29 March 2013

Lake Sammamish Half!

Running is strangely addicting. Well, it's not strange per say, it's an explained phenomenon called Runners High wherein the runner (or person doing any sort of strenuous exercise) experiences a flood of endorphins to the brain. The body's natural occurring opiates, endorphins cause inflated feelings of euphoria and increase the runners' threshold for pain. As your endurance builds, it takes longer and more vigorous exercise to achieve the same 'high' as before, just like with any drug. But the beauty of running, at least to me, is that it always provides me with a clear mind and happy heart.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I signed up for yet another half marathon. The Lake Sammamish Half was my 6th and I was happy to do it with some fun guys from the Seattle Anti-Freeze Running Group. It's so crazy to think, but I joined that group in August of 2010 and ever since it has been a major factor in my life. It's where I meet spectacular people who are passionate about not only running but many other fun activities (skiing anyone?) and where I can help coach and be pushed myself into new running paces I never before thought possible. If you are in the Seattle area and haven't come out to a run group yet, I really encourage you to do so!

The morning of March 9 dawned cold and foggy. The prediction was for very warm temps, so I was surprised that it was still so chilly for our 8:30am start. The organizers delayed the gun until 8:45, which in my opinion is about the worst thing ever. As a runner, you plan to start at a certain time and warm up/hydrate/fuel your body accordingly, and 15 minutes standing in the cold can result in a negative impact on performance. Or at least for me, as my minamlist shoes don't provide much in the way of insulation, and it took me a good mile and a half to warm my feet back up!

The boys: Drew, Brian, and Jason - lining up for the start in the fog! Honourable mention goes out to Dave, who was too sick to make it :(

The course would have been beautiful, if we had been able to see through the fog. The race began right next to the climbing area at Marymoore Park and meandered along Lake Sammamish Trail for 12 miles before ending with just-plain-MEAN switchbacks through Lake Sammamish State Park. When the lake did peek out through the clouds towards the end of the run, the scenery really was enchanting.

About 1.5 miles of mean switchbacks and a blind finish to end it

For the most part the running was on a flat, smooth dirt trail, my favourite, and once the pack spread out (about 2,000 runners in total) the running was pretty relaxed and easy going. My goal was to beat my previous Personal Record of 1:50, and I was hoping to best 1:49. I settled in at an 8:25 pace early on and picked it up toward the end, sprinting across the finish at sub 6:00 pace.

How'd I do? I achieved my goal and finished in a respectable 1:48:34!!! I was 42nd out of 242 in my age group (F20-29) placing me in the top 17%! Cannot complain about that, especially when I'm getting toward the top of that age bracket! It's a fantastically humbling experience to realize what you are capable of achieving. Three years ago I could barely maintain a 10:00 pace for 3 miles, and no I'm running 13.1 miles at an 8:17 pace! I'm excited to see how I do in the See Jane Run half in July - my third annual repeat of my first half marathon.

Happy finishers! Brian and Drew finished in 1:36, and Jason ran his first EVER half with 2 weeks of lead time in sub two hours! Congrats Jason!

We finished the race in the sunshine and were met at the park by our adoring fans who lovingly picked up our car at Marymoore and drove it, and it's cooler full of beer and margaritas, over to us at the finish. And you know what tastes really good at 11am post-running? A Mike's Hard Lemonade. A big thanks to Hexar for introducing that back into my life!

Grandpa and the Eagle? Probably the least aesthetically pleasing race logo and medal I've seen....


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