Rock n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Recap

I received an entry to Rock n' Roll Seattle on behalf of BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK, but all opinions are my own.

And, boy, do I have some OPINIONS.  It probably wouldn't come as a shock that I was a bit skeptical of the whole Rock n' Roll juggernaut.  This race series is not my typical favorite.  I'm usually a fan of local, logistically easy, smaller races.  But, I have always been curious and was (as I said before) so excited to get the invite to run.  Especially after they made the right call earlier this year and reinstated the elite program.  This race negated all my preconceptions: it was absolutely fantastic.  

First off, I was apprehensive of the expo.  Even though I've run at least eight races since Eugene a year ago, I haven't had to go to a race expo since.  Most often, they're a pain in the butt and having to get myself into the city on a weekday involved a bit of juggling with my husband's work schedule.  But I'm a fan of the Century Link Events Center because it's a super easy drive and there is plenty of parking in and around the building.  The expo is very high energy and has a party vibe, and I'd expect no less from Rock n' Roll.

this x two, at least

Picked up my shirt, and am VERY pleased with navy blue! Love the fit of Brooks tech shirts for women.
I didn't take too much advantage of all the vendors, as I spent most of my time catching up with people.  I hit up the BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK booth straightaway to say hi and get my choice of hat to wear for the race.  I must say that I am a total Headsweats convert now.  

They're so freaking comfortable.  I want to buy ALL THE HEADSWEATS.  Moving on...  I had to check in with my favorite Nuun peeps and added another bottle to my collection!

Then I caught up with my Hot Chocolate 5K/15K guru Josiah (and have a code now for a free hat with next year's Seattle registration! SEAHAT2).  And of course, met up with a bunch of Twitter peeps.  Selfies ensued.

We met up at the Pro Compression booth and they did some fun giveaways - I scored a pretty cool hat, too!

Nikki, Stacie and me (with Brian photobombing)

Had to get my own selfie with the one and only Pavement Runner
I left the expo excited, and yet a little bit wary of such an early wakeup.  Again, with the big race logistics, there are super early start times and worries about parking.  My plan was to get there early enough to snag street parking near our post race brunch spot in lower Queen Anne.  I got up around 4:30, had peanut butter toast with banana and hit the road by 5.  Even with the 520 bridge closed, I arrived and found street parking no later than 5:45.  I also noted that there were plenty of paid lots with space as I walked over to the start around 6:15.  After hitting the port-a-potties, I headed over to the corrals to meet up with Stacie and Zoe for a pic.  Stacie and I started the first half mile or so together and I veered off at an easy 10 minute pace which I kept for the majority of the race!

Stacie and I again! With Nuunie Zoe!
First let me say that I came to realize that a lot of the folks that run these Rock n' Roll races are from out of town.  And Seattle put on quite a show for everyone.  I kept thinking of how awesome it was for all these people to see the city on this amazing day.  The weather was absolutely perfect, cool, breezy and clear as a bell.  Not a single hazy cloud was obscuring THE mountain (what we call Rainier around here) nor any other mountains.  Both the Olympics and Cascades were on full display.

Lifted from the RnR Instagram Account
And the Rock n' Roll course takes advantage of the beautiful views.  As soon as we turned onto Rainier Avenue (appropriately named), the mountain loomed before us for at least the first mile.  And there seemed to be a lot of good shade along Rainier, which was a pleasant surprise since we were on it for quite awhile.  Same goes for the next lovely stretch along Lake Washington and the 'Blue Mile' where the course is lined with volunteers holding American flags to honor individual fallen soldiers.  It's part of the Seattle Marathon course as well - a beautiful, moving and motivational mile.  I think this was around mile 8 or so, and I was just starting to wane a tad when I literally got a butt slap from my buddy Lauren!  She was running with a friend of hers and we chatted for a bit and I told them to go ahead, as I was running like a freaking metronome of nearly 10 minute miles and didn't wanna mess it up!  I juuust kept them in my sights for the rest of the race.  I must point out that I really enjoyed not being anywhere near a pacer, and the fact that each mile marker has a clock with total time elapsed.  This was great because I could sort of check in, but not be obsessed with my time.  I didn't look at my Garmin AT ALL.  At about mile 9, there's a sort of steep incline into the I90 tunnel.  It wasn't that bad, but it messed up my rhythm and my muscles started getting pissy with me.  So I walked out the demons for a minute and continued on, promising myself that I would make it through the tunnel without any further walk breaks.  Once I did that, I felt like I got my mojo back and then I really enjoyed the final miles on the I90 express lanes as we came down this nice loooooong downhill coast along the off ramp with majestic views of the stadiums, the ferris wheel, ferry boats, a docked cruise ship and the Olympics in the distance.  Unfortunately, my legs were mad about the change in terrain, even though it was a lovely downhill and started cramping up.  I had Gatorade (chased with water because, blech, Gatorade) at every station and fuel at miles 4, 9 and 11.  But my legs were touch and go, so I did little power walk breaks every time I felt a twinge and my steady 10 minute pace slowed a bit.  Seeing Sarah and Rira cheering at the end of mile 12 gave me a great boost and, before I knew it, we were headed up that dreaded hill on Mercer towards the finish.  I think that was the most packed finish chute I've ever traversed.  I could almost pretend I was finishing Boston (for all I know), there were people packed behind the barriers for a good quarter of a mile and fun motivational signs painted by Rock n' Roll along the street: Dig Deep, This is What You Trained For, etc.  They made me smile and really did give me that final kick.  My final time (2:19:29) was about one minute faster than the personal worst from a few weeks ago!  On a more difficult course, while funning, I consider that a HUGE win.  I think my mindset for half marathons going forward shall be to fun run each one and hopefully get incrementally faster each time... 

medal close up - I like the 'guitar as spoon' 

I immediately got my medal and skipped the bottles of Gatorade for my recovery CHOCOLATE MILK, of course!  After guzzling that down and eating some blessedly salty snacks, I headed over to the VIP area to meet up with my fellow Chocolate Milk runner, Wes.  

It was great to finally hang out with him for a bit, since we've only ever side-fived on the Burke Gilman trail and tweet at each other.  The wait for a free massage would have cut into my brunch plans, so I took full advantage of the mats and rollers available.  

And, yes, I DID get to meet and chat with Apolo!

He ran a 1:36 (a PR) and we talked about his training, being home for less than 24 hours and his disbelief that he's actually doing an Ironman.  He was truly a super nice (and super cute) dude.

I headed over to brunch at Buckleys (best place for post Seattle Center races and the take reservations!) in a bit of a blissed out daze.  I now see what the hubbub is all about, at least for the Seattle race.  Yes I got to meet Apolo and hang in VIP for a bit, but the best parts were the course and seeing so many great peeps from the local running community that come out for this event.  It's a big race but it felt small and local since I saw friends cheering (shout out to Portia!) and running along the course, at the Expo and after for brunch.  I'm seriously considering paying cash money (lots of cash money: RnR ain't cheap.) to run again next year.  Either that or pledge to BUILT WITH CHOCOLATE MILK that I'd walk over hot coals to run for them again...  

Did you run Rock n' Roll Seattle?  Let me know and I'll add your recap!  So far I've got:

Pavement Runner
Slow Is The New Fast
Run Ladylike
Stuft Mama
Hungry Runner Girl
Fannetastic Food
Daily Garnish
Marathon Sam
Leila A to Z


  1. I LOVE the mindset idea you have for half marathons! I much prefer leaving a race with a smile on my face instead of a mad look because I didn't reach my "goal time". I need to remember that...