Hope everyone is having a great summer. For most of the past decade, a summer traditional for me has been running the Michelob ULTRA Seafair Torchlight 8K Run. It’s unlike any other run for me, in that you have a captive audience — the more than 100,000 people lined up on downtown Seattle streets waiting for the Seafair Torchlight Parade that follows.
Seats along the parade route are precious and in demand; this parade is popular and spectators must get seats early. That means, then, that they are pretty much forced to watch the runners. Ah, but many small kids (and a few teens) love to get close to the runners and put their hands out for a high-five slap. For at least these observers, the runners are cool people.
Ankle problems caused me to skip running this race in 2011 and 2012, after doing it eight years in a row. Able to run slow now (not that I was ever very fast), I gave it a try this year and had a fun run on Saturday night (July 27). While I finished in the back of the pack, I was pleased to do the five miles on a gimpy ankle and in moderate heat (high 70s) and come out unscathed.
But … for the first time in nine years of doing this 8K, I finished in over an hour (1:05:33). Full results are here. I remember how disappointed I felt when I first finished in over an hour for a 10K run (in 2008). I am not stressing out about this 8K time because I have come to terms with my slowness; I also knew I could not sustain the 12-minute per mile pace needed to have a chance to be under an hour. My per-mile pace was 13:11.
I am at peace with this, and am looking forward to doing more runs between 5K and 10K distances.
Some race highlights:
- 2013 race was my fourth different Torchlight course: I got my PR for this race in 2007 (43:02, an 8:39-per-mile pace) on the original course for me, which started and ended in the CenturyLink Field parking lot. I ran that course six years (2003-2008); you hit the parade route and parade-goers in the third and fourth miles before a downhill finish. This year’s course started and ended on the north side of Seattle Center; you saw the parade-watchers in the first two miles, then spent most of the rest of the race on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. In two other years, the start/finish was in mid-downtown (2009) and South Lake Union (2010). Changes with the south part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is causing some of this course shuffling. I think I liked the original course best, but it was also the toughest.
- Running in front of parade-goers: This is fun because most parade-watchers are in a good mood, and the kids get a kick of doing high-fives. You certainly have more energy when you run by them at the start of the race, as in the current and 2010 courses. But before, there was an emotional lift in seeing the parade-watchers in mile 3, as in the original course. I was always able to get a second wind from that part of the course, and the finish line came quickly after running the parade route. Either way, though, I am OK. It is still great fun to do this race.
- Number of runners off in 2013: Some 2,879 people finished both the Torchlight 8K and 5K races this year, a 17 percent drop from the 3,472 finishers in 2012. I am not going to do a lot of research here, but the runner turnout seemed below average for this race, possibly because of the heat.
- Best costume for the race: A small percentage of runners like to do costumes and makeup for this event, most following the Pirate theme for Seafair. Best outfit, hands down, was the short woman wearing fake round butt cheeks over her spandex-clad rear end. A sign on her back read: “Booty snatcher.”
- No beer garden for me: Congrats to Jaime Massie for her first 8K! She and I headed to the beer garden to celebrate, but I could not get in. I left my driver’s license in my car and had no ID with me. So a garden attendant would not let me in. I’d like to think that I don’t look that much over 21, but I do. Oh well; not the end of the world. At least Jaime got in to get a beer. Next year, I will bring my ID.
What’s next: Back to bicycling
Suddenly, I have less than two weeks to get ready for my second century (100-mile) bicycle ride, the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital Tour de Peaks on August 11. This ride, which I did last year as my first century, is a trek through the Snoqualmie Valley and into southeast Snohomish County. I followed Saturday night’s race with a 40-mike bike ride to get back into bicycle mode. Another weekend of training is ahead.
I also have signed up for the Zombie Run 5K at Seattle’s Magnuson Park on August 17. I have no idea what this is about, but I am part of a team at work doing the race. Sounds like fun to me. We’ll see.
Thanks for reading. Till next time.