I signed up for the Seattle Marathon for the second year in a row and essentially kept to a very similar series of events as the 2022 edition. On November 25th, Apryle dropped me off to pick up the packet in downtown Seattle, then we ate Ethiopian food, and birded Union Bay Natural Area. In the early morning Horus of November 26th, we arrived at Seattle Center for the start of the race. This was a stark difference to last year’s race, which started on the UW campus and finished at Husky Stadium. Fortunately this year the race started at 0700 instead of 0600, which meant that the streets were actually visible. Additionally, this year it was a little cooler with temperatures in the low 30s under clear to sunny skies.
I toed the start line in the first group and hit the street at a fairly fast pace, running the first miles in 5:13, 5:16, and 5:09. As I raced through Belltown and the Central Business District, I felt fairly relaxed, the heart rate was low and I was in a strong pack of about 6 other guys chasing down the lone leader. The roads were quite icy, but I managed to keep my footing. The race turned from the city streets to the HOV lane of I-5 and we circumnavigated the southern end of Lake Union. At about mile 5.1 we crossed the bridge over Lake Union and Portage Bay and then transitioned onto the University of Washington campus.
Around this time I started to let the pack go because I could not sustain the pace. I also had some difficulties not slipping ascending some of the hills on the campus and one runner passed me. However, I managed to keep the pace in the mid 5:30s. Shortly after crossing the Montlake Cut at mile 7.9 a race volunteer pointed me in the wrong direction, but a spectator helped me correct the error. It was also a boost to see John Berta cheering me on around this area. From the Montlake Cut the course followed Lake Washington Boulevard through the Arboretum.
After reaching the junction with Interlaken Boulevard at mile 9.4, the course pitched up along forested street. I continued along the scenic Interlaken trail until merging onto Delmar Drive at mile 10.9. The course then meandered through some neighborhoods before popping out onto Fuhrman Avenue and subsequently the University Bridge. At mile 11.8 I crossed over Portage Bay and with some marginal directions on which way to go, found myself on the Burke Gilman Trail. At this point I ran with another runner who caught me and we reeled in another person who was dropping back.
As we entered Gas Works Park (13.2 miles), we saw the pack of six exiting the park. The crowds were crazy in this section, I felt like I was at the top of a mountain stage in the Tour de France and a confetti popper even went off in my face. We flew out of the park and back onto the Burke Gilman and took Albion Place to Aurora Avenue. From miles 9 to 14 I was generally keeping the pace in the 5:40s to 5:50s, however, once I hit the climb northbound on Aurora I dropped my slowest mile of the day with a 6:35. I was able to enjoy the half marathon race coming southbound towards me finishing up the race, but unfortunately, I also began to run into half marathon traffic near Green Lake going in my direction.
Once I hit Green Lake (mile 16.1), the route took me on the outer loop in a counter clockwise direction. The trail was fairly slippery with several icy patches. I tried to run on the gravel parts where possible to avoid slipping. There was a fair amount of pedestrian traffic, which was difficult to navigate on tired legs. A flood of memories came back to me from my early days in Seattle when Apryle lived near Green Lake and we used to do loops together. I tried to refocus on the task at hand and at mile 19, the course transitioned onto the inner loop trail in the clockwise direction. I passed one more runner that was a remnant of the early pack of six. Between miles 16 and 21 I generally held tight around 6:13 pace. Cardiovascularly I felt like I could move faster, but unfortunately, my legs would not turn over any quicker.
Around mile 22, the course diverted from Green Lake back onto Aurora Avenue. This is where I clicked of two slow miles of 6:35 and 6:40. This section was nightmarish because I had to find my way through a small packed pathway with half marathon runners spanning the entire road. I had to dodge runners for the final four miles of the race. However, It was a very interesting sight crossing the Fremont Cut with the fog hanging thick in the air over the bridge. In the confusion of people I must have gotten passed once more. I clicked off miles in the low 6 minute range and finished at Memorial Stadium with a new PR time of 2:38:21.
Despite the generally hilly nature of the Seattle Marathon I somehow keep running personal bests there. I was quite surprised this year because not only did the course feature 1300 vertical feet, but it was also fairly icy and .3 miles too long. Overall, I finished in 9th position and I was fairly happy with my effort. Thanks to Apryle for all the support and helping me both before and after the race.
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