Friday, March 21, 2008

3/9/08 Mercer Island Half Marathon

Half marathon weekend. Mercer Island sits in the middle of Lake Washington... what separates Seattle proper from all the communities we collectively call "the east side" (with de-luxe apartments in the sky). As a whole, Mercer Island is known for its multi-million dollar homes with priceless views. The local Rotary holds an annual half marathon that allows runners to chug all the way around the island.

I have an interesting history with this race. Way back in 2001, it was supposed to be my very first post-sickness race. However, I showed up on what I thought was race morning only to find out that the race had actually been held the previous weekend. Whoops. I made sure to show up on the right day in both 2002 and 2003. Unfortunately, I also showed up both years without training at all for the race. My 2:05 and 2:07 really took it out of me those years. And then I started running lots of fulls. 2004 went by. 2005. 2006. Then 2007. Many real life changes. Much of my hair turned gray or fell out. I stopped working at the Borg. The cats died and I got dogs. I moved into Frasier's apartment for awhile, then I moved into The Money Pit. I started and finished a Masters degree.

I also lost 15 pounds and started running a lot more miles. And that brings us to 2008.

I want to run a 1:29 half this year... but this race was NOT the race for that. The Mercer Island half along with the following weekend's St Patrick's Day Dash signal the start of racing season in the Seattle area. Many serious runners show up, and everyone gets a serious workout. This is a very roly poly course. I had no dreams of 1:29, but I did want to do a reasonable check-in with myself to see how my training has been going. And banishing the old 2:07 time might be nice too.

The weather was perfect for racing, too. 45-50 degrees, overcast, not much wind. The winner would run a 1:06, and six people would run sub 1:15. Considering the course's hills, this shows that the area's great runners did indeed show up. On the normal people side, I had 3 friends complete the race. Their goal had been 2:15, and they all managed 2:05. Good for them, and thanks for the weather.

As for me... two weekends prior, I had run the Cowtown Marathon. Within a couple days, I got really sick. It didn't last long enough to have been the flu, but I felt terrible for awhile. I only ran 30ish miles that week, and I had to skip the following weekend's race. I managed to run a bit more during the week leading into the Mercer Island Half, but most of these were slow miles.

So, huh. This was a bit like a forced taper, but I had also dropped intensity as well. I hadn't been planning on going for the 1:29, but I did expect somewhere between 1:35 and 1:40. Before the sickness, at least. I decided to go out conservatively and see how I felt. If it turned into a medium-length slow run (1:55ish), fine.

And so off I went. At 7:30/mile. So much for being super-conservative. Up and down the hills. I didn't feel great, but I also didn't feel like death. I felt I was running "comfortably hard". A tempo run. Then I looked at my split for M3. 6:45. Uh oh. That was too fast. I settled down and hit the 10k mark around 45:00. I decided I'd see if I could hit 1:35, which would be a PR and a nice number, and all on a hard course too.

There were a couple big ups in the later miles at M11 and M13. At M13! I slowed a little in the final miles. This is where I learned what the low mileage and sickness had done to me. I had been fine through, say, 9 miles... but the last 4.1 were something else. And they would have been challenging miles even if I had been in top form.

1:36:27. I didn't make 1:35. I did, however, set a new PR by 18 whole seconds. Well, I've run two half marathons in two months, and I ran a 1:36 in both - on very different courses in completely different courses. I'd say "a 1:36 half" is a fairly good estimate of my current running shape. I'm a little bummed that I haven't improved in two months, but considering the sickness and the hills, perhaps I have some.

I'm alright with that PR, though!

The following weekend, I ran the Seabrook Lucky Trails Marathon in Houston. It was windy, and I didn't do quite as well as I wanted. Tomorrow is the local Easter Marathon. It's just a training run. Back with reports on both of those Real Soon Now.

No comments: