On February 12, 2012, I ran the Mercedes Marathon in Birmingham, AL. 3rd marathon was a charm! Huge PR at this one!
I didn’t really tell anyone about this race, and definitely didn’t verbalize any goals. I decided to do it on impulse after the First Light Marathon. I didn’t want to waste my training, and felt like I didn’t have much to lose by running it and just seeing what would happen. I figured I could always drop at the half if things went horribly wrong. But they didn’t! Everything went perfectly, and I had one of my best running days ever!
The weather was COLD for us southerners. Temperature at the start was around 25F. Yikes! I obsessed over what to wear, but long sleeves (with a tank underneath), capri tights, gloves, and earwarmers seemed to do great. I was so cold at the beginning that my feet were completely numb for the first mile and a half. After a couple of miles I was comfortable, and even ditched the gloves at about mile 18.
My secret goal was to break 4:50. I decided to start out with the 4:45 pacers and see if I could keep up with them. Unfortunately, the pacers did not have a strategy that would work for me. I stayed with them the first 3 miles, but I felt like they were going way too fast. Every time I looked down at my Garmin, I saw we were going under a 10min/mile pace. That seemed crazy, since I wanted my average pace to be around 10:50/mile. I let them go between mile 3 and 4 and decided to go it alone.
Mercedes is a double loop course, and after mile 12ish when the half racers split off, the course got pretty empty. I always thought I would hate the double loop, and that it would mean the 2nd loop would be really boring. But I loved it! I felt like I knew what was coming, but at the same time I remembered so little about the first loop that it all felt new enough. The only parts I remembered were the ones I loved. I especially loved the Highland Park area. There were a few little hills during the second half of each loop, but not anything defeating.
I remember hitting mile 23 and realizing I was in the home stretch. At this point, I thought about the Office episode where they run the 5k for rabies after Michael hit Meredith with his car.
Remember what Pam said her race strategy would be? “Start fast, run fast in the middle, then finish fast.” I decided there was no reason to hold back at this point, and just "finish fast!” Sounds kind of dumb now, but it made me smile at the time and reminded me to just get going.
I passed the 4:45 pacers at mile 25 (they were walking), and I knew I would be reaching my goal. I felt so strong at the end. Awesome feeling! Managed to spot my sweet parents cheering at the finish line. I was so thrilled!
Aaaaaaahhhhhhh! I couldn’t believe it! My official time is 4:40:47, average pace of 10:43/mile. I remember telling my mom right after the finish that this kind of race is the reason I run.
Such a fabulous experience! I’ll never forget that day.