And that is Mt. Rainier. On a clear day. I stared at it a lot.
You'll recall that I did not do any hill training for this race. The one with the scary looking elevation map?
I didn't end up doing the big training I thought I was going to do because I realized it would suck and I didn't want to spend my sabbatical time with guaranteed suckage. I was willing to face the consequences in Seattle because, my thought was, one day of hill suckage is better than a dozen, which is how many I would have spent running hills at The Dish had I actually gone through with my Big Talker hill training.
I'll just have one day of suckage, during the race itself, and that will be better than many days of torture leading up to something that's so obviously going to suck regardless, was my thinking.
Well, I'm so happy and proud and gloaty (not a word) to say I WAS SO RIGHT!
See, it didn't suck that much at all, these hills.
I mean, it wasn't like I was all, "WOO! HILLS! Someone pinch my behind because I think I'm dreaming!" or anything but at least I didn't approach the first hill shrieking, "Oh shit. It's The Hill."
Some lady next to me did, though, and I never did see her again after that so I'd wager that perhaps she might have benefited from some sucky hill training.
Me though? It was so not that bad.
I recall running the hills and thinking that they were way scarier represented as peaks and valleys on the dramatic-ass elevation map and also congratulating myself on my intense laziness that prevented me from going through unnecessarily torturous hill training.
And, new thing I learned from a legit runner friend of mine was realized on these Oh I'm So Scary hills - running downhill like a jackass is way fun.
I ran down all the hills like a maniac. You know, like little kids do before they find out that you can easily fall and scrape your face off or snap an ankle running like such an asshole. But it was a stupid kind of fun in which I indulged because:
- Real Runner Friend told me she does it
- I wasn't doing the full marathon so felt perfectly fine behaving like the fraudulent running impersonator I knew the marathoners to consider me to be.
I did not, for the record, scrape my face off or snap anything important but I do believe it was this ill-advised activity that had my quads sore for the following two days. Although I can walk while bending at the knees now, an ability about which I could not boast four days ago. Especially given the careful planning that went into descending the single shallow step off my friend's back porch. Fucking precarious, man.
As for the rest of the course, beyond these mild hills, it was pretty entertaining and scenic.
Please note that none of the entertainment and only part of the scenery was courtesy of the race organizers.
While I may participate in these Rock and Roll races, with their many stages of live bands and what not, I have zero interest in listening to the worn out cover songs they play or, even worse, the original songs they've constructed in their parent's basements.
Instead, I have my iPod turned up to Maximum Annoying Sound Blockage and progress through the race with Marilyn Manson scream-o-ing Armagoddamnmuthafuckingeddon in my ears so that I don't have to bear the brunt of old dude band music or those people who insist on talking to their race buddies about useless minutia between strained breaths in an effort to pass the time.
Really? Do you think it's necessary to comment on how nice is this weather anyway we're so lucky for, like, the 80th time in four miles? Just stop talking and try to get a handle on your breathing before you pass out and have to be carried to a medical station on the back of some dude's bike.
Another weird thing about this race was the frequency with which people randomly fell down.
Yes. I will admit I laughed quietly to myself while hoping I wasn't dooming myself to a similar fate by making silent fun in my head.
It was weird. Twice I saw two seemingly able bodied people totally bite the dust for no apparent reason and then not get up. I'm not sure if it was the shock of the catastrophe or exhaustion setting in, but both falls were detrimental enough to where they were still lying on the ground (with medical help approaching - I'm not cruel!) when I passed by.
In an effort to spare myself being struck down by a stray bolt of lightening, I chose to Learn Something from those poor souls and just watch where I was going and not drag my feet.
Lesson learned. I did not fall down.
Although, there was a moment where I thought the whole race had lost its mind and everyone might start falling down when the entire pack in front of me veered suddenly to the right and began pulling out cameras and cell phones.
(Yes, I too, was curious about these people that carry cameras and cell phones during a BQ race, but let's not get into that. You know how I get.)
Turns out there was an impressively huge and gorgeous bald eagle just sitting there on a branch hanging over Lake Washington. With only the clear blue sky hanging behind his form, he was truly a stunning sight to see. Something you don't see every day. And if you live somewhere other than Washington or, like, Alaska, you probably just don't see at all. Which is why I feel justified about my very honest and sincere reaction to this Sight of Beauty.
When I saw the eagle, I admit to yelling (I could hear myself over Marilyn, so, it had to be loud), "HOLY SHIT. THAT'S...WOW."
Because it was, well, wow. To the point where the alarmed runners on my left side, who were initially startled by my outburst, just smiled and laughed and agreed that, "Yeah - that shit is pretty wow."
Thank you. I thought so, too.
Beyond all that, the drama was kept to an unprecedented minimum. There was no seventy year old dude in American flag shorts. There wasn't any barefoot hooker bouncing along in front of me waving to bystanders as though they were going to tuck a fiver into her sports bra. There wasn't even a near death experience as I tried to take in my Luna Moons and water around hour one.
In fact, the biggest drama of all happened before the race, when I was trying to navigate the logistics of getting my body to the starting line and that ended up being no issue whatsoever because my sister, BLESS HER SOUL, told me I was an idiot for thinking she'd let me take the bus anywhere at 4am and hello, I'll just drive you to the race start because Tukwila is 20 minutes from my house.
And then, when we saw the traffic stacking up four miles before the off-ramp to Tukwila, she shortcutted us, as only a seasoned local can, through some windy backroad that dropped me off one wooded block from my corral.
Well. Look at that. And everyone else is still waiting in line on the freeway. Including the stupid shuttles. And probably some buses.
Wuv you, Chelle.
It was super excellent. To the point where I never even thought twice about the fact that she'd Surprise! woken me up an hour early because, in setting her alarm clock the night before, had accidentally set her clock back an hour. Thankfully, it only takes me about 2.5 seconds to go back to sleep and that extra hour where I didn't have to circumnavigate the globe via bus and shuttle was probably my edge for this race.
This race with hills. In which I achieved a PR. And did not make a hot public mess of myself in my sister's city. And got to trot along with the 4:13 marathon pace group masquerading, albeit briefly, as an actual marathoner.
Those people look good. I think I need a trainer.
Next up, San Jose in October. I *may* try to train my way down to a 2:TEENS:00 time, but we'll see.
Race fries. With feta. It improves the sodium reuptake levels. Yes, I just made that up.