As most people know, my husband ran his first marathon last weekend. For his first blog post, he decided to share his recap of the Mercedes Marathon. Enjoy!
As people know, Hollie and I lived in Alabama for about 6 weeks due to my work. Going into the Mercedes Marathon, I was finishing a six-week course for the Air Force. While I had time to train for the Mercedes Marathon, running wasn’t my main focus. In fact, I hadn’t committed to the Mercedes Marathon until we finished the preview run just two weeks prior. I finished 20 miles on the Mercedes Marathon race course that day. I knew I could finish the Mercedes marathon, but I wanted to finish it under 3 hours. I heard the Mercedes Marathon was a good full and it fell on the end of my course so I thought it would be a good idea to do.
The night before the Mercedes Marathon, we had Mellow Mushroom pizza which is Hollie and I’s favorite restaurant. I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t get the cheese but garlic and oil based. I like to feel full but not overwhelmed. We went to bed at 8 pm and were up at 4:15 am. Before the Mercedes Marathon, I had coffee and a bagel for breakfast. We walked to the start after Hollie needed to go to the car twice in the morning for random things including running shoes. I guess she is not into barefoot running.
I don’t like big races and would rather do a small 100 person one. The bathroom situation in the Bell Center and start line are always crazy. Once we got to the start of the Mercedes Marathon, I was faced with a 30 min bathroom line, but I discovered bathrooms on the third floor of the Bell center which had zero line. We got to the Mercedes Marathon start about 10 mins before and chatted with Miles, and exchanged race strategies. My goal was to go out in a 7 min pace and pick it up to break 3 hours. I was told this was a bad strategy given the heat conditions and it was my first marathon.
Since the Mercedes half and Mercedes Marathon started together, I started next to my wife. As they did the countdown for the Mercedes Marathon start, my wife was dancing to rap music. I don’t understand why they play rap music at starts but it’s another reason I don’t like big races. Unlike Hollie who talks to everyone she knows and dances at the start line, I like to stay focused.
The Mercedes Marathon went off with a literal “go go go”. I started off the Mercedes Marathon as expected. It was rush of people as expected. I told myself to chill and relax. I came through the first mile in 6:40.
I was already getting hot and anticipated I might need to delayer to my top. Between mile 1-2 of the Mercedes Marathon, I moved my race bib from my shirt to my shorts because it impeded air flow. I don’t know how I didn’t fall.
The next few miles of the Mercedes Marathon clicked along, and between miles 2-8, I kept an even pace between 6:50-7. I run with a stopwatch with no GPS, so I went based on mile markers. My goal to the Mercedes Marathon halfway was to remain relaxed and not to pick it up. The heat wasn’t affecting me as much as I anticipated but I also ran a half marathon while deployed in 90 degrees (literally 90 degrees).
At mile 10, many of the Mercedes half marathoners passed me doing their finishing kick. They pulled me along for the Mercedes Marathon, and I caught up with one kid whose goal was to break 90 minutes in the Mercedes Half Marathon. I hit the halfway point of the Mercedes Marathon in 1:30.40 which was exactly what I planned. Even though that was “the plan,” I was worried because it was slower than 3-hour pace and my hamstring was tight.
The Mercedes Marathon course is a double loop of the half, and we started back around for round 2. Excitingly enough, we ran the exact same course twice. I looked up at the first hill of the Mercedes Marathon and saw two runners about 2 mins ahead and thought they were probably at the 3-hour pace. I caught them about 3 miles later. I ran between 6:20-6:40 for the next few miles of the Mercedes Marathon based on hills.
Around miles 16-18 of the Mercedes Marathon, I slowed down for the next few miles because I was nervous to hit the infamous wall marathoners talk about. I kept an easier pace going up hills and passed a few more people. I had begun to pass a lot of people. That’s motivating in any race.
Personally, I never felt as though I hit the wall. Around mile 20 of the Mercedes Marathon, we hit the downhill with a minor headwind.
Once I got to mile 23, I did the math and realized to break 3 I would have to run 7-minute pace exactly. The next three miles I ran in 7:03, and when I got to mile 26, I knew it was extremely close, and I had to go. I would regret running above 3 hours inthe Mercedes Marathon. My half marathon PR is 1:20.02 so I didn’t want to do that again.
When I rounded the last turn of the Mercedes Marathon, I could see the finish line reading 2:59. I picked it up and ran as hard as possible and finished in 2:59.45. I guess I ran by my wife screaming but I didn’t notice because I was staring at the finish.
After I crossed the line, I felt my legs cramping and kept walking. I chugged a Powerade and ate half of the Orange supply.
I know I’ll do another marathon at some point when my schedule allows me to train. I had a good experience with the Mercedes Marathon and while I prefer it over the half marathon, I still like 5-10ks better.
Hollie told me to ask some questions at the bottom so:
What do you remember about your first marathon? Have you run the Mercedes Marathon?
Do you like to stay focused at the start line or are you relaxed and talkative?