Torchlight Parade Times Three

I ran the Torchlight Parade last night – the first time I’ve done that race in about 13 years, but my third time racing. Last night was an odd combination of the first two times I raced (according to the weather, anyway). The first year it was a summer storm – thunder and rain. The 2nd time was a Seattle heat wave – well into the 80’s.

Last night was a combination of the two – about 85 for the race, with thunder and rain just after.

The first race was my speediest. I was on my way for a group camping/running weekend, and they guy organizing had let me know that I might want to carpool with another runner. Her name was Molly – and while we hadn’t met, we traded a pretty funny phone call:

Me: I was told you are running the Torchlight, and need a ride to Mt. Rainier?

Molly: I do. What kind of camping gear do you have?

Me: Just backpack stuff, but no tent.

Molly: Long pause

Molly: Well – I have a tent . . .

Me: I promise I’m not a felon.

Molly: Okay – meet me at my condo, we’ll park your car, take the bus to the start.

So – that’s what we did. Molly gave me her house key, and told me that I’d finish the race first – and that I should run back to her condo, and shower, and by the time she got there, I’d be done.

The race was terrific – my fastest 8k. I was in great shape, and I was having a running/camping adventure, and I was also making a new friend. I finished the race, ran back to Molly’s condo, and while in the shower, laughed out loud: I was in her condo for the first time, in the shower!

We had a great drive out to the mountain, and by the time we pitched the tent, everything was fine. Turned out she knew of a music CD I had just completed, and some of my friends – so, despite the slight hill (we kept sliding down to the bottom of the tent), it was a good night’s rest.

We ran around the mountain, and drove home the next day. We ran together a fair bit until Molly moved to Montana – but we’re still in touch.

The second race was my slowest – it was hot, I hadn’t been training, and someone handed off a spare race ticket just a few hours before hand. Between the heat, the poor training, and having to job from the back of the pack – not a great race.

Last night was better, but hard: The bus dropped me off an hour early (surprise, surprise), and I grilled myself on the pavement for an hour before warming up.

The start was a bit clogged, but broke up the second we went up the onramp to the Viaduct. It’s a tough way to start the race – not yet warmed up (except for the heat of the day!_ and up the hill we went.

I hit the first mile at 6.24 – just about right. We climbed a second hill before heading into the Battery Street Tunnel, where the odor of every exhaust pipe was still evident. There were a hot wind blowing in from the other end of the tunnel, so while we weren’t in the sun – it was still hot! I hit the 2nd mile at a 6.18 pace, and while I felt like I was working too hard for that pace – at least I was running well.

We exited the tunnel, and turned down to Dexter, and my heart sank a bit. I’ve been riding that stretch of rode a lot, and know from experience that it is an uphill grade. You might not notice in a car, and on a bike it means dropping a gear or two. But on foot, in the heat and so on? I didn’t have a gear to drop, but my heart rate sure went up with the hill.

I hit mile 3 at a 6.25 pace, and thought that perhaps the worst was over. We turned down Denny, and made a quick jog on 5th before dropping down to 4th Ave – where my heart rate went up and my spirits flagged a bit. 4th is a cruel mixture of up and down – and I was definitely on the uphill part! But the crows was out for the Parade, and I knew that once I hit the mid part of town, I’d get a break back down hill. To my complete dismay,(and after heading down hill!) my 4th mile was a slow 6.38! Ugh! By then my heart rate was near its maximum, and I was really ready to be finished.

I forged ahead, climbed the last hill and then we sprinted towards Qwest stadium and the finish. I’ve raced a lot, and on several occasions felt awful at the end – but this was one of the worst. My time was okay – but given the effort to get that time – I was more than a little out of sorts!

I grabbed a water and jogged toward Capitol Hill where I was meeting my wife and my friend Robert for dinner. Just then – the thunderstorm hit, and while I wasn’t happy to get soaked –the rain was nice and cool.

The next day, I found out that the course was long – which means that I ran faster than I thought – and THAT was quite a relief!


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