Runners Forum - Kick Runners banner

Mercedes Marathon, Feb 10

655 Views 15 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  LSU_Fan_Tiff
On February 10, I ran my seventh marathon at the <a href="" target="_blank">Mercedes Marathon</a> in Birmingham, Alabama. This was going to be another mini-meeting of people the 30s group; a total of 6 of us showed up. This was also the first marathon that my wife Maggie didn't attend with me. There were no surprise appearances, like there were <a href="" target="_blank">in Philly</a>.<br><br>
My previous best marathon time was the <a href="" target="_blank">3:48:12</a> that I did in Philly. However, I was somewhat disappointed in that time because I started out way too fast and was left with very little energy at the end. Thus my goal for the Mercedes was not so much to break my best time; I knew going in that this was a very difficult course, and a new PR might not happen. Instead, my goal was to run a negative split (run the second half faster than the first half). I thought a new PR wasn't out of the question, but it wasn't my primary goal and I wouldn't be upset if I missed it by a bit.<br><br>
But before the marathon, there was other fun to be had. I flew into Birmingham late Friday afternoon, and was picked up at the airport by <b>Tim</b> and his son Paul, who live in the area. The rest of our group was driving in from various parts of the southeast. <b>Tiffanie</b>, <b>Chris</b>, and <b>Beth</b> all eventually showed up, We went for a quick dinner and then got settled into our hotel.<br><br>
On Saturday morning, we ran the BE5k. <b>Tim</b> and I were using this as a warmup for the marathon, <b>Chris</b> was running his first race ever here, <b>Tiff</b> was running her second race, and <b>Beth</b> was sitting this one out to rest up for the next day.<br><br>
The four of us started the race together, but <b>Tim</b> and I quickly sped up a bit. We ran the first mile together in a fairly easy 9:12. After the first mile marker, <b>Tim</b> wanted to get a bit more of a workout, and he sped up. I did too, but not as much. I ran the second mile in 8:24. This is faster than my normal pace for a long run, but it was still fairly slow for a 5k race. I ran the third mile in 8:11 and finished strong. My final time was <a href="" target="_blank">26:55</a>, which is my slowest 5k time by more than 3 minutes. Of course, that's perfectly acceptable since I wasn't running anywhere close to full speed.<br><br>
It turns out that it was good enough to give me the fastest time of anybody from New Jersey. Of course, it helps that I was the only person from New Jersey to run the 5k, but hey, it's nice to be #1 in something. This didn't surprise me much, since probably not many people would go from New Jersey to Alabama to run a 5k.<br><br>
I came in 19th out of 60 in my age group (male 35-39). Since I wasn't trying very hard, I'm quite happy with that. Looking at the results, I could have come in 4th place in my age group if I had gone all out and been able to match <a href="" target="_blank">my PR (22:23)</a>. Actually, I would have only been 3 seconds away from 3rd place. So maybe I could have received an age group award had I tried my hardest! Apparently the marathon the following day scared away all the fast people. Of course, I had come to Alabama to run a marathon, not to try for an award in a 5k.<br><br><b>Tim</b> had finished a few minutes earlier, and <b>Tiff</b> and <b>Chris</b> finished a few minutes later. After the race, we spent some time at the post-race party and at the expo. Along the way, <b>Tiff</b> signed up to run the Half Marathon on Sunday. She had never run farther than 7 miles before. Quite a gutsy move!<br><br>
We left the expo and piled into <b>Tim</b>'s minivan and drove a portion of the marathon course, so that we could see what we were up against. Yup, there were hills. That much was clear. We then went back to the hotel and everybody got a little rest. Eventually, the last member of our group, <b>Jarod</b>, drove into town. In the evening, we all went for the requisite pasta dinner, and we called it an early night.<br><br>
And Sunday morning was the marathon. It was a nice cool-but-not-cold morning. Looks like a beautiful day for a run. I figured I would try for something between 1:55 and 2:00 for the first half, and then speed up to do between 1:50 and 1:55 for the second half. <b>Tim</b> decided to run the first half with me before speeing up even more for the second half, and we planned on going for 1:55.<br><br>
After the starting gun, we go out easy. The first mile was 8:51 and the second was 8:50. Much better than the 8:25 and 8:27 first two miles in Philly. Things were quite comfortable. Mile 3 was a little faster but not by much. Somewhere in the next mile, we hit the first big hill of the course, and it slowed us down a little. But that's fine. We made it up the big hill feeling good, and we were still on a good pace. The first timing mat was here at 10k, and we passed it in a time of 54:21, average pace of 8:46, and I was 50th out of 103 in my age group.<br><br>
The next couple miles are along a rather boring stretch of road, up and down some gentle hills. Soon after Mile 8, the Half Marathon course split from the Full Marathon course. Since many more people were running the Half, the field thinned out quite a bit. There was some steady downhill work now, and the pace picked up a little. Mile 9 was 8:24, and we passed the next timing at at 15k in 1:20:58, 8:43 pace, 48th place in AG.<br><br>
By now we're in a nice residential area, much less boring than before. Soon we approach Mile 13, where <b>Tim</b>'s family is waiting to greet and take a picture or two. Strangely enough, there's no timing mat at the halfway point, so I don't exactly know the time of my first half. But I crossed Mile 13 at 1:52:07, and I ran Mile 14 in 8:14 (we're cruising now!). Using that average pace, I would have covered 0.1 miles in 49 seconds, thus giving me a time of 1:52:56 for the first half. At least I know it's something close to that. And while that's slightly faster than I would have liked, it was fairly close to being on target. I'll happily take it.<br><br>
The halfway point was where <b>Tim</b> and I parted ways. <b>Tim</b> sped up and took off. I also wanted to speed up a little, though not nearly as much as him. The next timing mat came at 25k, which I reached in 2:13:08, average pace 8:36, 39th palce AG. Wow, I'm really moving up!<br><br>
I was feeling good, and cruising along. There were only small hills, nothing that should really be slowing me down. However, my pace did drop a little bit. Not much, but enough to drop my overall pace when I hit the next timing mat. This was 30k, which I reached in 2:40:09, 8:37 pace, 38th in AG.<br><br>
After 22 miles, the fun really began. The 23rd mile was entirely uphill, and it was a doozy. I knew my pace would be slowed considerably, but I wanted to make sure I kept running. The field was thin here, but there were a few other people, many of whom resorted to walking up at least a portion of the hill. I was slow, but I was running. I chugged up for what seemed like forever. When I thought I had reached the top, the road turned and the hill went up some more. That was not fun. But I finally reached the top around Mile Marker 23. This was by far my slowest mile of the day (9:43), but I'm sure it was the slowest for just about everybody. Frankly, I think I made it up well. I passed a number of people, and not a single one passed me. So I was quite happy with myself.<br><br>
Now came the fun part. Mile 24 was all downhill. I thundered along to a 8:17 pace, only six seconds slower than my fastest mile of the day. A nice improvement over Philly, when I was well over 9:00 miles by this point.<br><br>
Sure, the pace of that mile was hill-aided, but I maintained some energy for the last two miles, which were done on a very flat road. Mile 25 was done in 8:46 and Mile 26 in 8:27. I was even feeling good enough to grab a beer from the people handing them out right near the Mile 25 marker. Sure, it was only a dixie cup, and I probably spilled half of that. But I do believe it was the first time I've ever taken a sip of beer while running.<br><br>
Yeah, I was feeling good in the home stretch. The field was very thin at this point, but I was passing anybody who was there. Nobody was passing me late in the race. I came across the finish line in a chip time of 3:47:27, a new PR by 45 seconds! I never though I'd be able to get a new PR on <a href="" target="_blank">such a hilly course</a>. But I guess that shows how much better I can do when running a smart race, as opposed to going out too fast like I did in Philly. If my first half time guess is accurate, it means I ran the second half in 1:54:31, and thus I didn't quite do a negative split. But it was fairly close, and I did feel good at the end. So taking all that into account, I would consider it a very successful morning!<br><br>
Final numbers: <a href="" target="_blank">Time of 3:47:27</a>, average pace of 8:41, 26th out of 103 in Age Group, 149th out of 538 Males, and 185th out of 796 overall. So while perhaps I didn't run a negative splits, I did pass a lot of people in the second half. I am quite pleased with the outcome, and I feel that I now know how to run a smarter race. Hopefully the next time I tackle a flatter course, I'll be able to knock even more time off my PR.<br><br>
After the race, our crew spent a bunch of time at the post-race party and partook of a few free beers. It was a successful day for all, with a great negative split for <b>Tim</b>, and gutty performance from <b>Jarod</b> despite IT band issues, another nice HM performance for <b>Beth</b>, and a great first HM performance by <b>Tiff</b>.<br><br>
We relaxed for a while, hung out for the rest of the day, and had a few beers at night. Bright and early Monday morning, I was on a plane headed back to New Jersey. All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend. It was a <a href="" target="_blank">very nice course</a>, although definitely not one to do for someone looking to be as fast as possible (although I proved that it is possible to PR there!) The weather was perfect, which certainly helped the situation. And most of all, it was great once again to meet up with some of my online running buddies. I've had a great time at each of these meet-ups, and I look forward to many more in the future...<br><br>
Slideshow of pics:<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="" src="" style="border:0px solid;"></a>
See less See more
1 - 1 of 16 Posts
'bout time you got this report posted <img alt="biggrin.gif" src=""><br><br>
Great job <b>boB</b> on the PR! Sounds like you guys had a great time down their. Wish I coulda been there. Maybe next time <img alt="smile.gif" src="">
1 - 1 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.