Marathon first-timer has lofty am­bi­tion

Prince­ton’s Mehmen out to win de­but, earn Olympic tri­als berth

The Dallas Morning News - - Sports Day - Twit­ter: @Dfwrun­ning

Deb­bie Fetterman: Colby Mehmen hopes to make his marathon de­but a win­ning one Sun­day.

Colby Mehmen will make his marathon de­but at Sun­day’s BMW Dal­las Marathon. He hopes to earn an Olympic tri­als qual­i­fy­ing stan­dard and cap­ture his home­town marathon ti­tle in the process.

“I think they go hand in hand,” Mehmen said of need­ing a sub-2-hour, 19-minute fin­ish. “I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to have to hit the stan­dard to win it.”

Mehmen, 24, has spent the last five months liv­ing and work­ing in Boul­der, Colo., train­ing at alti­tude to put him­self in po­si­tion to con­tend. He’s been liv­ing in his camper van and work­ing at the Boul­der Run­ning Co. He con­sid­ers two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Keith Pierce the fa­vorite.

“He has so much ex­pe­ri­ence,” Mehmen said. “He’s the sea­soned vet­eran. Speed doesn’t al­ways trans­late into the marathon. I might have it in the shorter races, but the marathon is a whole dif­fer­ent game.”

Pierce would love a three­p­eat, some­thing he ac­com­plished at The Cow­town in 2007-09, but he’s also a re­al­ist. This is ca­reer marathon No. 20, and he turns 39 in April.

“Noth­ing can re­place the feel­ing of win­ning,” Pierce said. “But I know there are a lot of young guys. If I could go out and be in the top five, I would be re­ally happy. Qual­i­fy­ing for the tri­als and things like that are be­hind me.”

This year, Pierce said his train­ing has been spotty. He has poured more time and en­ergy into his Mck­in­ney Boyd cross coun­try and track pro­grams, leav­ing less time for his own train­ing. Both his boys and girls cross coun­try teams qual­i­fied for the re­gional meet, and three in­di­vid­u­als ad­vanced to state.

“It was a good sea­son,” said Pierce, who also teaches classes at Boyd. “That prob­a­bly took away from my own train­ing, but I’m look­ing for­ward to build­ing a pro­gram. That re­quires more en­ergy.”

So does be­ing a dad to soon-to-be 8-year-old triplets.

As Pierce con­tem­plates wind­ing down his com­pet­i­tive ca­reer, Mehmen, one of the founders of the lo­cal train­ing group No­mad Run­ning, is ramp­ing his up. He’s dreamed about rac­ing the Dal­las Marathon ever since

he watched it on tele­vi­sion as a 9- or 10-year-old, he said.

“I thought, man, it would be re­ally cool one day to go and win that,” he said. “I ran my first half with my dad when I was 11 years old. I have slowly pro­gressed and al­ways wanted to win it.”

Mehmen grew up in Prince­ton, Texas, and be­gan run­ning Plano Pac­ers races as a 9-year-old. He qual­i­fied for the state cross coun­try meet twice while run­ning at Prince­ton. At Stephen F. Austin, he was an NCAA re­gional qual­i­fier in the 10K on the track.

Speed has pro­pelled Mehmen in his shor­t­er­dis­tance ef­forts. He learned quickly that marathon train­ing is “a to­tally dif­fer­ent sport.” He bumped up his weekly mileage to as high as 130 miles. He av­er­aged 115 miles a week at alti­tude dur­ing this train­ing block. He also fo­cused on lift­ing weights, con­sum­ing 5,000 calo­ries and sleep­ing 10 hours as part of his daily regime.

“It’s re­ally hard to bal­ance ev­ery­thing with work, food and train­ing,” he said. “But if you don’t bal­ance it, you no­tice it im­me­di­ately the next day. You have to learn to have good bal­ance in your life.”

Mehmen plans to latch on to some half marathon­ers and hope­fully get a bit a pro­tec­tion from the wind be­fore the half marathon­ers split off.

“I’m go­ing to go out hard and hang on,” he said. “I know it’s a long race, but I’m used to rac­ing out in front. That’s my race plan.”

The chilly fore­cast won’t de­ter him. Mehmen’s time in Colorado has helped him ac­cli­mate to the cold, windy con­di­tions ex­pected on Sun­day.

“It’s been close to sin­gle dig­its in Colorado,” Mehmen said. “I hear there’s go­ing to be a 20-de­gree wind chill. I’m train­ing in that ev­ery day so I should be pre­pared for race day.”

2017 File Photo/nathan Hun­singer

Colby Mehmen (left) was greeted by fel­low run­ner Tyler He­men­way after win­ning his sec­ond straight BMW Dal­las Half Marathon. Mehmen says he plans to push the pace Sun­day in his full marathon de­but.

2017 File Photo/nathan Hun­singer

Keith Pierce cel­e­brates after win­ning his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive BMW Dal­las Marathon. He’ll try to make it three wins in a row in his 20th ca­reer marathon.

DEB­BIE FETTERMAN dfet­ter­[email protected]­

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