Merry Christmas, everyone!
Adding the Cross Kirkland Corridor to the 12Ks of Christmas 12K course made it a flatter and better run last Sunday (Dec. 20). But it still took every ounce of energy I had to get to the finish line. For some reason, I felt much more spent after this race than I did after last month’s Seattle Half-Marathon. I guess I expected an easier run.
In many ways, this new 12Ks course is the reverse of the previous courses I got used to doing — this was the 12th time I’ve run this pre-Christmas event. By incorporating the Cross Kirkland Corridor for six kilometers (about 3.72 miles) through the mid-part of the race, you start out running south on Lake Washington Boulevard. That means going down some hills you used to go up and up several hills you go used to go down. I found some of the new uphill jaunts deceptively challenging.
On the other hand, the flat, gravelly corridor did allow me to recover some from that steep hill leading to it, and increase my pace (though I’m still not much faster than a snail) for a chunk of the race. An added perk was getting to run through the Google campus — Google has done a great job using this trail as a campus amenity, building basketball courts and a volleyball sandpit alongside it.
In the end, I got my best 12K time since my 2011 surgery of 1:38:38 (a 13:15 per mile pace). Full results are here. That beat last year’s 1:40:40 (when I got lost near the end on a temporary course that was installed just for 2014). It also beat the 1:39:32 I recorded this April in the Seahawk 12K Run. Still, I expected Sunday to be closer to 1:30. (My PR in this event is 1:06:57 in 2005.)
A bit more about the course
For 10 of the 12 years I’ve run this event, the start and finish lines were at Marina Park in downtown Kirkland. Last year, it was moved a few blocks north to Heritage Park, I trust because organizers felt Marina Park could no longer handle the 1,500 runners and walkers who congregate for the event’s 12K and 5K races.
The course a year ago was roughly similar to that of the previous years, except for the Heritage Park finish, which required an uphill climb on Market Street in the last half-mile. It was chaotic, with finishers and spectators milling around when I was trying to finish, causing a wrong turn.
For 2015, 12K runners started out going south on Lake Washington Boulevard all the way to near Bellevue, then climbed a hill (that we used to go down) to get onto the Cross Kirkland Corridor. It stretched into a steep hill, and I was glad to finally get on the corridor — which took you back north, all the way to north of downtown.
We exited the trail at the 10K mark, and were in the hillside neighborhood east of Market Street. There were some annoying inclines there too as we made our way westward. Finally, the course dumped us onto Market Street heading south and a downhill finish. I was glad to see that Finish sign.
The 12Ks of Christmas began in 2003 and has always a fun, festive event, with lots of runners in Santa hats and Christmas-y outfits, even dogs dressed up. They held a costume contest after the races. This year, the weather cooperated; rain was forecasted, but it stayed dry and only mildly cold from start to finish.
Despite this, the turnout was well down from a year ago, perhaps because of the threat of rain. Some 984 people finished the 12K and 525 people the 5K on Sunday, compared to 1,369 and 585, respectively, in 2014, when it was dry but a tad colder.
A note about my Allytics colleague
Jamin King is a developer at Allytics, the Redmond-based tech marketing agency where I work, and he and I collaborate on a lot of online marketing projects. Jamin is also young, lean, and a standout runner — one who signs up for these races to actually try to win them.
On Sunday, Jamin finished seventh overall in the 12K in a fine time of 43:38 (5:52 per mile). I was impressed. Jamin was not; in fact, he was disappointed in his time and lamented some of the hills on the course. The fact that he thought the course was challenging validated my own feeling that it was harder than I expected.
Regardless, congratulations, Jamin, on a great time! I didn’t tell him that he actually crossed the finish line just before I got to the halfway point. I was just happy I got the chance to see him for a brief moment (and a picture) at the starting line.
On to 2016
So I did 14 runs in 2015, including many that I’ve run for more than a decade — the Resolution Run 5K, the Mercer Island Half-Marathon, the Seafair Torchlight 8K Run (now the Seafair Pirate Run), the Seattle Marathon/Half-Marathon, and this 12Ks of Christmas Run. That brought my total runs since 2001 to 189.
Next year, I hope to mix it up a bit and do some different races, or even different distances. I guess that starts on January 1. I am running the Resolution Run 5K again — but for the first time, I’m doing the Polar Bear Dive! Yes, taking the plunge into Lake Washington just before the finish line. I’ve been lobbying a group of colleagues at Allytics to join me (Jamin will do the dry 5K). Here’s to hoping I come out of it OK.
Happy New Year to all of you, as well. Thanks for reading! Till next time.