I ended up getting 4:10 (according to my watch, which I stopped during a short but necessary bathroom break). The race was going according to sub 4 pace and plan until mile 21, when massive calf cramps in both legs dramatically slowed me down. Cramping of any kind is frustrating, because you have to basically shut it down completely. I wasn't even breathing hard, but I simply could not move any faster. I was able to fight the cramps off for a while, but by mile 25 they were pretty constant, and spreading from my calves to my groin and quads. In the last half mile I was cramping with every step, but I was basically in a tunnel of people at that point, and they cheered me on through the cramps. While it wasn't really 'fun' at the time, I'll never forget struggling down the finishing stretch and the support the crowd gave me that got me through it.
The highlight of my race was seeing my friends Lori and Anthony at the 18.5 mile mark (when I was still feeling pretty good), with their 'Run Arun' sign. Lori was training for the marathon when she injured her knee. In her place I would have been pouting and eating bon-bons on the couch, but she and Anthony came out and cheered us all on -- making the killer sign, giving me pretzels, gatorade and hugs (which must have been pretty gross since I was drenched in sweat). Thanks guys, seeing you both after the long grind uphill was exactly what I needed!
For a first marathon, the Seattle Rock n Roll was perfect. The weather was great, the bands were great (especially for a guy that doesn't train with an iPod), the water stations were perfectly placed, and the course was challenging, with the biggest hill coming on at mile 15-18, running up the false flat of highway 99. For me, the toughest part was running past the turnoff towards the finish on mile 23, and knowing I still had 3 long, cramp filled miles to go. That was mental.
My cramping was probably due to the lack of recent training. I had trained for a specific pace, and kept that pace for the first 21 miles. But the time off caught up with me in the end, and my target pace was probably too fast for my current level of fitness. I guess I'll have to claim a 'moral' victory. And there will always be next year!