Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mercer Island Half Marathon...After Solo Half Marathon

This was a challenging, but enjoyable, running weekend. On the advice of my ultra running friend Arthur, I ran a solo half marathon yesterday, then the Mercer Island Half Marathon today. When we first discussed the idea, I wasn't so sure I wanted to try it. He said it would be a good way to simulate leg fatigue late in a full marathon. Once I wrapped my mind around the idea, I went for it. I ran 10 miles on Monday, 6 Tuesday, 5 Wednesday, 4 Thursday, took Friday off, ran 13.1 on Saturday and 13.1 today, for a new weekly PR of 51.3 miles this week.

Back to the halves. Saturday morning, I ran the first 6 miles with Mike and Eric (two guys from the Mill Creek Running & Multisport Club, with whom I run on Saturday mornings. BTW, I carpooled to today's race with Lars, who is one of the group's founders. He ran the race this morning in a nice 1:48), then ran the last 7.1 alone. I ended up with a quicker-than-expected 1:43:42. Fast-forward to this morning at 9:00am when the Mercer Island Half started, under overcast conditions with a temp of 52. PERFECT. I wanted to go out slowly (8:00-8:10), but ended up with a 7:44. No worries - still well within my range. I'll list mile splits later, but I'll say that I felt TOO good for the first 6.5 miles. I naively started thinking that yesterday's half wasn't really going to affect me that much. Well, I forgot to mention that the Mercer Island course is HILLY! I felt some leg fatigue kick in at the 6.5 mile point, but it was slight enough that I thought I could push through it at my current pace (7:30 or so by then). At that point, I took a Hammer Gel and tried to drink enough water (which I never do) and continued to cruise along (mostly an M.C. Escher drawing, where there seems to be more ups than downs). Alas, mile 12 showed it's ugly, asphalt face. There was a pretty serious hill (as opposed to the joking ones) that started at the 11.5 mile mark that slapped me in the face. My legs revealed a level of fatigue I have never felt before. I don't know if I achieved glycogen depletion (i.e. "hit the wall"), but at this point, yesterday's half came into play big time! I struggled my way up the hill, feeling like I was barely moving. My quads were zapped of energy. There was a downhill immediately after, but I didn't have enough in me to fly down it like I typically try to do on downhills (and did on previous ones in this race, few as they seemed to be). There was another slight uphill (which didn't feel too slight) with less than a mile to go...then down again briefly, then up to the finish. The last bit of uphill was torture, since there was no way I was backing off the pace, or walking, in the midst of so many cheering spectators! One interesting thing I noted was that my heart rate was actually dropping later in the race, yet my legs were dying. That told me that the pre-fatiguing of my legs was indeed working.

Here are the numbers:

Time: 1:42:11
Pace: 7:48
Overall place: 371/2137 (17%)
Age Group: 48/174 (28%)
Men: 301/1077 (28%)
Avg. HR: 150 bpm
Mile Splits:
8:08 (where I hit my "mini-wall")
7:59 (pace for last .1)

I'm sure I would have gone under 1:40 if I hadn't run a half yesterday and tapered a little, but my current focus is the marathon, so even though I didn't run a PR, it ended up being my second fastest half (out of four races), and with dead legs, on a hilly course. I'm pretty happy with the result, and also happy I got a taste of the leg fatigue I'll likely encounter in my first marathon, now only 8 weeks away.


  1. Hi Colin,
    Wow, you ran two halfs back to back!?! Look at your awesome time!! Congrats! That is so amazing! I am sure that you will do so well at your first marathon:) This is exciting stuff:) Nice job! I hope that you have a wonderful week Colin!

  2. Wow oh wow! you rocked it! I started strong but the hills late in the course KILLED me.. And I had a low mileage week. You had a GREAT week in Marathon prep. CONGRATS!

  3. Awesome ! Good Marathon training ! way to go ! Get up early next saturday, we can run 20 with Ruben.

  4. Thanks Mel! The late hills might have still hurt me bad, but yesterday definitely added to the pain!

    Mike, I'll have to see. That might work. I have 20 scheduled for Wednesday, but I'll have to see if I feel recovered by then. Not sure I can keep pace with you guys, though.

  5. Oh, and thanks very much Julie! You have a great week, too!

  6. Fantastic run after an incredible week. Congrats!!

  7. Great job Collin, I'm glad it worked out for you. If only there was a nice 20 hour break for you in your upcoming marathon. ;^D LoL

    I was actually hoping you'd get more of a challenge than just 2 hard miles at the end but now that you've gone through it'll be a piece of cake in the marathon.

    I think you’re ready for the marathon. Just a couple more long runs and a taper away

  8. Thanks Arthur. I appreciate your suggestion & encouragement. It was a great idea and I think it gives me a pretty good idea of what to expect in the full (which won't be nearly as hilly!). Congrats on your awesome 100/100 accomplishment. Can't wait to read the report.

  9. wow, that is amazing!! I can't believe you ran two halfs in a row!?? (Found your blog, searching for Mercer Results - I ran yesterday too!)

  10. Really nice effort, Colin. Fun ride in too.

  11. Thanks Care. Hope you had a great race!

    I appreciate it, Lars, and thanks again for the ride. Don't see you in the results. Your chip didn't fall off, did it?

  12. That is awesome! Back to back halves is amazing - never mind getting within a minute of your PR! Nice work

  13. Thanks Adam! Sorry to hear (read) that you're injured. I hope you can get back to running soon.

  14. That's good going! I love to do back to back runs like that as training. I believe it works wonders.

  15. Nice job Colin. I had my doubts that you would really feel much fatigue doing this, but it sounds like you hit what you were looking to do. And, AND, had two great times to boot!!!

    Your HR is great at those speeds. You will do awesome in the marathon.

  16. Thanks Johann. I think I'll be stronger because of it.

    Thanks for the kind words Adam. Glad to see you've been running well, too!

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