St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Race Recap

I’m so behind on blogging – reading, writing, responding, etc. Ten days out of town will do that to you! I promise I’ll get around to everything…eventually.

Because why run one half marathon in the space of a week when you could run two?

Roughly a year ago, a girl I know from college posted pictures of herself after the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half (?) Marathon. (I don’t remember if she ran the half or the full.) It occurred to me that I, too, am capable of running half marathons, and that the race would be the perfect excuse to go to Seattle (not that I ever need an excuse to go to Seattle). It would also give me the opportunity to visit my grandparents who, at 95 and 97, aren’t getting any younger. I want to spend as much time with them as I can while I can, so I decided in that moment that I’d run Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle in 2018.


Roughly two months after that, I moved into a new position at work, and a few months after that, it occurred to me that this new position would almost certainly require my attendance at a conference in San Diego that, most inconveniently, was a few days before Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle. Not willing to be deterred from my dreams of running Seattle and visiting my grandparents, I decided to make a trip out of the whole thing, flying to San Diego, running Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego (because it was the day before the conference, so why not, if work was paying for my flight?), going to the conference, traveling up the coast to Seattle, running Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle, and then coming back to Chicago.

But this blog post is not about my harebrained, 10-day, 2-half marathon trip idea. (That’s coming later, don’t you worry 😉 ). This blog post is about Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle itself!


I arrived in Seattle a little after midnight Saturday morning, and, after crashing SO HARD at my hotel, eventually dragged myself to the expo Saturday afternoon. The expo was down by CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field: areas of Seattle I had seen plenty of times but never visited. I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed it under normal circumstances, but as I mentioned in my training recap earlier this week, I still wasn’t feeling great and went to the expo unsure of whether or not I’d start the race, never mind finish it.

I took it very easy on Saturday, stuck to the easiest-to-digest foods I could think of/find (chicken noodle soup, toast, baked chicken, bananas – not bad pre-run food, anyway), and hoped for the best. I felt fine when I woke up Sunday morning, so I decided to go for it, with the caveat that “going for it” would mean “going as gently as possible, which might mean walking the entire thing, understanding I may stop at every/all portapotty available, and may drop out at any point along the race.”

I started…not in my assigned corral, because I wanted to have as much time as possible to complete the race. Rock ‘n’ Roll’s enforcement of their corralling system continues to rely entirely on the honor system (and there isn’t any division between the corrals once you get in them anyway), so self-seeding isn’t much of a problem. (As a side note, I used to think it was so stupid that Rock ‘n’ Roll bothered with corrals when they don’t even pretend to enforce them, but the more I’ve thought about it, the more I like their method. It’s way less stressful than some races [ahem, Bank of America], because the corrals never close, and I imagine enough people get in the right corral to avoid serious crowding.)

The race started–STARTED–uphill, which was a cruel preview of what was to come for the remaining 13 miles. I knew there would be no avoiding hills in this race–it is Seattle, after all, but cow. Nothing could’ve possibly prepared me for this insanity.


I will refer to this elevation map throughout the post, but for now, please observe the red box on the far left, where I was required to climb 128 feet over the course of half a mile (exactly, in fact). “Mount” Roosevelt, for comparison’s sake, is a roughly 10 foot climb over .18 miles (assuming my Garmin is to be believed. There are also a lot of tall buildings around there, so it’s possible the elevation isn’t 100 percent accurate). Needless to say, I was a bit of my element.

Fortunately, I knew this was going to be an extremely tough course by my standards, so my expectations were basement level before my stomach rebelled. I was in absolutely no hurry, so the 11:xx miles I kept logging were no skin off my nose.

I was also wildly unbothered by how long it was taking me to get through this run because the course was stunning. The weather was perfect, and I do mean perfect–52 and sunny, like That One Day in late September/early October where it finally feels nice to run again (if you’ve trained through a Chicago summer, you know what I’m talking about). Even if it had been warm and/or overcast, though, the scenery was SO beautiful. This was easily the prettiest race I’ve ever run.



Without a doubt, the most insane part of the run was in that purple box on the elevation map. I had received an email a few weeks earlier about a “King/Queen of the Hill” challenge on 19th Street, where the three males and three females who recorded the fastest times up that hill would receive an additional award. I assumed this meant the hill was brutal, but I could not have FATHOMED how insane it was until I actually got there. It was an 82 foot climb over .12 miles. That is a THIRTEEN PERCENT GRADE. (It’s 12.95 percent technically, but whatever. Close enough.). Once again, for comparison’s sake, “Mount” Roosevelt is a 1 percent grade. It was NUTS. I wanted to try to run up it, but halfway through I gave up and hiked the rest. It was, bar none, the steepest hill I’ve ever tried to run, and I am quite certain I was not crowed Queen of the Hill. Did I mention it was nearly 10 miles into the run, too? Oof.

The real cherry on top of this hill sundae (Sunday, since the race was on a Sunday? Heh puns.) was the end of the race though, highlighted in the blue box. After a generous downhill leading into mile 12 and immediately after the 12 mile marker, from about 12.5 on, the whole stupid race was uphill! Again! Hadn’t I suffered enough?! That certainly made the end tough, but I crossed the finish line in 2:29:20, which got me the sub-2:30 I was secretly hoping for and was faster than my two slowest half marathons, so there’s that.

Despite the hills, I LOVED this race and would do it again in a heartbeat. I am, admittedly, obsessed with Seattle, so I’m sure that helped my positive feelings about the event. The one thing I didn’t love about the race, though? The fact that the t-shirt and medal were almost identical to the ones I received for doing Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego the week before. I really hope this isn’t a new trend for Rock ‘n’ Roll, where all of their shirts and medals are Variations on a Theme of Exactly What We Did for All Our Other Races. While I don’t run exclusively for shirts and medals, I will admit that nothing about races gets my goat quicker than a lousy shirt or medal design for a long distance race (for a 5K, not so much. I’d rather not get a medal at all for a 5K, and I almost certainly won’t keep the shirt anyway.). First world problems.


On to actual marathon training!


10 thoughts on “St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Race Recap

  1. I was there too! That was my favorite R&R Seattle by far. That hill, though! Really?? LOL Congrats on your finish and time!!!!

    • Thanks! I’ve been training for this since February, so I’m sure that helped, but it wasn’t nearly as challenging as I expected. Of course, I always went into both races planning to run slow and exclusively to enjoy myself, so I think that also played a big part in making it possible.

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  3. I am glad you felt well enough to run and had a perfect weather day. YAY! Congrats on your finish! We just can’t train for those hills out here (very well!) and I applaud you. I bet a lot of people were hiking that one with 13% grade. Eek!

    Hope you had a wonderful visit with your grandparents, too, and are feeling recovered from your long week of travel!

    • Thanks! Yeah, I don’t think anything short of hours on a treadmill jacked up to its highest elevation could’ve possible prepared me for that race, haha. But that’s okay! It was always just for fun, and I enjoyed myself, so that’s what counts 🙂

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