This morning I ran the 27th annual Nordstrom Beat the Bridge to beat diabetes 8k road race and set a new personal best! The race is so named because the University Bridge falls 2 miles into the race and the bridge is raised 20 minutes after the third and final wave starts the race. Anyone who lives in Seattle is familiar with the feeling of arriving late somewhere because you got stuck behind a raised bridge. Don’t worry, they do eventually lower the bridge and let the runners finish the race!
I arrived at Husky Stadium at about 7:20 am. My wave was scheduled to start at 8:40 so I had lots of time to pick up my bib, relax and warm-up. There are three main events during the morning with about 10,000 total participants. First, the 4 mile walk went off and then the 1 mile kids fun run. Then it was time for the 8k road race.
I was a little frustrated with the total lack of appreciation for the 8k wave start. I know I should be more zen about this but it drives me crazy! There were three waves based on your anticipated finish time: green (<35 min), white (35-40 min) and red (>40 min). I chose the red wave when I registered because my 8k PB was 40:53. Well I saw red bibs go out in the middle of the green wave! Sure a few people could have been put in the wrong wave but not the numbers I saw. It was a mess. My theory is that that the threat of not beating the bridge caused people to head out early. There were also no pace signs at the start. I lined up in the second row of the red start because that’s where I figured I belonged. Less than half a mile into the race I was passing people who’d inappropriately started in the white wave. OK vent over.
I wasn’t sure how well the course would be marked so I left my Garmin to auto-lap each mile.
Mile 1: 7:29 I was clearly a bit too fired up at the start and I went out way too hard. I did not enjoy running over the metal grating on the Montlake bridge. I’m not afraid of heights it’s just that the surface is made for car tires not running shoes! As I mentioned, I was passing people within half a mile. Still I felt OK but I had a hard time settling into any sort of a zone.
Mile 2: 8:01 There was a lot of congestion in this mile but I was finally able to settle into my goal pace.
Mile 3: 8:18 This mile began with the climb up the University Bridge. I started paying for my fast start and seriously thought I might be in trouble. I kept rolling though because I know that while hills aren’t my strength as long as I stay out of the red zone I can recover pretty well. The thought did cross my mind that if this was a 5k I’d be nearly done!
Mile 4: 8:12 (a little long) I started feeling the heat in this mile. It was probably only about 20C but there wasn’t much shade on the course and this was my first hard and hot run of the year. I’m not heat acclimatized but apparently neither was anyone else because people were removing layers all around me. I actually took about a 20 second walk break at a water stop to take a drink. I’m not sure if I needed the water or not but it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Mile 5: 7:05 (a little short) I didn’t bother to look at my watch during the fourth or fifth mile so I had no idea how fast I was running. I just kept trying to focus on running at a comfortably hard pace. The section of the course behind the stadiums seemed to last forever because we took a round about way of getting into Husky stadium. I just kept thinking that I’d put too much effort in so far not to push all the way through the finish. There was one last short climb behind the football practice field and then I put on a kick into the stadium. I crossed the finish line, hit my watch and tried to stay vertical. I was shocked to see a finish time of 39:05 on my watch. Later I found that my official time was 39:03!
I picked up a goody bag, some water and fruit and hung out in the stadium watching the rest of the racers finish. The picture above was taken about 15 minutes after I finished the race. I can only hope that the weather is this nice in four weeks when I’m back at the stadium for Commencement!
My official finish time of 39:03 (results) is a personal best by 1:50 over my 2006 Torchlight Run. That was my oldest standing PB which means that now the next in line to go down is my 10k PB of 54:02. I hope to destroy that some time in the fall.
There were some “technical difficulties” experienced with the timing chips. I think the mats at the start line failed meaning that they only have gun times for everyone. I’m not sure what that means for people who started in the wrong wave so I’m not going to report my percentile rankings. I am confident that my time is correct though.
The Rock n Roll Seattle half marathon is six weeks away. I have a recovery week and then four weeks of 30+ miles before the taper week. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about my current fitness. The half marathon starts at 7am which hopefully means that heat won’t be too much of an issue. Still I’m planning to get a few runs in during warmer temperatures just to be prepared.