For the fourth time in the last five years, I helped Issaquahians celebrate their annual community festival by running in the Run with the Fishes 5K last Sunday (October 7). It used to be the Issaquah Salmon Days Run, which had a 10K as well as a 5K, and I ran that several times too. I’m not sure why they changed the name, or dropped the 10K race.
Regardless, I’ve come to realize that I continue to do this event most every October because I like running up and down Gilman Boulevard (without cars). Roughly two of the 3.15 miles takes place on Issaquah’s signature street — a four-lane thoroughfare just off I-90 that is incredibly flat, offers lots of running room when it is closed to traffic, and is policed so well that you don’t ever worry about cars or bicycles.
Trust me, Gilman Boulevard can be a nightmare for commuters and shoppers when there’s not a race going on. It is overrun with cars at rush hour and on Saturdays. But during this annual Salmon Days race, sponsored by the Issaquah Rotary Club, at least one side of it is walled off from traffic. So you can cruise as fast as you want without hills or tight turns. Nearly 800 runners and walkers joined me this year.
I also like this race because, for as far back as I can remember, it has taken place in dry weather. Even this past Sunday, it rained late in the day but not at all during the race. The temperatures were in the 50s; great running weather!
Final turn never comes soon enough
I believe I’ve done this event seven or eight times (I have to go count my event t-shirts to be certain). The 5K course has been the same every time. It starts and ends on 12th Avenue NW, right next to the Town & Country Square shopping center, part of the huge retail jungle that lines the boulevard. There’s ample parking and space for booths and porta potties and crowds of people in the area.
You run a tenth of a mile to get to Gilman Boulevard, and then a mile or so eastward to the right turn at Front Street. I try to push myself in this first mile and then let up a bit on Front Street, as you have to make a 90-degree turn to get on Rainier Boulevard, a pretty non-descript road.
After Rainier, there’s a left turn onto NW Juniper Street and a right on 7th Avenue NW, which takes you back to Gilman heading west for the last stretch of the race. This last half-mile is exhilarating but also maddening, as the final turn onto 12th for the finish line never comes soon enough. But the more times I run this race, the more I grit my teeth and patiently await that final turn.
The finish line is straight in front of you, and you have enough time and room to put on a finishing kick, if you have anything left. Again, no worries about cars or traffic throughout the jaunt.
Slow time, but not disappointed
My time last Sunday was my worst for this race — 39:35, or 12:45 per mile. Truth be told, I thought I ran faster than that. However, I was not dejected because I feel I actually ran a decent race and a steady pace. I placed 537 out of 774 runners and walkers — 341 men and 433 women. Full results are here.
It was run No. 221, without a DNF, since 2001.
I skipped running this race last year, as I was getting ready for my latest ankle surgery in December. But my times in the four prior years got progressively better: 39:29 (2013), 36:48 (2014), 35:43 (2015), and 36:21 (2016). These were after my first ankle surgery in 2011, when I had to learn how to run again. (My 5K PR is 24:32 in 2005.)
So maybe there’s a chance I could improve? We’ll see. I still have to limit my training runs to twice a week and 8-10 miles at most, so I am not able to build a large base. (I will run about 225 miles total in 2018.) I try to compensate by walking about 25 miles a week. Bottom line: I’ll be running this race again.
What’s next? My Movember run appears to be gone
Usually on my November race calendar is the Mustache Dache, a 5K at Seattle’s Magnuson Park to raise money for men’s health issues. I missed it a year ago because I was laying low in preparation for my ankle surgery. Turns out that this “Movember” run, where many runners sported fake mustaches, went on hiatus on 2017 and is not back for 2018. I just learned this.
So … I will be preparing for the Seattle Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend, my 39th half. I’ve run in this event 13 times (full marathon six times and half-marathon seven), but not since 2015. I may do another race earlier in the month to get ready.
But this weekend is time off. We’re headed out on our semiannual trip to Eugene for the Oregon-Washington game. Go Ducks!
Thanks for reading!