March Madness is over for Oregon Ducks fans for another year, though they went down swingin’ (like Sonny Liston) against Wisconsin. Earlier last Sunday (March 22), I labored my way through the Mercer Island Half-Marathon. It took my best punch just to finish it, but I did, as I said I would in my last post.
On the positive side, I ran the entire clockwise loop around the island — the first time since 2010 that I’ve done the Mercer Island Half-Marathon Run instead of the Half-Marathon Walk. In the last four years, as my left ankle healed from my 2011 surgery, I did the Walk but gradually walked less and ran more of the event, leading up to last year’s Walk when I ran about 11 of the 13.1 miles.
So it felt good to run the entire distance, just as I did for the Seattle Half-Marathon last November. My time Sunday was 3:09:05 (a 14:26 per mile pace), a modest improvement over the 3:17:25 (15:04 per mile) time a year ago and the 3:17:29 (15:05 per mile) time I recorded for the Seattle Half. Full results are here. I’ll take it; this might be as good as it gets.
Some 1,599 runners finished the race, and I beat only 23 of them, coming in 1,576th (though I finished nearly an hour ahead of the last-place runner). Had I done the Half-Marathon Walk, I would have come in 62nd out of 204 participants.
Running the Run and Walking the Walk
I had a discussion in my 2014 Seattle Half post about the fairness of running the entire Walk. Is it fair to other Walk participants to run it all when they are walking most or all of it? Perhaps not, but my assessment is that few people really care either way. So I won’t discuss it further.
But here are some differences in doing the Mercer Island Half-Marathon Run instead of the Walk:
- You get to sleep in a bit. The Walk starts at 7:30 a.m. and the Run at 9 a.m.
- Conversely, you finish later — around noon, rather than mid-morning.
- And, in my case, doing the Run means you finish long after most everyone else. Doing the Walk means the elite runners start bolting past you around Mile 9, and you have a mass of runners and walkers crossing together around 10:45 a.m. In doing the Run, there were just three or four of us near each other in the last mile to the finish line.
- Both 10K and 5K runs are also part of this event; those start at 8 and 8:30 a.m. By the time I finished, most participants had headed out and taken all the food with them — only bananas, bagels and bottled water were left for me. As I sipped water and ate a banana, crews started taking down the finish line and the food tents.
- Ah, but the photographers stayed, at least until a few runners after me finished. As you can see, my own pictures in this post (taken after I finished) are devoid of many runners.
- I ran stretches of the run alone; lonely indeed, although most of the time there runners in sight both ahead of and behind me.
- I could see and feel the great community support this event gets! Volunteers at the water stations stayed until the very last runner passed by, which was very cool. I also was able to get a much-needed energy gel pack at Mile 8; oftentimes, those are gone early.
I do like this run; I’ve done the Mercer Island Half-Marathon 12 times now — every year since 2003, except for 2008 when I had a torn hamstring. I was a race volunteer that year. My best time for this race is 1:57:31, which I did in 2004 (my half-marathon PR is 1:55:33, also that year).
Risky business, these longer runs
Also, it was my 35th half-marathon overall and 178th road race since 2001 (including 21 marathons). I enjoy this distance, but do worry about the toll it takes on my damaged ankle. Though I experienced very little pain both during and after this race, I know it is risky to do these long runs, especially without significant training.
I will keep monitoring my ankle’s health, and continue running at a pace I can endure, as I count my blessings that I can still run. During my painful days both before and after my surgery in 2011, I never imagined running an entire half-marathon again. It felt good to be able to do it.
What’s next? I am doing the Seahawk 12K Run in Renton on April 19, upgrading to the 12K after doing the 5K the last two years. This event draws loud, spirited Seahawks fans and is always a lot of fun.
Congrats to Microsoft friend Robyn Wilson on her fabulous time (1:38:50)!
Thanks for reading. Till next time.