This last weekend was Rock ’n’ Roll Seattle 2016 and I had the pleasure to act as an ambassador with a group of other influencers for Athlete IQ and Alaska Airlines. My training window was pretty small and this was not a race I was planning on doing, so I went in somewhat unprepared. Given my recent runs were 13+ miles consistently, I figured I would shoot for the whole thing.
Packet Pickup and Pre-Race
The one thing the Rock ’n Roll series does is a great job getting sponsors involved and putting on a great pre-race. In this case, the event took place at CenturyLink Stadium and as Brooks is the predominant sponsor, they had the largest showing on the floor. They did a great job with their Run Happy island, which was essentially a kids area and gait analysis promo designed to sell shoes, but it was well designed and felt more like a fun event rather than a shoe push. Other big notables were Altra, Jaybird, Pro Compression, and Hoka One One who I bugged about the new Clifton 3s which are due out in July. I didn’t get any extra info or a sneak peek, but looking forward to it. Overall, there were a ton of great nutrition vendors as well as recovery and running specific wear and it was definitely well trafficked.
The race itself left from just below the Space Needle and traces its way throughout Seattle ending back at CenturyLink Stadium. The porta-potty lines were off the charts which was almost amusing. We got started about 15 minutes late and like always people pushed their ways into corrals they weren’t meant to be in, but I set myself back a bit into number 10. I didn’t know how well I would do, so I aimed conservatively. Once the race got started, the first mile was your typical scramble of getting away from people and finding your own spot and pace, but the staggered start did a lot to help this. One continual frustration is walkers who don’t stay to the right, but they should’ve started further back anyway…. come on people!
The run itself is very pretty and actually exposes you to a good portion of the Seattle area. You run through the city down the waterfront and then make your way down into the southeast neighborhoods around Seward Park and then the half and full marathon distances split. The full takes across the causeway towards Mercer Island looping you back for the final 4 miles, a portion of which you’re running alongside the half finishers before finally ending just outside CenturyLink Stadium.
The course itself is incredibly challenging. Mentally, I went in wondering how close I can get to a Boston qualifier time (something I have never done), but had no expectations given I had not trained for this. I also had seen the route and elevation chart before, but nothing prepared you for the ebb and flow of Seattle streets. Within the first few miles, it was fairly clear that would be tough given the variety of elevation and even though it was minor, it still remained difficult to maintain a standard cadence. It became more a game of acceleration on the down and then slowing on the ups in order to achieve a normal pace. This of course destroyed the legs and the downhill started to really tear into the quads.
There were a couple really interesting places on the run where we ran through tunnels normally trafficked by cars, but today were closed off. While I have obviously run through tunnels before, but these lasted for almost a mile in some cases. The crazy part is it actually became quite warm even though the temperature outside was in the mid to high 50s. The tunnels also affected my GPS because I would lose or gain a little bit of distance against the actual mile markers which gave you a false sense of the distance remaining. I would say the real slog came between miles 19 and 23 on the Mercer Island out and back because it’s really just a straight run across the causeway. Also, you can see other runners coming back in the opposite direction, so you know what’s ahead of you. It’s more a slog something because it feels like it’s going on forever.
The race itself was both awesome and super scenic and while it was challenging, it was also highly enjoyable. Other racers are really excited to be there and to be a part of it and this just adds to the excitement. Rock ’n’ Roll does just an awesome job with the overall race management and the coordination with the city was amazing, so many closed streets and police involved keeping folks motivated and safe. I highly recommend any of the events in this series and from the swag you receive to the folks on the street, it’s just a great experience overall. Super proud to be an ambassador for this one and looking forward to future Rock ‘n’ Roll races.