As a member of both the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics, I’ve gotten a bit addicted to running races. Now that I’m running ultras my addiction has lessened somewhat (I now try to limit to those races that will be good training runs for my goal races), but I decided I’d go for six “moons” for the Half Fanatics by running the Seattle “Quadzuki” — four halves in four days. (I ran the full version — the Quadzilla — two years ago).
My darling and I put on the first race: the Wattle Waddle & Wittle Waddle. While we intended it to be a low-key “fat ass” type of race — it’s on Thanksgiving Day, after all — unfortunately our maniacal and fanatical friends keep begging us to increase registration numbers. In 2010 we limited it to 102 runners (the number of people who came over on the Mayflower); despite selling out only 78 people showed up due to a snowstorm. We upped the number in 2011 to 150, and we had 148 finishers. This year we capped it again at 150, but upped it to 200 due to popular demand. While we had several no-shows, we also had people trying to get in day-of-race (for $50 cash we gave ’em a bib).
Day 1 — Wittle Waddle
Since we were still trying to find volunteers to man a couple of aid stations the week of the race, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to start my race. (I was either going to start super early, then man a station myself, or run afterward). But fortunately we got the needed volunteers and I could start pretty much on time. However, just as I was about to go we got a call from the far aid station — he took off with just one jug of Gatorade and no water. I hopped in my car, delivered the goods and got back to start about 40 minutes late. However, it worked in my favor as I was able to cheer on the runners on the out & back. (I also tried to disqualify them for several violations, but for some reason they didn’t take me seriously).
When I got to the mile 6.5 aid station, I found out our volunteers had a verbal altercation with some residents of the neighborhood. Apparently they always hold a community turkey trot starting right where our station is located (it’s on a public paved trail). The kids started swarming the table, grabbing at the chips and candy we had out for the runners. The volunteer politely asked them to stop, but then one of the mothers started saying how it wasn’t fair that we’re not sharing. “It’s Thanksgiving!” she said. Are you fucking kidding me? These are people who live in a very affluent neighborhood, yet they’re encouraging their kids to take food they haven’t paid for? Unbelievable. Fortunately one of our more gruff runners came up just then and read the moms the riot act. And if they try that shit next year, we’ll just have to remind them that WE have a permit to be there
This race was run just for fun; I didn’t care about my time (although I made sure my results are listed under “Empress Turkeytush”). I walked and chatted with several runners and picked up trash along the way. I also made a port-o-potty stop, but with about 3 miles to go nature called again. I figured I could hold it until the finish, but running simply got things moving through my system more quickly. I hate getting to that point — the faster I run the quicker I can get to a toilet, but the faster I run the more I run the risk of pooping myself before I get there. Finally the finish came in to sight and I headed directly to the port-o-potty rather than check in to get my time recorded. (I figured I could always get Weegee to change it any way!) Finished in 2:28:47.
Day 2 — Grandpa’s Wishbone Run
Just as we were thanking our lucky stars the rain was kept at bay for the Wattle Waddle we awoke to a downpour on Friday. Oh well, this was a trail race and they’re meant to be muddy and wet, right?
There were a lot of trail newbies in this race, so I tried to maneuver myself up front. Still, I got caught behind a conga line for the first 3/4 mile, but the trail eventually opened up and I was able to get ahead of the noobs. I’ve run the course several times; it’s not particularly technical or hilly, just a fun combination of twisty turny single track and wider roads. The latter typically has huge puddles; while we could normally maneuver around them, given the deluge it was impossible. I bushwhacked along the side of the largest and longest one, but realized I might as well go through it the second time since I still got wet. (The halvers run the loop twice, the fulls four times).
As with the day before, a bear started chasing me with a couple miles to go. When I had run the Quadzilla two years before I wasn’t able to make it to a toilet in time, but fortunately I found a relatively private spot (and leaves that didn’t appear to be poisonous). This year I was able to make it, although I had to go about a quarter mile past the start/finish to get to it (the RD had placed a couple of port-o-potties in his yard just down the street). I had intended to do some extra mileage that day any way, so I didn’t care.
The rain, however, was relentless. I started my first loop with my rain jacket, but since the rain had stopped and I started getting hot, I took it off. No sooner had I done that then the rain picked back up. I eventually put my jacket back over my now soaked shirt. <sigh> The rain would continue to tease us throughout the day. Just when we thought we’d get a reprieve it’d pick up again. By this time all any of us could do was laugh; no sense in getting angry! When I got to the pond I plunged right through; it was cold but rather refreshing. The rain had started washing away some of the course markings, so many of us made a few wrong turns. I eventually found my way back to the finish; I was planning on heading out for another half lap, but when I saw our carpooling friend was done (and that Weegee was already in the car trying to stay warm), I too decided to call it a day. Finish time was 2:54:46.
Day 3 — Ghost of Seattle
This race runs on the original Seattle Marathon course along Lake Washington Blvd. It’s flat and relatively boring (although the views are nice), but the RD is a great friend of ours and throws a fantastic party (free beer and chili dogs at the end!) Once again we had perfect weather, so I decided I’d get my bonus miles in here. Weegee had to arrive early to help out, so I took off for an extra 3.65-mile loop around Seward Park before the 8 a.m. official start (and got my morning poopy out of the way; yay!) I once again had no goals for the race, but figured I’d simply see what my body could do. I ran the bonus loop at a somewhat leisurely 9:30 pace, and started off the official race at roughly the same pace.
The past two days’ worth of miles started to catch up with me, so I slowed to about a 9:45 pace. I was running with a friend who was doing the Quadzilla, so neither of us wanted to push it. However, just before the turnaround I found myself pulling ahead of her. I still wasn’t going that fast, but I was feeling great. By mile 11 I was running a 9:18 pace, then sped up to a sub 9! (I ran mile 13 in 8:32). Crossed the finish in 2:06:13 and headed straight to the tent for my celebratory dog and brew.
Day 4 — Seattle
This would be the second time I was running the Seattle half (actually third, but the first time was on another course — not the Ghost course, either). It starts at Seattle Center, goes through downtown on Fifth Avenue, then onto the eastbound lanes of I-90 and through the Mt. Baker tunnel. All runners exit off of I-90 after the tunnel, but the fulls eventually make their way back on for an out & back over Lake Washington after doing a loop of Seward Park. The course winds through the neighborhood flanking the lake, then goes up several hills and back into downtown.
The day started off cold and foggy, but no rain. I met up with a group of Half Fanatics for pics, then hit the port-o-potties. (Running a quad requires a lot of eating, which creates a LOT of by-product). Although it was cold I was fine wearing two long-sleeved tech shirts, a headband and gloves. Given I had pushed the pace the day before, I figured today would be slower, especially since the Ghost is flat and Seattle has some decent hills in the second half of the race. I lined up just behind the 2:15 pacer.
My splits are somewhat wonky since I lost satellites going through the tunnel, but I was once again at about a 9:30 pace (I passed the 2:15ers at about mile 4). Nature called yet again <GRRRR>, but as I was leaving the tunnel I spied a couple of vacant port-o-potties about a block away. They were on the course for the full marathoners; the half course turned just before. But I figured going off course just a tad was preferable to waiting in a long line. Sure enough, as I got back onto the half course I saw another toilet with about 7-8 people waiting. Suckers!
With my business taken care of I found my pace quickened. The hills start at about mile 8; we first hit a steep, albeit short section on Galer, then turn for a longer, yet more gradual climb onto Madison. I’ve vowed to always run those hills, and today was no exception. (It’s really fun to power by people who are flagging!) By mile 10 I was hitting a 9:11 pace and I was picking up speed. After the last of the hills on Interlaken I really opened up, once again hitting an 8:30ish pace). There’s one last cruel hill on the course as we go underneath the highway; I almost thought I’d pass out as I crested it (passing the 2:05 pacer as I did so), but kept it together and did my best to sprint across the field to the finish. Finished in 2:04:10!
Although it’s rough to have to get up every morning to race, the Quad really is a ton of fun. And limiting to the halves means I’m not totally wiped out at the end!