The Seattle Marathon 10K last Saturday was an enjoyable, well-organized race, with a relatively flat course, comfortable running weather, and having Allytics teammate R.J. Ricker join me for what was her first 10K (she’s an experienced runner, but this was her first time at this distance).
But what I will remember the most happened the day before. On Friday I went to Gas Works Park, where the race started and ended, to get my bib and chip as part of early packet pickup. I had a nice walk around the park, shot some pictures of people paddle-boarding at nearby Lake Union, and then made a bathroom stop just before heading back to my car.
Inside the bathroom, in plain sight in front of the toilets and urinals, were two men helping each other shoot up heroin. These weren’t down-and-outers; they were two young men in their 20s, possibly students at the University of Washington not far away. I maneuvered around them as they raved about the potency of their junk, the cool vibe they were feeling, and even joked about being diabetics shooting insulin.
I’ve seen people shoot up heroin before. And my dad was a diabetic and took insulin shots every day. I just felt a little sick about two young men seemingly ruining their lives. Where will this dangerous habit lead them? I’d been better off not having seen it. But I kept my mouth shut and left.
The run the next day was therapeutic after that experience. I went back to the same bathroom and this time it was packed full of runners. I’ll take that any day, even if I have to wait in line to go.
Stiff and slow at first — again
So let me talk about the race. Just like a year ago when I ran the Seattle Marathon 10K, I started out feeling sluggish and my bad ankle a bit stiff. But unlike a year ago, no one running beside me was concerned enough to offer me her brace — I still shake my head at how someone cared enough to remove her knee brace and offer it to me, only to have me tell her that it’s my ankle that’s the problem.
The course is essentially and out-and-back west toward Ballard, followed by an out-and-back east toward the UW. Much of the run is on the Burke-Gilman Trail. In the second mile, my groin started hurting; I probably need to stretch more before a race. But after I relaxed and ran a tad easier, the pain subsided and I started feeling some momentum and energy.
I ran probably my strongest in the last mile and finished in my best post-surgery 10K time of 1:16:58 (12:24 per mile). I’ll take it, even if it is only 12 seconds better than my next-best time, which was at this race a year ago. Full results are here.
R.J., which stands for Rachael Joyce, clocked 52:45 (8:30 per mile) in her 10K debut, so she was way ahead of me. She did not beat my 10K PR (51:44 in 2004), but she will in due time. Very nice that she and her boyfriend James Taylor (no relation to the singer) waited for me at the finish line.
Surprisingly low turnout — and my race tips
The Seattle Marathon 10K obviously has a recognizable brand behind it, as it is run by the same organization that brings us the Seattle Marathon and Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend in November. But that didn’t help the turnout this year. Only 593 runners and walkers completed the race, a drop of more than 200 from a year ago.
If you’re interested in running in this 10K, I do recommend it. Here are some basic tips:
- Low turnout or not, there is congestion and potential collisions at the start of the race, with the narrow trail. Stake out a spot where you know you won’t trip over another runner or someone’s dog.
- Don’t freak out waiting for the turnarounds. You head west at the start, and you don’t see the turnaround point until you are almost at it. Then going east, the turnaround point is even more hidden, and you start to get impatient. Try to keep your pace — you will indeed finally get there!
- In the last mile heading back to Gas Works Park, you have a long, flat near-straightaway to work up a strong finishing kick. Make that turnaround, cross under I-5 and then start kicking. No reason to hold back.
Road race No. 200 is Labor Day
So that was my race No. 199. I’m running No. 200 on Sept. 5 — the Overlake Medical Center Labor Day Half-Marathon. I am not really ready for a half, but these days, I never am. I’m looking forward to crossing the finish line.
Thanks for reading! Till next time.