Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report

June 25, 2014

Most of the time, running is a science. There are so many numbers and calculations involved it can send your head spinning. VO2 max and heart rate zones, sweat rate, different paces for speed work, tempo runs, easy runs and long runs, weather acclimation … and oh-my-God-my-eyes-just-glazed-over. Yes, running is a science, except for those few moments when it’s just magic. The Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon was no science and all magic on Saturday.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on

I had the opportunity to take a running vacation to Seattle this past weekend with the Brooks Running team and run the Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon. In reality, this post should be titled How to Run a Personal Best by Doing Everything Wrong. Because that’s pretty much what happened. I ignored all the usual science and neuroticism that is typical of my pre-race preparation. Let’s review the facts (and please do not follow my lead here).

The Wrong

  • I spent too much time on my feet before the race. The day before the race was jam packed with activities, and I spent a lot of time on my feet walking and standing around. From touring Brooks Running headquarters to attending the race expo to getting in a pre-race shakeout run and some walking, I did not rest my legs like I typically would the day before a race. You can read more about my race weekend adventures here.
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race report on
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report on
If you look closely you can see me peeking out in the “U” and Cori from Olive to Run in the “R.”
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on
Heading out for a pre-race run on Friday evening
  • I didn’t follow my normal nutrition plan. The day before the race, I pretty much ate anything I wanted to including a family style pasta dinner that ended after 10 p.m. the night before the race (I usually eat a heavily salted chicken breast with a baked potato, rice and bread and am in bed before 10 p.m.). On race morning, I only ate 2 hours before the race instead of my typical 3 hours and didn’t consume any protein or salt with my meal. I also didn’t eat my normal 100 calories of Clif Shot Bloks, GU or Generation UCAN 30 minutes before the race either. To make things even more interesting, I had food poisoning 4 days before the race, losing 5 pounds of water weight in a single day and eating only saltine crackers and ginger ale. I then made up for the loss by eating inordinate amounts of pizza and desserts. All around, my race week nutrition could not have been more horrific.
  • I didn’t get enough sleep. On Thursday and Friday before the race, I slept only 5 to 6 hours each night. Between packed schedules and lots of travel, my consumption of Zzzz’s was way lower than normal.
  • I didn’t warm up before the race. Although we made the 10-minute walk from our hotel to the start on race morning, I didn’t do my typical pre-race warm up (slow jogging and dynamic stretching). Instead, I went to the pre-race VIP area to spend some time in the lineless porta potties and pose for pictures with the one and only Brooks Running CEO Jim Webber (who was also running the race and rocks by the way).
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on
Hanging out with Jim Webber, Brooks Running CEO, before the race
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race report on
Getting ready for the race to start in Corral 3
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Race Recap on
  • I had no expectations for the race. With several weeks of somewhat inconsistent training leading up to race day, I had extremely low expectations for the race. Although I had been running some pretty strong speed workouts and had gotten in some decent long runs, I was not in prime racing shape. Not even close. My approach was to just run for fun, maybe take pictures along the way and chat with friends. I thought a 1:50 finish was a realistic target.

Who knew being wrong could be so right? Despite my terrible-no-good pre-race preparedness that I don’t want any of you to follow, this is what happened.

The Right

  • I ran my best half marathon and fastest 13.1 miles ever. Even more importantly, I did it on a hilly course. I tend to be a bit of a wimp when it comes to hills. I think it’s more of a mental thing than a physical one, but deep down I have believed I’m not good at hills and can’t run them fast. Running fast and fierce up some pretty steep hills and having my best day in spite of them is something I’m really proud of. There was a time (like last week) that I never believed I could run a sub-7:30 pace for more than 3 to 6 miles. Doing that for more than 13 miles on hills proves that we can’t set limits for ourselves. We are what we believe. And we can do more than we believe we can do.
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race report on
  • I ran a strong negative split, with my first mile being my slowest and my last mile being my fastest. Here’s how the mile splits shook out:

Mile 1: 7:57

Mile 2: 7:18

Mile 3: 7:42

(good hill and running toward the stunning Mt. Rainier)

Mile 4: 7:18

Mile 5: 7:23

Mile 6: 7:25

Mile 7: 7:19

(passed the 1:40 pace group that started a minute before my corral)

Mile 8: 7:35

(steepest hill on the course + a long, hot tunnel)

Mile 9: 7:17

(more hills)

Mile 10: 7:12

(on the highway)

Mile 11: 7:16

(decent hill and another hot tunnel)

Mile 12: 7:08

Mile 13: 6:52

(a long, gradual hill all the way to the finish – this was evil and made it hard to sprint)

Last 0.37: 7:11

(lots of turns and couldn’t see the finish line until right at the end)

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on

Average overall pace on my Garmin for 13.37: 7:21/mile (actual pace not accounting for extra 0.27 ran on the course during the last 3 miles: 7:31/mile)

  • I felt amazing and strong the entire race. I never hit a wall or felt like I had to “hang on.” After running in the heat, the 53-degree (F) starting temperature with no humidity was like a dream, and I always do my best running in cool temps. After clocking a 7:18 mile for my second mile (and thinking oh no, I’m going to feel like shit in about an hour), I decided to go for it. As the miles ticked by, I realized I was running consistently faster than I did at the ZOOMA Florida Half Marathon, my most recent half marathon PR from January. Where was this coming from? Gone was the idea of just running fun and slow. I decided to go for it.
  • I had fun and enjoyed the miles. The day was extraordinary. The temps were cool but the sun was shining. The scenery was breathtaking. The downhill sections felt like I was flying and the uphill sections made me feel fierce. I smiled a lot and felt grateful that I was able to run. More importantly, I believed in myself and never stopped fighting for my best effort.
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on
It was great to have the Brooks Running communications team out on the course cheering for us. This is Derek (who won a 10K the next day and is a complete bad ass runner!)

The Finish                                    

I ended up finishing the Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon in 1:38:24. I was 313th out of 12,363 total runners, 14th in my age group out of 1,447 other women age 30 to 34 and was the 57th woman out of 7,845 women overall. This was a huge confidence booster as I get into the throws of Chicago Marathon training. I know I can run faster than 1:38 and I feel strong. I’m going to bottle that up and remember that on my 95-degree training runs this summer when I feel like I’m going to die or that my legs can barely move. More importantly, I’m going to cherish the memories of this past weekend and the wonderful friends and people I got to spend it with.

Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Report on
Getting a massage in the VIP tent after the race
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on
Apollo Ohno also ran the race and we got to hang out with him for a few minutes after the run. He ran a PR of 1:36.
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon race recap on
That’s a wrap! Congrats to everyone on a great race! From left to right: Anne, Jenn, Janae, Cori, Lauren, me, Meghann

Please note: As part of being a Brooks Running Run Happy Ambassador, Brooks paid for me to travel to Seattle, including my airfare, transportation, hotel, meals and race registration. I am incredibly grateful for their generosity, but all opinions about Brooks are my own and are not biased by their support.

What race have you felt your best at? Do you like to pick races with hills or do you prefer flat races?


Sarah @ Sweet Miles

Way to go!!! You killed it! And looks like it was so much fun 🙂 Super jealous you got to hang with Apollo Ohno, pretty special!


Great race!! Sometimes the races where we feel like we didn’t do our normal routines end up being the best ones!


You can get there Rebecca. Trust me, I never thought I would ever be able to maintain that pace in a million years a few years ago. You can do anything when you believe in yourself and do the work! xoxo

Lacy @ Running Limitless

YAY!!! Sometimes the most unplanned and ill prepared for races can be your best since you weren’t stressing over making a certain time. Great job!! All those hot and humid days have only made you stronger to race in more ideal weather.


I just found your blog and I love it! I’m an Atlanta runner too and I’m training for my first half marathon! We’ve ran in some of the same races in town! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and advice!


It’s great to meet you virtually, Sudie! Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope we can meet in person one of these days soon. Congrats on training for your first half marathon!!! Which one are you doing? I’ll be sure to check out your blog. Keep me posted on your training! xo


I’ll be doing the ATL 10 Miler and the ATL Half on Thanksgiving! Thanks!


Awesome job! Care free going into a race can be the time we hit PR’s and you proved that haha. For now I will keep hoping to hit 8-min miles ;-).


Thank you Michelle! You can do it lady!!! xo


Congrats! This is definitely proof that everything doesn’t have to go perfectly to have a PR. A good reminder for all of us who tend to freak out about little things that go wrong leading up to a big race.

You are so strong and fast and I bet Chicago is going to go very well!

My best race was also a RnR- the San Diego race just a few weeks ago! I was so happy during the race and also PRed!


Thank you Nicole! You rocked San Diego. So glad we’ve gotten to experience some PRs this month! xoxo


Brava!!! That sounds like the perfect race.

My best race was a half marathon too — the Nike women’s in DC in April. I was one week out from my second marathon and ran it as my final long training run. I ran it conservatively but still PR’d and ran a negative split. It was so fun to feel everything come together and my only not-quite regret is that I didn’t “race” it because I needed to run the marathon a week later so I don’t know how fast I could’ve run the half if I hadn’t held myself in check.

Congrats again to you!


Thank you Judith! Congrats on your great half marathon in DC as well. It sounds like the perfect day, and knowing you have even more to give during your next one is a great feeling! Good job! xo

Kristen @ Glitter and Dust

Way to go! That is definitely not an easy course and you absolutely crushed it. My marathon PR was a similar experience in that I didn’t really have any expectations and went into it a little different than my norm. I was completely surprised. Looks like you had a wonderful weekend with the Brooks crew. Apolo is a super nice guy – I met him at Ironman 70.3 Boise. 🙂


Holy crap you’re fast and what a rad opportunity to go with Team Brooks! Congrats on both! I think it is so cool that even though we all know the ‘right’ things to do, sometimes running goes and surprises us by giving us those perfect days despite everything we’ve done wrong. Way to go!


Thank you so much Nikki. “Fast” is of course relative for everyone. My fast may be someone’s slow and my slow may be someone’s fast. That’s the cool thing about running. No matter the pace, all our victories are celebrations. Thanks again for your kind words and for reading! xoxo

Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom

WOAH! Congratulations, Jesica! I cannot wait to see what comes for you in half marathons and the Chicago Marathon!!!!

Brianna @ I run He Tris

Congrats on such an awesome race!! Sometimes when we take the pressure off ourselves we perform the best! I’m most proud of my half marathon PR from April. I didn’t go in thinking I could PR but took 7 minutes off of my previous PR on a hilly course!

Brooke @ sweats & sweets

Congratulations! That is a crazy great time and awesome PR!
I wish Alpharetta was having 53° and low humidity this summer.

Runner Girl Eats

Congrats!! Nothing is better than a surprise PR. I am dreaming of 53 degrees during my 100degree summer runs.


You kick SO much ass Jes! Congrats on a fabulous and bonus PR race! Those are THE best.


Congrats Jesica, what an amazing race! Do you think the lack of expectations and pressure made it all better for you? I always wonder. In any event, be proud and good luck on the rest of your training! I have always wanted to start official “speed work” and was wondering what you would recommend for someone new to speed work. I have been running consistently for 4 years now, one half marathon, one HIM, and lots of in speed work only consists of fartleks during the chorus part of about 5 songs, and running strides at the end of runs (approximately 8 of them), My main fear is injury if I start doing too much, too soon. Thanks for your thoughts!


Thank you Angie!!! I’ll send you an email with some thoughts! Speed work is critical to see improvements. xo

Leslie @ Triathlete Treats

What a race!!! I love races like that! Just feeling strong and confident!! I have had those times when running (and doing tris) that I have had crappy build ups and then the race was epic! Congrats on a solid race! Chicago here you come! BQ baby!
I had not had a PR in the half distance in a long time and I got one unexpectedly in OC ’12. It was so awesome! I love hilly courses. Rolling hills are perfect! I love running Seattle races!!


We would be good training partners 🙂


Congratulations! You’re stronger than you think!
The almost exact same thing happened to me a little over 2 weeks ago at the Vancoouver USA Half. I wasn’t very far into training, did a huge stair workout the Friday before the race, went into it think I’d just run it for fun. BUT – I think the key was that I decided to not look at my watch at all during the race. I started off with a fast group and by mile 3-5 I was POOPED and thought, oh well, I’ll crash soon but I might as well keep going until I have to!
At mile 12 I looked at my watch and was at a 7:12 average pace (my previous PR was a 7:26 pace). With one mile to go I gave everything I had and finished with over a 2 minute PR! Then looking at my splits afterwards, I had run the first 5 miles in under a 7-min pace, and I KNOW if I had looked at my watch at those miles and seen 6:5x, I would’ve gone WOH, and slowed down.
This is now my new racing strategy 😀 😀 😀
Anyways, sorry for the long babble, I’m just still so excited and when I read your race report I thought, YES! Sometimes it’s at times when you’re least expecting it that you bust out an amazing race!


So so so exciting Brynne. I am so happy for your big PR! Amazing pace and great job! Woo hoo!!!!