I keep signing up for races, even though I feel hardly able to race anyone. Perhaps it’s because after 10 years of doing this, I can’t break the habit. Perhaps it’s because I enjoy getting up on weekend mornings at ungodly hours (NOT!). Perhaps it’s because I just enjoy crossing the finish line.
At any rate, the last two weekends, I’ve run/walked or walked/run the St. Patrick’s Day Dash and the Mercer Island Half-Marathon, two different-sized races forcing me to employ different strategies. Why am I doing either one when I have trouble walking down stairs most mornings? I don’t know.
I do these races even though my weekly training these days involves virtually no running. Instead, I spend time on the elliptical machine or the stationary bike, or power-walk on a treadmill or outdoors. I do work hard at my cardio, which allows me periodic fits of careful running or jogging, but only short distances at a time because of my bad ankle.
The St. Patrick’s Day Dash is probably Seattle’s biggest and most festive race. Some 14,000 people did it this year, many in crazy green costumes. One guy ran past me with a keg on his shoulder.
My plan was to try to run all or most of the 3.8-mile race, which starts at Seattle Center and goes up Aurora Avenue to the Aurora Bridge and back. I ran from the start all the way up past the turnaround, at about a 10-11-minute per mile pace, and it felt good. While my hope to run it all the way, I was realistic too. I was sure I’d have to slow to a walk after two miles. Yes, that’s what happened. At about 2.5 miles in the race, I felt bone grinding against bone in my ankle and I quit running.
Oh, but that first 2.5 miles felt good. I walked most of the remaining 1.3 miles, but was able to run 100-150 yards to the finish line. My time: 50:21, a 13:15 per mile pace overall. My previous times for this course were 38:09 in 2009 and 38:03 in 2010, so I was disappointed, but oh well. Full race results are here.
So what did I do? I signed up for the Mercer Island Half-Marathon Walk, which took place yesterday. My goal was to walk the race as fast as I could, joining 180 other walkers. This was the second “Walk” I’ve entered (the other being the Seattle Marathon Walk). Interesting that in the first “walk,” many walkers jogged parts of the race; others just walked FAST.
Same was true on Mercer Island. Some walkers took off running into the first mile, and I found myself doing the same. I knew I wanted to finish in under 3:30, so I guaranteed that by running parts of each mile. When I saw a mile sign, I’d run for two-tenths to three-tenths of a mile. I also started running downhill sections … and basically wherever I felt like running. I needed to, actually, to keep up with some of the faster walkers.
Would my ankle hold out? As long as I didn’t run more than a half-mile at a time, it seemed to do fine.
Before I knew it, the first half-marathon runners — who started 90 minutes after the walkers — were passing us at miles 9 and 10. (Funny enough, as I ran past a woman walker at one stretch around mile 7, she asked me if I was the first runner. It was laughable, as slow as I was running. I simply told her I was running to keep up with her.)
The walk/run strategy seemed to go well for this race, as I finished in 3:14:39, a 14:52 per mile pace. It was my ankle, not my fitness, that slowed me in this race; I felt like I could have run the race, ankle willing. The pain I felt in my ankle this morning after I got up made me second-guess everything … But that’s another story. I am doing fine as I write this.
I don’t have a bunch more races planned at this time. I have, however, signed up for the Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon in June, which I will walk/run. It will be my 21st, and likely my last, marathon. We’ll see.
P.S. Congrats to work and running friend John Swenson, who prepped for his Boston Marathon debut with a PR 1:36:10 in the Mercer Island Half-Marathon. John passed me on an uphill climb on mile 11. Congrats also to work and running friends Mike and Sue Wilenzick, who also had fine races. Sorry I couldn’t run with you guys. (And sorry if I missed any other friends who did the race.)
Till next time.