Monday, March 22, 2010

Mercer Island Half Marathon Race Report

It was a success! We had a really fun weekend in Seattle and the race went great.

We went for a short run on Saturday morning, picked up bagels, and then headed up to Seattle. The weather was gorgeous but it was supposed to change for the race. We hit up the race expo at the community center on Mercer Island in the early afternoon. The packet pick up was super organized and I was really impressed. They had great shirts too- long sleeve tech shirts that fit really well. We walked around on the waterfront for a bit and then got back in the car and drove the race course. We had heard it was hilly and our friend said it was the hardest half marathon he’s ever done. Yikes! I really wanted to see it for myself so I had some idea of what to expect on race day. With the course map in hand we drove the perimeter of the island on Mercer Way and saw what we were in for. It actually didn’t seem that bad… it was definitely hilly but only a couple really big climbs and descents. The rest of the course was more gently rolling. There were almost NO flat or straight stretches. It was really curvy and the road was banked pretty steeply in some places so we knew to watch out for that. I knew it was going to be hard so I thought I would aim for an 8:10 ish pace. I figured I would have widely-ranging splits with some miles being mostly up and others being flatter/downhill.

We finally headed up to Everett to our friends Tyler and Tonya’s house where we’d be staying the night. We all went out to dinner and then back to the house and visited for a bit. We got our stuff ready and were in bed shortly after 10 or so. As I was laying there trying to fall asleep I started feeling really nauseous and my stomach was really rumbling. I thought I was going to have to dash to the bathroom but tried to just lay still and hope it would pass. I didn’t know if I just had way too much to eat at dinner (dessert was probably overkill) or if I was coming down with something or what. I was really not feeling good. I started thinking that if this didn’t pass I wouldn’t be able to run the race! Thankfully, I finally felt a little better and fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning my stomach was still a bit unsettled- I hit the bathroom first thing which made me feel a little better but I was still worried. I’ve had bathroom issues on training runs before but never in a race and I really didn’t want this to be the first time. I hardly ate any breakfast and avoided coffee altogether. Since I felt ok I got ready and we headed to the race.

The race was really well organized and parking wasn’t an issue. We got there super early and walked to the community center where the start/finish was. We were standing near the porta-potties when I spotted a familiar face- Mel from Tall Mom on the Run. I had checked out her blog because Aron told me she was doing this race, but didn’t expect to actually see her! I introduced myself which always feels super weird and stalker-ish but she was very sweet and we chatted for a bit. We both are going for a BQ in Eugene and talked about maybe running together – might be nice to have a pace buddy! She and her friend headed off to check their bags and Zach and I went inside to stay warm and wait. We hit up the nice bathrooms inside and found a spot to hang out. I had a pack of Luna Moons in my fuel belt from a previous long run and decided to eat them since I hadn’t had much to eat that morning. I felt a lot better and was feeling more positive about my race.

We waited inside the community center until there was about 10 minutes till the start, then we walked down and hopped in line. You had to approach the line-up from the actual Start line so I gave Zach a kiss and he stayed near the front and I worked my way back a little bit. I looked for Mel but didn’t see her and just hoped I would see her out on the course. The skies were cloudy and there was just a little drizzle, but that stopped and we had dry conditions for the race.
We counted down from 10 and then we took off. It was quite crowded with over 2,000 runners and it actually took me probably 20-30 second to cross the starting line, even though I wasn’t that far back. I was very distracted at first by all the runners near me and just focused on not tripping over anyone’s feet or anything. I had to dodge a few slower runners and people were cutting in front of me. The race starts off on a downhill so everyone was kind of flying, it was pretty intense. Finally, I settled into a groove and noted my pace- I went through the half mile in like 3:58 so just about an 8:00 pace. I have run several half marathons in the 8:00-8:05 pace range(1:45 ish finish time) and really didn’t expect to hit that time today, but I did hope to at least have some miles in that range. I was really, really happy that my stomach didn’t object when I started running. I figured it was going to hold up at least for a while, so I put it out of my mind and focused on the race.

Since we’d driven the course the day before I kind of knew what to expect, although it seemed a lot different on foot vs. car! The first 4 miles seemed pretty hilly when we drove it- like they gradually climbed the whole time. Then we’d seen there was a steep downhill followed by a big up hill around mile 5, and then more climbing. You reach the highest point on the course around mile 10 I think, and then there is a bit more downhill. The biggest hill of the course actually came in mile 12 and then there are a couple more hills in the last mile.

When I was out there running it, I actually thought the first few miles didn’t seem so uphill. I was really happy to be maintaining around 8:00 pace. There was the steep down/up at mile 5, and then we climbed up, up, up for the next few miles. The climbing was generally pretty gradual and I didn’t think it was that bad. I ran hard down the downhills and tried to make up a little time when I could. I stuck with the same pack of runners for most of the race which is nice. There were lots of people around me at all times and I like that- helps me pace and it’s entertaining. I like to give them nicknames, and I like to pass them. I took a Mint Chocolate Gu around mile 7 and was glad my stomach was still stable.

I was feeling really good when I reached the 10 mile mark and thought maybe I could really lay down some fast miles and get a faster finishing time. But the hills just kept coming and I never had a chance to really open it up. I was kind of frustrated with myself because I had quite a bit of energy left at the end. I thought I should have ran harder from the beginning! Then again, I’m glad I wasn’t more worn out because the big hill near the end was BRUTAL. I slowed down and chugged up it, but then pushed hard down the other side to make up time. My pace ended up being pretty consistent even with the hills, which surprised me.

I saw Zach at the base of the last little hill, and then I charged up it with the finish line in sight and saw our friends cheering. Tyler even got a video with his phone. You actually end up cresting that last little hill and finishing on a steep downhill, which was kind of weird. I heard a girl breathing hard behind me so I turned on the rockets and left her in the dust. I crossed the timing mat and got my chip clipped off and found Zach and our friends. A girl came and told me good job and we high-fived, I guess she’d been chasing me toward the end (but didn’t catch me!). Such a friendly and fast bunch of runners!

Official finish time: 1:45:53 (8:05 average pace)
22/214 Age Group (25-29)
112/1,060 Females
490/2,137 Overall

1  7:58
2  8:04
3  7:58 (average- mile was short)
4  7:58 (average- mile was long)
5  8:05
6  8:09
7  8:11
8  8:10
9  7:58
10  8:18
11  7:57
12  8:19
13.1 8:45 (last 1.15 miles at 7:38 pace per garmin)

I felt really good after the finish, probably too good. I definitely worked hard and it certainly wasn’t easy, but I think I had too much gas left in the tank! I’m not really sore today either. It’s ok though- this wasn’t a Goal race and I’m glad I can move right along with my training without needing extra recovery time. I’m really happy with my pace considering what a challenging course it was and how good I felt the whole time. I really want to test myself on a flat course now! I wonder if I could set a new PR??

Speaking of PRs… Zach beat his previous best time by over a minute! He’s clearly getting a lot faster and I kind of figured he would beat his old time which is from a year ago. He ran 1:32:38 which is 7:04 pace. He’s doing the half in Eugene in preparation for Newport and I’m sure he’ll do great there too. He makes me sick!! Haha.

We went out to breakfast at a place Emily suggested in Bellvue and had a great time spending some more time with our friends. Our friend’s brother also ran the race and he came to breakfast with us too. He is a fast runner and finished in 1:33. It was fun talking to him about running and stuff. He was asking me all about my Ironman. J Those guys are all really cool and it really made the whole day more fun to have friends there racing and cheering.

We stopped for a milkshake in Olympia which we shared on the drive home. We finally got home and unloaded all our stuff, sat in the hot tub on the roof of our apartment building, and watched the sunset and had a beer. We met a girl up there who is also a runner and triathlete and I got to spend even more time talking about my Ironman! Her name was Kristen and we made plans to go running sometime. I love Portland! What a great weekend. :)


Here are some pictures. Since we were both running the race there are no actual pictures from the run. But there were official race photographers so we’ll see.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week.

The day before the race course preview:

 IMG_2531         IMG_2534IMG_2547IMG_2538IMG_2546IMG_2554IMG_2553




Sharing a milkshake! Feel free to hate us for being too cute:



aron said...

YAY!!! congrats girl you did so great out there! you ran a VERY solid race on a tough course... i think on a flat course you would definitely be PRing :)

Alisa said...

Definitely a great effort chica! You'll be PR'ing on your next flat half mary for sure.

YOU make me sick! LOL

Dragonfly on the Water said...

You two are too cute but I love ya anyway. Great run!

Ewen said...

You both did really well! I don't hate you both for being too cute, just for being too fast ;) I reckon you're both looking at PBs on a fast course - 1:42ish and sub-90 for Zach.

Oh yes, dessert is never overkill!

D10 said...

Jen!!!! You rocked this race. What an awesome time for a hilly course.

Very cool about the nice fitting t-shirts too, that is always a plus.

Love all the pictures. You and Zach are super cute. A big congrats to him too.

Kelly said...

Great job on the half! That's an amazing time for such a hilly course! Can't wait to see the official photos but it looks like it was beautiful.

Kim said...

you totally killed it jen, CONGRATULATIONS! you and zach are cute AND speedy :) yay for fast couples!

ShirleyPerly said...

GREAT time on a TOUGH course!!

I saw the elevation profile for this race on someone else's blog yesterday and know how hilly it was. I do think you may very well have a half marathon PR in you. We have a lot of flat courses here in FL but heat & humidity can be a big issue for those who are not used to it. Good luck finding the right race to shoot for a PR. Congrats to Zach too on a super race!

runningcommentaries said...

You did an awesome job on a hilly course! I definitely think you could PR on a flatter, faster course and without stomach problems.

Congrats on a solid race-- hopefully it's a big confidence booster as you get closer to Eugene.

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

The end was BRUTAL! I was so frazzled right before the start, I wish we would have found eachother. Although your pace was much more consistent than mine. My legs gave out at mile 10ish.

Would love love to run together in Eugene!! The more I run alone and with friends I know that I prefer to be with someone. Even if we don't talk just to have someone there.

Hard to believe that Eugene is just 40 days aways!!

Lisa Eirene said...

Congrats on the race! A friend did it too. And too funny seeing your picture at the Pancake Corral, we ate there for breakfast on Sunday too!! :)

teacherwoman said...

Congrats on the Half Marathon! Sounds like you ran it strong!

Marathon Maritza said...

Great job on your half on such a tough course! That is an awesome pace!!!! I definitely think you have a new PR in you on a flatter course. :-)

Hurry up and get over here so *WE* can share a shake! I'm jealous!

But also *barf. ;-)

Beth said...

Congrats Jen! Apparently you run hills as well as you run flats!

Marya said...

Congrats on the race! You did great and it sounds like you had a fun time, too! I have no doubt that you could PR on a flatter course.

Congrats to your husband, too. You are both so speedy! :)

Jo Lynn said...

Before I even saw the last "milkshake" photo, I was going to comment on how damn cute you two are. So, I'm going to stick with that!!!! ;)

John said...

Omg, Jen, I know *all* those places! My dad lives about a mile from the Pancake Corral, and we've biked around Mercer Island many, many times.

So glad you guys had a good time and great races. You should be feeling really good about Eugene!

Mir said...

Wow, VERY impressive race on that course--sounds like you are right in line for re-BQing. Great job!