Seattle Marathon Race Report

I ran the Seattle Marathon today.

This was “my first marathon… that was not part of an Ironman”. The goal was to “run the Seattle Marathon as a gauge of where I was on my goal of achieving a 3:30 marathon for next year’s Ironman”…

Going into the race, I felt really strong, and I honestly thought I could run a 3:30 or better marathon. I have been running about 3 times a week over the last 2 months (since my Ironman this summer). Pretty much all of my runs have been at 7:45/mile or better. I’ve been feeling pretty strong at this pace. Most of my runs are 8 miles, but I’ve done several 12 mile runs, and a handful of 14+ mile runes. A couple weeks ago I did a 16 mile run at 7:50 pace, so I was feeling pretty positive about this race.

Well, I had a great run through mile 17-18, with all of my mile segments well under 8:00 pace and my average still at a healthy 7:52. Around mile 18 on the Seattle Marathon (as many of you know) is a series of hills that really put a hurt on you. I felt pretty strong through all of these…

Seattle Marathon Map

Big thanks to Kevin Costanza (and his daughter Melina) who were waiting at mile 21.5 and cheering me on! Right Costanza’s you were there to cheer for me. 😉 It really helped boost my spirits after that nasty hill on Madison.

But I admit, after the fact, when I analyze the data from the running computer it looks like my mile paces started to fall pretty significantly, and by mile 23 my average pace had crept up to 8:00/mile.

Then disaster struck! Somewhere around 22.5 miles my left heel/ankle started hurting. As I ran it got worse and worse and I noticed that my pace had started to fall to 9:45/mile. I could walk, but running was absolutely unbearable. It reminded me of my stress fracture last year. Basically, I couldn’t run at all. I ended up walking the last 3.5 miles.

I made a phone call to Adrien, my wife, and the girls to let them know that they didn’t need to rush to the finish line because I wasn’t going to get there at my 3:30 goal… I kept my spirits high and cheered my fellow racers. From a nutritional and muscular fatigue perspective I felt great. No cramping, no burning in the legs, positive attitude… but I just couldn’t take any impact on my heel.

I got a phone call from Phil with half a mile to go. “Hello?” – “Hey, how was your race?” – “Uh… my heel blew out at mile 23, I’ve been walking since, got a half mile still to go.” … It made me realize that I had a lot of supporters out there… but it was a little disappointing that this injury was going to prevent me from achieving my goal.

Adrien, Saffron, and Zola were waiting about 50 yards from the finish line… I was hurting pretty bad, but I ran over and gave them kisses; and then sucked it up to run across the finish line. I ended up finishing with a chip time of 3:56:52… nothing to be embarrassed about, but still a disappointment considering I was on pace to finish in 3:30.

I must have looked pretty bad coming across the finish line, because as soon as I crossed someone ran up and grabbed me and escorted me to the medical trailer. They scolded me for “finishing” on a possible ruptured Achilles. After a quick exam, they determined that my Achilles tendon was fine and I had good mobility, and they agreed with me that I probably had a stress fracture. They sent me to the Bastyr Chiropractic clinic in the recovery zone, where they confirmed the diagnosis and wrapped my heel with some special “healing” tape. Go figure those crazy witch-doctors! I know what this really means… 4-8 weeks of no impact – no weight baring activity. Been there! Done that!

So what have I learned… I think I can run a 3:30 marathon… this goal is not out of reach by any stretch. But again… I pushed myself too hard… without realizing it. And now I have to pay the price again.

Now I have some time to focus on other things then running. 😉

Here are the charts… you know I had to have charts…

Seattle Marathon Pace - before my stress fracture!

My Seattle Marathon Pace Chart


10 Responses to “Seattle Marathon Race Report”

  1. mp3ief Says:

    Congratulations on toughing it out. Too bad you will be laid up for six weeks. Keep plugging on… That’s what I’m doing!

  2. noelryan Says:

    Thanks for your message Zappoman. You obviously do a lot of cycling and swimming anyway, but how do you find cycling with your achilles injury?

    I am currently focussing on swimming and upperbody strength to keep my cardio conditioning up and I am thinking of getting on the bike next week to give my legs a workout, but I am nervous about straining my achilles.

    I guess the answer is take it easy and “listen” to my body.

  3. zappoman Says:


    As for my injury, technically it’s not an Achilles injury. I wasn’t sure during the race, because my ankle hurt so bad. But really, it was (just) a stress fracture in my heel. So a couple days later my ankle is feeling fine.

    Actually, last year about this same time (in prep for the Seattle Marathon) I got the same injury, for the same reason — ramping too quickly –. My doctor said swimming and cycle would be ok, but he advised me to not do road cycling… what if my bike broke down, it would really be good to have to do any walking. So, I joined a spin class. This was the best training decision I made last year. Basically all winter long I went to spin class 3 times a week. I was lucky to have a great spin coach… Mike, he was a real inspiration. He made classes fun and challenging even though there were several varied levels of students, from semi-serious armatures like me to grand mothers and businessmen at lunch. We all had fun and got a good workout to our own levels.

    The best part about spin class was that in addition to being a good cardio workout, it is also resistance training. And my legs got really strong really fast. It helped me add easily 3mph to my average road speed.

    Anyway, good luck and keep up the fitness! I’ll see you on the road!


  4. jay Says:

    oh man, that’s a bummer. congrats on finishing under 4 hours with a busted heel. that’s amazing. i ran seatte this year, too. one question: how did you manage to write a whole race report without mentioning the cold/snow/sleet? =)

  5. zappoman Says:

    Lot’s of people have asked me about the rain and snow… but honestly it didn’t seem that bad to me. Maybe it’s because at the start of the race I was feeling so good and by the middle of the race I was feeling very confident about achieving my 3:30 goal… and then after the stress fracture, I wasn’t thinking about the weather at all. 😉

  6. 2006 Seattle Marathon Pictures « ZappoMan Says:

    […] Well, the official photos of me running the 2006 Seattle Marathon came out today. The pain of running on a calcanus stress fracture is clear when you look at my finish line photos. What the hell was I thinkging?!?!!! […]

  7. Mikke Lindblom Says:

    I feel your pain…literally. My brother John and I ran the Seattle Marathon as well…4 months of hard training…8 weeks we ran over 20 miles on Saturdays, typically on the marathon course…6 days of running per week, 40-45 miles per week. Our target wasn’t as fast as yours, we just wanted to get in under 4 hours. It was our first marathon. Well, the last 3 weeks were just trying to keep a nagging high calf ache. I juiced up on ibuprofen on marathon day, and actually took 2 more on the course to keep the pain at bay. We ended up finishing in 3:54:01 chip time. Thrilling!!! But as soon as we stopped, walking was a chore and the pain was intense. I limped home, and the 4 days following saw no improvement. Decided I better go in to Virginia Mason Sports Med. The diagnosis: tibial stress fracture. So, I’m joining you in the non weaight bearing and have my days filled with laboring on crutches to get around and wearing an air cast. It sucks a bit, but I’d do it again. Hey, way to slug it out and cross the line, man! I feel your pain.

  8. ZappoMan - Fitness Blog : Thoughts on Fitness, Health, Diet, Marathons, Triathlons, and Ironman by Brad Hefta-Gaub » I made it: 5,000 miles! Says:

    […] was a great year for fitness. I trained over 492 hours for the year. I completed my first Ironman, my first Marathon, I had a great year of Cycling, and it was great to cap it off with the thing I love most of all, […]

  9. Colleen Says:

    I got a tibial stress fracture last spring training for my first marathon. The day after my 20 mile run I had to drop out of my training and was devastated. I stopped running to heal. Then the day before the marathon I figured my leg had healed and that even though I hadn’t ran in 6 weeks I thought I would go ahead and give it a shot. I figured if my leg started to hurt I would just drop out. So 18 hours before the marathon I started loading up on pasta and gatorade and went ahead and finished the marathon!!!! Was ecstatic considering it was my first run in 6 weeks. At that time I had been looking online for a story like this for some reassurance but couldn’t find one.
    I think I refractured it in the marathon but didn’t see the point of having another bone scan. Would do it all over again. Crossing that finishing line was euphoric!

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