Marathon first-timer has lofty ambition
Princeton’s Mehmen out to win debut, earn Olympic trials berth
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.”
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.
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.