This is my first post, but clearly not my first marathon. I’m a little late to the game with this blog idea and will need to spend some time catching up. Accordingly, things might be out of order for a bit and when I start posting about state #1 through #10, the reviews might be less detailed. Better late than never!
My family was excited to head out to Seattle, because it meant combining a marathon trip with a visit with friends who we don’t get to see very often, as we live in Maine. We’ve done a combo marathon/visit with friends in other states, and it makes the journey a lot more fun!
My girls are 12 and 10, so they are at good ages for a cross-country trip. We left on Thanksgiving, leaving Boston around 7 p.m., as this was a decent-priced flight option. It was also kind of fun, traveling on a holiday. We had an early Thanksgiving lunch and packed pie for the road. It was sort of peaceful, in an odd way. We had a direct flight out to Seattle, where we stayed at one of the airport hotels for the night since we got in so late.
The next morning, I let the girls swim and get their fill of the all-you-can-eat breakfast before exploring the city. We picked up my packet at the expo, finding the parking surprisingly easy on the street. This was a good expo, which is measured by how much fun the girls have. Verizon had a booth set up where we could take a picture and send a message to service men and women. They enjoyed doing that AND got $5 Starbucks cards for completing a survey, so there you go. There were a few other freebies, including Ice drinks, cooling/heating packs, and some other random things. I was not in the mood for shopping, but there were plenty of vendors. They also had race shirts from previous years for a steal. Of note, the design on the shirt for 2018 was a little underwhelming, and the sizing ran big. But I’m not really doing this for the shirt.
We then did a very touristy Wings Over Washington 3-D indoor flying ride: https://www.wingsoverwa.com/ It was pricey and the actual ride itself is only a few minutes long. However, the girls loved it and it was a fun way to see some of the areas of Washington that we were not going to get to on our trip. It had a cute introduction to the ride with an animated Forest Ranger and good information about Washington’s history. I thought it was well done and had no regrets.
We had to go to Pike Place Market, where we bought flowers for our hosts, took pictures outside of the original Starbucks, and put gum on the famous gum wall (I brought plastic gloves to be prepared).
Pike Place can be a little overwhelming – it’s crowded and there’s a lot going on – but it is worth a stop. You can spend as little or as much time as you would like there.
Our friends live just outside the city. We rented The Hummingbird Cottage through Airbnb for our stay. I highly recommend this rental to anyone going to the area. It was cozy for our family of four, but accommodated us well. Clean, new, and super efficient. Close to the city but in a great little suburb with really everything you need right there. It was also very well priced. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/22107747?guests=1&adults=1
On Saturday, the girls and I headed out to hike Snoqualmie Falls. It was a glorious trip and perfect for the day before the race. Just enough of a walk to get your pre-race jitters out, but not too much to stress your legs. It’s not far from the city and it is free. We parked at the top and walked down to the bottom and then back to the top – the walk is a beautiful 1.3 mile out and back wooded trail.
We also went to the Woodland Park Zoo for a couple of hours. Of note, we found coupons for the zoo in one of the various brochures we got at the hotel. I wouldn’t necessarily add a zoo to my list of things we must do when touring a new city, but the girls really wanted to go and in the end, I was glad we did. It was well laid out, low-key, but with a good variety of animals. That night we had dinner at Duke’s Seafood and Chowder, 2516 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, and had a great meal. I have celiac disease and so need a gluten free meal, especially before a race, and they were very accommodating.
Onto the race! My husband and kids dropped me off near the start line and then they went back to the Airbnb for breakfast. It was a 15-20 minute drive and no traffic at that time of the day, so it was easy peasy. When I got there, I followed the crowd without any real sense of where I was going. Turns out, everyone was headed into the Seattle Center. This was great! It was warm, there were plenty of real bathrooms, and lots of areas to sit and stretch. Some of the coffee joints inside the Center were open in case folks wanted coffee or a snack. I stayed there until the last possible moment, dashed over to drop my extra shirt at the gear check, which was super easy and close to the start, and got in the pack.
I can’t say I loved the first few miles. You spend a mile or so in the midst of the downtown area, and that part was fine. You then do a couple of miles on some on ramps and in a tunnel – that’s the part I really didn’t like. Plus, my GPS watch wasn’t working and so I had no idea how fast I was going. Turns out, I was so concerned about starting too fast that I was going much slower than my target pace and I needed to work hard to make up time after about mile 8, when my watch turned on. That was sort of aggravating and led to me feeling a little stressed to meet my target – a feeling I’m not a fan of.
After 6 or so miles, you end up on the Burke Gilman Trail (which is paved – don’t worry, this isn’t a “trail” run). Most of the course is on this Trail, and it is delightful. You don’t have to compete with traffic and the scenery is very nice in many areas. I personally did not find the course to be too hilly, but I live in an area with a lot of hills so I train for them. I did not carry any fluid and found there to be plenty of water/fluid stops. I also thought there were plenty of port-a-johns on the course. One thing that was noticeably absent – there were no timing clocks anywhere! This was really aggravating because although my watch started working, I had zero idea how long it had been from the start. Plus, most people’s watches got all messed up during the long stretch running through a tunnel, so lots of folks were off. Timing clocks would have been super helpful.
There are places on the Trail where you see other runners who are ahead of you, which is motivating. I love it when the lead folks have gotten to the turn-around and are coming back the other way. You lose sense of your pain and struggles when you see how hard they are working. And depending on where you are in the pack, there are times where you pass by folks who are not as far along, and that’s motivating too, as there are typically a lot of “great job,” “looking strong,” etc. comments and smiles flowing back and forth.
You finish in the stadium, which is quite convenient, as there is a lot nearby to occupy anyone coming out to cheer you on. My husband and kids did the Space Needle thing while I ran, since it is right there. That was great for me, as I hate heights and was happy to avoid that.
It wasn’t very clear where I needed to go to get my gear check bag back (turns out it was in the same place where I left it as the race starts and ends in the same place) but you had to go up lots of stairs to retrieve it. So send someone who likes you to go get it, because I for one did not appreciate the stairs! There was also an area that appeared to have a ton of food – we did not stay so I cannot review that part. The medal was nice, and because I placed in the top 10 finishers for my age group, I’m supposed to be getting an award in the mail. It’s been almost two months, however, and I haven’t seen it. But I think it’s nice that the awards go so deep.
A couple of other thoughts for folks who might be going out to Seattle for the race with kids in tow. After the race we went to Lincoln Park to skip rocks and take a walk. It was beautiful – Washington is truly a majestic state and that is a peaceful area with a lots of trails. There was also indoor ice skating at Seattle Center, which the girls enjoyed. Seattle Center is also home to a IMAX theater, which proved to be a great way to spend an afternoon when it was raining heavily. My youngest and I took in a 3-D movie about Australia’s Outback and then explored some of the areas of the Pacific Science Center while we waited for our other half’s longer movie to get out. I really, really wanted to get to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, but planned poorly and it was shut on the day we could go. What I could see from peeking in the windows looked amazing. Plus, it’s free, so it’s a good option for the budget-savvy traveler.
There’s so much to do in Seattle and we only touched the surface, as we got to spend some great quality time relaxing with friends during this trip too. As far as marathons go, I thought it was well-organized and I would do it again if in the area, although I wouldn’t make another trip across the country just for the marathon.
Until next time – happy running!
Years ago, women sat in kitchens drinking coffee and discussing life. Today, they cover the same topics while they run. — Joan Benoit Samuelson