The race is a point-to-point run, which starts in Tukwilla and ends in downtown Seattle. Be prepared to get up early for this race as the buses from downtown (provided free to runners) take about 25 minutes without any traffic. The race runs through a fairly industrial area for the first few miles until about mile 6 when you emerge through some residential neighborhoods and run next to a lake for a few miles. The run by the lake was very pleasent and the crowds were actually pretty good along that part of the course. About mile 9 you run up a ramp and onto the highway (yes, literally the highway). While you will lose your GPS signal in the first tunnel, once you emerge from the tunnel you have a mere 5k on the highway to the finish line. The final 5k is slightly downhill and if you are feeling good it is fast - Mike ran the final three miles in under 7:50 pace. There is one slight climb about 0.8 miles from the finish line, but very manageable. All in all the weather was perfect, cool and slightly overcast, and the run was fun. It would have been nice if the course ran entirely through Seattle, but all things considered it was a nice run.
Highlights: Meeting up with Wayne and Lindsay after the race - who just happened to be in town for a few hours on their way back to Denver after a long cruise in Alaska. There's nothing like celebrating a good hard run with some great friends.
Day 1 (Thursday):
The Seattle Space Needle is a bit far from the center of the city but provides some great views of downtown Seattle and on a clear day views of Mount Rainier. Worthwhile trip to the top where you can walk around the entire structure (360 degrees) and get an eagle eye view of the city.
Sky City is the restaurant located at the top of the Space Needle. We ate here for lunch (note they do have a $25 per person minimum) and loved it! The restaurant makes one full revolution about every 45 minutes which gives you a great chance to see the entire city while enjoying some good food. We both opted for salads, which were good, but the local beers (on tap) and the views really made the meal. After you finish eating you are given free access to the Space Needle observation deck (normally $18, so well worth it to enjoy lunch first).
Wild Ginger was recommended by a friend as a 'must try' Asian inspired restaurant in Seattle. The dress code was a bit fancier than we expected (we were in jeans) but no one seemed to care and we were seated right away. The potstickers were very good and not too filing. The pad thai and shrimp were flavorful with a bit of spice, but overall very satisfying. A little more expensive, but very good food.
Day 2 (Friday):
Top Pot Doughnuts is possibly the best doughnut shop in the country. Located a few blocks away from Hotel Max I can't believe that in a four day trip we visited Top Pot 3 seperate times! Neither of us is a huge fan of doughnuts - sure we like the occassional treat - but there is something special about Top Pot doughnuts. Not to mention they were nearly the size of my head, but all the baked goods were made day-off and everything we tried was fantastic. We didn't try any fruit or cream filled treats, but I guess we need to save something for our next trip to Seattle!
We didn't rent a car in Seattle (parking alone would have exceeded the cost of the car) but we wanted to take a trip up to Mount Rainier. That's where Gray Line Bus Tours stepped in with a day-trip to Mount Rainier complete with a tour guide who provided commentary along the way. We lucked out and got an absolutely beautiful day. The driver made it seem like in all the tours he does each year there are only about 3-4 days with perfect visibility. After a few photo stops en route to the lodge area at Mount Rainier we had about 2 hours to eat and enjoy the mountain. Despite running a half marathon the next day we decided to forget about 'saving our legs' and have a good time instead. After a decent hike we stopped for some pictures and even a quick snowball fight! The bus trip back to the city seemed to last a lot longer (likely because the tour guide was planning to play a video that didn't work so he didn't have much commentary) but if the forecast looks promising Mount Rainier is breath-taking.
Tip: Mike learned about a 2 for 1 special for the Gray Line Tour to Mount Rainier through Entertainment Book so we had a copy of the Entertainment Book overnighted (all-in cost $20). The funny thing is you have to make the reservation over the phone and when I told them about the coupon (very generic no unique code or anything) they said sure thing and reduced the rate. On top of that the bus driver said "I don't collect coupons, just need to make sure your names are on my list." All in all we could have called and made a reservation without even having a coupon (ethics aside).
Day 3 (Saturday):
Pike Place Fish Market is one of the biggest tourist spots in the city. Famous fish market where you will see merchants tossing fish and selling everything from t-shirts to designer shoes. It's hard to pass-up such a big tourist spot, and while entertaining it was really crowded and I have to say I enjoyed thePike Street Hill Climb (a few hundred stairs from the waterfront to Pike Place Market) and sitting on the grass outside the market and just relaxing in the beautiful weather (northwest corner) much more than fighting my way through a crowded market.
Waterfall Gardens is located in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. Built to honor the workers of UPS (yes, United Parcel Service) the waterfall is a hidden gem in the city. Another hidden gem was the decked out air-brushed van Kristin found nearby the following day!
Assaggio Italian Ristorante provided our pre-race fuel in the form of traditional italian fare. Despite having a reservation we still waited about 15 minutes, but made friends with fellow runners also waiting for a table and the time passed quickly. The service was ok (it did seem like the waiter was less attentive when he realized we were not drinking alcohol), the bread was good and the spaghetti and meatballs were not memorably good or bad. I would give this restaurant another try if I were in Seattle, but it might not be at the top of my list.
Day 4 (Sunday - Race Day)
Gordon Biersch we had no idea this was a chain restaurant, and while a bit expensive (especially for lunch) the craft beers on tap were good but the food was nothing to write home about. We had a nice lunch with Wayne and Lindsay but that was more of a result of the enjoyable conversation and less from the average food.
Seattle Aquarium is located on the waterfront and provides a few hours of entertainment. There is a 'touch zone' where you can feel starfish and other small sea creatures which was fun. We used a coupon from our Entertainment Book for 2-for-1 entry (valid weekdays only but the cashier took it on a Sunday with no questions) and found it an amusing way to kill an hour. The ferry across the river is located just a few blocks from the aquarium and for ~$8 per person (round trip) offers some really great views of the city and a chance to soak in some sea-salty air.
Tip: A taxi from the airport to the city will run about $38-$40, while the light rail is just as fast and runs from the airport to several spots in the city for about $4 per person.
Washington Half Marathon Medals
June 26, 2010: Seattle Half Marathon