Saturday, June 25, 2011
Rock & Roll Seattle Marathon
I’m so conflicted about the Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon. I love Rock and Roll. Joan Jett said that. I like running with music. I don’t like spending a bunch on a marathon, or running on pavement, generally. I don’t like shuttles or mandatory expos. I don’t really like crowds, but the Rock and Roll Marathon crowd is always a kick.
Despite any reservations I may have, at the end of the day, I always have a good time at the Rock & Roll events. I’ve now done a couple R&R marathons in Seattle, and a couple in San Diego, including the first one. The organization has come a long way since that first one, where they ran out of water at every aid station.
The music: I heard two different bands play “Do you come from a land down under…” One had a violin. They were blasting Boston’s Don’t Look Back at the I-90 bridge turnaround, which I will forever now associate with George Clooney and Men Who Stare At Goats. Everclear was at the finish, I heard, but I sort of missed that. There was this one band in sailor suits with a female lead covering Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll. A lot of other great bands, set up about every two miles. The most music is in the first half of the race.
I ran with my friend Keri--running her third R&R Seattle, and I think she got a PR for the marathon, running a great race. I ran sort of easy, but the pounding on pavement beat up my feet by the end of the day. I had a good time taking pictures, high-fiving people, and just chattering. The people watching is terrific.
We had a debate as to which course is better, the Rock and Roll Seattle course, or the Seattle Marathon course. Last time I did the R&R Seattle, I thought it was better, as the mountain was out, and it was a beautiful day. Not so much today, and so now I'm leaning in the direction Keri took, favoring the Seattle Marathon course. I think I go that way because Seattle doesn't require a shuttle bus, which adds a lot of time to the event on both the front and back end. I had to get up at 3:45 to make the race. Too early.
Before the race, I was also unhappy about the "No Exceptions" requirement that persons attend the Expo in person to obtain their number on Thursday or Friday. No family or friends pickups allowed. The Expo closes at 7 PM, which is really tough to get to for someone working on Thursday or Friday (imagine that) in a distant town like Bellingham, especially when they also have to fight game day traffic for baseball in the evening. They made a race day accommodation for me, so props to them for that. I had very real conflicts this particular week for both evenings. But still--a little frustrating.
Weather was overcast for most of the day, with one break in the sun on the bridge. I saw a number of people I know, either running or cheering—congrats and thanks to all. The course itself is not a quick one--there are particularly long uphill stretches on Aurora Avenue around Mile 16 through 20.
R&R was a fine way to get in miles as I train for longer distances for later this year. The event has a really great vibe once out on the course—bands, cheerleaders, Teams in Training, people in their yards with their boom boxes, doing their best Lloyd Doblers for the runners. I’ve always enjoyed the race part of the event. Everything else is a bit of a hassle, but obviously I seem to keep doing it, so I guess these points are tolerable. R&R is also a different animal amongst Northwest races, with so many more participants than other races (20,000+?), and so much on course support. "Cytomax, cytomax." The aid stations are over a 100 yards long sometimes.
Next up is Knee Knacker in North Vancouver. Excited--it is supposed to be a classic, and it has been on my list for a while. I guess it is back to the trails, Canada style.