2016 Mercer Island Half-Marathon: Modest improvement but still back of the pack

I start at the back of the half-marathon starting line

I started at the back of the half-marathon starting line near Luther Burbank Park

I’ve long subscribed to the theory that if you run an entire race end-to-end, you will never finish last. I’m talking about local races here, not the Boston Marathon. According to this theory, there will always be a handful of people who don’t properly train for a race — from a 5K to a marathon — and need to walk at least some of it. Someone like this will finish last.

MI33The Mercer Island Half-Marathon potentially may challenge this theory. For the 13th time, I ran this race last Sunday (March 20). It was my 37th half-marathon altogether and 193rd road race overall.

For the most part, this is a serious, no-nonsense event where most runners do train for it. For the second straight year, I did the Half-Marathon Run event, rather than the Half-Marathon Walk, where most participants walk most of it. I did the Walk in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, as I was unsure after my 2011 ankle surgery how much of the 13.1 miles I could or should run.

Doing the Run, you enter a field of mostly serious, trained runners.

Runners celebrate at the finish line

Runners celebrate at the finish line

Last Sunday, I ran the entire race and achieved my best half-marathon time since my surgery — 3:07:47 (14:20 per mile). Full results are here. It’s a far cry from the 1:57:31 that I clocked in this race in 2004. But I had a stronger left ankle then and was nearing my peak times in all my races (my half-marathon PR is 1:55:33, done later that year).

However, I felt good last Sunday about inching closer to breaking three hours; my previous post-surgery best was 3:09:05 at Mercer Island a year ago. I like seeing at least some improvement, even though I am still only able to run once a week to preserve my ankle’s health.

The finisher's medal

The finisher’s medal

Back to my theory. Out of 1,421 finishers in last Sunday’s Half-Marathon Run, I beat only 12 runners. The last-place finisher crossed the finish line more than an hour and a half after I did. But still … this was too close to the end for my comfort. (A year ago, I beat 23 runners out of 1,599 who finished the race, which felt a bit better.)

Will, someday soon, everyone who participates be better trained and finish ahead of me? I hope not, but we’ll see.

Back to my time. What I felt best about was making only one combined pit stop and aid station visit for water. The entire rest of the time, I was pounding away. Indeed, it was my longest run since running the Seattle Half-Marathon last November, and I got through it pretty well.

Except for the lack of runners behind me.

This is a course I know very well

MI34More than 2,800 runners and walkers participated in this year’s Mercer Island Half-Marathon event, which also includes 10K and 5K races. That’s about 400 fewer participants than a year ago.

As I said, this is a more serious event, with no beer garden, and few people wearing costumes or weird outfits. It is sponsored by the Mercer Island Rotary Foundation, with much of proceeds going to charities to fight colon cancer.

The weather was overcast, and it sprinkled for a time. But mostly, we had a cool, dry run. No complaints.

MI1The half-marathon course is a simple loop around Mercer Island, from North Mercer Way to East Mercer Way to West Mercer Way and back on North Mercer Way to the finish line on S.E. 24th Street near the Mercer Island Community and Event Center. The course is largely rolling hills, with lots of inclines and declines but nothing incredibly steep.

After running this race 13 times, and riding my bike around it perhaps 30 or more times for training rides, I feel I know most every twist and turn of this course. Some of the hills are easily to run up than to bike up, but I did feel every inch of the one at Mile 11 on the west side leading up to the I-90 ramp.

Congrats and what’s next

MI4Nice job to Cindy Mueller, a Microsoft and runner friend who completed her first half-marathon in awhile and finished well ahead of me. Congrats also to Boyd Massie and Jaime Massie (former Zones and Edifecs teammate) for their times and finishes in the 10K race.

Looking forward to riding in the new Emerald City Bike Ride through Seattle on April 3 and then running the Seahawks 12K Run in Renton on April 17. No firm plans after that, except that I hope to be ready for the 7 Hills of Kirkland Century Ride, a challenging 100-mile ride, on Memorial Day.

By the way, that was an amazing Bruce Springsteen concert Thursday night! And Go Ducks!

Thanks for reading! Till next time.

About monteenbysk

I am not an elite runner or bicyclist, though I am friends with many. I run, walk, and bike for fun and the health benefits. I can get you to the finish but probably not to the Boston Marathon (and especially not to the Tour de France).
This entry was posted in 10K, 5K, 7 Hills of Kirkland, Bicycling, Mercer Island Half-Marathon, Running, Seahawks 12K Run and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 2016 Mercer Island Half-Marathon: Modest improvement but still back of the pack

  1. dadandrun says:

    Someone has to be at the back of the pack

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  4. Jill says:

    How many hills are there in the whole half? I heard it was hilly but wanted to mentally prepare myself for it.

    • monteenbysk says:

      Hi Jill. There are rolling hills throughout, and perhaps a tough hill at mile 11, but the hills are really not anything to worry about. It is a challenging run, but there are no killer hills to stress about. Thanks.

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  6. Pingback: 2019 Mercer Island Half-Marathon: It’s my 40th half-marathon, and it felt like it | Monte's running commentary

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