Seattle marathon - T-Shirt


19 down only 33 to go.

This was a miserable run for me, which is a real shame, because this was also a beautiful run. I don’t deal very well with cold and the temperature was 27° at the start of the race. I’m from Tucson, so as far as I was concerned it might as well have been the arctic. I have never run in weather this cold before. Cold triggers my asthma so just breathing was an endurance sport. I also have rheumatoid arthritis (thanks mom) which makes it hard for me to move my joints in cold weather. The colder it is the more my joints stiffen up. It was a little painful but I was able to keep my legs moving although I did walk more than usual. The real problem was my fingers. I had trouble with the zipper on my shirt that held my inhaler and I had to ask a volunteer to open my gel. I had on warm socks over compression socks so my calves were warm but from the knees up I was so cold that my ass was numb. I had a warm headband that covered my ears but my face was exposed so my two coldest areas were my cheeks and my cheeks. As if the cold was not enough to deal with I had 2 blisters and am working on an ingrown toenail on my big toe. Oh – And I get stuck behind 3 Gallowayers (interval walk/runners) who I had to fight to get around every time their beeper went off. If complaining was a sport I would probably make the Olympic team. So that segues nicely to my weekly tangent. I have seen people do some pretty interesting things at races so I’m going to make a list of tips for someone running their first HM/race.

Etiquette tips

  1. If you are walking step to the right. If you are walk/running as a group (talking to you Gallowayers) do not stop running as a group, blocking the whole road (or path) making everyone behind you stop short and fight to get around you. Walk/running is great but move to the right to walk. Also, if you are walking or running slow and someone yells, “on your left” move to the right – not the left, to let them pass.
  2. If you know you are a slow runner start towards the back. Most races are chip timed so your time won’t start until you cross the starting line.
  3. Do not hold your phone and play loud music while running. Every time I have been running near someone so clueless that they are subjecting everyone to their music it has either been rap or country music. If listening to someone scream, “Fuck the police” or twanging on about how their dog left them for a train is what it takes to get you through a race use headphones.
  4. Please do not litter. Some races (Haulin’ Aspen) will ban you if you are caught littering. At least throw your cup and/or gel wrapper near the trash receptacle or to the side of the road. People slipping on cups is a real problem for mid to back of the packers. And please never throw trash in the forest or someones yard. That may seem obvious but I have seen it happen.
  5. Look before you spit. Enough said.

Practical tips

  1. Don’t overdress. I see this a lot. For a run you should dress as if it were 20′ warmer than it is. Often it is much colder in the beginning of a race and warms up as you run, but even if it stays cold (talking to you Seattle) you will warm up as you run. Dress in layers that you can wrap around your waist or discard. Many races donate discarded clothing to charity.
  2. Do not drink whatever sports drink (usually Gatorade) that is offered at the aid stations until you are at least 45 minutes into your race. You will sugar crash. Save it until you are starting to deplete your carbs and need it.
  3. Make sure to drink a full cup of water after taking a gel. Failure to do so will make you feel like you swallowed a large eraser.
  4. Do not mistake vasoline (usually on cardboard sticks) for gels. I know they taste similar but the vasoline is for chafing problems.
  5. Do not be rude to volunteers! I shouldn’t even have to write this but I have seen it happen.
  6. Even if it is cloudy always wear sunscreen. Don’t forget your ears or the back of your neck. I have burned the back of my neck forgetting that my ponytail exposes my, usually covered by hair, neck.
  7. Never try something new on race day. If you train with Gatorade and the course has Poweraid (I hate that stuff) your stomach might rebel, those new shorts might chafe (make sure that’s vasoline, not a gel) or you could find out that your new fuel belt will be bouncing against your back for the next 13 miles. Test all your gear before a race.
  8. It is customary not to wear the event shirt to the race. The theory is that you are supposed to earn it before you wear it. A lot of people do this and it isn’t a big deal but it will peg you as a newbie. Also see #7
  9. Use all 4 safety pins on your bib otherwise it will flip all over the place.
  10. Do not listen to anyone who says running in a costume is stupid. Oddly enough there is an anti-costume faction out there who seem to feel strongly about this. I’m guessing these are the same people who say idiotic things like, “I’m not here to have fun” or “act your age”. Costumes are fun and they make everyone around you smile. So go ahead – wear a silly hat or a tutu, cover yourself in glitter, or be your favorite superhero.

Packet pickup was quick and easy. We had to enter the expo to get our T-Shirts This was the best expo ever with lots of free samples and services. We saw Dean Karnazes speak. We got there late and we were way in the back so I don’t have a lot to say about him. He was a good speaker and even from a distance looked extremely fit. We got tons of sample products and got our alignment tested. I’m all out of whack and Tim is damn near perfect.

We were able to get a late checkout from our hotel, The Quality Inn. This was great because we had a long drive home and being able to take a hot shower after the race was worth an extra Yelp point. The race was only 4 blocks from the hotel so I put on almost all my clothes. I was still cold.

For the first couple miles I looked like a sleeping bag with legs in my puffy coat. I was sweating with it on but too cold without it. Around mile 4 I donated it to the charity bin and went with too cold.

The first part of the race had some beautiful views of Seattle. This was a large race and we could see runners on the bridge forever.

Seattle marathon - runners

And there were more behind us

The crowd support was amazing. Super kudos to those out supporting friends, family, and strangers. I saw some great signs – “I don’t do marathons, I do marathoners”, “Go you” and my favorite “Time goes by so fast, Running helps slow it down”.

Seattle marathon -

For more information about the Blerch check out The Oatmeal

One of my ongoing complaints (Olympics!) is cambered roads. They weren’t as bad in Seattle as in Eugene but enough to make running awkward. Luckily we were soon out of the city and onto a nice park path road. There were also some real hills in this race. I just walk them and save myself for the downhill.

Running through the arboretum was beautiful, but what was all that fluffy white stuff on the ground? I couldn’t get over the fact that I was running through snow. A couple sections were coned off because of large patches of ice. This is the first time I have ever had to watch my footing because of ice during a run. I don’t like running on ice. Lets add that to my complaint list, although I must admit that trying not to fall on my already frozen ass while slipping on ice was a great core workout.

Seattle marathon - Snow

What the hell?

By mile 10 of this race my only goal, except to finish, was to beat those damn Gallowayers, which I did. At the very end a guy kicked hard and tried to pass me and I was like – oh no you don’t, so it was an all out sprint at the end. He didn’t pass me.

Wonderful Tim cheered me in and met me at the other side with hot tea. I got my medal and a Mylar blanket. We have 3 of them now. They had a warm recovery area. I was never so grateful to sit down and have a cup of hot tea. Once I stopped running I got really cold. Even after a hot shower I felt cold on the drve home. Tim was down to a T-Shirt while I had 2 jackets over my shirt.

Seattle marathon - Finished

In heated recovery area – still cold


  • Unseasonably cold weather complete with snow and ice
  • Small amount of cambered roads
  • Some traffic with annoyed drivers
  • The medal was small and nothing special
  • So many cups littering the road that it was as dangerous as the ice
  • No race day packet pickup
  • Like most large races, it was spendy


  • Fast and easy packet pickup
  • Great expo with speakers and lots of free stuff
  • Long sleeve tech shirt
  • Scenic views of city and park
  • Friendly volunteers (they will even cheerfully open a Gu)
  • Place to donate clothing
  • Great crowd support (fun signs)
  • Heated recovery area
  • After expo with hot and cold food
  • Lots of timing mats to catch cheaters
  • Crews working hard to salt ice
  • A really good, positive, friendly vibe

Unfortunately my perception of this race was influenced by the weather. I think I would recommend it. Even half frozen I couldn’t help but notice how scenic the course was. The volunteers were super friendly, especially considering how cold it was and they had such frequent aid stations that I didn’t need my handheld. I hate running on cambered roads but that was a very small part of the course. I would say that this race is beginner friendly but be aware that the course is not flat. It is a large race so be prepared for crowds. I think this is the largest race we have done so there is zero chance of getting lost. In spite of the cold this race had a good vibe. I will leave you with this advise – do not try the soup. It came in two flavors, tomato basil vomit and ginger carrot vomit. We amused ourselves for a couple minutes watching people take soup, try soup, make face, throw soup away.

Seattle marathon

Please leave a comment. I love comments and questions.


  1. Wow! I am sitting here shivering, just reading about your cold run in Seattle. How long did your asthma problem last after the race? I imagine running in snow is quite dangerous, and I’m glad you didn’t have any falls. My favorite part of your blog entry is visualizing you looking “like a sleeping bag with legs.” I’m still laughing over that one. I hope by the time you read this you have warmed up. I just heard there was a little bit of snow at Broadway and Sarnoff, so we’re having colder nights, but nothing like Seattle – although we had lots of rain yesterday. Thanks again for posting your runs. I really look forward to reading about them, and it makes me feel more connected to you two. I am, as you know, in awe of this 52-week project of yours – amazing. Which you are!

    • I have exercise induced asthma so luckily my asthma attacks tend to stop soon after I quit running. My lungs are usually tight for about an hour but not too bad. I had an even worse asthma attack this last run. I will call this week so I hope to talk to you soon. Love you lots.

  2. Another great recap — glad you could see the humor in the midst of all that misery! Apparently that was the coldest run in 29 years. I wanted to watch you finish but my friend was having an out-of-body experience and I needed to get her inside. My legs were so stiff, I had no stride! Despite being miserable, this was one of my favorite runs.

    FYI, I am seeing PDX Holiday Half bibs for sale on Craigslist and on the Facebook site — if you are having trouble getting a race for the weekend of the 13th, that might be an option.

    Did you get any shoes from the sale?

    See you at the Eugene Holiday Half, I’m signed up for the 10k.

    • I would have loved to see you at the finish but totally understand. We didn’t hang around very long after the race. I didn’t get any shoes. That was the coldest weather I have ever run in. My feet are so blistered and beat up that we have decided to take the 13th off but thanks for the tip. We look forward to seeing you in Eugene.

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