I flew out to Seattle on Friday a week ago to meet up with one of my best friends of all times Todor. TD (how I call him) and I met in 2007 in Boulder when I was at my senior year in college and he was there as an exchange student. The day we met, we instantly connected... I mean, this guy was awesome to party with or to just hang out and chat. We had LONG sessions of just talking about life while drinking wine. We would always meet up on fridays to drink wine. We called it our red red wine nights and we used to listen to Bob Marley. Those were the good days.
After a semester in Boulder, he went back to Monterrey and graduated. He eventually got a job at Microsoft and moved out to Seattle. I'd promised a long time ago, I'd come visit. In April, I happened to be chit-chatting with him (through facebook I think) and he said he was running the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon. Why not? Registration was $95 and a plane ticket was $190 so I went for it. This is the thing... when we lived in Boulder together, he wasn't a runner and all of a sudden he became a runner when he moved to Seattle so now, we had that in common, on top of everything else. I HAD to go run a marathon with my good old buddy TD.
Landed in Seattle after an outstanding approach into the Pacific NW. WOW. I got a chance to see Mt. Hood and Rainier... gosh, it was breathtaking. TD picked me up at the airport and we went over to Bellevue (where he lives). We wanted tacos and Mexican beer (go figure). He took me to this one place that was actually REALLY good. And we feasted. We went back to his place and went to bed early-ish. We did have gigantic spanglish sessions of catching up.
|Views of Rainier flying into Seattle|
On Saturday, the alarm went off. I got out of bed and TD was full on awake and ready to go. I got ready and we headed out. I had already decided that I was going to run at TD's pace which was 30 seconds slower than mine each mile, that seemed to be the perfect approach for a long training run. We started and the first 3 miles we were running at a very comfortable pace to me but a little faster for him. He said we should slow down, we did. At mile 4, I, of course, needed to go to the bathroom, I finally saw a porta-potty at an ideal location after an out-and-back so told TD I'd pick up the pace, hit the porta-potty and catch up. The line was longer when I got there, stood in line and then saw TD run by. By the time I got out, I knew TD was 5mins ahead of me at roughly mile marker 6. Damn, that's quite a bit if we both continue to run. I decided to make a "speed-work" out of that marathon and decided to pick up the pace to 8:30min/miles. This meant that I could catch him in 2.75 miles. I felt great and eventually caught up to him at mile 8.5, I was feeling good, but was happy to have to slow down there... not so sure how much longer I would've been able to keep up that speed (although let me tell you, sea level is amazing).
|Ready to go!!|
The run at that point was absolutely gorgeous as we ran along the Lake Washington shore with amazing views of Mt. Rainier. Eventually we got to Mercer Bridge (around mile 16) and off we go to Mercer Island. TD felt like he was hitting the wall and around mile 17 we did our first walk. After this, the rest of the marathon was a run/walk for TD (consequentially for me too). I bet there's a bunch of things TD learned from this experience and I'm hoping it won't be his last. And while you'd think I didn't learn anything new cause I've run so many, I actually did learn quite a bit... I may have learned some stuff I wouldn't have learned on my own.
1. Mental training for my ultra- Sometimes we try and listen to our bodies (ok, most times), but we forget about the bigger picture. What happens when you feel like you can continue to run, but you KNOW it's not best at that time? You KNOW you should walk that section while your body tells you to just go for it. You need to learn to look at the bigger picture. In an ultra, I probably should not bomb up a hill at mile 5 when I know I have 45 miles left of unknown terrain. Maybe I should bomb up a hill at mile 45 if my body still feels great. Anyway, despite TD telling me a few times that I should just go if I wanted, I knew it was best to take it easy and walk to the finish if it meant a fast recovery and not too much stress to my body. Thanks TD for helping me in a successful training run.
2. Push through pain- Not like I didn't know how to, but it's interesting to see how different things hurt in different scenarios. Hand in hand with #1, my pace was different to what I'm used to, and I ran my longest pavement run in a while... I've been running lots of trails to mimic the conditions of my ultra in Oregon. Right around mile 7, the balls of my feet started to hurt. I knew it was a pacing thing. I'm not used to run slower than my actual pace and having my foot actually touching the pavement for so long. I knew I could fix this issue by running at my preferred pace and finishing faster, but then again, I knew finishing faster had other consequences. So I kept it slow and dealt with the pain.
3. Weather matters- Boulder temps have been HIGH. Highs in the upper 90s towards the end of the day, 70s at night... you know: HOT. Seattle's weather was AMAZING. Race day was nice and warm: 75 degrees, no clouds and no humidity. I was in heaven. But I did ask TD what he thought brought him down at mile 17 and he said weather. He's used to training in cooler temperatures with overcast skies... so those 75 degrees that felt amazing to me, felt like hell to him. It was a good reminder that when it comes to endurance racing, it is important to train (at least a few times) in whatever conditions you may end up racing in.
|Gorgeous Seattle, not a cloud in the sky!|
We finished the race in 5:15 and had a huge meal (that included bloody mary's and mac and cheese) after the race. We then napped to be able to go out at night, except that we woke up at 11 at night... only to order pizza and go back to bed. Bliss. My favorite things in the whole world: running, pizza, sleeping, friends. Life is good.