I ran my first Fiesta 5K Ole Run in Seattle’s eclectic Capitol Hill neighborhood last Saturday (May 7), as part of my 2016 quest to do some different road races. My first impression: This event is a much bigger deal than I thought it was.
I swear I saw Macklemore near me in the congested masses at the starting line. He was wearing a white T-shirt and bantering with friends. He is known to live nearby. I checked the race results and there is no Ben Haggerty (his real name) or Macklemore. But perhaps he ran in the untimed Red Wave, where results weren’t listed.
About 2,000 runners and walkers participated altogether, but it seemed like a lot more people. The race starts and ends at Volunteer Park, and the long, skinny course extends both to the north and south around this woodsy, grassy, 48.3-acre park. You pound your way along old, pothole-laden streets through upper middle-class neighborhoods. The run was crowded, challenging and deceptively hilly, but I didn’t trip over a pothole, which is good.
Five co-workers from Allytics, plus another former co-worker, did the race with me, and it was fun getting together afterwards. What I believe we all learned is that this 5K run is mostly an excuse to eat tacos and drink beer the rest of the day.
Tacos with kimchi? No mas
The real selling point of the event, held every year around Cinco de Mayo, are the numerous taco trucks with their wide variety of eats to choose from. There were tacos with kimchi, tacos with pho noodles, tacos with steak and all kinds of meats and toppings you might not expect in a taco shell. I hesitated, but decided against having one; however, I did watch others enjoying the food.
Also, the beer garden was lively — and open from mid-morning until late afternoon. Wearing your race bib enabled you to get a free flavored light beer from Budweiser, such a Bud Light lime or watermelon or pomegranate. I had a lime, and it tasted awesome.
And it’s a good thing I only had one beer, because finding my car after the run was quite an experience. This is a Seattle neighborhood that I don’t know well. I parked about a mile north of the park, but after the race got my directions crossed and started heading south to hunt for it. Before I got too far, I asked someone where Boston Street was, and they said they’d never heard of it. Red flag. Am I lost?
I got a break when someone else nearby heard the conversation and Googled the street for me. They let me know I was a mile or so south of it, and I’d have to walk back to the park the way I came, and keep going in that direction (north). After a call to my wife for more directions, I was able to find my car.
There is no central place to park for this race; organizers tell you to find a spot along a neighborhood street. Turns out, there are enough of them. So it works.
New star runner emerges at Allytics
As for the race itself, it was bunched up in the first half-mile or so, then I got some running room. I pushed myself, but, as I said, had to keep my eyes on the road to watch for potholes. The last mile was a long hairpin turn, where I looked for my Allytics teammates and anyone else I knew. Saw lots of people, but no one I knew.
The hills were manageable until the last stretch leading back into the park. As it got steeper, my running slowed to about as fast as a crippled dog going up steps. But I did not break stride. Once it leveled off, I kicked it in gear to get to the finish line.
My time was 37:50 (12:12 per mile), my slowest “dry” 5K this year, but pretty much the best I could do on this day. I’ll take it. Full results are here.
I finished 13 minutes after our emerging star runner at Allytics, Renee Rapin, who clocked a 24:38 (7:57 per mile) for a top 20 finish among women. I still have a faster PR, 24:32 in 2005, but this wasn’t even Renee’s best time and she lamented how slow she ran.
Allytics teammates Michael Caporale, R.J. Ricker, Kiersten Walker and Hayley Halstead all did a great job in this race, and I was excited do the event with them. It was also great to see Holly Harrison, a Microsoft friend who previously worked at Allytics. (She photo-bombed one of our group pictures; it was after that that I found out she was at the event.) Looking forward to more runs ahead with this group.
My tips for this run, and what’s next
This was my sixth road run of the year, and 195th overall, as I get closer to No. 200. That is likely to be a race in the fall.
I’m still debating whether to do the half or the full at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon in June.
My tips for this 5K are:
- Start near the front. Try to stay ahead of the masses of slower runners and walkers that bunch up that first mile in the latter half of the pack.
- Run near the shoulder or on the sidewalk where you can, to avoid any potential of stepping into a pothole and tripping. There are tons of them in the driving lanes and center of the street.
- Save some energy for that last hill into the park, near the three-mile mark. You’ll need to do some climbing toward the end.
- Save some room in your stomach for the tacos! I feel I missed something by not trying any.
What’s next? Bicycling. I will race (or what I consider racing) again in June. But in the meantime, I have two big bicycle rides I must prepare for: the 7 Hills of Kirkland ride May 30 and the Flying Wheels Summer Century June 4.
Thanks for reading! Till next time.