Saturday March 7 was the Lake Sammamish Half Marathon. The last three years Seattle Green Lake Running Group (SGLRG) has had a large group of runners on this race. I hadn’t ever signed up for several reasons: 1) its a bit pricey, 2) dead flat course, 3) boring course. For some reason this year, about a week before the race I started wishing I had signed up. As usual, the week leading up to the race we had some people trying to sell their bibs due to injury or conflicts. I managed to snag a bib (thanks Jen H.) for myself and for Adam (thanks Andrew). The night before the race we grabbed a quick pint at Flycaster Brewing, the owner told us whoever ran the faster time earned a free pint (more on that later). The race started at Marymoor at 7:30 am and parking, not to mention getting in the lot, can be tricky with a crowd. So we rolled out of bed at 5:30 am and were easily parked by 6:30 am. The sun was shining but a thin layer of log settling over the lake. The air was crisp, hundreds of runners shivered as they stood in line for the porta pottys or handed off their bags for bag check. SGLRG had another great showing, we gathered at 6:45 for a group photo, chatted paces and race plans and compared notes. Shortly after the photo we scattered across the park before regrouping shortly before the start in small little pace groups. The race start caught us a bit off guard but we surged forward under the start banner. There was plenty of chatting and joking (“are we done yet?”) as we settled into our paces. A group of SGLRG ladies were trying to run a 1:40 and they slowly moved ahead of me. I had planned to hold 8 minute pace for a few miles and see how it felt. Lisa-Marie, Jamie, Adam and I joined up as a little group. Our first mile was a 7:50, it felt okay, but faster than I had planned. There was no panic, I just continued to hold the pace. Slowly, my paced creeped faster, 7:44, 7:32, 7:35. The crushed dirt and rock trail crunched under our feet. Some of the locals living along the river sat in lawn chairs sipping coffee while they watched us run by. I was feeling much better than expected. I found myself in no-mans land, I spied a group of 15 or so runners ahead of me. At mile 6 I was greeted by the shouts and cheers of SGLRG members working the aid station. At this point I was locked into a pace and my legs just kept moving. I was still a bit shocked at how good my legs felt. I threw 3 fingers up in the air as we hit the 10 mile marker, indicating 3 miles left. I was slowly catching racers who had started faster than me. It’s a sick kind of motivation to pass struggling runners the in final few miles of a race. As we hit mile 11 I finally surged past a guy who had been leap-frogging me the whole race. The second SGLRG aid station added another much needed surge of adrenaline for the final few miles. The last mile includes a serpentine through the parking lot of Lake Sammamish State park. This allows you to see exactly who is ahead of you and how far you have left to go. I pushed mile 12 to a 7:20 pace and prayed I could hang on. As I entered the serpentine I saw Adam coming through the park a head of me, I gave a cheer and waved, I was proud he was running so well. I knew this wasn’t going to be a PR, but it was going to be darn close so I kept pushing. My legs had felt good the whole race so I wasn’t entirely shocked when they started to finally feel heavy around mile 12.5. I gritted my teeth and dug in harder knowing the finish was just around the corner out of sight. We rounded the corner and the finish line emerged out of the trees and bushes. My watched beeped as I hit mile 13 but I didn’t care about pace (learned later it was 7:15). I saw the finish and a girl who had passed me 2.5 miles earlier. I pushed as hard as I could towards that finish. My lungs and legs were screaming right along with the crowd as I threw my body towards my goal. I stumbled to a halt and shuffled over to the volunteer who cut the timing chip off my shoe before grabbing my medal and throwing my arms around Adam. After catching my breath I conferred with other SGLRG members about their race results and took a few photos. My final time was 1:38:55 which is 3 seconds shy of tying my second faster half marathon. Adam ran 1:35:40 for his first half marathon. We stuck around for a bit to grab some post-race snacks and cheered others on as they finished.
Looking at my splits, I am very proud of the race I ran. I went into it feeling like I wasn’t properly trained for a fast half. I didn’t feel like my speed was where is used to be, but this race showed me that I am much stronger than I feel like I am and gave me some confidence for my upcoming races and the knowledge that I can push my workouts to a faster pace because I am capable. Onto the goal of running 1:35 this year!