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.
The 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.
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.
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
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.
The 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
Nice 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.