green river– third time a charm?

One of the many things that makes the Seattle area a great place for running is the availability of fun, low-cost events.  The first Saturday each June, Steve Barrick puts on the Green River Marathon – a point to point course that takes us from Kent, out to Alki Point in West Seattle.  It’s (mostly) flat and fast, very well-organized, and you can’t beat the price – it’s free.

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So early on the morning of June 2, I met my friends Randy, Lynn, and Tony at Alki Point to grab a ride to the start.  We  piled into Randy’s car for the drive out to Kent. 

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heading out from the start with friends Lynn and Tony.  Photo by Steve Hamling

They sent us off promptly at 8:30.  It took a few miles for my pace to settle into ‘comfortable’, along the Interurban Trail.  I wanted to keep my heart rate low.  I still felt tired from the previous weekend’s adventure in Soaring Eagle Park, and I knew I should run conservatively today.

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Photo by Takao Suzuki

But through about mile 9, my splits tended to be a little bit faster than I’d typically do.  After hitting each mile, I’d back off a little, and try to settle down.  I paid attention to my mechanics – lower/shorten  my stride, lean forward a little, and try to keep my effort level low and steady.

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Photo by Takao Suzuki

Just past the halfway point, I was on pace for a sub-3:45.  I had started to feel a bit more fatigue, but nothing out of the ordinary for logging 13 or 14 miles.  Here’s where the event changed for me though.  We went off the trail, and started through industrial areas towards South Seattle. 

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Photo by Steve Hamling

As we progressed towards mile 18-19, I knew we’d need to turn to the west, and could see the West Seattle Bridge approaching.  By now, I was definitely feeling the miles.  My pace splits had not slowed very much, but I felt like I was working much harder.  My heart rate had climbed a bit – I was regularly over 150 by now, but it wasn’t as high it I thought it should be (given how I felt).  I’d always used my heart rate to gauge my fatigue levels in the late miles.  This time my legs trumped my heart rate.  My wheels fell off.

Heading up towards the bridge, I’d reached the point where I couldn’t muster much energy to talk, just needed to lean forward and keep moving.  By now I felt some leg cramping coming on, so it felt important not to stop and let myself tighten up at all. 

And this is how things were as I turned up Harbor, heading toward the Alki Trail.  When I got there, I knew it was simply a matter of looking out along the water, and digging deep.  I’d thought I might be able to muster some fast splits along the water – it’s a very nice stretch, and it’s flat.  Not so much left in my legs though.  Mile 22 through 25 were steady, around an 8:50 pace, definitely slower than the earlier miles.

When I hit mile 25, I was able to muster another gear.  This was my fastest mile – about an 8:04.  Unfortunately it was followed by a pretty slow 0.2 to the finish.  As I crossed, Race Director Steve Barrack called out my time – 3:48:11.  Respectable – although not the best race I’ve ever run, measured by the clock or by the overall quality of the effort.

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giving my time at the finish.  Photo by Dave Edgeworth

I walked for a few minutes, up to the Statue of Liberty and back.  Then I made the mistake of laying down in the grass by the beach near my friends from the relay team “Run Amok”.  It was very difficult to get back up, but I felt a bit better after a mound of deep fried fish, oysters, and fries.  Note to self – don’t overdo it with the deep fried stuff even after running 26.2 – the fatty stuff just isn’t that satisfying.

My next weekend is not likely to include an event – time to attend to the essential parts of life.  But clicking these three off has been a lot of fun.  And doing Green River again was a nice way to cap it – even if I’ve had better days running.

Charts and Graphs for Running Geeks

The plots tell a good bit of the story, although I’m a bit surprised that there isn’t more of an upslope in my pace times in the late miles.  The heart rate plots do show the fatigue curve, even though I was not seeing it as I ran.

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2 responses to “green river– third time a charm?

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