If you want the short recap I can tell you the following:
I was getting over a cold, it was the most humid half marathon I’ve done, and it wasn’t a goal half marathon.
But why have 20 words when you can have 1000?
As I mentioned in my training log, initially the Mercedes half marathon was meant to be a goal race. After looking at other options, my coach and I decided to target the Double Bridge 15k. What was not exactly public knowledge, was my husband was training for the full marathon. Since we were driving back to New Jersey afterward, one of us had to be in somewhat good driving condition. Too bad, of the two of us, he still felt 10 times better post race.
Targeting the Double Bridge 15k the week before ended up being the right move for me. I was feeling better that day, and despite being windy, the weather was much better. I came down with a minor cold a few days before the Mercedes Half. It felt as though I was breathing through a straw.
With that all of that said, we got to the race start around 6:30 am for the 7:03 start. We chatted with my friend Miles. My husband located bathrooms and we were able to go and drop off our bags. The race director began with a countdown followed by a frantic “go go go.” It felt as though we were starting a local 5k, not a major (and incredibly competitive) race. The full and half ran the same course. Both miles and my husband were running the full, so we all started together.
Since we had run part of the preview run, I knew the course well. The first mile was flat and I found myself trying to get into a rhythm. People were running by me already, and I felt discouraged. I hit the first mile in 6:34 and didn’t feel good about it. I thought: “this is going to be a long race.”
The second and third mile were more hilly. Runners were going by me left and right. Negative thoughts immediately crept in my head.
Had I taken the race out too fast?
Was I just bad running hills?
Do I not handle heat well anymore?
I hit both miles in 6:27 and felt a little better about it. I changed my mindset to running my own race. All I thought was, LOLZ you can make it to the end. Nothing can surpass the regression miles of Shamrock 2016 (or so I thought).
The next few miles were a bit of a blur. Both mile 4 and 5 went by without any major excitement. I grabbed the course Powerade at every stop. I ran both miles by myself in 6:42. In a half marathon, I usually take whichever electrolyte fluids they have, and I was thankful for Powerade at every stop.
By the halfway point, I was overheated. I wasn’t in danger, but I also knew, it wasn’t my day. It was hot, my body wasn’t feeling great, and my coach had it marked as a workout, to begin with. Why was I freaking out for a race, I knew wouldn’t be a PR?
With that, I just focused on each mile I was in. The middle miles ran through Highland Park. It was hilly, and it felt like we just kept climbing. I ran my slowest mile (7:01) followed by my fastest mile (6:22) down the hill. By the time I knew it, we were at mile 10. I caught my friend Dani, who was running the full marathon. We ended up running the last 3 miles together which made the time go by faster.
Mile 11 and 12 entered back into the city of Birmingham. We ran right by my hotel, and I visualized napping and eating hotel stale hotel pastries. I ran both miles in 6:44.
There was some headwind, but it was circulating hot and humid air. The half and full marathon divided and runners were sent to opposite sides of the road based on their distance. Dani and I were still running “together,” just separated by a median. During this time, a group was holding cups, and I thought they were holding more powerade. I had seen someone up ahead grab it and so when they offered me the cup I didn’t turn it down.
Only to realize I had grabbed beer. I wasn’t terribly upset, but I didn’t drink the entire cup and proceeded to the final mile. It was more shocking because it was not what I was expecting.
Just after the 12th mile, I noticed someone on the ground surrounded by medics. It was scary to run by, but the medical staff had everything under control. During that time, I looked up and noticed a woman within .1 of me. For the last mile, I focused on a woman in front of me. I was outkicked in the final .1 at the Double Bridges race the week before (for the win) and I didn’t want it to happen again.
Despite being exhausted, I powered to the end. I crossed the last mile in 6:37 and the finish in 1:27.01.
It’s hard to feel satisfied with this time when I know I’m in better fitness. I’ve been stuck in a plateau since October (Runners World Half). While I ran Dallas in 1:23.44, I was fully tapered for that and training indicated I should have PRed.
Unfortatently, I have also dealt with weather or my body doesn’t feel good on race day. These are the periods that make training difficult. I’m not devastated or even upset about the Mercedes Half Marathon. I gave it everything I had for the day. I am, however, longingly hoping for PRs that I’ve been working hard for.
As I mentioned, my husband ran his first marathon at Mercedes in a time of 2:59.45. He met his goal to break 3 hours in nonideal weather conditions. He’ll have a full recap next week.
Questions for you:
Have you ever been to Alabama?
Have you drank beer during a race?
I actually did at Shamrock last year (on purpose).