2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Recap

While our times are often measured in hours and minutes, many runners will agree that seconds make a difference. A few difference of seconds on a clock can represent a large amount of passion and grit poured into months of training and the burn and discomfort of racing hard.

2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

I have learned to let go of finish times as my primary goal in a race. This is not to say that I don’t push myself to run faster and give 100% of my best on race day; quite to the contrary, shifting my focus away from solely the time on the clock has helped me improve and give my best. My breakthrough races came when I was less concerned with a finish time and more concerned with following my pacing plan, fueling well, and running a smart and hard race. 

2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

I hoped to beat my personal best of 1:38:40 from this same race last year, but that wasn’t my primary goal of this race. I never do well with obsessing over a goal finish time, so I had more abstract goals for this race that I focused on during the race itself. I wanted to negative split, which is key for me for running a strong and smart race. I wanted, as I did at CIM, to hold on strong if the last miles hurt. And I wanted to respect the zero waste standards of the race and express my gratitude to the volunteers.

I could write a rambling mile by mile race recap, but I sort of entered that state of flow where the miles blur together, until the last 2 miles. I was so invested in staying present and focused that I really only remember looking at my watch at 1 hour to assess my potential finish time, then gritting it out over the last 1.5 miles when wanted to be done and snag that PR. That final fight is always what I remember most in races. The comfortable miles blend together, especially when the race is going well and I’m feeling strong.

The weather didn’t go as forecasted, in the best way possible. Instead of the predicted rain and 30 degree wind chills, the weather was 40 degrees and sunny by 8 AM. I am really glad that I didn’t overdress but instead just went with my go-to race outfit plus some arm warmers. Even the arm warmers were too much by the last 5 miles. There was a bit of headwind along the trail, just enough that I felt its resistance as I ran against. But all things considered – the coldest winter on record in 32 years – I didn’t mind the wind at all if it meant some sunshine.

I recapped all the race specific details – race start, course, finishing area – in my post from last year’s race, so if you are interested in that, you can read it here.

2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

All in all, my pacing was consistent for this race: my slowest mile was the first mile at 7:38, my fastest mile was a 7:24 at mile 11. In retrospect, I wonder if I held back a little too much in miles 5, 6, and 7. I hit a 7:26 in mile 4, but then settled back into a 7:30-7:35/mile pace. I ran a solid negative split, with my first 7 miles at mostly in the 7:30s (with the exception of mile 4) and the last 6 miles all in the 7:24-7:29/mile range. I achieved my goal of a negative split and that to me is always a race well run.

One thing I did not like about the race this year was the detour. The Lake Sammamish Trail is under reconstruction, so part of the trail was closed off to foot traffic. Instead of continuing to cruise along a quiet trail, free of any cars, we spent about a mile or so on the slanted side shoulder of the Lake Sammamish Parkway. Cones alerted traffic of the runners, but still the cars went whizzing by, which threw off me off a bit. I subconsciously held onto my pace rather than trying to speed up, due to both the slant in the road surface and trying to focus on the cars more than my pace. Thankfully, this detour should only occur in this year’s race and I do greatly appreciate the care that King County takes in maintaining the trails out here.

2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

The final mile was a fight. My core ached with fatigue from the headwind and my mind wanted to be done. I reasoned that the faster I ran, the sooner I would be done, and so I gave it my best, chasing the heels of a runner in front of me. It wasn’t a surprisingly fast mile compared to the other ones – right around 7:27/mile – but it was a mile full of determination and grit. I kicked out a 6:49/mile for my final 0.1 mile.

As I approached the finish line, I saw the clock flash 1:38:2x. Last year, I crossed with a 1:39:xx on the clock and ran a 1:38:40. I didn’t cross the start line immediately this year, so I realized that this certainly meant a PR. 

2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

My Garmin flashed up the “New Record” notification as soon as I saved the run. After grabbing some food, I checked for my official time: 1:38:13. My average pace was 2 second per mile faster than last year. 

If I could describe the 2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon in three words, those words were grit, hungry, and grateful.

Grit because I had to fight at the end for my PR. Maybe it was mental, maybe it was the wind that was just strong enough during the race, or maybe it was just because, unlike in 2016, I didn’t have a perfect race day. My 2016 goal races were dream races, seamless races that lead to significant PRs. But not every race is like that, nor would I want every race to be. Grit isn’t a quality that is developed out of theory. It’s refined in practice, in the moments when the choice exists between gritting your teeth and embracing the discomfort of hard work, or going gentle and surrendering to the mental demons of doubt.

Hungry not in the sense of physical hunger (although I did indulge quite a bit that day), but in the sense of hungry for more training and racing. I was super excited to start off-season after the race, but a couple days later I have a desire, a hunger, to race another half again soon. It’s a hunger that stems from the satisfaction of hard work well done, looking forward to what can next be achieved.  It’s funny how so shortly after a race, when the sensation of burning lungs and legs during the final mile is still a fresh and vivid memory, I crave it again. 

Grateful because being able to run hard is such a gift. I could sit here and write that maybe I could have ran faster or pushed soon or trained harder and gotten a 1:37:xx, but to what good is that? I’m grateful for the race I ran on Saturday and that my body is strong and capable to run that time – a time which a few years ago I didn’t believe I could run. I’m grateful that the sun came out and I’m grateful for the beautiful trail that this race takes place on. Most of all, I’m grateful for my husband who cheered me on as I crossed the finish line (and took all of the photos in this post) and I’m grateful for the support from each and every one of you.

2017 Lake Sammamish Half Marathon Race Recap

What words would you use to describe a recent race or run?

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37 Responses

  1. Congrats on a really strong race! When your times get as fast as they have, every second does count, even in a half marathon. You worked so hard and totally earned this! Hope you are recovering well!

  2. AH!!! Love this so much and especially because you are so grateful for the run. I mean, that’s why we do it, right? And that final battle is usually what we remember most because you are fighting for that fast finish and you did it!!! Negative split and a PR? You are amazing my friend and are having a kick ass year!!! What will you do next?

  3. Congrats on your PR! I ran a post-baby PR in my half marathon on Saturday and the words I use to describe that race is digging deep. The weather was perfect, I tapered well, so I just went for it. I’m still riding the high!

  4. I love your words for your race. I think that is the perfect attitude to have: you want it, you are going to do your damnedest to get it, but at the end of the day? It is about the blessing of running. We GET to do this. Congrats, Laura! What a way to kick off the season!

  5. Congratulations on a great race! It sounds like you paced excellent and of course, it’s been fun following your training on here. You were definitely ready. It’s always so fun to negative split a race or even “even splits”, when you pass people and it gives you a big mental surge, vs. going out too fast and having everyone passing you and feeling so down. I love the pictures too- your form is excellent and you look so strong, but like you really enjoyed the race as well.

    I hope you’re having a wonderful recovery and enjoying your new PR!

    1. Thank you! Negative splits are my favorite way to race – even with a warm up, it takes me a few miles to feel really warmed up. There were a lot of strong runners at this race – lots of people passing and surging ahead at the end!

  6. Congratulations! I love your attitude and your 3 words about this race!! And I think you’re right that too often we get caught up in finish times and forget to enjoy the run and the place we’re running! For me, sometimes winning those mental battles means more than the time on the clock at the finish!
    Thanks for being so inspirational! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Wendy! The finish times never tell the whole story – and enjoying the race and doing your best, especially when it gets hard, matters more than the time on the clock.

  7. Congrats, Laura!! I can completely relate to the grit, hunger and gratitude with races… I’ve had many (especially half marathons) that did not go the way I expected them to and it definitely makes me want to keep on trying and fighting! And the way your training went, I think you have an even stronger half in you, but congrats on the pr!

  8. This line took my breath away: “It’s refined in practice, in the moments when the choice exists between gritting your teeth and embracing the discomfort of hard work, or going gentle and surrendering to the mental demons of doubt.” I come to those crossroads daily in all areas of my life. I’m going to print that out and put it inside of my day planner!

    You’re an inspiration to me, Laura. And just FYI, that wind would have taken added quite a lot of seconds per mile, for SURE. It’s like running uphill. I know you know that and probably didn’t want to whine about it on your post because then people would think it’s an excuse but between you and me and the fence post, we know very well that the wind would do that. So, I have no doubt you would have ran that course WAY faster than last year, minus the wind.

    1. Awww thank you! Oh and for certain does a headwind affect pace. The headwind was about 8-10 mph average, which doesn’t sound like a lot but I know even that can add 5-10 seconds per mile or so. I trained in a lot of wind and my paces in the headwinds during training were pretty comparable to the race – the best you can do with the conditions, right?

  9. Congrats again on your PR! It’s especially amazing considering you only had 8 weeks to train and were probably still recovering from CIM for some of it. I’ve had a couple half marathons where I PRd by 20-30 seconds and I wish I could’ve had the positive attitude about it that you display here. Good for you!!!

  10. Congrats! Sounds like an awesome race. My goals for this year are to run exactly how you describe with much less focus on time, which is VERY hard for me. I would love to be able to negative split my marathon. Training starts soon so fingers crossed!! Congrats on your PR!

  11. Great job, coach. 🙂 You are such an amazing and strong runner. I am blessed to have met you and now be working with you. I love everything about this post and am so excited to see/hear what is next for you!!

    1. Thank you! I am so glad we met and that we’re working together! I am so excited for what’s next for you! And as for races, a lot depends on if we move and summer plans, but I’m looking at some of the Snohomish Running ones as a possibility!

  12. Congratulations on a well-run race! I did this race over the weekend as well, and boy did we luck out on the weather! I couldn’t believe how fast the cars were going by on that section you mentioned, and I was looking to speed up on that section and had a hard time passing people. I definitely look forward to the trail being finished. This was my first time running the Lake Sammamish Half, I was pretty happy overall with the race, no frills but great atmosphere. I’ll definitely be running it again next year!

    1. Thank you – congrats to you as well! We really did luck out on the weather – I was expecting it to be bad even that morning! This is definitely a repeat course, especially when there’s no detour – without the detour, the trail is really great for passing and speeding up on.

  13. You totally nailed the focus, determination and grit! Racing is tough and those last few miles can definitely test our limits! Way to go on snagging that new PR!! Every second matters!

  14. Congrats on a great race and a fantastic new PR! I really enjoy this race too…this was my 4th time running it and it was actually my first ever half back in 2012 – I was a very late adopter of distance running 🙂 I didn’t run a PR but I wasn’t expecting ome…rather I used it as a measure of where I am at in my training right now and focused on just being as consistent with my pace as possible. I was about 12 minutes behind your time but that’s a pretty good race for me!! Great race report and best of luck with your ongoing training, racing, and blogging!

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