Post-Labor Day greetings! It’s amazing how fast 2019 is zipping by us.
Labor Day is a good day to meet a friend and do a road race together. The weather is warm but not too hot, and you can get a good workout in early and then spend the rest of the day relaxing, eating, and watching sports.
This is also the day of the annual Overlake Labor Day Half-Marathon and 5K in Redmond, which more than a decade ago was known as the Super Jock ‘n’ Jill Labor Day Half-Marathon. I’m not exactly sure what year Super Jock ‘n’ Jill discontinued its ownership of this event and Overlake Hospital Medical Center took over as the main sponsor and beneficiary. It had to be between 2010 and 2012.
Regardless, Super Jock ‘n’ Jill remains an event sponsor and provides gift certificates totaling $850 for the top three winners in the men’s and women’s divisions and top two of the masters’ division (half-marathon only).
At any rate, I feel Overlake has taken a decent two-race event and raised the bar even higher for it. Things I like about the Overlake version:
- Food and water before and after the races
- Race results right at the finish line
- A Starbucks located near the finish line at Redmond Town Center
- Medals for all finishers, even 5K participants
- Race shirts that I actually like to wear
- A flat course, as advertised, that regularly draws 1,000 or more runners and walkers
- Ample free parking
“Flat-course” advertising sells well
I ran the 5K in the holiday event this past Monday (Sept. 2). Jackie Soo, a friend from my Microsoft days, also did the 5K and patiently waited for me at the finish line. Post-race, we caught up on things over coffee drinks at the Starbucks at center court at Redmond Town Center.
Unlike many road runs where the 5K is the bigger draw, half-marathon participants outnumber 5K competitors at this event by more than 2-to-1. That’s because the half-marathon course is, as advertised, “one of the flattest half-marathon courses in the Northwest … get your PR here!” More than eight of the 13.1 miles is on the flat, flat Sammamish River Trail.
To wit: On Labor Day in 2016, the last time I ran in this event, I did the half-marathon. It was my 38th half and race No. 200 overall for me, coming after my first left-ankle surgery, but a year before my second. The course was flat enough that I almost beat 3 hours, finishing in 3:00:30. That has been the closest I’ve come to beating 3 hours ever since that first surgery in 2011; times of my last two half-marathons were 3:22:35 and 3:24:37. (I’ve now run 40 half-marathons total, with my PR being 1:55:33 in 2004.)
I considered running the Labor Day half again this year, but opted for the 5K because I didn’t want to do a lot of training in hot August weather. I may do the Seattle Half-Marathon in November; I liked the new course last year. But I digress.
Deja vu from 2016 in the last stretch
The half-marathon and 5K runners started at the same time on a main thoroughfare (166th Avenue N.E.) through the Redmond shopping center and ran almost two miles together before the courses separated. It was crowded for about the first mile or so, as we turned onto the Bear Creek Trail for a loop around the south end of the center.
Runners then turned north onto the Sammamish River Trail. The 5K runners did less than a mile on this trail before splitting off onto the Redmond Central Connector trail for an out and back to Redmond Town Center. When this trail ends, you’re running on curving sidewalks behind condos for a time before you’re back on 166th N.E. to the finish line.
This last stretch was memorable from three years ago, as I ran as hard as I could to try to beat 3 hours in the half-marathon. Couldn’t quite do it. I guess the good news in 2019 is that I ran this part just fast enough to beat 40 minutes, as I finished the 5K in 39:48 (12:48 per mile). I honestly felt I’d run faster than that, but the clock said otherwise.
It was good for 254th place out of 369 finishers. Full results are here. Jackie, an avid hockey player and fan, came in at 30:55 (9:58 per mile), so she waited about nine minutes for me to cross. She said it was only her 10th race overall; it was my 10th race this year and 234th overall (my 5K PR is 24:32).
Some 790 runners finished the half-marathon, led by the impressive 1:05:25 (5:00 per mile) run by Turner Wiley. (The course record is 1:01:01, set last year. The world half-marathon record is 58:18.)
Back in a familiar neighborhood
I miss the energy and vibe of the Sammamish River Trail, even though I raced on it only two months ago. When working at Allytics from the fall of 2014 through this May, I walked several times a week on this trail or on the Redmond Central Connector trail. These days, my weekday walks at the woodsy Fluke Park campus in Everett are quieter and safer — I’m never threatened by a speeding bicyclist — but I do miss the colorful mix of recreational runners, speedwalkers, skaters, and skateboarders on the trail.
My next run will come after a week of vacation in Austin and then a week of business travel for Fluke to our offices in Bonita Springs, Fla. And the run will be in enemy territory — the University of Washington campus. I’m doing the Dawg Dash 5K on Oct. 13, the weekend before the Huskies host my Oregon Ducks.
I’ve run the Dawg Dash 10K or 5K at least seven times, and continue to do it even though the course includes stretches of grass and even steps to run up on the UW campus. It’s a convenient weekend for me to do a run, so I will make do.
Thanks for reading! Go Ducks and Seahawks!