Morris (pictured with coach Jeff Cunningham) posted a swift 2:21:46 to place second at the recent Woodlands Marathon.

As mentioned in a Ready to Run Blog a few weeks ago, live in-person endurance events are cautiously emerging after the long pandemic-induced hiatus. One of the first events to go live was the Woodlands Marathon on Saturday March 6. Following a number of protocols to help ensure runners’ safety, the event was successfully run. A combined total of 3,448 runners crossed the finish line of the marathon, half-marathon and 10K races.

Among those was Michael Morris, the head track and cross-country coach at San Marcos High School. Running his first marathon in more than a year, Morris posted a swift 2:21:46 to place second in the marathon. Morris’ career best to date is 2:19:34, set at the California International Marathon in 2019.

Colorado’s Fernando Cabada won the race in 2:21:17, while New Orleans-based runner Michelle Parks ran a speedy 2:38:39 to take the women’s race.

“I went in with the goal of running 2:22 and winning. “I walked away running 2:21.46 and a second place finish—my highest finish in a marathon and my second fastest time,” said Morris, the 2019 3M Half-Marathon champ.

Morris raced one of his best marathons despite a relatively short build-up that lacked some of the signature marathon training he would have preferred.

“I felt really good for 13 miles, and until about 20-22 miles I was still very comfortable,” said Morris. “But not having really hit a lot of big long runs and workouts, that last four got pretty tough. I was really happy to run 2:21 and take second. Cabada took off at mile 18, and I feel as if I could have stayed with him.

In terms of training, I have been consistently getting faster and faster, but this was a very short marathon build with little to no big long runs or typical marathon workouts

“Michael was in good shape in October, and set a 10K PR of 30:32,” aid his coach Jeff Cunningham, who is an assistant coach at St. Michaels and also coaches top Texas runner Mark Pinales.

“We started working together in October of 2020, and Mike was looking to run a half marathon. His winter training was really good, but not marathon-specific.

Still, Morris wanted to just jump into a marathon and see what he could do. Training-wise, he wanted to get in at least one long run, and he was able to cruise through a 20-miler around Town Lake within hours before the snow/ice storm hit in February.

“His 2:21 was a remarkable run considering the ice storm and everything else. I’d say the sky is the limit for this guy. He’s got all the hallmarks of an elite distance runner. He’s super in tune with the mechanics of racing and has a very calm approach. I really think he’s going to run some great marathons,” said Cunningham.

“Running the first 20 miles at 5:18 pace at the Woodlands felt like a good long run,” added Morris. “Add some longer runs, bigger workouts and 2:16 isn’t far off. I’m stoked to see what happens in the future.”

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