March 18th marked the 45th anniversary of the Mercer Island Half. It was a beautiful gorgeous spring morning. When we arrived, lots and lots of runners were inside the Mercer Island community centre. It was a bit chaotic. On the lower floor, runners were picking up their running bibs, and every room in the centre was full. In an effort to control the flow of people, security allowed only a one-way entry onto the lower floor, and anyone trying to get back up onto the main floor had to walk outside and re-enter through the main entrance.
We walked into a room full of runners stretching, families preparing their kids for the kids’ dash, 5k runners, 10k runners, half marathon runners. Everybody seemed to be busy, the buzz was just wild.
As I was sitting down, I looked out the window and caught sight of the most beautiful view as the sun began piercing through the clouds I snapped a picture and was in awe, but as I looked further right, I realized the race director just started the 10k race and the runners were off. We had half an hour left before our 9 am start. So I began my pre-race routine and headed for the bathrooms. The bathroom line inside the building was so long that I decided to line up for the potties outside instead. DJs were playing music and runners slowly walked towards the start line. There were signs designating everyone to their desired corrals: finally 10 minutes per mile and over. I was in the last corral, although lots of runners beside me looked like they could belong to one of the faster corrals.
At precisely 9:00 a.m., the half started. The sun was shining bright. As each runner went through the chute, all the spectators were cheering. But soon after, we made a turn, and the hills began. But running in a big group made it seem like the hills were not such a big deal because everyone is in a pack. Realistically for me that day, they were not, for I was so mesmerized by all the unbelievable real-estate around me. These were all huge homes. Many with their private docks and sail boats. I just could not believe some of the sizes of these properties. They looked more like country clubs than residences. Absolutely right out of an architectural magazine. And the cars in the garages, oh my! So many nice cars.
Anyhow, the whole route was rather shaded, so even with the strong sun, it did not get overly hot. And the cops were super friendly. At certain angles you could peek down into the waters, and the lake was very pretty. The miles went by really fast, and by mile 12, I recognized a few familiar faces from past races running near me. One guy, he was injured so decided to take on the half that day. We were side by side, but he seemed to have more power in his legs that day than previously; each time there was a hill, he seemed to be able to stay ahead of me. When I got to the last half mile, I thought the hills were done, but there was this semi big hill waiting at the very end during the final 400 metres of the race. That was tough. Not too often I walk to the finish, but I thought about it. However, I was feeling strong enough to endure and push, but had the hills been longer, I definitely would have chosen to walk.
After crossing the finish line and receiving my medal, I sat down on the sidewalk to catch my breath.
Overall, this was a tough race. As you can see from the course map, there were lots of climbs and turns. But I like what the race supports. A fight against cancer. Plus, the course was absolutely gorgeous. A strong sense of community was very apparent, and the volunteers, they were just super friendly, which can make all the difference in a race.
Guess this passage summarized how my race was that day (see picture):
a half marathon test of will…
…once you have reached the end,
but you will find (despite the grind) you’ll want to try again.
Yes, how true this is! Until the next one!