my car.

There is no central place to park for this race; organizers tell you to find a spot along a neighborhood street. Turns out, there are enough of them. So it works.

New star runner emerges at Allytics

RJ hustles across, at left

RJ hustles across, at left

As for the race itself, it was bunched up in the first half-mile or so, then I got some running room. I pushed myself, but, as I said, had to keep my eyes on the road to watch for potholes. The last mile was a long hairpin turn, where I looked for my Allytics teammates and anyone else I knew. Saw lots of people, but no one I knew.

The hills were manageable until the last stretch leading back into the park. As it got steeper, my running slowed to about as fast as a crippled dog going up steps. But I did not break stride. Once it leveled off, I kicked it in gear to get to the finish line.

Way to go, Hayley!

Way to go, Hayley!

My time was 37:50 (12:12 per mile), my slowest “dry” 5K this year, but pretty much the best I could do on this day. I’ll take it. Full results are here.

I finished 13 minutes after our emerging star runner at Allytics, Renee Rapin, who clocked a 24:38 (7:57 per mile) for a top 20 finish among women. I still have a faster PR, 24:32 in 2005, but this wasn’t even Renee’s best time and she lamented how slow she ran.

Allytics teammates Michael Caporale, R.J. Ricker, Kiersten Walker and Hayley Halstead all did a great job in this race, and I was excited do the event with them. It was also great to see Holly Harrison, a Microsoft friend who previously worked at Allytics. (She photo-bombed one of our group pictures; it was after that that I found out she was at the event.) Looking forward to more runs ahead with this group.

My tips for this run, and what’s next

Congrats, Kiersten!

Congrats, Kiersten!

This was my sixth road run of the year, and 195th overall, as I get closer to No. 200. That is likely to be a race in the fall.

I’m still debating whether to do the half or the full at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon in June.

My tips for this 5K are:


  • Start near the front. Try to stay ahead of the masses of slower runners and walkers that bunch up that first mile in the latter half of the pack.
  • Run near the shoulder or on the sidewalk where you can, to avoid any potential of stepping into a pothole and tripping. There are tons of them in the driving lanes and center of the street.
  • Save some energy for that last hill into the park, near the three-mile mark. You’ll need to do some climbing toward the end.
  • Save some room in your stomach for the tacos! I feel I missed something by not trying any.
Former Allytics PM Holly Harrison photo-bombed this pic

Former Allytics PM Holly Harrison photo-bombed this beer-garden pic

What’s next? Bicycling. I will race (or what I consider racing) again in June. But in the meantime, I have two big bicycle rides I must prepare for: the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride May 30 and the Flying Wheels Summer Century June 4.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.



Posted in 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Seahawks 12K Run: Fewer people show for this spirited, warm weather run

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright (upper left) fired the starting gun.

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright (upper left) fired the starting gun.

The 2016 Seahawks 12K Run took place last Sunday (April 17) under what I consider ideal conditions: sunny skies, warm but not blistering hot temperatures, and no threat of rain. The vibe was great — lots of Seahawk spirit, linebacker K.J. Wright blowing the starting horn, and runners having fun and (generally) giving it their all.

But this year, unlike in 2015, the event was not sold out. In fact, there were 3,335 fewer finishers than a year ago for the main 12K and 5K races. Some 6,113 people finished the two races this year, compared to 9,448 a year ago —a 35 percent drop.

Seahawks12xxSo even though I left much earlier to get to this year’s race than I did in 2015, I had little problem finding a parking spot and getting to the starting line at The Landing in Renton in time for a 9 a.m. 12K start.

This decline in participation is surprising to me. But it’s consistent with turnouts at other running events so far in 2016. In fact, one of my favorite races, the Seafair Pirate 8K/5K Run (previously known as the Seafair Torchlight Run), said it is taking a hiatus in 2016. It normally takes place before the Torchlight Parade in downtown Seattle in late July.

Organizers of the Seafair run said in their recent announcement, “Due to the increased amount of fun runs in our city over the past few years, we have experienced a steady decline in participation at the Seafair Torchlight/Pirate Run. As such, we have decided to take a one-year hiatus in 2016.”

Saturation of running events mean reduced turnouts

Seahawk6So, that’s apparently the reason for the dwindling race turnouts: the saturation of running events overall in the area. I can’t argue with this. There seemingly are more races and organizations seeking to benefit from races these days. That means many established events are seeing fewer runners.

But I won’t be troubled by this trend — at least not until too many races that I like doing are forced to cancel or take hiatuses because they can’t get the turnouts they need. Until then, I like the option of having lots of different races to choose from in a given month, even if it affects the turnout of each.

Seahawk4The reduced participation for the Seahawks event actually made it more manageable. There was still a decent turnout — more than 6,000 runners and walkers. But lines to the porta-potties were shorter, and there was less congestion of people and cars in downtown Renton. I found it more pleasant than last year’s event.

This race benefits A Better Seattle, the initiative led by Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to nurture at-risk youths away from gangs and violence. The 12K run features a jaunt at the halfway point around the Seahawks training facility in north Renton.

Seahawk10It was the second straight year I did the 12K, after running the 5K in 2013 and 2014. The 5K is a completely flat, uninspiring loop around downtown Renton. The 12K is a long but scenic out-and-back on Lake Washington Boulevard, with the Seahawk headquarters at the north end serving as the turnaround point.

You face rolling, lightweight hills along the boulevard that become annoying and more difficult as you get tired in those last few miles. It’s a good workout if you run it all.

Beaten by 34 minutes by my boss

I ran it all, but very slow, of course. I finished in 1:38:46 (12:55 per mile), beating my last year’s time of 1:39:32, but coming in eight seconds slower than my 12Ks of Christmas time last December. I’ll take it. (My pre-surgery 12K PR is 1:06:57 in 2005.) Full results and video clips of all finishers are here.

Seahawk2My manager at Allytics, Robert Doi, ran his first 12K and came in well ahead of me in 1:04:45 (8:28 per mile). Congrats to him. Also, a shout out to Allytics colleague Jamin King, the speed king at our company, who clocked 16:17 (5:15 per mile) in the 5K for second place overall.

Also, congrats to friends Mark Nelson in the 12K and wife Tyra and daughter Taryn Nelson in the 5K for their races. The family that runs together, stays together, or something like that.

This was my fifth road race of the year and 194th overall. Slow or not, here are my tips for successfully completing this run:

  • Pace yourself by not going all out on the 12K four-mile stretch leading to the Seahawks headquarters. You need to conserve energy for the way back to the finish line, which can be deceptively tough and unbearable if you haven’t saved anything for it.
  • Run in the center of the road as much as you can. The entire thoroughfare is closed, and navigating the middle is easier on your feet than the sloped asphalt on each side.

Still deciding on a May road race

Seahawk1As for what’s next, I am doing a shorter run in May, but haven’t decided which one. It likely will be either the Fiesta 5K Ole! Run at Seattle’s Volunteer Park May 7, which I’ve never done before, or the Beat the Bridge 8K Run at the University of Washington May 15. I haven’t done it since 2007.

After that, it’s bicycling. My two major rides of the year, the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride May 30 and the Flying Wheels Summer Century June 4, are again in the same week.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

Posted in 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, 8K, Bicycling, Flying Wheels, Running, Seahawks 12K Run | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment