Seattle’s Best 15K recap

Unlike the nightmare of getting to the start line of the Lake Sammamish Half, it took us exactly seven minutes to drive on nearly car-less streets to Gas Works Park and easily find a spot in the regular parking lot for Seattle’s Best 15K. Huzzah!

That’s the beauty of a race with only 415 participants (309 for the 15K, 106 for the 10K).

I had plenty of time to hang out in the car, eat a Clif Bar, use the restroom, and decide I definitely needed to wear arm-warmers for the 7:30 a.m. start. Brrrr.


I wore my trusty Brooks Ghost 4 shoes with brand-spankin’-new (as in, made the night before) custom inserts from Road Runner Sports, hoping they would help my shoes feel better than they had in the last few weeks. They didn’t disappoint!


What’s that on my quad, you ask? Why, a temporary tattoo of a lion leaping through flames, of course.


I picked it up at a restaurant last weekend and thought it was kind of hilarious. And fierce. Rawr.


There were no official corrals; a man with a bullhorn just asked us to organize ourselves by pace. He had everyone who planned to run sub-7:00 miles go in front, followed by the sub-8:00 milers, and so on.

I jumped in near the back of the sub-8:00 milers, and it felt weird to be so close to the front of the pack. Then again… small race.

Soon enough, we were off!


I was worried about starting off too quickly since I knew I was surrounded by speedy people, but my legs and lungs felt great in the first mile (8:06). I realized I kind of, sort of, maybe belonged with these people.


I do enjoy a nice power-walk.

Aaron did an incredible job driving around and meeting me at various parts of the course. I saw him four times! By the fourth time, I threw my hands up in the air, like, “How the eff did you get here so quickly??” Black magic.

At about the 1.5 mile mark, I tossed Aaron my arm-warmers. They had done their job, but I had more than warmed up in mile 2 (7:56 <— first sub-8:00 mile since 2011, whaaaat!).


This part of the race was an out-and-back along the Ship Canal. I remember haaaaating this part two years ago, since it lasts a few miles, and then you still have all of Lake Union to run around.

This year, I just appreciated how nice and flat and straight it was — easy-peasy stuff to take me through miles three and four (8:06, 8:10).

Then, I realized mayyyybe I’d gone out a little too fast. My legs were starting to feel a wee bit tired. Nothing crazy, but I knew I’d need them to be strong for a few hills later on.

I ate my chocolate Clif Shot at mile 4.5 (I brought it and two bottles of Nuun in my fuel belt so I could skip the aid stations), and slowed down for miles five and six (8:17, 8:17 <— completely accidental consistency).

I saw Aaron again in mile seven (8:09) on Fairview Avenue and sped around that guy in the gray shirt so Aaron could get an unobstructed photo. Hey, I’ll take motivation in any form!


This is where things started to get tough. The small-to-begin-with crowd of runners had thinned out loooong ago, so I was pretty much running by myself with only one or two people in my sights ahead of me. It was weird to not have other runners from whom I could glean some energy.

Also, mile eight (8:42) brought a few hills. We had to work our way from Fairview Avenue up to Eastlake Avenue in order to cross the University Bridge, and that involved some short, steep hills.

At one point we went up a steep hill only to go down again (which I did verrrrry slowly because I didn’t want to slip and fall on loose gravel; it was that steep) and then go up again. I felt like this up-and-down nonsense was entirely preventable with just a slight course change, so I was all like, what in the actual f*ck!

The positive part was that I passed a few people who really had trouble with the uphills, which I just attacked without a second thought (not that they didn’t hurt, but I wasn’t afraid of them). Thank you, hill repeats. And flaming-lion tattoo.

I picked things back up for the last full mile (8:16), as one does, but I felt so much slower than that. I was really feeling tired and ready to be done.

I’m super-proud of my last 0.3-mile kick at 7:37 pace. There was no one right ahead of me and no one very close behind me for the finish, so I got some nice cheers just for me and the announcer even said my name! (He pronounced it wrong by saying Dev-ON instead of Dev-IN, but I do realize it’s spelled Dev-ON, so I’ll forgive him.)

A smile for Aaron before the finish.


And a hand over my heart for Boston.


Plus, the WORST part of ANY race — when they make you stand still to cut off your timing chip when you really just want to flop onto the grass.


Oh, here we go. This is good now.


Official time: 1:16:13 — 8:12 pace

I eventually came back to life and actually put on my medal. Wheee!


Garmin splits:


Overall, this was a great race and I’m proud of my time! I really, really wanted to run at least one sub-8:00 mile (although it was probably not ideal to do that in mile two), and I PR’d by just under seven minutes.

Plus, I ran 10 more miles afterward at a very decent clip. Even though I’m training for a marathon, and running 19 miles in one day is kind of standard, that sh*% is still crazy.

Perhaps I should change my blog tagline to, “Just crazy enough.”

Lake Sammamish Half Recap

The Lake Sammamish Half is a relatively small race with just under 2,000 runners, but it generated the worst traffic jam I’ve ever been in prior to a race.

After sitting on a freeway off-ramp for about 20 minutes as the clock ticked closer and closer to the race start time, I gave up on the car… and I ran.

Luckily, I only had to run about half a mile to the start line. I never do any warmup running before races, but maybe I should start, because this little jog felt great (although very stressful)!

I found Aaron’s parents and my family waiting in line for the porta-potties near the start — perfect. Aaron’s mom, Greta, had my packet, and my mom had brought my favorite running tank top that I had left at her house, so I changed in front of everyone in the porta-potty lines because whatever.

Aaron eventually parked and showed up in time to take a few pre-race pics. Greta and me:

And a big smile with my dad, my mom, and my mom’s fiance, Don! So happy that they all came out!

Greta and I made our way over to the start corral to seed ourselves. I hopped in at the 8:00-9:00 min/mi sign, and Greta went further back. I love how in sync we are in this pic. : )

After a few minutes of hopping around in the crowd to stay warm, the race began! We strolled ever so casually to the timing mat because the crowd was too thick to run…

…except I also did some lame, fake running poses for the benefit of my dad’s camera.

Yes, this is who I really am.

Here’s Greta! How sweet are her tights??

And then we were off!

I started in just the right place in the crowd, since I didn’t have to pass slower people or get passed by very many faster people. The pace around me felt a wee bit fast to start out, but I felt good, so I went with it.

I guess I should mention here that I didn’t really have a race strategy. My goal was to stick to at least 9:00-9:05 pace, and possibly start off on the slower side and finish faster.

Yeah, no. Didn’t do that. But I was incredibly consistent throughout the race! I’ll spare you the suspense and throw down all the splits right now:

You’ll notice there were only 19 seconds between my fastest and slowest miles. MAGIC SPLITS, these are!

I first saw Aaron and his stepdad, Mark, a few miles in. Apparently I arrived earlier than Aaron expected because his lens cap was still on as I approached, and he dropped his car keys while sprinting ahead of me on the trail so he could still get some photos! I somehow managed to scoop them up mid-run and throw them back to him as I passed.

Just out for a light power-walk with Aaron’s keys. Look at all those fools behind me running.

My dad also showed up not once, but TWICE along the trail, to take even more pics!

I quickly realized it took too much energy to say anything intelligible to him and just settled for a smile and a wave.

Although these photos don’t show it, I spent most of this race running right behind someone else. Like, I was a shadow to many different people, probably to the point of annoyance. It helped me to stay on pace, but not go too fast and burn out. I would simply stalk someone for a while, pass them when they became too slow for my liking, then settle in behind the next person.

Is drafting a thing in running? Hmm.

I took frequent sips from my Nuun-filled bottles and took a chocolate Clif Shot at mile 5 and mile 9. The course hopped off the gravel trail and onto a sidewalk at mile 8.5, and I was sooo happy to be done with the trail! Although, it didn’t really bother me at all while I was running on it. Those three long runs I did on the trail really paid off.

Everyone else around me seemed to really speed up once we got onto the sidewalk, but I seemed stuck at what felt like a very slow pace (although now I see that it wasn’t). I started to mentally struggle here, thinking I would just get slower and slower for the last few miles and miss my goal.

Then I head a familiar voice yelling my name, and it was my dad driving alongside me in his car!!! It was a complete coincidence that he found me as he headed toward the finish line, but it was so welcome because it gave me the mental boost I needed at that moment. 

Not even that boost could help me face this wretched ending to the course, though. WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS??

I really, really struggled with the last few miles as they wound, snake-like, back and forth. I really wanted to stop and walk for a while, or say “f*ck it” and just cut across some of those evil loops, but I knew I would be so disappointed with myself if I did.

This race came down to mental strength and stubbornness. I pushed and pushed and absolutely hated those last miles, but I knew I was so close.

Just a few more hairpin turns, then a bit of trail parallel to the lake, into the trees, then a loop around, and… and…


Somehow all the exhaustion melted away when I saw Aaron and my family waiting for me at the finish line!

Official time: 1:55:22 — 8:48 pace

Check out Greta springing like a gazelle to the finish line for a big PR! I screamed and yelled so loudly for her!

And of course we took many happy, tired pictures afterward. Half-marathon finishers!

With Dad (aka the most interesting man in the world).

Aaron (photographer extraordinaire!), Greta, and Mark.

Don, me, and my beautiful momma.

All of the above: Best spectators EVER!

Aside from the traffic/parking issues at the beginning and the torturous, winding last few miles, this was a fantastic race: flat, straight, and perfect for running a PR.

I’m awfully proud of myself for training hard for this race and sticking it out until the glorious end. It’s a huge confidence-builder as I begin training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon!

And, of course, it was incredible to have such strong support from my family at the start, the finish, and the whole way through. Plus, how fun is it to run a race with my future MIL?? Watch out, Chicago Marathon — we’re both coming for you in October!

I must mention that Greta treated us both to foot/leg massages (plus a pedicure for me) later that day!! Best idea ever. Thank you, Greta!!

Now… how’s about I start training for that sub-4:00 marathon?