Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seattle Half Marathon

Today, in the wee hours of morning when it was barely light, I joined 17,000 people in downtown Seattle to voluntarily slog miles and miles through the rain. Yes, it was the annual Seattle Marathon and Half Marathon. I drove down with my training buddy Gabi, and we checked our post-race clothes and prayed we'd have time to go to the bathroom before the starting gun went off. Here's Gabi, pumped for the race.
And the finish line at Memorial Stadium at the Seattle Center, about 15 minutes before the race started.
We made it to the start line just in time, and took off with the sea of bodies down 5th Avenue, under the monorail, and then through the international district. I saw my friend Johnny, and Gabi saw another friend, amazing me that we could find familiar faces in such a large crowd. We got on Interstate 90 as it started raining. The grey scenery improved as we turned onto Lake Washington Boulevard and had a nice view of the lake.
One of my favorite parts about running an official race is the community and camaraderie of it. All these strangers from different backgrounds have somehow decided on completing this same, somewhat arbitrary mileage goal. It's fun to people watch, see miles of the city by foot, chat with people around you, and see the signs of some of the supporters. My favorites were "Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!" and "You've got great stamina!... call me (phone number)". When your clothes are wet, you've been running for 10 miles, and the uphill stretch of Galer St, Madison Ave, and the Arboretum seem like they will never end, a little humor goes a long way.

Johnny, Gabi, and I kept each other entertained, and we tried to share the laughter around. But the response was disappointingly quiet as the majority of runners had headphones on. I understand that music is a major motivator and the norm for modern workouts, but I think it's really too bad that it creates an atmosphere of isolation when this type of momentous event could be shared with more people. At one point, Gabi and I came up behind a guy in shorts with bulging calves and beautiful sleeve tattoos on both legs. "Awesome tattoos!" Gabi said. No response. Silence. We passed him and saw he had headphones in. I just don't like the feeling that you can't have a simple conversation if you want to.

But my headphone rant aside, the race was great. It's well organized and supported, and really wasn't even that miserably cold. We finished, got snacks, and it was just around 10am, so it felt like we had already accomplished a lot for the day. I like doing races so that I have something to train for, not because I'm fast or competitive. I ended up getting the exact time I have in 2 other half marathons, so my pace was on track. I got a better time in the half marathon in Seoul last year, but the course along the Han River was completely flat, so I don't think it can quite compare to the hilliness of Seattle. I ended up getting 308th place out of 629 in my division, so it's nice to know I'm a little faster than the average woman my age. Mostly, I was happy to have a reason to get outside and be active this fall, and to see a project through.

1 comment:

Ally said...

I love this post and I especially love your headphone rant. I love you for wanting to talk to that tattoo sleeve guy and for getting disappointed when he couldn't hear you. I love you for loving the community feel of a race. These could seem like small things, but it's part of what makes Amber so lovable.