Sunday, May 15, 2005

Road Race 2: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

The Beat the Bridge race this morning was awesome. Challenging, fun, sociable, and wet. Here's how it went down.

No sleep the night before, pretty much. It was the same the night before the
Over the Dam run, but then I put it down to horrible mattresses. Is it nerves? I don't understand what I am nervous about - it's not as if I'm out to win this thing, or have a lot at stake - but I lay awake twitching until 6AM, when I got up and went to pick up James and his friend Beth, who were running with me. Neither James nor Beth had slept either, but we were still pretty lively, and the wonderful and beautiful Maggie Tai, James's wife, took a Before picture.

Beth, James, and me - dry and ready for our run.

So off to Husky Stadium we went. There was a real party atmosphere - and man, it was crowded. Out in front of the stadium, three women led the crowd in an aerobic warmup. It was like Jane Fonda in North Korea. We werer there ridiculously early, so we got to hang around and people-watch (I mainly passed the time visiting the bathroom repeatedly. It's a hobby, I guess).

But around 30 minutes before our wave was due, the heavens opened. I mean, it poured. I don't know how I've done it - in Seattle, and all - but in the last few months I have run in the rain exactly once. And then it was a light drizzle - a soft day, as they might (allegedly) say in Ireland. This morning, it bucketed down in cold grey sheets. But once we were off, it didn't really matter.

Now, if you don't know the Beat the Bridge race, it's got a pretty cool format. It's an 8K, and about two miles in, it reaches Seattle's University Bridge. It's a drawbridge, and exactly 20 minutes after the final wave starts the race, the drawbridge is raised. The aim is to get across the bridge before that happens. So we'd agreed to push it for the first two miles, and take it easier after that.

This experience was hugely different from the Grand Coulee run. For one thing, I hadn't thought about running in a really big field. Just weaving among other runners was tricky, especially when you're splashing through ankle-deep puddles. It was pretty hard, but I had my trusty Forerunner 201 (still flatteringly increasinging the length of every run by about .15 miles), so it was useful to pace with. James and Beth were a little ahead of me, but we pushed it, and we all got across. I'm so glad we did, because standing in the rain waiting for the drawbridge to be lowered would suck (even though they have DJs there to entertain the crowd).

(Poor Phil got to stand in the rain for quite a while - he promised to go and watch us at the bridge (it's very, very close to where we live), but when I got there I was so glad not to see him: standing about in the rain is way worse than running in it. But when we hooked up later, it turned out that he was waiting earlier on the route, and so we both missed each other, and he stood out in the rain anyway. What a star.)

Then it was a 3-mile run back to the stadium, and it was so much fun to finish right in the middle of the playing field.

Wow, we were wet, but it felt so good to have finished! My final time was 47:23, and I am really pleased with that. Sometimes my 4-mile daily runs take that long, so I was running 20% faster than usual. It feels like progress. On the down side, I've got a real twinge in my right shin / calf ... I'm going to rest it tomorrow to see if it gets better, but that area has been troubling me for a while. Beth and James both finished in about 45 minutes - awesome.

Tired, drowned, and ready for pancakes.


Sarah said...

Congrats on a great finish :-)

Sounds like a great idea for a race! Maybe next year I'll be there to run it...

Riona said...

Come on by! It was a ton of fun.