Guest Post: Mr. LOLZ Mercedes Marathon (2:59.45)

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 race.  Enjoy!

Hollie


As people know, Hollie and I lived in Alabama for about 6 weeks due to my work.  Going into the marathon, I was finishing a six-week course for the Air Force. While I had time to train, running wasn’t my main focus.  In fact, I hadn’t committed to the marathon until we finished the preview run just two weeks prior.    I finished 20 that day.  I knew I could finish a 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, we had Mellow Mushroom pizza which is Hollie and I’s favorite restaurant. I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t get 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. 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 and start line are always crazy. Once we got to the start, I was faced with a 30 min bathroom line, but I discovered bathrooms on the third floor which had zero line. We got to the 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 half and full marathon started together, I started next to my wife. As they did the countdown for the 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 race went off with a literal “go go go”. I started off 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, 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 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 in mile markers. My goal to the 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 half marathoners passed me doing their finishing kick. They pulled me along, and I caught up with one kid whose goal was to break 90 minutes in the half. I hit the halfway point 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 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 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 based on hills.

Around miles 16-18, 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, 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.  My half marathon PR is 1:20.02 so I didn’t want to do that again.

When I rounded the last turn, 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.

tim-and-i-1

I know I’ll a do another marathon at some point when my schedule allows me to train.  I had a good experience with the 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?

Do you like to stay focused at the start line or are you relaxed and talkative? 

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Mercedes Half Marathon (1:27.01)

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.”Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

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.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

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.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me

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.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me
This face says: I might be having a $hit race, but I will not be out kicked in the final .1

Despite being exhausted, I powered to the end.  I crossed the last mile in 6:37 and the finish in 1:27.01.

Run Mercedes Half Marathon me
and then apparently I immediately chuckled and checked my Garmin

Thoughts:

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. 

tim-and-i-1

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).

Birmingham MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40)

Last weekend I had the itch to race.  My husband and I discovered a 5k in Birmingham.  Since I just moved to Montgomery, I had no idea about the race community, area, terrain or anything else.  But a race is a race, right?

As long as there is a time, the course is fairly accurate, and there is just more than my husband and I running, I can’t complain.

We arrived in downtown Birmingham around 7 am and did a quick warm up.  I was coming off a tough training week and knew it wouldn’t be a PR.  My legs were stiff, but the plan was to give it what I had for the day.  My coach and I wanted a solid effort for where I was in training.

My husband and I made it to the start line where several high school marching bands were playing.  (It would sense with the race title “Drum Run”.)  The bands all sounded great and it was such a unique start.  I lined up and by the time I knew it we were off.

Birmingham mlk 5k
Photo from Just4Running.com

During the 200 meters, a lead pack quickly formed ahead which included two clearly fast elites,  my husband, another female, and a few others.  I found myself in the no mans chase pack of one.  It was evident the two elites were going to jog there way to a 16 something 5k which is what ultimately happened.  They looked effortless as they pulled away.

The first mile went over a few small rolling hills in the downtown and I crossed the first mile in 6:07.  Since my legs were heavy, plus the course wasn’t entirely flat, I was happy.

I could see the lead female in front.  I felt as though I was catching her. By the second mile, the lead pack was also strung out.  There were the two elites who were now out of sight, my husband and then a larger pack of 3 people including the woman.  I passed the larger pack around the halfway point.  The second mile had less hill but more turns. I ran the tangents well.  I crossed the second mile in 5:54 and felt better.  My legs were stiff, but I felt like they were loosening up.I was pleasantly surprised with a sub 6-minute mile.

I ran the final mile alone.  I could see my husband about a minute ahead and LOLed at the idea of catching him.  There were a few small rolling hills throughout the downtown.  Even when he isn’t training for 5ks (like now), he can still gut out a faster 5k.   I counted down the last mile… by every quarter of a mile.  I wasn’t fading, but I was ready to be done.  I crossed the third mile in 5:58 and gutted down to the finish line.

Birmingham mlk 5k

The final portion of the race was downhill, and I just powered to the end.  With the downhill, my final kick was 5:16.  If only all races had a nice downhill finish. Even though I cut the tangents well, the course was a little long, and I finished in 18:40.  I was fourth overall and the first woman.

Birmingham mlk 5k

Thoughts:

I am pleased with how the race went.  When you race often, you can’t expect a PR and each race has a goal.  My goal for the MLK 5k was to get a quick workout on my legs and to explore a new city.  Both of which I did.

Questions for you:

What how was your weekend?

Have you ever raced on tired legs?

Next Stop: Montgomery, AL

As you read this, I am on the 1000 mile road to Montgomery, Alabama.  I’ll be living there for the next 6 weeks. montgomery, alabama

Due to my husband’s job, we will be residing down there for the next 6-8 weeks.  It came up last minute so instead of mentioning it when we found out (about 3 weeks ago), we chose to keep it quiet.  With anything in the military, things can change last minute, so you never know.

We told family and a few friends but other than that we didn’t tell a whole heck of a lot of people.  But if you don’t blog about it, it never happened right?

Of course, I feel guilty that many people will find out via this blog post or Facebook, but it all happened so suddenly.  I enjoy living in New Jersey but six weeks is not a long time in the grand scheme of things.

As most people know, I work in a running specialty store.  Luckily, January and February are the quieter, so it wasn’t as big of a deal for me to need the time off.  I am lucky RunningCo. is good to me.

So I guess there isn’t much more to say.  I’ll be in the Montgomery area for the next 6 weeks. I’ll be relatively busy but if you’re local or have any recommendations for the area let me know.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get down to Pensacola as well as Atlanta for at least a day or two.

Questions for you:

Have you ever had a short term move?

Have you ever been to Montgomery?  Do you any have recommendations of things to do?