When I ran the Seattle Marathon in 2006, the organizers video-taped everybody’s finish and put all the video clips on the Seattle Marathon website. It was pretty neat to watch my final spurt to what was my best Seattle Marathon performance (and to see all the people ahead of me who I could have passed had I kicked harder). It was also cool to see the race winners finish, as well as the finishes of people I know.
For pure fun and folly, I looked down the results to the people who finished last, and took at gander at their taped finishes. The last-place finisher listed didn’t have his finish recorded. But a gent who came in second- or third-to-last was taped, and the video was amusing. Finish-line mats were blowing everywhere in the wind, and seemingly only one race official was still hanging around (no other people were in view) as the runner, smiling and giddy about finally being done, gets his finisher’s medal around his neck and then puts a bear hug on the race official.
I didn’t finish last in the Seattle Marathon Walk on Sunday, but I certainly was among the last 150 walkers and runners finishing, and feared the possibility that most everyone might have gone home for the day by the time I crossed in 7:31:06. As it was, maybe a dozen or more officials were still on hand, and so was the announcer — who boomed out a correct pronunciation of my name to a largely empty stadium. The finisher’s area was still open and barely staffed; most of the food was long gone.
Hey, it took me forever to walk this marathon (I actually jogged about three miles of it), but I did finish, and was able to run the last two-tenths to the finish line. It was my 20th marathon, but since I did the Walk instead of the Run, I’m not sure how I am going to count it. But count me happy to not still be out there on the course.
I did the Marathon Walk instead of the Run because my ankle is injured and not ready for 26 miles of pounding, as I have documented. But I am not really sure why I did the event otherwise; it proved only that I miss running and wanted to do something.
Here are my highlights:
- The Marathon Walk started at 7:15 a.m., a full hour before the Marathon Run, and 15 minutes before the Half-Marathon Run. Thousands of half-marathoners waited behind gates as a mere 175 or so marathon walkers queued up at the starting line. Walkers were dressed in everything from running gear, gloves and caps to Team in Training outfits to street clothes and backpacks. At least two walkers wore “Marathon Maniacs” singlets or coats.
- The weather was chilly at the start, but warmed up a bit, then cooled off again as I finished. Fortunately, no snow, no rain, and no gusty winds. Really can’t complain.
- As we started walking, I was eager to know from other walkers why they were doing it and how fast they intended to go. A woman seemingly in her 30s told me it was her first non-triathlon event ever; she didn’t want to run a marathon, but wanted to power-walk it in under seven hours.
- I walked the first three miles briskly with John Agro, 47, of Vancouver, B.C., who said he also was doing his first marathon walk and his 14th marathon overall. He wasn’t injured at all; he just wanted to do an endurance event and not stress out about his time. One of his last marathons was the New York Marathon in 2009. I explained my injury, and he urged me to count this as my 20th marathon, saying, “It doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line; just get there and you’ve done a marathon. I am certainly counting mine today.” John and I departed when I needed a bathroom break; he went on to finish in 6:44:52. He was in good shape; I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran several miles.
- Speaking of walkers running, I saw several doing so. In fact, many of the top finishing walkers likely ran bits of the race like I did.
- Speaking of bathroom breaks, my first one was a good and a bad idea. I felt much better afterwards, but … I waited in line for eight solid minutes, behind many half-marathoners. Should have waited until the marathon-only part of the race.
- I picked my spots to run — the Mount Baker tunnel on I-90, the return back from Mercer Island on the I-90 floating bridge, dirt trails on the loop around Seward Park, the hill down Madison Street, and so on. I looked for downhills and soft surfaces. Aggravating my ankle injury wouldn’t have been cool.
- Got to see my Ragnar Relay teammates Aaron Moss and Brad Nelson as I headed toward Seward Park; they were both running in the opposite direction on that hairpin turn. (Nice job, Aaron and Brad!) Also, I was wearing an Oregon Duck sweatshirt, and many people yelled “Go Ducks!” or wanted to high-five. I got no boos, just one “Go Huskies!”
- The miles just dragged on, especially in the last 13.1 miles, even though I felt strong to the finish. (Strong, but also sore; my legs were toast Sunday night.) It would have been interesting to see my time had I just walked it all. When I ended my jogging parts, my walking pace really slowed down. I probably still saved time by doing the running I did, but hard to know. My final time of 7:31:06 equated to a 17:12 mile pace. Boy, that sounds slow!
The winning walker, by the way, was a serious race-walker who finished in under five hours and could have beaten me had I run the race. Race results are here, but at this time they are still unofficial.
This was my fifth Seattle Marathon; my best time was 4:37 in 2006 and my previous worst was 5:32 in 2008 (I ran it in 5:28 last year). I’ve also done the Seattle Half four times.
I didn’t really know how to train for a marathon walk. I still don’t. I doubt if I will walk a full marathon again. I certainly want to run at least one more and then focus on running (or walking) shorter races. But who knows? I may decide to try to walk one faster.
Till next time.