March Madness is occupying my time and energy, with the usual craziness and some great play by Pac-12 teams, so I will keep this short. Go Ducks!
Last Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day Dash 5K was the first of what I call my March Madness runs — races on back-to-back weekends in March that I am never very well trained for. The festive, costume-dominated run was wet, soggy and on the chilly side, but I won’t belabor the weather conditions. After all, this is Seattle, and you have to expect that most road runs in late fall, winner and early spring are likely to be threatened by a downpour.
What was new about this 31st annual event, generally Seattle’s biggest race, was the course. For the first time since I started running this race in 2003, it was a true 5K — no longer an odd distance like 3.4 or 3.8 miles. Also, it was on a new route that again extended from Seattle Center back into the downtown, instead of away from it.
The good: The new course to Fourth Avenue and back is flatter, despite an uphill finish. It was flat enough for the top two finishers to both clock a 14:33 time (an amazing 4:42-per-mile pace). That didn’t help my time, necessarily, but I’ll get to that.
The bad: The new course doesn’t allow you so easily to watch for friends and interesting people doing the run. The previous course was a long hairpin turn up and back down a hill on Aurora Avenue (Highway 99), and the sloped nature of the course enabled you to see other runners (and walkers) and look for people you knew. While the new course does include a hairpin turn, bodies are packed together much tighter on those flat, seemingly narrower stretches of Fourth Avenue that made it hard to see around you.
An estimated 10,000 people (in four waves) did this 2015 race, of which 4,800 wore a chip to be timed. Most of those untimed participants walked the route. The 10,000 was a tad under the 13,000 expected — the rain likely impacted the turnout.
No flashing girls (that I know of)
I must say that I’ve always looked forward to this event, to not only watch for people I knew, but also see the many bright, colorful and unusual costumes — and unusual people, such as the flashing girls of the 2013 event (it was too wet and cold to do much flashing on Sunday).
While there were unusual costumes, chants of “Go Seahawks!,” and other signs of group fun and revelry, the weather seemed to dampen the overall mood. Most wanted to get done running and get under cover.
I finished in 37:30, a 12:06 per mile pace — not nearly my best post-ankle surgery time, but good enough. (My overall 5K PR is 24:32 in 2005, but my best post-surgery 5K time is 34:29 last year.) Full results are here. It was only my second road run this year, but my 177th road run since I started doing them in 2001.
A highlight was seeing a runner in a Marcus Mariota No. 8 Oregon Duck football jersey move past me — it was friend and fellow Duck alum Doug Hightower. Congrats to him and to my Allytics co-worker Holly Harrison (a Washington State Cougar) on their races.
But, I’ve had to put this run quickly in my rear-view mirror. The Mercer Island Half-Marathon is this Sunday, and it will take all my energy. As usual, I have not prepared myself with a number of long training runs, but I believe I will be OK. Better to save my ankle for the race.
For the first time since my 2011 surgery, I have signed up for the half-marathon run, not the half-marathon walk. That’s because last year, I ran most of the Mercer Island Half, and this year, I expect to run all of it, as I did the Seattle Half-Marathon last November. Stay tuned. Go Ducks!
Thanks for reading. Till next time.