Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon – Race Report

I’ve been working on this race report for a few days, trying to get it done before leaving for Chicago. Get ready… it’s a long post!

I grew up in Northwest Washington and my parents still live there. When I heard there was an inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll race in Seattle I was super excited. I was due for a visit home anyway, so I figured why not plan a trip for the same time as the race. I flew out Thursday night after work and my cousin picked me up at Seatac Airport. My parents live about 90 minutes away so I stayed with my cousin and aunt in Seattle for a couple days.

Their house isn’t too far away from Quest field where the RnR Seattle Expo was being held. They offered to let me borrow a car, but I didn’t want to pay for parking so I walked instead. It was a little over two miles and mostly downhill. On my way there I had a nice view of my target destination. Safeco field is on the left, and Quest field is on the right.

Safeco and Quest Fields - Seattle

The Expo was at the Quest field event center.

Quest Field Event Center - Seattle

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Expo

There were a ton of volunteers at the Expo and I didn’t have to wait at all to pick up my race packet, t-shirt, and goody bag. In terms of organization, the Rock ‘n’ Roll events are top notch. (At least based on my experiences for RnR AZ and Seattle.) The series recently switched over to tech shirts instead of cotton shirts, but unfortunately they only have unisex sizing right now. I love the shirt for Seattle, but as usual it’s too big.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon - free participant shirt

Next I headed into the official merchandise area. I saw this t-shirt and knew immediately that I had to have it. Not only is it super cute, but it’s a perfect fit. Even though it was a bit pricey at $24, I know I’ll be wearing it a lot.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle - everyday cotton shirt

I’ve been collecting pins from the races that have them. Here’s a peek at the medals, and the pins which are a mini replica. I have to admit that I’m glad I was doing the half; I prefer the blue over the green.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle medals and pins

At this point I met up Troy’s mom who was also doing the half marathon. We slowly wandered the aisles checking out all the different booths. I love these large expos because of the opportunity to see and sample all sorts of new products. I’m shameless about grabbing freebies.

I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon. I was hoping for a free t-shirt for signing up at the Expo, but they weren’t doing that promotion for the Vegas race. At least I got a $10 discount and didn’t have to pay any online processing fees. I was tempted to sign up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose 1/2 Marathon, just to get the t-shirt, but I still haven’t made my mind up on that one.

After the Expo, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon playing tourist. I walked from Quest Field over to Pike Place Market. It was like Seattle had been overtaken by the marathon. Everywhere I looked, I saw people carrying RnR goody bags and/or wearing race shirts. I also saw two athletic stores offering discounts for race participants, which was really neat.

On the way I stopped in for a quick look around the Wyland Gallery. His work is amazing, and of course being a Disney fan I love the pieces that incorporate Disney characters.

Seattle - Wyland Gallery

Strolling around Pike Place Market was so fun. It made me wish I lived in Seattle.

Seattle - Pike Place Market entrance

 Of course there was the fresh seafood.

Seattle - Pike Place Market seafood

And there were tons of flowers for sale. Unfortunately this picture doesn’t really do the flowers justice at all.

Seattle - Pike Place Market flowers

I liked the contrast between the colorful dried chiles and fresh produce.

Seattle - Pike Place Market fresh produce dried chili peppers

This is the very first Starbucks location. I decided to pass on getting a drink there (look at the line!) and instead bought a cup of clam chowder and a yummy-smelling chocolate hazlenut pastry.

Seattle - first Starbucks

I ate my snacks outside at a little picnic area with a view of the bay. The weather was perfect… sunny and just warm enough. Definitely a good break from the Arizona heat. On the way in I snapped this photo of the back of the market.

Seattle - back of Pike Place Market

After a full day of exploring, my cousin picked me up again. Back at “home” I sorted through everything I picked up at the Expo earlier. Here’s all my edible loot. I liked the Cascadian Farm organic granola and granola bar so much that I’ve already gone out and bought more. The Nuun has also been working out pretty well for me, but I’m still working my way through the samples.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon - loot from goody bag and expo

I found it amusing that this was in the race goody bag. I mean, I know some people run with their dogs but it seems like kind of a stretch to give dog treats to every participant. Plus it’s weird that it’s a 100 calorie pack… is there a recommended daily calorie intake for dogs?

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon - dog treats?

Before going to bed Friday night, I laid out all my gear for the morning. Surprisingly I slept pretty well that night despite not being in my own bed. I guess I tired myself out with all the walking earlier in the day.

clothes and gear for Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon

I woke up bright and early Saturday morning. Once again my cousin played chauffeur and drove me out to the start line just a few miles south of Seattle in Tukwila. We left the house at 5:30am thinking that with a 15-20 minute drive that still left me over an hour to get settled before the race started at 7am. What we didn’t count on was the traffic. There were really only two main roads that led into the start area and both were horribly backed up for over a mile. I think it was about 6:30 when we reached the participant drop-off area. I ended up leaving my camera and sweatshirt with my cousin because I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough time to stop at the gear check.

From the drop-off area, there was a short walk to the start line village. I grabbed a bottle of water to wash down the Clif Bar I ate in the car. Then I looked for the shortest port-a-potty line, but they were all long so I just hopped in a random line not too far away from my corral. Everyone was nervous and anxious because it was so close to starting time and there were no signs that the start would be delayed despite the traffic problems and the hundreds of people still waiting in port-a-potty lines. I was a bit worried, but figured it was better to go and start late than be uncomfortable out on the course. Plus I knew from past experience at RnR AZ that with the wave start it would be quite some time before the last person crossed the start line.

After the port-a-potty stop, there was just enough time that if I wanted to I could have run over and started with my assigned corral (number 9). But instead of rushing, I took the time to stretch and eat my usual pre-race GU. One of these days I’d love to do a race with friends, but at times like these it’s nice to have the freedom to go with the flow and do my own thing. Once I felt ready to go, I hopped into corral 12 which was just about to take off and crossed the start line around 7:15.

Both the full and 1/2 marathons started together and followed the same course for the first nine miles. Obviously there were a lot of people, but it never felt crowded and I was able to settle into my own pace easily without much weaving back and forth. For the first six miles the course wound through a suburban area and there wasn’t a lot to see. As with RnR AZ I enjoyed the cheerleaders on the course more than the bands, but both were nice diversions.

Even though I should be used to it by now, I continue to be surprised by how much faster I run in races compared to my usual training pace.

  • Mile 1 – 9:23
  • Mile 2 – 9:42
  • Mile 3 – 9:57
  • Mile 4 – 9:30

My strategy for this race was to only slow down slightly through the water stops. Just enough to grab the water and drink it without spilling too much. I saved my walk breaks for the hills instead. The first big uphill was during mile 5. I think I took my first four GU Chomps somewhere in here. Then we hit the downhill during mile 6 and I let gravity pull me along for my fastest mile of the race.

  • Mile 5 – 11:19
  • Mile 6 – 9:01

Up until this point I had been looking for someone to run and chat with but no one seemed to be running at my pace. Then when my Garmin beeped to signal the end of mile 6, a woman next to me asked if that was six miles and we struck up a conversation from there. I was happy to hear that the next few miles along Lake Washington would be nice and flat. She asked what my goal time was for the race and I said I didn’t have one, but that my PR was about 2:08. She said something about being on track for an under 2:00 finish and it wasn’t until later that I realized she must have started in a later corral than me. Anyway, we ran together for awhile. Even though we didn’t talk much after the initial conversation, she pushed me to pick up my pace for the next mile before I dropped back and let her continue on toward her goal.

It was really pretty running along Lake Washington. I know people tend to think of Seattle as gray and cloudy, but that morning it was bright and sunny. I’m not 100% sure, but I think these official race photos were taken at the 9 mile split. I also had the rest of my GU Chomps somewhere around here.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon - along Lake Washington

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon - along Lake Washington

  • Mile 7 – 9:04
  • Mile 8 – 10:06
  • Mile 9 – 10:32

After that the course turned west as we headed toward Seattle and the finish line at Quest Field. There was another uphill stretch here to get onto I-90. I don’t quite know why, but I think it’s really cool that we got to run on an Interstate highway. During mile 10 we ran through a pretty long tunnel and it was very stuffy inside. Up until then I hadn’t even been sweating hard. A bunch of people were doing “tunnel shoutouts”. I didn’t have anything in particular to say so I just let out a big scream which felt really good. My Garmin lost the satellite signal in the tunnel so the rest of my numbers from here forward may be off.

  • Mile 10 – 11:01
  • Mile 11 – 10:35

After emerging from the tunnel, I could see Quest Field off in the distance. It was neat to sort of have a landmark to run towards. But then instead of a straight line to the finish, the course circled around so we ran past Quest Field then doubled back. Then right after we passed the marker for mile 12, there was a hill. It wasn’t a big hill, but still who wants to hit a hill during the last mile of the race? I have no idea why my times for these last couple miles are so fast because I felt really tired. I guess I was just ready to be finished with the race.

  • Mile 12 – 9:24
  • Mile 13 – 9:23
  • Last .34 miles – 3:13 (9:26 pace)

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon finish line

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon finish line

I was expecting the finish line to take us right to the middle of Quest Field. But instead the finish was just on a side street. Other than the Expo at the Event Center, we never actually entered Quest Field once during the weekend.

Based on the extra .24 miles I ran according to my Garmin, my overall pace was 9:54. The official results have my finishing time at 2:12:01 and my pace at 10:05. Not a PR, but my second best 1/2 marathon time so far. I’m happy with how I did, all things considered.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon - finisher photo

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One Response to “Inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle 1/2 Marathon – Race Report”

  1. Runninglaur Says:

    You’re a rock and roll running machine!
    Congrats on a strong race!


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