Race: Mercer Island Half Marathon – http://mercerislandhalf.com/

Runner: Matt U

Date: 3/20/2016

Results: 4th overall, 1:15.09

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

The course was pretty.

There were a good amount of fast runners in the race.

It prepped me well for the hills in Boston and for the marathon in general.

Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

I also want to say the hills! My watch only says there was 600ft of gain in the 13.1 miles. However, it felt like more and it felt like I was grinding it out way more than I was enjoying the downhill sections. Made for a tough race.

Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular

I had a good mental game, even though I didn’t execute a great race strategy. I wanted to run with people for this race. I made the decision in mile 1 to go with the two front guys. We went through mile 1 in 5:18 and I quickly determined that I was in above my head. I slowed down more than normal knowing that 4th wasn’t too far back. I stuck with him for another mile but was working too hard to stick with him. I was then on my own and feeling pretty tired, and it was only 3 miles into the race! Yikes.

I reassessed my goals for the race based on the situation and decided that my new goal was to stay in control of my race and have my legs left for the final 3-4 miles of the race. By mile 7 I could hear someone getting closer to me. I slowed and let him catch me and then stuck to him. He pulled me through the next few miles and I actually regained some energy by tailing him. I would pull ahead on the downhills and then he’d reel me in again. Over the final two miles I was able to seal up 4th place and come in strong. My quads were burning on the climb during mile 12 like I haven’t felt in a long while! I also worked the downs pretty hard. I won’t be surprised if I’m sore over the next few days.

My pacing was atrocious and I went out way too fast. However, I recovered well, kept my head in the game, regrouped, and finished strong. Good outcome, especially given the first two big errors.

Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

I can’t get over the hills! Be ready for them. I felt like I was going up way more than down. I knew ahead of time that it was a rolling course, but it was tougher than I expected. Be read for that and keep your legs under you for the final 5k.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

Definitely. In my efforts to try and regain my focus and control over my race, I actually looked up from the road to see the water and all the pretty trees. I thought, “it feels like I’m running a pretty country road, but I’m not out in the country!”

Difficulty – is it a tough course

It was for me! If I weren’t trying to run fast then it’s a different story, but for trying to crank out 5:30 miles, the hills altered my game plan significantly.

Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Well run. The community center where we picked up our race packets was fantastic. There were ample bathrooms, the packet pickup was quick and smooth, and Julie even had a comfy chair to feed Paavo while waiting for the race to start.

Competition – is there a strong field?

Times weren’t amazing, and the field wasn’t overly deep, but there were definitely some fast guys in the race.

Weather and typical race conditions

Low 50’s and overcast. The rains held off! 🙂

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

With Julie carrying Paavo around now, she’s not moving around the course looking for me anymore (I’m super happy that they’re both simply able to be at these races!), so I don’t really know. That said, a friend of ours was at three different spots along the course so it’s apparently not too tough to get around.

The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it

I’m pleased with this run. It’s a well run event with lots of runners of all abilities. It’s a more challenging course than Lake Sammamish HM, but there are positives that come with this. I give it a 5 out of 5.

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  1. Matt Urbanski – Team RunRun

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