I mean, come on. I bought these pink shorts (photos will be up once they are posted by the race) in October and haven't had a bad race in them yet. First, I ran my two best 5k's since high school, then I outright won a 10k. Now, I set a 10k and half marathon PR in the same race! Well, ok. Maybe its not just the shorts. It could be the 50-60 mile weeks I've been putting in since the year began.
Yesterday I ran the Mercer Island Half Marathon for the second year in a row. Last year I didn't know what to expect for time or the course. I ran a PR their last year (1:31:52), despite not knowing how hilly it was. The entire course is rolling hills with a few larger ones (course profile below).
Having ran the course before, this year I knew when to hold back a little and when to push. I wasn't sure what kind of shape I was in but I knew I at least wanted to run a PR (sub-1:27). I made a plan to open up a little on the down hills and just hold my pace on the uphills.
Last year, the race was just a fitness test to see what my training paces for Portland would be. This year, it was a little more than a fitness test. True, I wanted to use it as a fitness test/benchmark, but I also wanted to get a realistic idea of what I could run at Boston.
The weather could not have been better. Upper 30's/low 40's and sunny. I lined up in the middle of the 6:01-7:00 pace coral. After a few minutes in the coral, we were off. The first mile went a little quicker than I wanted but I was able to settle into a comfortable pace after that. Or so I thought. Based on my splits, me thinks someone place the 3rd mile marker in the wrong spot. Because I didn't pass many people that mile and I didn't get passed much during mile 4. Had those been actual splits, I probably would have been passed a lot during mile 4. I think its more likely that I ran fairly even splits in the low 6:20's.
Somewhere between mile 5 and mile 6 I started to pass the half marathon walkers, who started ninety minute before me. Clue number one that this was going to be a good race. Clue number two: my 10k PR mid race, 39:40. Being right next to Seattle, their are a lot of UW fans on MI. At one of the aid stations, a 12 year old boy was passing out water and telling everyone the Huskies were beating UNC. Luckily, UNC pulled it out in the second half and won (I love UW but I had UNC beating them on my bracket so...)
I noticed my pace gradually slowing and leveling off around 6:30. I was completely ok with this. I still felt strong and started passing other runners. I spotted one a ways off around mile 8 and made a goal to catch him before the finish line. On the last big climb (mile 11-12ish) I caught him. Coming up on the last uphill, right at mile 13, I was spent. I gave it everything I had to not get passed by anyone. It worked, and I came away with a major 2:54 PR! While I was getting my chip taken, the guy I passed on that last big climb came up and said he tried to catch me at the end but couldn't get there. I told him that I spotted him early on and tried to catch him. It definitely boosted my confidence that he tried to catch me and I had enough in the tank to hold him off.
My official time was 1:24:36. Somehow, I placed 42nd OA and 3rd AG! In all I am very happy with this race. I made a race plane, stuck to it and was rewarded with a great time. It also gave me a huge boost of confidence for Boston. Though now I have no idea what my goal for that race should be. Good thing I've got four weeks to figure it out!
This week is going to be a little easier as I recover from the race. Next week will be my last hard week/60+mi week before I begin my two week taper.