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

Great to see a mom and daughter finish strong

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

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

These post-race refreshments were soon gone

These post-race refreshments were soon gone

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

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

The heat may have limited walk-up registration this year

The heat may have limited walk-up registration

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

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

Good races by Allytics colleagues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fewer bicyclists and skateboarders during the race

Hustling to the finish line

Hustling to the finish line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Races and bicycle rides ahead

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

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

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

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

The 2018 race shirts

The 2018 race shirts

Thanks for reading! See you after my vacation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colorful riders around me

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

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

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

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

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

Rider hugging at right has flashing lights underneath her top

Rider hugging at right has flashing lights underneath her top

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

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

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

Scenic stretch along Elliott Bay

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

Riders line up for Krispy Kremes at Fisherman's Terminal

Riders line up for Krispy Kremes at Fisherman’s Terminal

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

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

At the overpass leading to the Queen Anne business district

At the overpass leading to the Queen Anne business district

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

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

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

Lining up for the start in front of Peddler Brewing

Lining up for the start in front of Peddler Brewing

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

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

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

The free ride souvenir: A Seattle Night Ride fanny pack

The free ride souvenir: A Seattle Night Ride fanny pack

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

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

Next: back to running

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crossing the finish line together!

Crossing the finish line together!

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

Hayley gets a shot of me running to the finish line

Hayley gets a shot of me running to the finish line

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

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

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

Some guilt in missing the Flying Wheels ride

Hayley and me post-race

Hayley and me post-race

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

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

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

A trainer leads pre-race warmups

A trainer leads pre-race warmups

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

Improved on my earlier 5K time

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

Post-race fun

Post-race fun

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

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

More finishers

More finishers

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

Another flat 5K coming soon

A decent race t-shirt

A decent race t-shirt

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders heading to the finish line at Marina Park

Riders heading to the finish line at Marina Park

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

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

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

The traditional 40-mile route

The traditional 40-mile route

Now my rankings:

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

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

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

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

The same course map by city

The same course map by city

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

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

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

The first mile is a warmup up Market Hill

The first mile is a warmup up Market Hill

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

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

A busy finish line at Marina Park

A busy finish line at Marina Park

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

Passing on Flying Wheels for a 5K run

The reward for finishers is strawberry shortcake

The reward for finishers is strawberry shortcake

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

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

2018 Beat the Bridge 8K Run: I didn’t, but got a chance to see my CEO’s rock band

Acquired Taste performs near the bridge crossing. Neil Sturgeon, CEO of Allytics, is on guitar and vocals at far right. Greg Sullivan (bass) is at center, Rob Schwend (guitar) is at left, and hidden is Roger Dyksterhuis (drums).

Acquired Taste performs near the bridge crossing. Neil Sturgeon, CEO of Allytics, is on guitar and vocals at right. Greg Sullivan (bass) is at center, Rob Schwend (guitar) at left, and hidden is Roger Dyksterhuis (drums).

Well, I couldn’t beat the bridge this year. Not even close.

For 36 years, the popular Nordstrom Beat the Bridge 8K Run has required that you run close to a 10-minute mile or better to get to Mile 2 before Seattle’s University Bridge raises to let boats through. If you don’t make it by 8:50 a.m., you must wait five or so minutes for the bridge to come down to resume running — and the waiting time gets added on to your race time.

The finish line at Husky Stadium

The finish line at Husky Stadium

In last Sunday’s 36th annual race that starts and finishes at the University of Washington, I got to the bridge while it was raised and about two or three minutes before it came back down. I was joined by a few hundred others out of 3,650 who did the run. The good news is that it allowed me for the first time to hear my chief executive officer’s band play live and take a few pictures.

For several years now, the CEO and co-founder of Allytics, Neil Sturgeon, and his rock band Acquired Taste have entertained race participants near the bridge crossing. Set up under a Brooks tent, the band had just ended one song and started “Happy Together,” the classic Turtles tune, when I finally labored my way to the bridge.

Posing for pictures in the finishers' area

Posing for pictures in the finishers’ area

Neil plays guitar and sings lead vocals for the band. I am familiar with his band’s work, as I have at least two of the CDs they’ve produced, Mother of All Guitars and Monica (the latter of which appears to be mostly Neil’s work). But I’d never heard them live. I can’t say I had much time to listen, but it was great to see them on stage, including Greg Sullivan, the band’s bass player (who is still working at Microsoft, where he worked with Neil).

While Neil is a professional musician and keeps a guitar in his office, I believe that his true passion is marketing and pleasing clients. He rolls up his sleeves and coaches and participates in many of our campaigns for customers. I’ve learned a ton from him about delivering good marketing, and I can only hope he feels I’m a better product marketing manager than a runner (and if he ever needs a washed-up drummer, I’m in).

That said, there’s no question he’d drop everything to tour with the Foo Fighters, if they asked.

(Shout out here to my Allytics’ colleague Duncan Byargeon and his band, Deify. I also haven’t yet heard them live, but do have their cool CD, The Masquerade.)

Missed beating the bridge once before

Warmups before the race

Warmups before the race

About the race: It was awesome to run this event again, as I did for five years from 2003-07. The course is the same flat, five-mile loop through the UW campus and neighborhoods to the south. The only difference is that you don’t run around the track at Husky Stadium to the finish line, because they removed the track in 2011. Now you finish on the football field and it’s even cooler.

I never worried about beating the bridge back then. Even in 2004, when I did the race a week after running the Capital City Marathon in Olympia, I beat the bridge easily. In 2005, I got my personal best Beat the Bridge time of 43:30 (8:45 per mile).

In 2006, I even forgot about the bridge, as I decided to run in the slowest of three waves — the wave that started last. The bridge began raising as I got there, and I wondered what was going on, and how could something like this happen in the middle of a race! Well, duh! It’s Beat the Bridge Run! I didn’t beat the bridge that year, needless to say. My race time was over 48 minutes because of the waiting time. That was the only year when I didn’t beat the bridge, though, until 2018.

Knowing my chances this year were slim, my strategy was to start the race (no longer are there waves) as close to the front as possible. That was foiled by the sheer amount of people queued up at the starting line. There were just too many runners in my way to get any closer than being sandwiched somewhere in the middle.

Second half of race was less stressful

Logjam at the starting line

Logjam at the starting line

When the race finally started, there was limited running room until about a half-mile, when things opened up. Suddenly, however, I felt every runner on the planet passing me. At the same time, I started to feel winded. Those first two miles, trying to beat the bridge, were the toughest.

The short rest at the bridge crossing, when I got to hear Neil’s band, was much needed. When the bridge came back down and I resumed running, I was much more relaxed. I passed numerous people in the last three miles; too bad they were all walking.

Post-race, with the diaper race shown on the screen

Post-race, with the diaper race shown on the screen

Finishing inside Husky Stadium was great fun. My time was 1:09:32 (14:00 per mile), counting the waiting time at the bridge. I ended up 3,455th out of 3,646 runners, which will have to do for my second race after major ankle surgery (and 215th race overall). Full results are here.

Many runners were already back to their cars by then, but a few thousand stayed, mingled and took selfies. There was even a last “crawl” race for kids in diapers; this was truly a family event.

I will run this race again, but probably won’t even try to beat the bridge. It’ll be a chance to hear more from Acquired Taste.

What’s next?

Nice tech event shirts for 2018

Nice tech event shirts for 2018

Equally challenging as beating the bridge raising near the UW is climbing some of east King County’s steepest hills on a bicycle. That’s what I will be doing on Memorial Day, riding in the 7 Hills of Kirkland 40-mile event.

I’ve done this ride — either the 40-mile course or the Metric Century (60 miles) — every year since 2012. It benefits Attain Housing, a Kirkland-based nonprofit to help shelter homeless families. My first post about this ride is still featured at the bottom of the 7 Hills website.

The Flying Wheels Summer Century (I will probably do the 67-mile course) follows on June 2, less than a week later, as bicycling season moves into high gear. Just had some work done on my Trek bicycle, so I’m eager to see how it performs.

Back to running races later in June. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend!

Posted in 7 Hills of Kirkland, 8K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Marathons, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 Seattle Bike-n-Brews: Ride was scorching hot, beer was cold and going down easy

Here's the beer line at Georgetown Brewing after the ride

Here’s the beer line at Georgetown Brewing after the ride

For the first time that I can remember, I returned to my car after a long bicycle ride hot, sweaty, spent and … slightly tipsy. It was after the Seattle Bike-n-Brews last Sunday, May 6, in temperatures that reached the high 70s. I’d downed two 12-ounce beers, one during the ride and one after.

Allytics colleague Stef Hairston and me at the beer stop

Allytics colleague Stef Hairston and me at the beer stop

So, instead of driving home right away, I decided to ride a few more miles. Then I took my time getting my bike set up on my car’s bike rack. I was beat. Then I drove.

The Cascade Bicycle Club’s  Seattle Bike-n-Brews is an awesome event — you ride 37.5 miles (or 27 miles for the shorter route), mostly on trails. The course is entirely flat, fellow bicyclists are serious but friendly, and you can build speed on some of the long, straight stretches. Just watch how much beer you drink, and make sure you have some food with it. On a warm day like May 6, the beer goes down extremely easy.

This raises a question about drinking and bicycling — it’s a similar story with the Harvest Century ride in the Portland area, which has a rest stop at a Washington County winery. But in either case, I don’t think it’s a problem. As far as I can see, most people do these events for the ride, more than the alcohol.

Again, just watch how much you drink! I will, as well. Fortunately, the Seattle Bike-n-Brews limited the free beers to one at the mid-race stop and one at the finish line.

Not a ride for slouches

The starting line in front of Georgetown Brewing

The starting line in front of Georgetown Brewing

When I first heard about this ride, I figured it was a leisurely ride with a series of stops at several bars and breweries. After reading more about it online, it seemed like a serious ride, so I signed up. Indeed, it was.

Yes, the course is flat, but you can’t lollygag through those narrow trails. Riders are on your tail through most of the ride and don’t want anyone to slow them down. With the weather warm and muggy, the nearly 40-mile ride was a good workout. I finished in a slow but decent 3:30, though official race times were not kept.

About 1,000 bicyclists did the ride. We started at the Georgetown Brewing Co. patio south of downtown Seattle, and headed south to Tukwila and Kent. After a stretch along Airport Way South, we were dumped onto the Green River Trail, then a bit later to the Interurban Trail.

The first few miles were through the Georgetown area

The first few miles were through the Georgetown area

Most of the way down, and most of the way back, the course had us on the Green River Trail for a time, then the Interurban Trail for a stretch, and back and forth again. While on the Interurban, we had a fork in the road — those doing the 37-mile ride went straight and those doing the 27-mile ride turned right. I went straight.

Just south of the ShoWare Center in Kent (where the Seattle Thunderbirds play their home games), those on the longer route turned right off the Interurban, crossed under State Route 167, got on the Green River Trail again and made our way back.

Memories of the Green River Killer

The longer route

The longer route

Riding along the Green River brought back memories of perhaps the ugliest decade in Seattle’s history. Some 71 women are believed to have been murdered by the Green River Killer in the 1980s and 90s, most with their bodies dumped near the river. The killer, Gary Ridgway, is locked up for life in the Walla Walla state penitentiary.

My wife and I moved from Oregon to the Seattle area at the height of the killings in the early 80s, and had roles in covering or following this story as journalists. I was once part of a media mob waiting outside Ridgway’s house in south King County while police searched for evidence. We’ve all moved on from this, but it was a horrifying period for the Seattle region to endure.

Yes, there were stretches of the ride where I was alone or with only a few riders. However, I got a chance to converse with a couple of riders about RSVP (the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver & Party!), as I was wearing my RSVP jersey from 2014. I’d love to do RSVP again.

Bicyclists taking a break at Odin Brewing Co.

Bicyclists taking a break at Odin Brewing Co.

Finally, at 27 miles, we had a rest stop — at the Odin Brewing Co. in Tukwila. Beer and pretzels for me; I had a pilsner and it tasted great. Oh, and I ran into my Allytics work colleague Stefanie Hairston, and got in a picture with her. Great to see you, Stef! She got back on the road before me and I never saw her again.

It was only 10 more miles to the finish line, and that was uneventful. The beer at the Georgetown brewery was just as tasty; I had another pilsner. I’d rate the food as 2 or 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, however. The only choice for the ride’s free meal was a tamale from a food truck (The Tamale Guy), and it was simply not enough to satisfy. Still, an enjoyable ride.

Two big bicycling events coming up

The Museum of Flight is along the route

The Museum of Flight is along the route

I’m trying to rally some workmates to join me in running the Beat the Bridge 8K Run in Seattle May 20. We’ll see how that goes. I ran this Nordstrom-sponsored run for five straight years until 2007, and would be eager to see if I can indeed beat the bridge again.

For those who don’t know anything about this race, it crosses the University Bridge near the University of Washington at mid-race. Those running at a slower pace (like me) may not be able to cross the bridge before it rises for boats at around 9 a.m.

At the finish line

At the finish line

What happens if you don’t beat the bridge raising? You wait five minutes for it to drop back into place, then you continue running. The time you spend waiting becomes part of your overall race time, so it pays to beat the bridge.

Meanwhile, coming on the heels of that are the backbreaking, back-to-back rides I do each year — the 7 Hills of Kirkland (40 miles with tough hills) on Memorial Day and the Flying Wheels Century (this year, I’ll do the 65-mile route) on June 2.

Beer, food and sun at Georgetown Brewing

Beer, food and sun at Georgetown Brewing

In recent years, I’ve done the metric century (60 miles) for the 7 Hills ride and the full century for Flying Wheels (last four years in a row), but am dialing it back a bit for 2018. The RSVP in August, if I can find someone to ride with me, will be my century this year.

Thanks for reading! Left ankle is doing fine. Knock on wood.

Posted in 7 Hills of Kirkland, 8K, Bicycling, Century, Flying Wheels, Harvest Century, RSVP, Running | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2018 All in for Autism 5K: Great to return to the back of the pack

MyTEAM TRIUMPH racers started the 5K before others did at the All in for Autism run

MyTEAM TRIUMPH racers started the 5K before others did at the All in for Autism run

I’m back doing races again, and the situation when I’m running is all too familiar. I find myself at mid-race in the back of the pack alongside the people who both run and walk the race.

Bellevue High cheerleaders cheered on the finishers

Bellevue High cheerleaders cheered on the finishers

They zip past me at a good clip, then stop some distance ahead of me, tire out and break into a walk. I keep going like the Energizer Bunny in slow motion and catch up with them. They then start running again and repeat the process. For many, I serve as their “rabbit.” They see me again and figure it’s time to get it in gear and start running.

While this can be frustrating for me, I guess I missed it. It felt great to be back running a race again when I did the All in for Autism 5K in Bellevue on April 29. I finished without much pain as I recorded one of my slowest 5K times ever. There was no pain the next day either. It was a good test of my recently fused left ankle.

Ah, the finish line!

Ah, the finish line!

Getting through my first post-surgery race like this makes me feel that the Dec. 18 surgery was a smart move. It was only a 5K, but I got a workout, and being able to do shorter races is going to have to be good enough. I’ve done 21 marathons, but No. 22 is pretty darn iffy. We’ll see about getting to 40 half-marathons — I’d like to; I’m at 38 now. Point is, I can run more years if I don’t try to do many longer races.

Was this race longer than 5K?

This race, organized by the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club, has had different names in the past. I ran it in 2013 when it was the Bellevue 10K/5K and pretty much the same course. You start at the Downtown Park near Bellevue Square and do a triangular loop, running east toward Interstate 405, then south to the Mercer Slough, and the north again up Bellevue Way to the Downtown Park.

The course is largely flat with two tough hills, including the final stretch up Bellevue Way to the finish line. The Bellevue Way stretch is very familiar to me and brought back memories — it was the final mile of the old Seafair Marathon that I ran four straight years (2005-08).

Dogs were allowed, and I didn't trip over any

Dogs were allowed, and I didn’t trip over any

I ran the entire distance and finished 372nd out of 897 finishers, which sounds good, but it was a slow field overall. In fact, I could have stopped for breakfast at mid-race and still not finished last.

My time was 45:27, which beats previous times for only those races where I walked part or all of the course. According to race results, the pace was 13:29 per mile, but that is wrong. Such a pace would have meant a faster time. The pace was wrong for everyone in the race results, unless the distance was longer than a 5K, which it felt like. Full results are here.

Regardless, I will start working to get my 5K time under 40 minutes again. My 5K PR, run in 2005, is 24:32 (7:53 per mile), by the way. Thirteen years and two surgeries later, I am a lot slower.

Directions given at the starting line

Directions given at the starting line

The weather for the race was great — dry and temperatures in the high 60s. A combined 1,250 people finished the 10K and 5K races, and the event was for an important cause. Proceeds went to Kindering, a Bellevue-based organization that provides education and therapy to children with disabilities. It was perfect for my first race since last July (and my 214th race since 2001).

What’s next? Bicycling

The Starbucks booth was bustling post-race

The Starbucks booth was bustling post-race

I plan to run another race in May, and am still deciding which one. In the meantime, I am doing the Seattle Bike-n-Brews bicycle ride coming up this Sunday. It’s a 27- or 37-mile jaunt through Seattle’s industrial district and points south, and starts and ends at the Georgetown Brewing Co.

Yes, I may have a beer at a brewery rest stop or after the race. But the real appeal is that it’s a relatively flat ride, is around 25-30 miles, and is an event I’ve never done before. I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks for reading! Hard to believe I was on a scooter only a few months ago. Very grateful to be able to run again.

Posted in 10K, 5K, ankle surgery, Bicycling, Marathons, Running, Seafair Torchlight Run | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments