This may not be much of a controversy, but I did the Seattle Half Marathon Walk in bone-chilling temperatures last Sunday (Nov. 30), and I ran it all. I even ran up steep Galer Hill, which is just past mile 7 of the race (and mile 20 of the full marathon).
So, even though running is a generous description of what I do these days on my bad ankle, I did not walk any of this Walk.
That means that I probably should have signed up for the Seattle Half Marathon Run, and endured the heavy mass of runners. The Half Marathon Run had 4,816 finishers and the Walk only had 412 finishers. (By comparison, the full marathon had 1,790 finishers.) I placed 118th out of 412 with my time of 3:17:29; had I done the Run, I would have placed 4,654th out of 4,816. Full results are here.
I thought I might be able to run it all, but I really wasn’t sure. That’s why I signed up for the Walk — also, I am hopelessly slow. And this was actually the first time I’ve run all 13.1 miles of a half-marathon since my ankle surgery in August 2011. I’ve done four other half-marathons since then, but walked portions of them. In my most previous half, the 2014 Mercer Island Half Marathon, I ran about 11.2 miles of the distance, walked the remainder, and finished in 3:17:25 — my post-surgery best and a slightly better time than last Sunday due to a flatter, easier course. I was surprised I was able to run so much of it.
Anyway, I won’t belabor this, but I felt a bit guilty passing walkers in the last few miles. I have read Martin Rudow, publisher of Northwest Runner, argue in print that those who sign up for a walking event should not run any of it. It’s an honor-system thing; no way could this ever be policed. I have noticed several other “walkers” — last Sunday and in the past — run parts of a walk, but not the whole thing like I did.
If any of you have opinions about whether those who sign up for a walking event should be able to run any of it, feel free to comment.
In my case, I would never be a threat to win or even place among the Top Ten by running a walking event. Not even in my younger, pre-injury running days could I do it. The first-place walkers last Sunday clocked 1:40:38 in the half-marathon and 3:42:43 — both considerably faster than my running PRs for each distance (1:55:33 for the half and 4:29:46 for the full marathon).
Moving on. The bigger story last Sunday was the icy cold weather (temperatures in the 30s), which made running almost a necessity to stay warm. I wore running shorts and four layers of shirts, plus gloves and a Seahawks winter cap. I was fortunate there was no breeze. Still, the walk back to my car was numbing; my first stop was a Starbucks.
A few other random thoughts:
- Race tally: This was my 34th half-marathon overall (since 2001) and my sixth Seattle Half Marathon — I’ve also done the full Seattle Marathon six times. It was also my 13th run in 2014 and my 174th run overall.
- Course time: My time of 3:17:29 (15:05 per mile) was 11 minutes better than last year’s time of 3:28:20 (15:55 per mile), when I ran about seven miles of the 13.1-mile event. My best time for the Seattle Half is 2:12:28 in 2004, so I am more than an hour slower these days.
- The course itself: For the half, you simply run half of the full-marathon course. I can’t say it’s the better half, because the last six miles of it — through the Seattle Arboretum and back into the downtown — are hilly and challenging. But the half is so much easier than the full, because those same last six miles of the full marathon sap every bit of strength and energy you have left.
- The vibe Sunday: Runners and walkers cheerfully withstood the cold weather, and many were grateful for dry weather and sunny (if not warm) skies. Still, most wanted to get done as fast as they could. The icy Seattle Memorial Stadium finish line was a welcome sight for most everyone. Normally, I feel guilty when I do the half-marathon instead of the full; not this year.
- Congrats: My former Microsoft colleagues, Jen Gaudette and Alex Dunne, both had excellent times for the half-marathon. Great job! I have other friends who likely did the half or full, but I didn’t see anyone else I knew on the course.
What’s next: I plan to run the 12Ks of Christmas 12K in Kirkland (new course this year) on Dec. 21 and the Resolution Run 5K at Seattle’s Magnuson Park on Jan. 1. Again this year, I will not be doing the Polar Bear Dive into Lake Washington at the end of the Resolution Run. Sorry, the water’s just too cold for diving into the lake.
Thanks for reading! Till next time.