2016 Mustache Dache 5K: A hairy race before an even hairier election

My best picture of the day. Thanks to these runners for posing

My best picture of the day. Thanks to these runners for posing

Last Sunday’s Mustache Dache 5K — “Seattle’s hairiest race” and part of a national road-race series to support men’s health — started the week off right. The Seahawks’ game against Buffalo on Monday Night Football followed and was agonizing, but it was a win.

The family that runs together ...

The family that runs together …

Then the whole week was trumped by Tuesday’s depressing presidential election. I spent several hours Tuesday and Wednesday in a state of shock. I am still recovering as I write this, and am not incredibly inspired to make this blog great again. (Which means my usual boring post.)

But the protests over the election will die down, people will move on, and I too must try not to think the world is rigged. And I will continue to run, on a gimpy left ankle, because it eases tension and generally changes my mood. This type of stress reduction, I need. Maybe more so now than ever.

Lots of mustaches but fewer runners

Runners cross the starting line; from the race video

Runners cross the starting line; from the race video

Now, about the Mustache Dache. It was held at Seattle’s Magnuson Park, in cloudy but dry weather after a night-long downpour. The flat, loop course through the park had, as a result, wet leaves and puddles everywhere, along with bumps and cracks in the asphalt surface that made it all messy and slick. However, I stayed upright.

Microsoft friends Jonathan Stutz, left, and Jen Gaudette with me at the starting line

Microsoft friends Jonathan Stutz, left, and Jen Gaudette with me at the starting line

The turnout was down, possibly because of the threat of rain. Some 510 people finished the 5K this year. That’s less than half the 1,143 who finished a year ago, and a bigger drop from the 1,300 in 2014 and 2,000 in 2013.

However, even with the smaller field of runners, the vibe was upbeat and festive. There was a mechanical bull and beer garden, though no live band this year. And a costume contest — many runners wore costumes, and many women (and men, and children) pasted on fake mustaches. After all, this is Movember, a month for appreciating the male side of the population.

At mid-race, a women I was running behind stopped to ask a female friend, “Is my mustache still on right?” It certainly was; I looked to make sure, too.


Nice to run with teammates and friends

Also, I ran the race with two teammates from Allytics, where I work, which was fun. Great to have R.J. Ricker and Kiersten Walker waiting for me at the finish line. Thanks, you two (and you, as well, James Taylor)! I also saw two Microsoft friends at the starting line, Jen Gaudette and Jonathan Stutz. But I somehow missed out on seeing another former co-worker at Zones. Sorry, Tyra Nelson (who ran with daughter Taryn)!

Allytics friends Kiersten Walker and R.J. Ricker with me at the finish line

Allytics friends Kiersten Walker and R.J. Ricker with me at the finish line

Congrats all to them for their great races, especially Jonathan for finishing in the top 20 and Jen for third in her age group.

I finished behind most of them in 36:11 (11:40 per mile), my second-best 5K of the year. I wanted to be in the 35:00 range, but I will take this time because the course was narrow, congested and slippery in spots, forcing me to run cautiously. Full results are here. On a bare and dry course in 2014, I got my best post-surgery 5K time (34:29) in this very same race (and that time is nearly 10 minutes slower than my PR of 24:32 in 2005).

It was my 14th race of this year and 203rd overall. You can see the start and finish of the race by watching this YouTube video. (And I noticed that I do run with a pronounced limp.)

The costume contest after the race

The costume contest after the race. How could you run in these outfits?

A few tips

Here are some tips to pass on for this event:

  • Get a good start: The first mile is on a roadway. By moving ahead of the crowds, you avoid getting caught in the bottlenecks when the course turns and narrows in several parts of the second and third miles.
  • Watch the wet spots, icy spots, and crumpled asphalt: Twisting an ankle or tearing a hamstring is simply not worth it. Run through puddles if you must. The middle mile of this race has some rough spots; slow down if you must to get through them safely.
  • Turn it on again in the last mile: You reach a trail and then run alongside a soccer field, and both offer good running room. Push yourself, even though you can’t see the finish line. You are close.
  • Hit the beer garden for a Blue Moon: I had great time afterwards enjoying a brew with teammate Kiersten Walker. She had the Blue Moon Ale and I had Blue Moon’s Apple Cider beer. Very nice post-race beverages, we agreed. We got to watch the costume contest too.

What’s next

Someone is about to be bucked from the mechanical bull

Someone is about to be bucked from the mechanical bull

This is it for November/Movember. I’ll be on vacation in another week or so and will miss the Seattle Marathon and Half-Marathon for the first time since just after my surgery in 2011.

Potential December races to run: The Ugly Sweater Run 5K at Marymoor Park on Dec. 3; the Jingle Bell Run 5K in downtown Seattle Dec. 11, and the 12Ks of Christmas 12K/5K in Kirkland Dec. 18. On New Year’s Day, I will be back here at Magnuson Park for the Resolution Run 5K & Polar Bear Dive, which I will likely wade through the cold Lake Washington water again.

As bad as the election was and the Oregon Ducks football season has been, I’ll get through it. The football season is almost over and the Oregon basketball season has begun! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanks for reading. Till next month.

Posted in 10K, 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, Marathons, Marymoor Park, Mustache Dache, Resolution Run 5K, Running, Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Seattle Rivalry Clash 10K: A colorful but timeless event for most

Huskies, Cougars and Seahawks get loosened up before the races

Huskies, Cougars and Seahawks fans get loosened up before the races

The Dawg Dash 5K/10K, where you run with purple-clad people around the University of Washington campus, typically takes place this past weekend in late October. But I’ve done that race seven times, and the Huskies annihilated my Ducks in Eugene a few weeks ago. So I wanted to try something different this year.

This guy painted on a Ben Roethlisberger jersey.

This guy painted on a Ben Roethlisberger jersey

Instead, I ran the Seattle Rivalry Clash 10K on the Eastside last Sunday (Oct. 23), where all I saw was not purple. This is a newer race, in its fourth year, and previously was known as the Husky-Cougar Rivalry Clash. It started out as a 5K only, but has since added 10K and half-marathon runs.

Indeed, there are generous numbers of Husky and Cougar fans, but there were probably more Cougars in 2016. The race was renamed this year to encourage more Seahawks and Sounders boosters, plus runners who went to other colleges. I wore Seahawk blue.

Despite all the colorful outfits, the finishers’ medals, the flat course on the Sammamish River Trail, and the fun environment at Redhook Ale Brewery in Woodinville, where the races started and ended, this event still has some bugs to work out.

Specifically, the New Age timing chips — on magnetic duct tape pasted to the back of runners’ bibs — were faulty. The vast majority of participants, myself included, did not get race times.

Husky No. 7 dances across the finish line

Husky fan No. 7 dances across the finish line

To be specific, only 38 of 248 5K finishers, 12 of 128 10K finishers, and eight of 62 half-marathon finishers got their times recorded — i.e., the chips on their bib worked. The partial results are posted here.

My post-surgery PR not official

For those who don’t do races, this probably sounds like a small matter. And I wouldn’t call it a YUGE deal either. However, I believe I ran my best post-ankle surgery 10K time.

The finishers' medals were shaped as a beer mug

The finishers’ medals were shaped as a beer mug

Why I think that is because I used the MapMyRun app on my mobile phone to gauge my time and distance for this 10K. But I had to start the app before crossing the starting line, to get my phone back in my fanny pack so I could run. And I couldn’t stop until well after I crossed the finish line, because I had to get it out of my fanny pack and then sign in to my phone. I am estimating that 30 seconds elapsed before and after the race while I was packing away my phone and then retrieving it.

A top half-marathon finisher crosses the line

A top half-marathon finisher crosses the line

So I am counting my time as 1:16:48 (12:22 per mile), 10 seconds faster than my previous post-surgery best of 1:16:58 (12:23 per mile) at the Seattle Marathon 10K in August. (My 10K PR is 51:44 at the Dawg Dash in 2004.) The time on my MapMyRun app was 1:17:18, so I reduced it by the 30 seconds I mentioned.

Officially, we’ll never know. But the faster time for me makes sense because the course was largely flat and straight. (Also, my MapMyRun app listed the race distance at 6.13 miles, rather than 62 miles. I hope that was an error.)

‘Really embarrassing,” says event director

Let me give a shout out to the event director, James Addison, who apologized to me in an email after I asked when the times would be posted.

Finishers enjoy a beer in the Redhook parking lot

Finishers enjoy a beer in the Redhook parking lot

It’s really embarrassing to post the results when we were only able to pick up” about 10 percent of the runners’ times, he said. “I’m really frustrated and getting to the bottom of this technology, and apologize profusely about our timing fiasco. Going forward, I’m confident that using an outside timing company who specializes in timing will be the way to go.”

I thanked him for explaining that taped chip on the bib didn’t do its job. I’ve also decided I will do this run again, because they’ll use different vendor next year and won’t allow such a timing-chip snafu to happen again.

Congrats, tips, and what’s next

Facebook friend Joyce Szymanski continued her quest to do a race a month for 2016, by running the 5K event at the Rivalry Clash. Congrats, Joyce! Ten down, two to go. She, too, did not get a time.

The finisher's shirt

The finisher’s shirt

Because all three races in this event are run almost entirely on the Sammamish River Trail between Woodinville and Redmond, the tips I would offer are similar to those I mentioned in my post about the Redmond Derby Dash 5K run in August. Check it out. Truth be told, however, on a Sunday morning in October, the bicycle traffic to watch out for is much less threatening than in August.

This was my 13th race this year and 202nd overall, since 2001. Next, I’m eager to join some Allytics teammates in running the Mustache Dache 5K on November 6. This is where I got my post-surgery 5K best time in 2014; I got sick and was unable to run it last year.

Due to vacation plans, I likely will not do the Seattle Marathon or Half-Marathon this year; I done either of these races in 13 of the last 14 years.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

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

2016 Issaquah Run with the Fishes 5K: Runs help me cope with difficult Duck football season

Family members and close friends do this race together

Family members and close friends do this race together

The year 2016 will not be remembered fondly by Oregon Duck football fans — at least if the team does not engineer a dramatic turnaround from their current abyss. So having running, among other diversions (e.g., Seahawks on the way to winning their division), is going to get me through my weekends until basketball season starts.

Finish line

Runners cross the finish line

I ran the Issaquah Run with the Fishes 5K last Sunday (October 2), the morning after I suffered through watching a thorough pounding of the Ducks by the Washington State Cougars. The annual Salmon Days festival run was therapeutic, even if I ran 38 seconds slower than my 2015 time for this event. I was able to get beyond the agonizing way our wet-cardboard defense let the Cougars run and throw for 51 points. (Our 2016 defense is even worse than last year’s Swiss-cheese defense.)

But, oh no! We’re now 2-3 and play the rival Huskies this coming Saturday, and I’m going to be there in person for what could be a horror show!

Yes, perhaps I am being overly dramatic. I will make it through this football season with the help of my friends, even if many of them are Husky fans and are relishing this Duck downturn. But doing training runs and races will help with the stress of watching another blown coverage on third down.

And now about the run

The number of finishers at the Run with the Fishes (formerly known as the Issaquah Salmon Days Run) dipped under 1,000 this year to 992, compared to 1,244 last year and 1,341 in 2014.

Course mapBut even with the slightly lower turnout, this race remains a good showing of community spirit, with all ages participating. I saw six-year-olds running with their moms or dads. I saw husbands and wives keeping up with each together. I saw elderly men and women helped by loved ones gently across the finish line after walking 3.1 miles.

I also like the flat course, much of it on Gilman Boulevard and Front Street, two main thoroughfares that offer lots of running room. Running in stride with others causes me to push myself, even if I’m at the back of the pack. I finish runs like this spent, but invigorated.

At the starting line

At the starting line

My time was 36:21 (11:42 per mile), my third-best of seven 5Ks this year, and, as I said, behind the 35:43 (11:31 per mile) that I clocked in this race a year ago. Full results are here. But I finished the race strong and felt better than I usually do in the last mile of a 5K, so there’s that.

It was my 12th run of this year (my, the year is going by fast), and my 201st race overall. For context, my 5K PR is 24:32 on healthy ankles in 2005.

Former Allytics teammate gets first place

Among the reasons I did this run, besides the mental break from thinking about Duck football, was the chance to see my former Allytics teammate Jamin King (who happens to be a UW grad). He texted me awhile back and said he was going to do this run.

Jamin King, former colleague at Allytics, won this race

Jamin King (orange shirt), former colleague at Allytics, won this race

Jamin is not only a talented developer who now has a promising new gig, but he’s also a strong distance runner who is a threat to win most any race he enters. And he won this race, as I thought he would and told him so at the starting line.

Jamin finished in 15:54 (5:08 per mile), nearly a minute faster than the second-place runner. Obviously, I was well behind him and didn’t see him, but my sense is that he jumped out ahead of everyone else and wasn’t challenged, winning going away. I’ve run three races with him in the past year, and he’s won two of them.

Congrats, Jamin, on a great race!

What’s next

The shirtI’m hoping to find another October run. I haven’t yet run the Seattle Rivalry Clash 5K, 10K and Half-Marathon event, and may try the 10K there. The Dawg Dash 10K and 5K at the University of Washington is the same day, October 23, but I have done that run enough times that I want to try something new.

In early November, I’m definitely planning to do the Mustache Dache 5K in Seattle; I missed this race last year because I was sick with a cold. I recorded my best post-surgery 5K time in this race in 2014. Ahh, November — basketball season starts.

Hey, I will get through this difficult Ducks football season. Wish me luck. And thanks for reading. Till next time!

Posted in 10K, 5K, Mustache Dache, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Labor Day Half-Marathon: Leg cramps and all, I conquer race No. 200

Nearly 900 runners started together in front of a Macy's store at Redmond Town Center

Nearly 900 runners started in front of a Macy’s store at Redmond Town Center

The minute I finished this race, I realized I need to do the Overlake Medical Center Labor Day Half-Marathon again next year. It’s a flat, familiar course, near where I work and where I log Fitbit steps every day. It’s also a chance to get my half-marathon time back under three hours.

Crossing the finish line of race No. 200

Crossing the finish line of race No. 200

Only next time, I will remember to hydrate better the day before.

This Labor Day (September 5) event was road race No. 200 for me, as well as my 38th half-marathon. I got my best half-marathon time since my 2011 ankle surgery (3:00:30, a 13:47 per mile pace), and would have finished under three hours had I not battled leg cramps much of the race. Because of the leg pain and the fear of cramping further, I stopped to stretch three different times, which cost me a few minutes.

Otherwise, this was a decent run for me, even if I tripped and fell for a second in Mile 3 after veering quickly to the right to high-five two young children. I momentarily lost track of where I was stepping as I reached out to slap hands, and awkwardly hit a curb. It was ridiculously clumsy; I got up quickly and tried to hide. See you next fall!

Course ran just north of my workplace

This half-marathon course started and ended at Redmond Town Center, and was pretty un-memorable. Mile 2 skirted the north side of the block where Allytics, my workplace in Redmond, is headquartered. We ran westward to Willows Road, north to N.E. 124th Street, and then east to the Sammamish River Trail at Mile 6.

The course: Flat, straight, hairpin turns

The course: Flat, straight, hairpin turns

After that, we logged six miles north and south on the trail, with two hairpin turnarounds, and then took a jaunt eastward back to Redmond Town Center to finish. Total elevation for this 13.1 miles was under 130 feet. I was oh-so-close to breaking three hours, and I was focused on doing that for the last four miles or so. But I couldn’t get to the finish line fast enough.

It was back in 2008 that I remember pushing myself through the Mercer Island Half-Marathon to break two hours. I’d gotten used to logging times in the 1:55-1:57 range at the time, and didn’t want to fall back over two hours. But, alas, I crossed in 2:00:08. A year later in the same race, I was in a similar situation and finished in 2:00:09.

Last Monday brought back those memories, even as I ran. “Go, legs, go,” I urged to my lower body. Didn’t work. I have to be happy with simply beating my now-second-best post-surgery time of 3:07:47 from the Mercer Island Half-Marathon earlier this year. (My half-marathon PR is 1:55:33 in 2005.) Full results are here.

Refreshing to worry about my other leg

Finish line is same spot as where we started

Finish line is same spot as where we started

Ironically, I spent this Labor Day race worried more about the calf muscle in my right leg than my bad left ankle. A nice change, I might add. It appears that the constant pounding on flat pavement, coupled with my lack of proper hydration, caused the cramping that started in Mile 4.

After stretching a few times and making it a point to stop at several water stations to drink water or sports drink (Nuun) the rest of the way, I staved off any more major cramping. But I still hurt and felt a problem could easily flair back up. That’s my excuse anyway.

Band and beer garden afterwards

Band and beer garden afterwards

Some 699 runners and walkers finished this half-marathon, and another 184 completed the 4-Mile Run, a race I’ve done twice in recent years. Congrats to Facebook friend Joyce Szymanski for her 4-Mile Run finish and for continuing to do at least one race a month in 2016. Nice job, Joyce!

Congrats also to one of the Seattle area’s best-known runners, Uli Steidl, who won the half-marathon in 1:10:46 (a 5:24 per mile pace). The fact that he signed up to do this run tells me the event has some cache regionally.

A few tips from a back-of-the-packer

Here are some things to pass on from this race:

  • Avoid running on cement: This course is extremely flat, and the constant pounding using the same joints and muscles can cause some soreness. Don’t make it worse by running on sidewalks. Choose asphalt over cement, and consider running on the dirt and gravel shoulders of the Sammamish River Trail where you can.
  • Watch out for speeding bicyclists: About half the run is on the busy Sammamish River Trail, which many bicyclists feel is their trail and you’re just in their way — even runners participating in an organized race. Always hug the right of the trail and be aware that bicyclists will be zipping by you and may not give you much room.
  • Don’t freak out about the hairpin turns: It can be unsettling to feel you’re getting close to the end of the course, and then seeing runners ahead of you running in the other direction. The course planners needed to work in these extra turns to bring the course to a full 13.1 miles. In the last three miles, I was entering the course’s second hairpin turn near Redmond Town Center when I suddenly started seeing runners I thought had gone off-course. Then I realized that we all had to run to the shopping center, then run back away from it, then run back to it again to finish.
  • Hydrate well the day before any half-marathon: I’ve been pretty good at doing this for warm-weather races. The heat was not an issue for this run — temperatures were comfortably in the upper 60s. But hydrating is still important, especially for running long distances on flat pavement. Lesson learned.

My coincidental bib number — and what’s next

Nice race shirts!

Nice race shirts!

I was out-of-town the days before this race, and had to get my bib the day of the event. I pinned it to my shirt and didn’t even look at the number until I arrived home afterwards. I noticed it read No. 200 — for my 200th road run (since 2001). Total coincidence; the organizers had no idea. But still very cool.

We’ll see if I get to No. 300.

In the meantime, No. 201 will likely be a 5K. I haven’t signed up for anything yet, but the possibilities include the Alpine Climb 5K Sept. 25 as part of Fremont Oktoberfest, the Issaquah Rotary Run with the Fishes 5K on Oct. 2, or the Dawg Dash 5K at the University of Washington Oct. 23.

My finisher's medal and No. 200 bib

My finisher’s medal and No. 200 bib

Unfortunately, none of the few remaining bicycle rides in 2016 work for my schedule, which includes watching a lot of football.

Thanks for reading! Till No. 201.

Posted in 5K, Bicycling, Mercer Island Half-Marathon, Running, Sammamish River Trail | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Seattle Marathon 10K: Bathroom scene mars otherwise classy event

Elite runners at the start

Elite runners at the start in Gas Works Park. Photo by James Taylor

The Seattle Marathon 10K last Saturday was an enjoyable, well-organized race, with a relatively flat course, comfortable running weather, and having Allytics teammate R.J. Ricker join me for what was her first 10K (she’s an experienced runner, but this was her first time at this distance).

RJ and yours truly before the race

R.J. and yours truly before the race

But what I will remember the most happened the day before. On Friday I went to Gas Works Park, where the race started and ended, to get my bib and chip as part of early packet pickup. I had a nice walk around the park, shot some pictures of people paddle-boarding at nearby Lake Union, and then made a bathroom stop just before heading back to my car.

Inside the bathroom, in plain sight in front of the toilets and urinals, were two men helping each other shoot up heroin. These weren’t down-and-outers; they were two young men in their 20s, possibly students at the University of Washington not far away. I maneuvered around them as they raved about the potency of their junk, the cool vibe they were feeling, and even joked about being diabetics shooting insulin.

Sea10K7I’ve seen people shoot up heroin before. And my dad was a diabetic and took insulin shots every day. I just felt a little sick about two young men seemingly ruining their lives. Where will this dangerous habit lead them? I’d been better off not having seen it. But I kept my mouth shut and left.

The run the next day was therapeutic after that experience. I went back to the same bathroom and this time it was packed full of runners. I’ll take that any day, even if I have to wait in line to go.

Stiff and slow at first — again

The finish line inside the park

The finish line inside the park

So let me talk about the race. Just like a year ago when I ran the Seattle Marathon 10K, I started out feeling sluggish and my bad ankle a bit stiff. But unlike a year ago, no one running beside me was concerned enough to offer me her brace — I still shake my head at how someone cared enough to remove her knee brace and offer it to me, only to have me tell her that it’s my ankle that’s the problem.

The course is essentially and out-and-back west toward Ballard, followed by an out-and-back east toward the UW. Much of the run is on the Burke-Gilman Trail. In the second mile, my groin started hurting; I probably need to stretch more before a race. But after I relaxed and ran a tad easier, the pain subsided and I started feeling some momentum and energy.

I ran probably my strongest in the last mile and finished in my best post-surgery 10K time of 1:16:58 (12:24 per mile). I’ll take it, even if it is only 12 seconds better than my next-best time, which was at this race a year ago. Full results are here.

RJ gets ready for a strong run in her first 10K

R.J. gets ready for an impressive first 10K

R.J., which stands for Rachael Joyce, clocked 52:45 (8:30 per mile) in her 10K debut, so she was way ahead of me. She did not beat my 10K PR (51:44 in 2004), but she will in due time. Very nice that she and her boyfriend James Taylor (no relation to the singer) waited for me at the finish line.

Surprisingly low turnout — and my race tips

The Seattle Marathon 10K obviously has a recognizable brand behind it, as it is run by the same organization that brings us the Seattle Marathon and Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend in November. But that didn’t help the turnout this year. Only 593 runners and walkers completed the race, a drop of more than 200 from a year ago.

Sea10K6This is a busy weekend in the late summer. But I also feel this event was not widely marketed this year, and perhaps the organizers actually want to keep the turnout low and manageable. Who knows?

If you’re interested in running in this 10K, I do recommend it. Here are some basic tips:


  • Low turnout or not, there is congestion and potential collisions at the start of the race, with the narrow trail. Stake out a spot where you know you won’t trip over another runner or someone’s dog.
  • Don’t freak out waiting for the turnarounds. You head west at the start, and you don’t see the turnaround point until you are almost at it. Then going east, the turnaround point is even more hidden, and you start to get impatient. Try to keep your pace — you will indeed finally get there!
  • In the last mile heading back to Gas Works Park, you have a long, flat near-straightaway to work up a strong finishing kick. Make that turnaround, cross under I-5 and then start kicking. No reason to hold back.

Road race No. 200 is Labor Day

Sea10K2So that was my race No. 199. I’m running No. 200 on Sept. 5 — the Overlake Medical Center Labor Day Half-Marathon. I am not really ready for a half, but these days, I never am. I’m looking forward to crossing the finish line.

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

Posted in 10K, Burke-Gilman Trail, Running, Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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 , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment