Seattle's Best 15K

I think the last time I saw the 4AM hour was when I was still nursing baby girl.  But, that was part of the appeal of a 7AM start time - done and home by 10AM at the latest.  When I know I have to get up that early, though, I don't sleep very soundly.  SO, instead of waking to the lovely BEEP BEEP BEEP of my alarm at 4:45AM, I was sleeping lightly enough to hear the 'AROOOO ARROOO' of the coyotes in the greenbelt behind our house at 4:15.  Lovely!  And also, freaky.

This is what 'worried about coyotes at 5AM' looks like
Got the mornin' race routine done of having my coffee, oatmeal raisin cookie and banana done by 5:30AM and I was out the door.  Since there was no pre-race packet pick up and it takes about a half hour to get over to Seattle from home (now that  none of us want to hand over a wad of cash to drive on the 520 bridge) I wanted to get there by 6ish to find parking since the lot at Gas Works is pretty limited.  The event website said that pickup would end at 6:30AM - LIE.  They were handing them out until the last minute.  I suppose they wanted to set expectations, though.  So I secured great parking, got my packet and went back to my car to stay warm until 6:30 or so.  My friend Ashley had arrived by then, so that made the time waiting around to race go by much more quickly. 

OK, so here's the description from the event website:
"This 15K has all the ingredients for a great running experience. Race starts and finishes at Gas Works Park in the Fremont area of Seattle on Lake Union. Flat and fast, the course follows the shoreline of Lake Union in a counter clockwise direction with an out and back on the Ship Canal trail. Enjoy spectacular views of the lake and city skyline."

"Race starts and finishes at Gas Works Park" - yep, certainly can't argue with that point.

"Flat and Fast" - um, yes and NO.  More on that in a minute.

Lastly: "Enjoy spectacular views of the lake and city skyline."  Well, yes, Gas Works (the start) has one of the best views in Seattle.

However, I only enjoyed the scenery when we did a quick out and back on the ship canal trail and when we ran over the Freemont Street bridge.  Other than that, I felt like we were mainly running past storefronts down back alleys and some residential bits.

I'd say the race was pretty well organized for it's size: there were less than 400 runners.  I was running by myself there for a bit and had to ask a policeman which way to turn at one point since there was no volunteer around.  Also, at the mile 5 aid station, no one had any gels ready to hand out so I had to stand there for precious seconds waiting while the volunteer had to put down the water they were holding out and grab the gel from a box for me.  I could tell they felt really bad about it, and in general, the volunteers were super enthusiastic and fun.  On the plus side, the race medals were nice and they had DESSERT for us at the finish: pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, as well as the makings for pb&j's and truckloads of bananas.

I was feeling really good for this race despite the coyote wake up hour.  I fueled/hydrated well all week and there's no lingering illnesses and congestion going on in our household.  The season of constantly sick kids is hopefully behind us; it's so nice to breathe deeply and not feel like I'm still clearing out my lungs from some leftover cold bug.  The weather was beautiful: 50s and hazy sun.  I tried to start out slow and progressively increase the pace, hoping for a negative split and to average under a 9:10 minute mile.  After the first mile at a 9:25 pace with lots of initial crowd weaving, I stepped it up and my mile splits were below 9 minutes for four miles straight.  I felt like I could totally keep it up, but for mile 6 my time went up to 9:11 due to the aforementioned gel delay, grrr.  I got right back into the sub 9 min mile pace for mile 7.  I was feeling strong and felt like I had enough gas in the tank to kick it up another notch when THIS happened in mile 8:

(the elevation chart from my GPS)
Damnit hill weirdness from hell.  It was one super short hill, but it was STEEP going up and, just as bad, going down.  My running mojo got all outta whack trying to hold on for dear life up it and trying not to blow my quads going down it.  So, if the course were truly "flat and fast" the whole way through, I probably could have averaged just under the 9 minute mile.  But, I still met the goal of beating my pace by at least 10 seconds from the Lake Sammamish Half, where I averaged a 9:23 mile.  Races have hills 'round here - I've just got to accept that.  Here's the breakdown of my miles:

Final chip time 1:25:06 and my average pace was 9:08. 

I placed 11th out of 42 in my division, not too bad.  Ashley here did it in 1:13!  One of the perks of having faster friends is that there's someone cheering for you and taking a FREE picture for you at the finish.

Overall I enjoyed this race and would do it again if only because I LOVED the distance - around mile 9 is when I start to lose it a little in the half marathon.  So I'm having a wee little infatuation with the 15K race distance behind the back of my beloved 13.1.  I was toying with the idea of going home to Chicago for the Hot Chocolate 15K in November and, lo, looks like they added Seattle for next year!  Yay!  Although it's not until March 2013.  I'm on the hunt for any 15Ks or 10 milers in the Seattle area: PLEASE let me know if there's one I should know about.

Next race in two weeks, the Iron Heart Four Miler!


  1. Great job! I've never raced a 15k before,sounds like a fun distance.