Mercedes Marathon Report

Gayle and I drove down to Birmingham Saturday afternoon. It was a beautiful day for the three hour drive South.

DSC 0046Rolled into town a little after 3:00 pm and checked into the hotel. We stayed at The Redmont. It was an older hotel that had been updated and remodeled. It was only about three blocks from the start/finish line.

After we checked in we headed over the the expo to get my race bib and chip. We had just started walking around the expo when Michele called. She had just picked up her packet. There were not many vendors so it didn’t take long to see everything before heading back to the hotel.

The three of us headed out to Macaroni Grill for supper. I called ahead for reservations and the girl told me yes they take reservation every evening except tonight and 14th. I guess they knew there was a big market for pasta on that night.

Met Michele at 6:15 Sunday morning and we headed over to the start. The temperature was 34 degrees and the forecast was for a high near 60 with the wind from the North. We had debated about what to wear since there was such a temperature change during the race. I settled on a long sleeve shirt and a throw away sweatshirt. I had pick up some free cotton gloves which were great for the start.

Since it was just a short walk to the start, we still had about 30-minutes to wait. I spread out my trusty garbage bag and we sat down to wait in the coral.

Knowing we did not want to start out too fast, we position ourselves near the 4:15 pacer. The plan was to hold back for the first could of miles and then re-assess about the first big hill around mile 6.

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Soon the race was underway. We spotted Gayle, the official photographer. We stayed with the pace leader for first 2 to 3 miles before moving ahead. It was interesting to learn that she paces marathons every weekend. Needless to say, she knew what she was doing. Michele asked the pacer about the hills. She said the first tough hill is at mile 6, but the one at 22 is where she usually looses people.

The first several miles are in the downtown area and are flat. By mile 2, I had warmed up enough to toss off my sweatshirt.

We started up the hill at mile 5. It was not that steep, just long.

The next 3 miles were rolling hills. Nothing big but enough to know that you were not in the flat lands any more.

The half-marathoners, split off before mile 9, while the marathon course headed down the other side of Red Mountain.

At every split we check our pace. We had gained enough on the down hills to where we were within a minute or two of the magic 4 hour pace.

Between miles 12 and 16, the course follows a greenway and then runs through a mall parking log. This is the flattest part in the middle miles of the course. At this point, we felt really good about our time and pace and were confident that we were still within striking distance of the sub-4. Little did we know was lie ahead.

As soon as we turned off Shades Creek Parkway, we started to climb. These hills were not the up and down ones like we had after mile 6, these only went up. There was little time for recovery before the next turn and the next hill.

By the time we got to the final “big” hill that started at mile 21, I was dragging. We kept moving and finally pulled the final hill. My split for mile 23 was 11:16.

The downhill was steeper than coming up. All you could do was lean forward and let gravity pull you down. I flew down the hill in 8:47.

By this time I was spent. Michele still had some gas in her tank while I really started to drag. Even though I was back on flat land, my pace was slowing down.

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I finally shuffled over the final mat in 4:11:11. I was pleased. It was a PR on a tough course. I know I couldn’t have done it without Michele’s help and encouragement along the way.

The Mercedes Marathon is a well run race on a very tough course. If nothing else it is a great confidence builder. I’m already looking forward to the Country Music Marathon in April.

10 Responses to “Mercedes Marathon Report”

  1. Lisa Says:

    On a flatter course, you both would have ran well under 4 hrs. I just know it! :)

  2. Joe Says:

    David, congratulations!!! You really rocked that race and took it to the hills. The last few miles are always the toughest and you persevered. 4:11 is really awesome…you showed real endurance at the end.

    I’m happy for you…nice to have the new PR!!!

    CMM will be here soon!!

  3. Jill Says:

    Way to GO!!! That is a very challenging course…I told you at the tri expo…and was hoping I didn’t discourage you. I cannot wait to see how you do at CMM this year…and also cannot wait to have a buddy in the race! Hopefully we can pull each other along to sub 4′s??!!! Maybe you can convince Michele to come along for the ride…after all, it could be an Ironman training run for her!

  4. Michele Says:

    No can do on CMM. That is Ronnie’s turn to run. Plus, I just promised him New Orleans will be my last attempt for 08. But I KNOW, you can go sub 4 there and I will be there cheering.

    It was great having to you pull me along. There are many times I might have stopped but I knew if I did you would and then I would be taking you down with me. Kept me running.

    Congrats again on the PR and on the toughest race yet!!! You are Hardcore.

  5. Bob Allen Says:

    It was fun reading your report. I’m always amazed at folks who can remember what happened at each mile — I usually can’t do that even on my routine runs.

  6. Rae Says:

    Way to go!!! That’s an awesome pace for such a tough course!!! This is going to be your year at CMM!

  7. Dusty Says:

    Great race report and pictures! I like the medal!!

    GREAT JOB!! Way to PR! Those hills sound painful! Enjoy the recovery break!!

  8. Todd Says:

    Great run David! Congratulation on your PR. I look forward to seeing how you do at the CMM this year.

  9. lana Says:

    Congratulations David! That’s awesome to PR on those tough hills!

  10. darrell Says:

    It sure looked like a beautiful day for a race from that last picture. Nicely done considering those hills you describe. Having a great running buddy is certainly a positive.

    Rest well and then its off to the next one.

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