2019 Resolution Run 5K: Brisk, cold, puddle-jumping run to launch the new year

The detour into Lake Washington

The detour into Lake Washington (click any image to enlarge)

My resolutions for 2019 are hardly radical or game-changing. I will try to lose at least five pounds, to make up for those I gained post-surgery in 2018. I will try to exercise every day. I will continue to cut back on red meat and eat as healthy as I can. I will try to be nice to all my co-workers and others.

All wet but done!

All wet but done!

Maybe this is a little more exciting: I would like to get back to playing the drums, after a long time off. These days, I’ll I play is my steering wheel. And I want to write a book (or two).

Lastly, I will continue running races and doing bicycle rides in 2019, including running my 40th half-marathon and more than 300 miles total (I ran 272 in 2018). I got started on this one by running the Club Northwest Resolution Run 5K last Tuesday, January 1.

For hardcore runners who don’t go crazy on New Year’s Eve (I’m in bed by 11), this event is a great way to start the new year. Change that — there are likely a large number of people who do go crazy and still come out and run with a hangover.

No, the race venue, Seattle’s Magnuson Park, is not exactly a dream course in early January. Its muddy puddles, cracked pavement, and narrow hilly sections are safety hazards. But it was still a thrill to be back running in this event after a year’s absence. A year ago at this time, my ankle fusion surgery had me on a scooter.


Two-thirds of runners took the plunge

Another shot of Polar Bear Dive finishers

Another shot of Polar Bear Dive finishers

I joined some 950 runners and walkers, of which nearly 650 did the Polar Bear Dive into Lake Washington. I ran the dry race again and didn’t jump into the lake. The Polar Bear Divers, at the three-mile mark, take a detour into the lake and splash their way through a 50-foot section of water before getting back on course to the finish line. The rest of us just run straight to the finish line.

I did the Polar Bear Dive in 2016, and was surprised that the water temperature was not as shocking as I’d expected. Actually, I was nonplussed; it was OK, but I’d rather take advantage of the relatively flat course to improve my time. Boring, I know. I have done this event 12 times now, and for the other 11 have been content to skip the lake plunge and stay dry.

Post-race: from right to left, yours truly, Chris Norred, Sally Norred, Oliver Norred, Oliver's friend

Post-race: from right to left, yours truly, Chris Norred, Sally Norred, Oliver Norred, Oliver’s friend

But as you might imagine, the biggest reason for most others to do this run is to indeed get wet. My friends, Chris and Sally Norred and their sons Louie and Oliver, are veteran Polar Bear Divers. They gracefully splash through the water and get to the finish line in swift times, and are usually already changed into dry clothes when I see them at the chili feed that follows the race. It’s always good to catch up with them.

Instead of getting wet myself, I hurry after I’ve finished the dry run to go take pictures of the others frolicking in the water. Most don’t simply wade in like I did in 2016; they dive in head-first and swim and jump through the water, coming out dripping and sopping wet. Some couples and families hold hands as they scream and laugh and share the experience together.

I am totally good with watching it all. The Polar Bear Divers’ 0.1-mile lane to the finish line is often icy and slippery in cold weather, though I’ve seen no one take a spill.

Running carefully in the last mile

Barefoot runner at the starting line

Barefoot runner at the starting line

Fortunately, the weather itself was mostly dry for last Tuesday’s event. Temperatures were in the chilly 30s, but the sun was out, and it was just nice to not have to run or eat chili in pouring rain.

The 3.18-mile loop course is entirely inside Magnuson Park. You start not far from where you finish, and run on streets and trails around the soccer fields and along the lake. It’s generally flat except for a hilly section around the halfway point.

I mentioned the muddy puddles and potholes; these are mostly around the two-mile mark when you are coming off a small hill and trying to speed your way into the home stretch. It’d be nice to have an easy way around these muddy pools of water that form in and around the asphalt. But because many days of Seattle rain and cold weather lead up to this race, I don’t see this ever changing. You just have to run carefully here.

Wheelchair finisher in dry lane at left, wet runners at right

Wheelchair finisher in dry lane at left, wet runners at right

Most of the last mile is a flat trail run along the lake where you say to yourself, “C’mon legs, get me there!” There are cracks and holes in the pavement, so you can’t stop being careful.

While the majority stay left and go straight into the lake for their wet romp, I get excited about taking the right turn to the finish line. As I said earlier, that path is generally dry and not as slippery for a finishing kick.

First place in her age group

Done running through water!

Zipping through water!

I finished in 38:35 (12:27 per mile), good for 205th place out of 313 runners. It was not my best time for this race, of course, but not my slowest either. Full results are here. It beat my 2016 Polar Bear Dive time and my 2012 Resolution Run time coming not long after my first ankle surgery. (It also was much better than my recent 12Ks of Christmas 5K time.) My Resolution Run PR is 24:59 in 2007 (8:02 per mile).

A shout-out to all the Norreds, but particularly Sally, who beat her husband to finish the Polar Bear Dive in 25:14 (8:09 per mile), good for first place in her age group! Congrats also to Microsoft friend Jen Gaudette, who always runs well in this event.

Final water shot

Another runner speeding out of the water

What’s next? I need some time to work on my other resolutions, and won’t be running another race or bike ride until early February. Then, I get a chance to see the end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the beginning of the Highway 99 Tunnel along the Seattle waterfront.

The Tunnel to Viaduct 8K Run is on Saturday, Feb. 2, and the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Tunnel Ride 2019 on Sunday, Feb. 3. These back-to-back events give us an early look at the new tunnel opening soon, plus a final jaunt across the viaduct being demolished in February. There is still time to sign up for both.

Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for reading.

Posted in 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Resolution Run 5K, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 12Ks of Christmas: Elves, reindeer and Grinches among the 2,100 runners

Santa heads to the finish line at Heritage Park

Santa and his companion head to the finish line at Heritage Park

After a year off for ankle surgery, I was back running the popular 12Ks of Christmas last Sunday (Dec. 16). I’ve done this event 14 times and usually run the 12K. But I ran the 5K race this time, largely because I knew I wasn’t going to have much training time in what has been a marathon December for work.

Running downhill to the finish line

Running downhill to the finish

I found it interesting that Snohomish Running Co., the event organizer, didn’t publicize the race courses in advance. Perhaps they didn’t get the courses nailed down very far in advance. But it also could have been that neither the 5K or 12K course could be promoted as “flat and fast.”

Both races featured running up Market Street and other challenging hills in the neighborhoods north of downtown Kirkland. As a consequence, only one 5K time was under 20 minutes, which to me is a sign of a tougher-than-usual course.

Yet the race was invigorating and fun. More than 2,100 people finished either the 5K or 12K, and the event again brought out some great costumes — runners outfitted in holiday red and green and wearing Santa suits and hats or ugly sweaters. They came dressed as elves, reindeer, snowflakes, Grinches, even a holiday dinosaur. The event organizers provided a free holiday beanie (as well as an ugly sweater-like running shirt) to all participants.

That is what the 12Ks of Christmas is all about: holiday spirit. Getting a fast time is less important for many than spreading good cheer, even if it means an uncomfortable run.

More about the hilly course and downhill finish

Interesting costume: a Christmas dinosaur

Interesting costume: a Christmas dinosaur

For the record, I did not dress in a costume. I prefer running in comfort. And also for the record, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I can’t handle a course with hills. Even if I can’t.

Actually, I train on the hills in my Woodridge Hill neighborhood in Bellevue. But I still don’t move very fast up them. Ankle surgery or not, I’ve always been slow going up hills.

Not knowing the course in advance, I labored a bit in that first mile. About 100 yards after the start in front of Heritage Park, we turned left to trudge up Market Street toward Juanita. Five blocks later, we went right on 10th Avenue up another hill that finally leveled off.

More interesting costumes

More interesting costumes (click any picture to enlarge)

I got warmed up fast and felt a surge of energy for some flat and downhill stretches. We made our way east to the Cross Kirkland Corridor trail. It’s a great running trail, but we were on it for less than a mile before heading back up some of the hills we’d just run down.

The final half-mile, this time, was down Market Street, and it was exhilarating. I pushed it as hard as I could without pulling a muscle in heading back to the finish line inside Heritage Park.

A note on the 12K course: I don’t know where they ran. The 12K runners covered the same ground as the 5K runners, plus an additional 4.3 miles. Where those additional miles were, I’m not sure, since they didn’t post course maps.

Running on a fused ankle

The 5K course on my MapMyRun app

The 5K course on my MapMyRun app

I’d thought my faster pace on the downhill portions would offset my slower uphill performance. But, no, it didn’t. I finished the 3.13-mile race in 41:15 (13:17 per mile), for 467th place out of 882 5K finishers. I’ll take it, and try to do better next time. Full results are here.

A heavy-duty work schedule this month has limited my running (and walking) time — Christmas shopping time too. That’s my best excuse, anyway. But happy to be back running this race again, and it will also be great to do the Resolution Run 5K again on Jan. 1.

The finish line at Heritage Park

The finish line at Heritage Park

This past Tuesday (Dec. 18) was my one-year anniversary of my ankle fusion surgery. I missed the 12Ks of Christmas and Resolution Run a year ago because I was just getting ready for surgery or on a scooter.

Earlier this month, I had an end-of-year checkup with my ankle surgeon, Dr. Eric Powell. I told him about my running the Seattle Half-Marathon in late November, and he sounded amazed and said my X-rays looked great. “You did that on a fused ankle,” he said. “It is extremely rare that someone goes out and runs a half-marathon on a fused ankle. I’m impressed.”

Nice to hear all that, and hope I can stay injury-free for awhile.

Next steps

12K runners head down Market Street to the finish line

12K runners head down Market Street

It was my 11th run of 2018 and my 224th overall. But time to cut this short, so I can get my Christmas shopping done!

After running the Resolution Run 5K — the dry version, not the Polar Bear Dive — I will take time off until the Tunnel to Viaduct 8K on Saturday, Feb. 2, and the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Tunnel Ride 2019 on Sunday, Feb. 3. Those back-to-back events to celebrate the end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the beginning of the Highway 99 Tunnel will be fun.

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Posted in 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Resolution Run 5K, Running, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2018 Seattle Half-Marathon: Cool new course for my half No. 39

Marathoners cross the finish line at Memorial Stadium. I love this finish line

Marathoners cross the finish line at Memorial Stadium. I love this finish line

For more than a decade, the Seattle Marathon or Half-Marathon has been a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for me. Last Sunday (Nov. 25), I resumed this tradition after a two-year break by running the Seattle Half-Marathon. It was my longest run of the year, my first half-marathon since September 2016, and a challenging but fun experience.

Here's me about to cross the finish line

Here’s me about to cross the finish line

I actually signed up for the Half-Marathon Walk, because I wasn’t sure how much of it I could run. But I ended up running at least 12 of the 13.1 miles. So, I ran the Walk, as I’ve done a few times before. After my latest ankle surgery last December, as well as my previous one in 2011, I’m cautious about doing too much pavement pounding — yet I continue to find that my ankle is up to the challenge.

This was half-marathon No. 39 for me, as I work toward getting to 40 in 2019. It was also my eighth Seattle Half-Marathon, to go with six full Seattle Marathons (21 marathons total). I’ve been doing this event since 2002, but missed the last two — in 2016, we spent Thanksgiving weekend in New York with our daughter Molly, and last year I had stopped running to get ready for the Dec. 18 surgery.

It felt great to be back at it, to be doing a longer race with nearly 5,000 other people, including some of the area’s hardcore runners. You don’t see any tutus or Thanksgiving costumes in the Seattle Marathon or Half. Most of these athletes have trained extensively for this event and are focused on PRs. On top of that, the course was great and the weather was mild and dry.

A refreshing new course with a downhill final stretch

Scene from the finish line

Scene from the finish line

Since my last Seattle Half in 2015, the courses for both the marathon and half-marathon have changed twice (the half-marathon course still remains pretty much a half-segment of the full marathon course, geographically).

The old courses I knew well; they included the Interstate 90 express lanes, the marathon out-and-back to Mercer Island and to Seward Park, the scenic west Lake Washington waterfront leg through Leschi, and the challenging hills leading to and through the Seattle Arboretum. But those loop courses had to be revised because the I-90 express lanes are now off-limits — they’re being converted into Seattle’s light-rail link to the Eastside.

I can’t tell you much about last year’s revised courses, except that without the I-90 stretch, the full marathon added a southern jaunt through Mount Baker and then east to Seward Park, and the half-marathon stayed north of I-90 and made up extra mileage in the Madison Park area. Otherwise, they covered a lot of the same ground as the previous longstanding courses.

Chilly at the starting line

Chilly at the starting line

This year’s courses, however, were a complete overhaul. We ran on the I-5 express lanes for the first time, plus the Burke-Gilman Trail, the streets of Fremont, the Aurora Bridge, and Aurora Avenue. All are relatively flat, except for an uphill climb in Fremont and a downhill final stretch on Aurora.

What stayed the same: The start in front of Seattle Center and the finish inside nearby Memorial Stadium. Running across the stadium football field to the finish line is, and always has been, an awesome feeling.

I liked it all. I vote to stay this course for at least the next few years.

Pushed myself to avoid being disqualified on I-5

Here are some of the other highlights of this event and the new course:

  • The 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. start times: There was a 9:10 a.m. deadline for runners and walkers to be off the I-5 express lanes (miles 2 through 5) so they could be reopened to traffic — otherwise, you’d be shuttled off and disqualified. Those doing the Marathon and Half-Marathon Walk events were encouraged to start at 7 to avoid missing this deadline. I started at 8 because I wanted to sleep longer; that meant I had to push myself to get to mile 5 on time. I did, and appreciated this incentive to run hard.
  • Running the I-5 express lanes: I’ve done this a few times in the Seattle Jingle Bell Run 5K, but this course took us further north across the Ship Canal Bridge. I liked having all this running room with no cars.
  • Joining the marathoners on the Burke-Gilman Trail: The marathon race started a half-hour before our race, and marathoners headed north and east on the Burke-Gilman Trail all the way up past Magnuson Park and back. Then they joined us as we ran westward on the trail, with faster marathoners passing slower half-marathoners like me. It was fun seeing some elite runners in action.
  • Running downhill for the last two miles: I started to feel spent crossing the Aurora Bridge, but got some energy back when I realized that Aurora was going to take us most of the way back to Memorial Stadium. This is a hill that I’ve run up and back down in the St. Patrick’s Day Dash, the Hot Chocolate 15K, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon. It was awesome just having to run down it.
  • A friendly finishers’ area with hot chicken soup! For my more recent Seattle Marathon runs, it was so late in afternoon that the finishers’ area under the grandstands at Memorial Stadium was nearly empty and all the food gone. But after last Sunday’s Half, I finished well in time to get soup, bananas, chocolate bars, and anything else I wanted, and to chat with a few friends and fellow runners.

Happy to beat my goal time

More marathon finishers

More marathon finishers

My conservative goal for the race was to beat 3:30, and I did, without too much trouble. I finished in 3:22:35 (15:28 per mile), obviously not my best time (my PR is 1:55:33 in 2004), but not my worst, either. While I didn’t beat my last half-marathon time of 3:00:30 at the Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon in 2016, I didn’t expect to. We’ll see if I can ever break three hours again.

My time is listed in the results among the half-marathon walkers (93rd out of 277). But had I signed up for the run, I would have finished 3,068th out of 3,152 runners. Good enough for my first half-marathon after a second ankle surgery. Full results are here.

Half-marathoners getting ready for the start

Half-marathoners getting ready for the start

Congrats to Boston Marathon veteran and former Ragnar Relay teammate Larissa Martin Ralph for her impressive marathon finish, and to journalism and Microsoft friends Anthony Bolante and Jen Gaudette for their strong times in the half. I could tell from their Facebook posts that they all enjoyed the event as much as I did.

I’m looking forward to half-marathon No. 40 next spring (probably the Mercer Island Half-Marathon in March). In the meantime, I am running two 5Ks in coming weeks, the 12Ks of Christmas 5K on Dec. 16 and the Resolution Run on New Year’s Day. With a busy work schedule in December, I’ve got little time to train for longer races.

Another race (my 223rd), another medal

Another race (my 223rd), another medal

As I mentioned last post, I’m also signed up for the Tunnel to Viaduct 8K on Saturday, Feb. 2, and the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Tunnel Ride 2019 on Sunday, Feb. 3. These back-to-back events will give us an early look at the new Highway 99 Tunnel, plus a final jaunt across the Alaskan Way Viaduct being dismantled soon.

Happy holidays, everyone! Thanks for reading.

Posted in 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Burke-Gilman Trail, Jingle Bell Run, Marathons, Mercer Island Half-Marathon, Resolution Run 5K, Rock 'n Roll Seattle Marathon, Running, Seattle Marathon, St. Patrick's Day Dash, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2018 Green Lake Gobble 5K: I’m thankful to still be able to run

Runners line up for the start of the races. Jamin King, in the center in a white top, finished third n the 5K

Nearly 1,500 runners line up at the start. Jamin King, center in a white top, finished third in the 5K

It’s Thanksgiving Week. I’ve survived another birthday, another crazy, unreal year of Trump, and another excruciating, maddening, but ultimately winning Oregon Ducks football season.

The finish line is at the south end of the lake

The finish line is at the south end of the lake

Like most people, I’m thankful at this time of year for a lot of things — for a great wife, daughters, family and friends, fulfilling work and great bosses, and my relatively good health. Being able to  run — I finished my latest race, the Green Lake Gobble 5K last Sunday (Nov. 18), without much ankle pain and with my fastest 5K time this year — is also very meaningful to me.

I don’t want to make this an overly reflective blog post. But I’m grateful I can still do a race — especially after all my ankle problems.

She ran a 5K with a turkey in the oven

She ran a 5K with a turkey in the oven (click to enlarge)

I started this year on a scooter, recovering from my second ankle surgery in six years. The nature of that surgery last Dec. 18 could have made running difficult. The doctor fused my left leg and foot bones, so that I no longer have an ankle bone. It had deteriorated into almost nothing anyway.

But the surgery went well and I fully recovered by the spring, walking and running again sooner than I probably should have been. I’m a step slower than I was after my first surgery in 2011, but not dramatically so. (I was already pretty damn slow.)

Appropriate garb for the Green Lake Gobble

Appropriate garb for the Green Lake Gobble

After the latest surgery, I came across a couple of articles noting that people who have had this fusion surgery often give up on running. The writers encouraged people to believe that they could run again and to give it a try.

This latest race was my ninth run in 2018 — and my No. 222 (without a DNF) since I started doing road runs in 2001. This coming Sunday, I’m running (and walking) my 39th half-marathon, the Seattle Half-Marathon. No pressure on getting a good time; it’s my longest run of the year, and I’m just trying to get to No. 40 sometime next year.

It will be challenging to get through this race, but I’m thankful to be able to do it.

Two runners dressed like stoves cooking turkeys

You see a sea of orange at a Green Lake Gobble race, with many runners dressed in pumpkin or turkey outfits. I came across two different runners wearing boxes designed as stoves — with turkeys in the oven. I appreciate the spirit, but how could you run in such a contraption?

10K race winners are introduced

10K race winners are introduced (click to enlarge)

This was a fun run and a good tune-up for running the Seattle half. About 1,500 runners did the 5K or 10K. It was also perfect running weather — dry and sunny, with temperatures in the 50s. (Yes, there is a Mashed Potato Munch Off and beer garden after the races, but I’m never in the mood to pig out on potatoes or mimosas.)

I could have done the 10K, but I’ve done that distance before at Green Lake Park and opted for the shorter run this time. The 10K means two laps around the lake. About 80 percent of the runners do the 5K, so that second lap around the lake is a lonely one, doing battle with the non-race users of the park going the other direction. No thanks.

Even with the 5K, there’s lots of congestion. But as a race participant, at least you are in the majority.

A 10K runner finishes ahead of 5K participants

A 10K runner finishes ahead of 5K participants

This particular course, unlike the Valentine’s Day Dash 5K that I typically do every February, utilizes the 2.8-mile inner trail around the lake rather than an outer trail that circles the lake on city streets. The outer trail covers the distance; the inner trail requires a 0.3-mile spur leg to get to 3.15 miles for a 5K.

About that spur leg: It is always narrow and crowded. But I got through it without incident — unlike in 2008 in the Valentine’s Day course that then occupied the inner trail. In that race, I tripped over someone when trying to running into a dog, landed awkwardly and tore my left hamstring. Ouch. I thought about that mishap during this stretch, when a dog was next to me, but I managed to have enough running room.

Getting through the last mile of a 5K is always painful, but it felt great to get to the finish line.

A good time for me, and a look ahead to 2019

My ankle surgeries have forced me to reduce my goal time for a 5K. Prior to 2008, I strived to beat 25 minutes (I’ve done so twice and my PR is 24:32). After my 2008 hamstring injury that I just discussed, I focused on beating 30 minutes. These days, after two ankle surgeries, I am happy just to beat 40 minutes.

The event t-shirt was plain but very popular

The event t-shirt was plain but still very popular

So I felt good about finishing this race in 38:20 (12:22 per mile), for 614th place out of 1,118 runners and walkers. It was my best time out of five 5Ks this year. I even beat the “average time” for the race of 39:40, something I rarely do anymore. Full results are here.

Congrats to my runner friend and former Allytics colleague Jamin King, who finished third overall in the 5K in 16:03 (5:11 per mile).

If all goes well with Sunday’s Seattle Half-Marathon, and I believe it will, I have the usual races targeted for December (Jingle Bell Run in Seattle or 12Ks of Christmas in Kirkland) and January (Resolution Run 5K on New Year’s Day).

The 5K race featured 144 runners aged 15 and under

The 5K race featured 144 runners aged 15 and under

But I’ve already signed up for an 8K run and bicycle ride through the new Seattle Tunnel and the old Alaskan Way Viaduct Feb. 2-3.

Yes, organizers are celebrating (milking) the opening of the new tunnel and the dismantling of the ancient viaduct with a road run and bike ride on back-to-back days. I know that in my earlier 2018 posts, I called the Emerald City Ride and the Torchlight Run the final events across the viaduct, but, as it turns out, they were not.

That’s OK. I’m looking forward to the Tunnel to Viaduct 8K on Saturday, Feb. 2, and the Cascade Bicycle Club’s Tunnel Ride 2019 on Sunday, Feb. 3. Both events are likely to be sellouts.

In the meantime, I’ll be giving thanks for a lot of things, including running. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Posted in 10K, 12Ks of Christmas, 5K, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Green Lake, Resolution Run 5K, Running, Seafair Torchlight Run, Seattle Marathon, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Issaquah Run with the Fishes 5K: Gilman Boulevard becomes a favorite place to run

Runners have a straight, flat, half-block final leg to the finish line on 12th Ave. NW

Runners have a straight, flat, half-block final leg to the finish line on 12th Ave. NW

For the fourth time in the last five years, I helped Issaquahians celebrate their annual community festival by running in the Run with the Fishes 5K last Sunday (October 7). It used to be the Issaquah Salmon Days Run, which had a 10K as well as a 5K, and I ran that several times too. I’m not sure why they changed the name, or dropped the 10K race.

Jon Harding, holding his child, accepts a medal for being the overall race winner in 15:47

Jon Harding, holding his child, accepts a medal for being the overall race winner in 15:47

Regardless, I’ve come to realize that I continue to do this event most every October because I like running up and down Gilman Boulevard (without cars). Roughly two of the 3.15 miles takes place on Issaquah’s signature street — a four-lane thoroughfare just off I-90 that is incredibly flat, offers lots of running room when it is closed to traffic, and is policed so well that you don’t ever worry about cars or bicycles.

Time to get movin'! I started late, behind many walkers

Time to get movin’! I started late, behind many walkers

Trust me, Gilman Boulevard can be a nightmare for commuters and shoppers when there’s not a race going on. It is overrun with cars at rush hour and on Saturdays. But during this annual Salmon Days race, sponsored by the Issaquah Rotary Club, at least one side of it is walled off from traffic. So you can cruise as fast as you want without hills or tight turns. Nearly 800 runners and walkers joined me this year.

I also like this race because, for as far back as I can remember, it has taken place in dry weather. Even this past Sunday, it rained late in the day but not at all during the race. The temperatures were in the 50s; great running weather!

Final turn never comes soon enough

More happy finishers

More happy finishers (click any image to enlarge it)

I believe I’ve done this event seven or eight times (I have to go count my event t-shirts to be certain). The 5K course has been the same every time. It starts and ends on 12th Avenue NW, right next to the Town & Country Square shopping center, part of the huge retail jungle that lines the boulevard. There’s ample parking and space for booths and porta potties and crowds of people in the area.

You run a tenth of a mile to get to Gilman Boulevard, and then a mile or so eastward to the right turn at Front Street. I try to push myself in this first mile and then let up a bit on Front Street, as you have to make a 90-degree turn to get on Rainier Boulevard, a pretty non-descript road.

The courseAfter Rainier, there’s a left turn onto NW Juniper Street and a right on 7th Avenue NW, which takes you back to Gilman heading west for the last stretch of the race. This last half-mile is exhilarating but also maddening, as the final turn onto 12th for the finish line never comes soon enough. But the more times I run this race, the more I grit my teeth and patiently await that final turn.

The finish line is straight in front of you, and you have enough time and room to put on a finishing kick, if you have anything left. Again, no worries about cars or traffic throughout the jaunt.

Slow time, but not disappointed

Starting line for the Kids' Dash, which followed the 5K

Starting line for the Kids’ Dash, which followed the 5K

My time last Sunday was my worst for this race — 39:35, or 12:45 per mile. Truth be told, I thought I ran faster than that. However, I was not dejected because I feel I actually ran a decent race and a steady pace. I placed 537 out of 774 runners and walkers — 341 men and 433 women. Full results are here.

It was run No. 221, without a DNF, since 2001.

Runners line up to see their times after the race

Runners line up to see their times after the race

I skipped running this race last year, as I was getting ready for my latest ankle surgery in December. But my times in the four prior years got progressively better: 39:29 (2013), 36:48 (2014), 35:43 (2015), and 36:21 (2016). These were after my first ankle surgery in 2011, when I had to learn how to run again. (My 5K PR is 24:32 in 2005.)

So maybe there’s a chance I could improve? We’ll see. I still have to limit my training runs to twice a week and 8-10 miles at most, so I am not able to build a large base. (I will run about 225 miles total in 2018.) I try to compensate by walking about 25 miles a week. Bottom line: I’ll be running this race again.

What’s next? My Movember run appears to be gone

Bright green event t-shirts dominated the field

Bright green event t-shirts dominated the field

Usually on my November race calendar is the Mustache Dache, a 5K at Seattle’s Magnuson Park to raise money for men’s health issues. I missed it a year ago because I was laying low in preparation for my ankle surgery. Turns out that this “Movember” run, where many runners sported fake mustaches, went on hiatus on 2017 and is not back for 2018. I just learned this.

So … I will be preparing for the Seattle Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend, my 39th half. I’ve run in this event 13 times (full marathon six times and half-marathon seven), but not since 2015. I may do another race earlier in the month to get ready.

But this weekend is time off. We’re headed out on our semiannual trip to Eugene for the Oregon-Washington game. Go Ducks!

Thanks for reading!

Posted in 10K, 5K, ankle surgery, Issaquah Run with the Fishes, Marathons, Mustache Dache, Running, Seattle Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice straight shot to the finish line

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scored tickets to a Sounders’ match

Ah, the finish line!

Ah, the finish line!

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

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

Volunteers get the time mat ready at the starting line

Volunteers get the time mat ready at the starting line

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

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

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

Next race another 5K in Issaquah

Bright green event shits at the registration table

Bright green event shirts at the registration table

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

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

Post-race eats

Post-race eats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayley's shot of me heading to the finish line

Hayley’s shot of me heading to the finish

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

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

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

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

Joined by the Mariner Moose and Hayley

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

A ceremony with a Children's patient preceded the start

A ceremony with a Children’s patient preceded the start

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

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

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

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

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

Setting the pace again for run-walkers

The Moose entertains as runners are finishing the 10K

The Moose entertains as runners are finishing the 10K

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half-marathon plans on hold

Hayley shows off the cool white event t-shirt

Hayley shows off the cool event t-shirt

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

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

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

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