Climbing in Seattle

When in Seattle, you're required to snap a photo of the Space Needle. I'm pretty sure that's a law.

Our cruise ship, the Sapphire Princess, was sailing out of Seattle on Sunday afternoon.  Laura and I flew in a day early so we could: 1) Tool around the city and 2) Sneak in a road race.  We’re trying to run a race in every state and this was a great way to mark Washington off the list.

We flew into Seattle on Saturday and walked around the city.  We saw a couple of random tourists drop fish tossed to them in the famous Pike Place Fish Market.  We ate some delicious fish tacos at Anthony’s Fish Bar  before walking over to the Edgewater hotel (sight of this famous picture of the Beatles) and drinking a couple of beers while soaking in this incredible view of Elliot Bay:

We continued our own little walking tour of Seattle and saw breathtaking views at seemingly every corner.  Check out this photo that Laura took:

Someone told Bart Yasso (who told us) that you can only see Mt. Ranier this clearly 3 days out of the year.

But I digress – sorry, I didn’t mean to turn this running blog into a vacation slide show.  Back to the running stuff. 

While beautiful, Seattle was beginning to scare me a little – it seemed like every few seconds had us climbing up some very steep hill.  This was a crazy hilly town – the way San Francisco looks hilly (I’ve never actually been to San Fran – I’ve just seen all those movie chase scenes where the cop car goes airborne as it zooms up and over some ridiculously steep hill).

Sunday morning came and we walked over to the start of the 10k race, the Swedish SummeRun.  I jogged around to get warmed up and couldn’t go a block without encountering some mountainous hill.  This made me nervous.

A few minutes later, someone fired the air horn to start the race and we were off.  It was a little surreal to not know anyone in the race.  I’m so used to racing in Charlotte of late where I know nearly everyone around me.  I’ve gotten into the habit of gauging how well I’m running based on who’s around me.  If Bobby Aswell hasn’t passed me within the first mile, then I’ve gone out too fast – that kind of thing. 

So, just for fun, I started assigning Charlotte names to the Seattle runners.  A guy who resembled Stan Austin passed me within the first mile so I dubbed him ‘Seattle Stan’.  Shortly thereafter, a guy who looked to be in his mid-40’s blew by me and I designated him as ‘Seattle Bobby’ (although he lost this title when I caught him walking up a steep hill later in the race).

I felt pretty good (hangover and all – we hit quite a few Seattle drinking establishments the previous night) through the first mile, which was miraculously flat.  And through the second which was slightly downhill.  I got a little over confident, thinking, ‘You know, I might be able to PR here after all.’   And even the third mile, which was a very steep decline, went by quickly and easily.  And then a girl next to me yelled, ‘Remember, we have to go back up!’  Thanks for reminding me. 

Then things got nasty – we basically climbed the rest of the race.  I gave yelling girl the title of ‘Seattle Christi’ as she basically crushed me on the climb back.  The second half of this course was quite Blue Ridge Relay-esque.  It climbed, switchback after tortuous switchback.  Every time you rounded a turn, you prayed that was the end of the climb.  But it never was.

To give you an idea of how steep mile 4 was – my third mile split was 6:19.  My fourth was 7:52.  And trust me when I tell you that I worked much, much harder on mile 4.

I gutted out a 43:48 finish, which earned me a third place age group award, but was about 2 minutes slower than my personal best.  I wondered if the fourth place guy looked at the results and thought, ‘Cornelius, NC? What the?!’  I know I’d be a little miffed if some guy from Seattle showed up around here and knocked me out of an age group award.

Me, sporting the CRC singlet in Seattle while some random Seattle guy wonders 'What the %?!* are they doing here?'

Laura officially PR’d on that mountain climb!

We tried to hang around long enough to claim my prize, but the awards ceremony took forever.  We finally gave up and hoofed it back to the hotel, checked out, and hustled over to Glo’s for what was perhaps the greatest breakfast ever. 

After what was the first, but certainly not the last,  face-stuffing breakfast of our vacation, we grabbed a cab and took it to the port  where we boarded the Sapphire Princess.  Our Alaskan adventure was underway.  More on that later…

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