Monday, February 12, 2007

Mercedes is over

Good morning to all. Yep, our local race, Mercedes Marathon, is in the books. This race gets better each year and you really need to try to make it over here the first week in Feb. The expo is decent, the bands are good, the party atmosphere is superb, the give aways and freebies are like that of a big time race. The half and full race courses are pretty nice and scenic, except for the couple of miles that run through parts of downtown. It is a hilly course and it will challenge you. There will not be many PRs to be had here but it is fun. Go check it out . . .

If you've been following the story, Susan and I had been planning on running the half over the last couple of months and training was going okay. However, about two weeks ago, we both came down with a headcold that just seemed to hang on. Bottom line is that I didn't do any runs over 10 the last several weeks and Susan did less than that. In fact, my guess is that she didn't run more than 10 miles the last two weeks. Needless to say, I was apprehensive that she could pull it off. She admitted that she was a little nervous about it and that she would walk if she needed to do so. I had planned from early on that I would run with her and be her support team. Knowing that she was going to be running a slower pace than my racing pace, I felt confident that I could help her get through her second half-marathon.

It started off a cold day. It was clear and very slight breeze. The temp was 27 at the start but it was supposed to warm up during day. Unfortunately, with the race starting at 7:00, there wouldn't be much warming up in the morning hours. It is always funny to see how people are overdressed, even at 27 degrees. I always try to remember the rule . . . you should not be comfortable when you start. I wore shorts, a lightweight cool max long sleeve shirt, my wind vest, gloves and ear band. Susan wore (not so tight) tights, a lightweight cool max long sleeve and a running jacket, gloves and ear band. Of course we stood around in our home made garbage bag ponchos waiting for the start but stripped those off a minute before the race started.

Mercedes starts and ends in Linn Park, a nice park downtown, near one of the civic auditoriums. The first couple of miles is in the downtown business district which is constantly undergoing changes. Miles 3 thru 5 run through the southern part of the downtown. This part takes you through the UAB campus and amongst student housing. Not a wild party campus so you really don't know that you're running through it. The first challenge is mile 5-6. This is a nice mile long climb up a road called Greensprings Highway. Great view of the city from the top. This is the first crossing of Red Mountain. You see lots of people walking this stretch. I told Susan that our goal was to run it, even at a slower pace. We didn't want to give up more than a minute to our average pace. Miles 6 thru 8 beat you up pretty good. They go due east an Valley road. The road runs parallel to the mountain along the side of the mountain. There are continuous rolling hills and mounds and you never get to run any flat land through here. Nice scenary but you really have to focus to keep your pace. Mile 8-9 flattens out and lets your legs get a break before heading back over the mountain into downtown. Mile 9-10 is a nice steep climb back over the mountain. Again, you see lots of walkers and lots of Gu and E-Gel packs along the road. Mile 10-11 is tough for me, though most people love this stretch. It is a very scenic, fast downhill run back into downtown. I hate it because I am not a good downhill runner. I'd rather run up than down. Beats my legs up too bad. Once you hit mile 11, it is pretty much flat except for a few bumps in the downtown area. 11-12 is running west for a mile through a commercial district. The local hashers have rest stop here and if you want a donut and beer for a rest stop, this is the place to be. At mile 12, you turn north into the business district and run almost straight back into the park.

Here's our splits. Remember, this was slow since we had lost training over the last few weeks. However, our goal was to finish with a steady pace and have fun.

Mile 1- 10:01 (I think this was a short mile)
Mile 2- 13:12 (I think this was the part of mile 1 that was missing)
Mile 3- 11:55
Mile 4- 12:33 (Susan was taking off her jacket and repinning her number)
Mile 5- 12:16
Mile 6- 12:50 (the long uphill climb . . . felt good about not giving away too much)
Mile 7- 12:02
Mile 8- 11:59
Mile 9- 11:35 (the nice little flat stretch)
Mile 10- 12:15 (pretty nice pace since it is a mile climb)
Mile 11- 10:57 (down hill and I'm talking to Susan telling her now is the time to start tweaking it up)
Mile 12- 10:52 (She's hurting but really wanting to finish strong. Very proud of her and her effort)
Mile 13- 10:18 (It is here that I discover that Susan has been holding back on me. The girl started running like someone said "free ice cream")
Finished the last 0.1 miles in under a minute.

Here's a few photos we took along the way-

Susan just getting out of the car at 6:00. I think she was still asleep. We have an hour kill. Not long when you're standing in line at a port o let.

Susan wasting time monkeying around with here race number. I had given her a belt to put her number on but she wanted to pin it to her jacket. This is what happens when you take your jacket off!

The race number is fixed and jacket it tied around the waist. She is smiling now but she hasn't run up Greensprings yet!!!

Yes, I took all the photos on the run.

Running past the walkers coming up the mountain is a confidence builder. We are near the top and she is still smiling. It is hard to tell from the photo but this is the long uphill climb. She just had to tell someone that she made it up the hill. Yes-she is on my cell phone!

If you ever see this in a race, you must be moving slow. This is what I look like as I crush the competition!

The west end of an east bound Susan

Susan grabbed the camera from me decided to take a picture of me after a water break. I love my bright colors!

This is the downhill section between mile 10 and 11. Way too easy!

This is about mile 11 1/2. That is Susan watching the marathon winner blowing by us.

Hey! We finished and survived. 13.1 mile. 2:33 and change. It is time to go to the party for BBQ and beverages! See you next year!


Amy said...

Cool! Congrats to you both! Will definitely see you next year! You didn't mention it, so I'm going to assume that neither of you won a new Mercedes???

Phil said...

Congratulations on finishing Mercedes. It sounds like such a cool course. I hate those steep down-hils at the end of long race also. My quads just can't take the pounding.

Nice job helping Susan along. I know I could never do that, I'm way to self-centered. And thank you for the pictures. What a wonderful experience for both of you. Most of us never take the time to really enjoy the company of someone else during an event like this. They'll be faster races for Susan, but I know she'll never forget the time you spent together on this one.

Dom said...

I'm baaack....did feel a bit under weather on Sunday after running a 1/2 marathon and then drinking 4-5 beers ;-)

DawnB said...

Jim & Susan congratulations on taking on such a challenge you guys did great!!! Nce race report and thank you for sharing the pictures!!!