Friday morning Ryan and Walt the Wiener Dog took me down to the airport so I could begin my adventure to the Pacific Northwest. It's always tough being away from my guys, but at least I had a weekend full of fun that I was heading to.
Seeing as Alaska Air was the title sponsor for #RnRSEA and they selected me as an ambassador, I knew I would 'have to' say a few words about them in my recap, but I've gotta be honest, even if they had nothing to do with the adventure I still would have mentioned them in this post. On the flight to Seattle, before we took off, the captain came out of the cock-pit and welcomed everyone. He thanked us for choosing Alaska and said a few words. I have got to say, I don't know that I've ever actually seen the pilot come out and welcome the passengers - TWO THUMBS UP! Oh yeah, and the planes are near magical... THEY HAVE OUTLETS IN THE SEATS! Alaska Air - you get me! THANK YOU!
The flight was smooth sailing and we even got into Seattle a few minutes early. Justin was able to grab me from the airport before heading to their place for a quick lunch. The #WeRunSocial meet-up was slated for 3pm so we hung out a bit before making our way to the Expo to grab our bibs and party on down.
|Source: @Justin_Stone24's Instagram Feed|
The Rock 'N' Roll Expos are all pretty much the same - huge and have a lot going on! We walked around for a few minutes to check out the vendors, free samples and upcoming races before heading over to the PRO Compression booth to see the crew.
We had a great turnout for the meet-up, even with the crazy traffic (unfortunately some people got caught in the gridlock and missed the hang-out). Prizes were given out, there were high-fives and selfies a plenty and (at least it seemed) a good time was had by all!
|The hostesses with the mostestes!|
|The crew! So glad everyone was able to make it!|
|Some of the #RockNBlog crew!|
A few of us made our way back to Justin and Devin's for a low-key evening complete with pizza and tons of laughs! We called it a night fairly early because we knew our alarms were set for zero dark thirty.
|Seeing as we were ending the race at the Seahawks stadium, I thought I should go with their colors... #FlatCarlee consisted of #TwoPairDontCare PRO Compression Socks, a Handful Sports Bra, a Sparkle Athletic Skirt, a couple Momentum Jewelry wraps, a Road ID bracelet, two QALO silicon wedding bands, my new Brooks Ghost 9 shoes (complete with Shwings), my Garmin Forerunner 220, and because I wasn't 100% sure of the weather I had both a Sparkly Soul Headband and #TeamSparkle trucker hat, as well as a cold weather layer and rain jacket all of which I packed in my Eagle Creek gear!|
As we went to bed the weather man was still predicting rain, rain and more rain for the race. Although it would have been a true Seattle experience, I was a bit nervous. Sure, I run in the rain at home every once in a while (let's be real, SoCal is in a drought and we get 'rain' maybe four times a year), but I have never actually raced in the rain before and wasn't sure what to expect...
Thankfully when we woke up the weather seemed to have cleared up so there was a possibility we were going to be able to leave our rain gear in our gear-check bags - YIPEEEEEEE SKIPEEEEEEEE!
|We might be missing the rain?! OH HECK TO THE YES!|
We ended up taking an Uber down to the start; we didn't want to fight with the road closures or traffic, but when we rolled in it was empty and easy.
|With the cloudy weather, this was as close as we got to the Space Needle (I was NOT about to|
spend $27 to go up and look at the white sky and zero visibility...)
There was a building near the start (I believe it was called The Armory) so we hung out inside (out of the cool air and threatening skies). There were even REAL BATHROOMS... Um, seems like Seattle knows how to potty (and party)!
|Real bathrooms?! AWWWWWWW YEAH!|
Before we knew it, it was time to get that party started. I much appreciate the gear-check offered at the Rock 'N' Roll races. It is UPS trucks that are divvied up by last name (I was in the P-R truck and think it was truck number 14).
Once we dropped off our stuff, we made our way to the corrals. I believe there were 42 or so. (Although the first one or two numbers on your bib dictates the corral you are supposed to be in, they aren't strictly enforced so it seems like people are pretty much wherever they want to be.) When we got to Devin's corral we heard an announcement that the race would be delayed until at least 7:15am (the official start was supposed to be at 7). They never mentioned the reason, but we had to assume it was due to the shuttles running from the parking garage at the finish to the starting line (although we joked that they were waiting until the rain started to make it an official Seattle race). We all mentioned that we wish they would have made the announcement sooner, before we dropped off our layers at gear-check, but oh well, what can ya do?!
|Should be game time... and we are ready to run... but it's time to wait!|
After a bit we decided to bid Devin adieu so Justin and I could head up to our corrals. Justin decided to hang back a bit and started in the fifth corral, while I moved up to start with corral three.
|Let's get this party started!|
I didn't really have a goal in mind. I knew I wasn't 'racing' and figured I'd run comfortably, stop for photo ops and enjoy the city (since I had never been before). I was thinking that a sub-1:50 would be awesome but put ZERO pressure on myself and barely even looked at my watch throughout the race.
|The starting line is near the base of the Space Needle. Apparently last year|
they shot off fireworks at the start of the race... not this year though!
|The crowd is ready to run!|
Eventually, after the delay, National Anthem and wheelchair athletes it was our turn to go. I said a quick prayer (something along the lines of 'Lord, Thank you for giving me the ability and opportunity to be here. Please help get me to the finish line healthy and happy.') and hit the start button on my Garmin.
Even though the rain held off, the ground was still wet from the residual water. I actually found the pavement rather slick and made sure to watch my footing, especially when there were metal grates, paint or uneven surfaces.
Around mile 3 I found the cutest Buzz Lightyear and knew I had to stop! I asked his mom if I could take a photo with him and although she seemed surprised that I stopped running she totally approved.
|To infinity.... AND BEYOND!!|
There were technically three races going on at the same time - an 8K, a half marathon and a full marathon. Shortly after the 8K split off I saw an Alaska Airlines area and had to take a quick pic. (I was taking a selfie and a spectator asked if she could grab my picture for me - PERFECTION!)
|Thanks Alaska Airlines for sponsoring the race, for the support along the route|
and especially for selecting me as an ambassador!
The rain (or threat of nasty weather) seemed to have kept some of the talent away... Normally the Rock 'N' Roll races are filled with tons of bands, cheer quads, marching bands, dance teams, etc, but everything appeared to be a bit more spread out for the race. I am not one that 'needs' entertainment along the course (seeing as I normally entertain myself enough, HA), but when I saw an interesting mascot with a butt-chin I had to stop for a selfie!
|Not sure what he is... but he has a butt chin and I NEED my pic w/ him!|
I was keeping decent time, even with the somewhat hilly course, and wasn't feeling too bad (I'm not sure if you read my post from last week, but since Fontana my legs just haven't really had the GO that I would like so I wasn't sure how this race would go). Lena, a local friend, was telling us about the course the previous day and she made it sound like the hills were pretty killer so I held back a bit as to not get to mile 11 and be smacked in the face with crazy elevation.
Thanks for psyching us out, Lena, and for helping us to appreciate the elevation we came across!
Brooks always knows how to make me #RunHappy! And having the giant ROCKER on the course is a sure-fire way to make me smile (and to get me to stop for another photo).
|ROCK ON PARTY PEOPLE!|
Shortly after the half marathon and full marathon split we came to the "blue mile". Rock 'N' Roll teams up with wear blue: run to remember, a running community that honors the service and sacrifice of the American military, on the wear blue mile. I absolutely love this part of the course (although it gets me choked up every single time). There are signs and posters for service members who have lost their lives, followed by vets and active duty men and women holding American flags to pay tribute to the service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. I try my hardest to make eye contact with as many of them as possible and say my most sincere 'thank you' to each of them.
That part of the course was actually one of my favorites. Not only is it one of the most powerful miles on the course, it was right next to the water and along a tree-covered path. Talk about beautiful and moving!
|Running along the water, especially for the Blue Mile was one of my favorite parts!|
|Even without the sun it was still a gorgeous view!|
We had to run through a couple tunnels on the course, which weren't my jam (it got a little warm, stuffy and claustrophobic in there), but I'm happy to say that even though they were like a quarter to half mile long my Garmin kept chugging along and I never lost satellite the entire race - SCORE!
There weren't many character stops the second half of the course, but that's okay... it gave me more time to give out high-fives to the spectators. (A fellow runner came by and said something along the lines of "Oh my goodness, you are like the friendliest runner I've ever seen." I joked and told her that since we pay to do this I better be enjoying myself!)
Once we hit about mile 11.5 or so it seemed to be downhill till the finish line. Well, that was until the race officials thought it would be funny to add the curving uphill to get the end... Not funny, folks, NOT FUNNY! (Let's be real, it wasn't a crazy grade, but at the end of any race you NEVER want to see an UP!)
I ended up crossing the finish line with an official time of 1:47 and some change. With my character stops and less than thrilled legs I was totally happy with the results.
|I DID IT! WHOOOOO HOOOOOO!|
I waited for a few minutes and then Justin finished shortly after me. We went and grabbed our gear from the UPS trucks... And just in time too, because the rain that held off and waited for me to finish decided to start falling.
|Check out the wrist candy on that arm!|
We found some coverage near the stadium and waited for Devin to finish (who did AWESOME despite having a wonky knee that she was worried about and having waited in an extra long port-o-potty line on the course). Once she finished we decided to make our way away from the commotion so we could call an Uber to go back and go get cleaned up.
Imagine my surprise when Justin asked me what I was thinking for lunch, I said "I will never turn down chips and salsa" and he said that they were thinking Mexican too! Because OBVIOUSLY margaritas and all the chips and salsa one can eat is the best way to recover from a race!
After chowing down, we made our way over to the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade. Let's just say for a parade that starts with a naked (but painted) bike ride, it was definitely entertaining! I would NEVER have the confidence to jump on a bike nude and ride through the city - but more power to the crew that turned out! (PS It is actually a family friendly event! Even with all of the boobs and wieners flopping about, you are actually focusing on the creativity and costumes. It is not vulgar in the least bit and I would definitely recommend that if you are in town to check it out - or even participate! We chuckled because we saw people riding on rented bikes, so don't use the excuse of not having a bicycle keep you out of the fun!)
With the rain starting back up during the bike ride (thankfully we didn't notice much of the paint running), we made our way back to Justin and Devin's for an entertaining round of Cards Against Humanity (because how else do you follow up naked bikers?!), dinner and then another fairly early night after such a full day.
I flew home Sunday afternoon, and of course, on the way to the airport the sun decided to come out and it looked like it was going to turn into a beautiful day (but, hey, at least I got the "true" Seattle experience with the rainy, chilly, gray days ;)). Alaska sent the PERFECT plane to pick me up and take me back to San Diego, if I do say so myself...
When folks ask me about the race, it is only natural to compare it to #RnRSD, especially since I just ran that two weeks ago. Seattle definitely doesn't come out in droves like San Diego does, but then again, the course isn't necessarily running through as many neighborhoods as the SD course does. Seattle actually has quite a bit of industrial areas that I wasn't totally expecting, but it is beautiful in its own way. I totally appreciate that the race is on a Saturday (even though getting to the expo on a Friday can be a little more difficult) because you still have Sunday to recover, travel or just go about your normal routine before you have get back into the grind of the work week. I sort of wish you ran by a few more iconic locations (like Pike Place Market, Gas Works Park, The Gum Wall, Olympic Sculpture Park, Fremont Troll, etc) but I understand with permits and making the course as easy and convenient as possible it isn't always feasible to see 'everything'.
Even still, I would totally run this race again! And, if you are interested in running it next year, it's your lucky day because Rock 'N' Roll currently has pre-sale going for 2017 at cheap, cheap, cheap prices ($59 for the full and $50 for the half). If you are thinking about this race, I'd definitely hop on those low registration fees! (PS This rate is only good until Sunday, June 26th or until they run out of the limited number of entries - so jump on it if you want to run!)
So, until next time Seattle, CHEERS!
Have you ever been to Seattle? If so, what is your favorite part of the city? If not, is it on your bucket-list?