October 11, 2009

By myself but not alone

It was Worldwide Festival of Races weekend. There were a total of 1137 participants from 45 countries running in one of three events: the "Kick the Couch 5k", the "Zen Run 10k" or the "Worldwide Half Marathon". As I mentioned previously, this race is a free, non-commercial event for runners of all abilities to 'virtually' run together. People could run an official event or make up their own route. I ran a solo half marathon this morning to get myself moving in the right direction.

I was not only running virtually with the folks that signed up for the Worldwide Half, but also with my friend Sean who was running the Long Beach Marathon. I chose a route in West Seattle so we would both be running along the Pacific Ocean, and timed it so we would be finishing at roughly the same time. He ran the first 10 miles with another friend before striking out on his own to finish the marathon. His friend was running the half marathon a couple years after open heart surgery. The day was filled with lots of meaning for all.

I started my run in Lincoln Park not far from the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock. I had found this route while on a bike ride back in June, and it seemed perfect for today's run. One advantage of running a solo event is there weren't the normal long porta-pottie lines at the start. However the park restroom was padlocked, so the advantage was short-lived.

The park is right on the water, and there is a asphalt/gravel path that hugs the shoreline for about a mile. The winds were calm and the weather perfect. There were several people enjoying the morning, coffee in hand while walking their dogs. I wish I had my camera with me, but I have misplaced it in the recent move. I took some shots with my phone, but the lens was gunked up so they aren't worth posting. This event isn't half-assed, but it turns out my preparation was.

The path ended at a narrow street, which then met up with Beach Drive. There was a small hill at mile two (and mile eleven), and the sidewalk disappeared for a while, but this was the only complaint on an otherwise great route. Beach Drive took me past several beautiful beachfront homes with occasional views of the water. There were several remodels taking place, and I was able to find an unlocked porta-pottie around mile 3.

The route continued along the shore and met up with Alki Ave. For those not from the Seattle area, Alki is our one beachfront community with lots of public access. There is a three mile public beach, and wide paths filled with walkers, runners, skaters and dogs. The street is lined with coffee shops, bakeries and other restaurants. Some condos have sprung up, but there are several funky houses that have not given into developer pressure. The pedestrians far outnumber the cars along this beachfront avenue, which is a beautiful thing.

There were lots of people scattered along the sand and taking to the paths on this glorious fall morning. There were even some folks with running bibs on. They were participating in an event called "Miles for Midwives". Some were running and others walking, but all returned my smiles. You are rarely alone on the roads, and it is almost impossible to be without a friendly face on Alki.

As this was an out-and-back route, I made my U-turn around mile 6.6. I took in all the friendly faces on Alki Ave before turning back onto the less populated Beach Drive. I had brought my iPod Shuffle along, and was listening to a couple Pheddipidations podcasts. Steve Runner produced a race day episode made up of listener submitted shout-outs to encourage fellow runners as we ran together this weekend. I also listened to episode number eight from September of 2005 entitled, "Why we Run". Many thanks to Steve for not only putting on this event, but also for his enthusiastic podcasts that keep us company.

After climbing the hill at mile eleven, and then rejoining the gravel path around mile twelve, I was able to kick up the pace a bit on my way home. Since I entered this event with a little over two weeks of training, I was unsure how the day would go. It felt great to have something left in the tank at the end to push to the finish. Since the mileage was calculated by my Polar watch, I don't know that giving you a precise finish time is important, but I was able to make my goal of 2 hours with a few minutes to spare.

After my marathon in June, I went into a bit of a tailspin. With money tight, I didn't sign up for another event, so I didn't have a goal on the horizon. Post marathon blues combined with the depression of my looming divorce was a potent cocktail. I stopped caring, stopped taking care of myself, and settled back into the "Couch of Doom". I needed this event and the challenge issued by my friend to get me back out on the roads. I am thankful, and happy to call myself a runner once again.

All in all a great day. The run went well, the route along the water was beautiful, and the friendly faces of Alki were an added boost. My only complaint is that the beer garden was a little weak.


tami said...

Nicely done, my friend. Cheers! As always, I am in awe of your time!

matt said...

Nice one!

SeanH said...

I enjoyed the back-and-forth race texting!

Holly Linden said...

Hey Buddy. Glad you're finding some comfort and inspiration. Thinking of you lots and lots.