That Time I Played Center Field at Safeco

5k-website-header-2016-1

Race: Refuse to Abuse 5K

Time: 30:25

Yes, the time sucks. However, I do have an excuse. For some reason, after racquetball, my foot hurts for a couple of days afterward. I have an appointment to see a podiatrist, but it’s still a couple of weeks out. So, my foot is a little sore. Also, when I played racquetball on Wednesday, I pulled a muscle in my leg. It immediately started acting up again as soon as I started running.

And then there’s the race itself. It basically is a novelty run. You run around Safeco Field. You run up ramps, you run around concourses, you run around the parking garage. At some points the pathway narrows so you have to slow down. There are tight corners. Also, since this is more of a fun run, even though walkers were supposed to be at the back, many walkers were in the first waves, so you end up dodging meandering little kids and groups of large people walking abreast, forging a slowly moving wall that you somehow have to maneuver around.

And then there’s the real reason. Last night, I went out drinking with a friend. I had a beer at a hipster microbrewery named Cloudburst Brewing. I had an insanely good Sazerac at The Upstairs, and then I had a 18 year Highland Park Scotch at The Whiskey Bar. Knowing that I needed food, I had a Scotch Egg at The Whiskey Bar, I grabbed a hotdog from a street vendor, and a Royale with Cheese cupcake from Cupcake Royale.

I then went to bed and got up at 7:00 AM for the run. This was probably was not the smartest choice that I’ve made recently.

Be that as it may, I did make the run. First of all, because I have a well situated name, alphabetically speaking, I had bib number 1. This has happened to me two or three other times. This always makes me a minor celebrity when lining up to run. And yes, I have never even come close to living up to that billing.

The start was so narrow that they only let 50 to 75 runners start at a time, so there was some impatience and boredom once you were in the chute.

All in all, although certainly not a course that will set any PR’s, it was pretty fun. You got to run the hallway behind the fancy luxury boxes. This was the only part of the run where it was actually carpeted. I can only imagine that they had carpet shampooers on hand to immediately clean the carpets of the sweat of the 99%.

You finished the run on the field itself, which was pretty cool. Of course, they wouldn’t let Hoi Polloi actually run onto the grass, so it was very carefully cordoned off. However, you did run the circumference of the field, so you ran along the warning track, the foul section, and along the dugouts. At the end of the run, you could kind of laze around soaking in the ambiance of standing in left and center fields. It was a pretty cool experience to be standing in a place that you’ve often seen just as a spectator.

Most of the rest of the run was pretty pedestrian. As I mentioned, you run through the Safeco parking garage (woo-hee!). I’ve walked the ramps of Safeco many times, so running up and down them brought me no huge excitement. However, the big sell of the race was running onto the field, which they definitely delivered on, so no regrets.

Although my time was slow, relative to the rest of the field it wasn’t so bad. I finished 230th out of 1340. I was in the top third for all men and I was in the top quarter for men my age. This probably speaks more about the overall quality of the runners (emphasis on fun run) then any particular brilliance on my part, but still it’s basically kind of where I want to finish in a race, so I’m happy with the result.

 

Doing a Backstroke for a Doughnut

top-pot-crop-widget-300x171

Race: Top Pot Doughnut Dash

Time: 26:36

This is the second race since I’ve re-started running races this year. I did the St Patrick’s Day Dash last month. At that race, it was overcast and pretty much the second that the race started, the downpour started and I ended up soaked.

Today was the Top Pot Doughnut Dash. It is also a 5K race. The course circles Green Lake. As I’m driving to Green Lake, it starts to rain slightly. By the time that I’m parked, it’s raining steadily. I wait as long as I can, but parking at Green Lake sucks, so I was probably parked a half mile from the starting point. Finally, with no sign of letting up, I get out of my car and jog to the starting line. I tried to get to the start line about fifteen minutes early so that I can get a reasonable starting place.

I really didn’t need to worry much about finding a good place to start. By the time that I got to the starting line, it was positively pouring. A couple of minutes after that it picked up even more and was raining heavily sideways. Runners were desperately seeking refuge under trees in a futile attempt to escape. No one was in the runner’s shoot.

It really is quite amazing how wet you can get when you have to stand in a driving storm for fifteen minutes waiting for the race to start. Rivers of water were running off of my face. Both my outer and inner shirts were not just soaked but hung heavily on me, providing me no warmth but adding significant weight.

This was one of those occasions where I ask myself exactly what the fuck am I doing? I came so close several times to just walking away to the warmth of my car. I just kept telling myself that once the run started that I would almost immediately feel better.

To the organizers’ credit, they understood that we were miserable and started us off exactly on time.

I did warm up, even though I had to shake my fingers occasionally just to make sure that they wouldn’t stiffen up on me. I tie my car keys to my shorts drawstring and after the race had great difficulty getting it untied again as my fingers just were not responsive.

There were puddles everywhere that you just had to power through. Luckily, unlike some of my fellow runners, I did avoid the major ones. There were several many inches deep that runners would have to forge through. A lot of the run was on the road, so I stayed near the middle because of the natural slope of the road. That worked well, but you had to worry about oncoming cars in the opposite lane spraying you as they passed.

However, all that aside, it is a fast course. It’s a very flat run. The congestion was nothing at all like the St Patrick’s Day Dash, where I often found myself trapped behind a group of slower runners all running abreast. For this run, there were far fewer runners. It’s probably a smaller run anyway, but the deluge probably also helped dampen participation.

My time (8:34 pace) was pretty good (for me), especially compared to the nine something pace that I ran at St Patricks. My goal (as modest as it is) is to finish in the top half of my age group. I was excited to finish in the top 15 percent. Perhaps the course was easy enough that the more serious runners did not bother showing up, but I’ll take it regardless.

An Irish Cattle Call

paddy-15

I did my first 5K race in maybe a couple of years. It was the St Patrick’s Day Dash.

It was kind of a zoo. I’m guessing that, counting all waves, there might have been 10,000 walkers and runners. My wave alone probably had a couple of thousand.

It took me close to a minute to clear the start line after the horn sounded. I was essentially fighting the crowd the entire way. I’ve been in races before that start like that, but eventually the crowd thins out and you can get some spacing to go at a normal pace. Since this race was in downtown Seattle, they wanted to understandably minimize street closures, so they only closed one street.  It was very close to an out and back kind of route. Therefore, for much of the race, instead of an entire street to run on, you were faced with a half a street. It made for a very congested race. No PR this time! In fact, the pace was so constrained that I was barely out of breath at the finish. Perhaps not a horrible race to run after such a long layoff.

Just before the start of the race, the announcer made a comment that, for the seventh year in a row, it had not rained. Immediately after the words left his mouth, drops started falling. By the end of the race, it was raining pretty heavily.

Also, that’s a lie. I ran the race in 2010, I believe. It was snowing! In March! In Seattle! I still remember being shocked by that. I guess that snow does not count as rain?

It still was not as bad as the Jingle Bell run I did some time back where it was spitting sideways rain in freezing rain.

Today, it was a little cold (somewhere in the 40’s) but it felt fine running.

At one point, in a minor blow to my pride, I was passed by a blind runner. She had two people running with her on very short leads. As she passed (she was moving at a pretty good pace), they would announce / gently tap on the runner in front of them to get clearance.

This reminded me of King John of Bohemia, from the 14th century. He was one of the great warrior kings. At one point, he became blind. That did not stop his warrior ways. His guard would lash themselves to him (OK, actually to his horse, but not such a good visual) and would then lead him into battle. That is a great mental picture. Some blind guy being led into battle, wielding his sword or battleaxe, as his guard both tries to protect him and probably stay out of his way.

He died at Crecy (that great French disaster of the hundred year war). At the place that he died, his guards were also all dead around him, still lashed to him.

I guess he gets credit for dying while doing what he loved.