Sunday, October 18, 2015


With about a mile left in the race, Conner (orange hat) and I caught the leading female, Madeline Glass, and ran in with her. Glass won the race in a time of 2:59:11.
     Last Sunday I paced a three hour marathon group for the Prairie Fire Marathon. Although I have been running quite a bit I did not feel ready to "race," but I wanted to do something so I asked a member of the race staff a couple of weeks ago if I could lead a three hour pace group. The fastest group they typically put together is a 3:10 group, but I talked them into 3:00. I felt confident in my ability to run a three hour marathon, and I felt like there would be some people with that time as their goal.
     What usually happens with the full marathon pacers (from what I have seen), is one pacer will start the race and run the first 13.1-miles, halfway. At that point, another pacer will take over and run the second half. I really wanted to run the whole thing, but I have learned to respect the distance of the marathon and knew anything could happen even if my confidence was high in regards to running 26.2-miles in three hours. I asked, Conner Drendel, a fellow runner that I have known for a couple of years through my job at First Gear Running Company if he would like to pace with me. Conner is a hell of runner himself, having ran at Southwestern College. We are also both teachers. I knew he could comfortably run the pace that would be needed for this "job." Luckily, Conner agreed to jump in at the halfway point and pace with me. I still had the plan to run all 26.2, but with Conner on board I was more comfortable because I knew I really only had to make it halfway, and if something went wrong he would be there to take over.
     My plan was to run an even pace throughout the whole race, 6:50 per mile. For the first five or so miles, I ran with the 1:30 half-marathon pacers. Between their group and mine, there were roughly 15 runners that we were pacing. About a mile into the race I asked how many people were wanting to run 3:00 for the marathon. There were 6-10 runners that stated that was their goal.
     Before the race I took a Sharpie and wrote the splits I would need to hit for the five, 10, 13.1, 15, 20 and 25 mile marks on my arm. At the five mile mark, we were roughly 20 seconds faster than 3:00 pace. By the time we reached eight miles there was just one runner that was still with me. Everyone else had dropped off. The lone remaining runner was a guy named, Jeff, a triathlete first, but had ran a 3:03 marathon and wanted to crack 3:00. I told him if he just hung with me I would get him there.
Checking the splits I had written on my arm to see if we were on pace at the five mile mark. I had the group about 20 seconds under 3:00 pace at this point.

     Just before the halfway point, Conner jumped in with Jeff, and I and the three of us started the second half of our journey. Jeff was looking good and we were trying to encourage him and keep him motivated. I had to make a bathroom stop just after the 14 mile mark (I was definitely thankful Conner was pacing with me at that point), and it took me three miles to catch back up to Conner. My pace had to pick up to catch back up, so miles 16 (6:08), 17 (6:10), and 18 (6:16) were faster than the 6:50 pace I had planned on running all day. By the time I caught back up with Conner, Jeff was gone (after we finished I found out he started cramping and dropped out around 17 miles).
     At this point Conner and I were all alone on the course. We could not see anyone behind us nor in front of us. We continued to hold the 3:00 pace, but for the next six to eight miles we had no one to pace.
20ish miles into the race and we had no one around to pace.

     With about four miles to go my hamstrings started to tighten ever so slightly, letting me know they were on the verge of cramping. At this point I just wanted to finish. With about a mile left in the race, we caught the leading female runner, Madeline Glass. She looked to be hurting (rightfully so!) but looked strong enough to get to the finish without slowing down. The final few miles had a slight headwind (any headwind can be debilitating that late into a marathon), so I got in front of Madeline and told her to draft off of me. There was still no other runners around that Conner and I could pace, so we decided to help Madeline get to the finish. This was a really, really cool way to end the race and my first pacing experience. Madeline crossed the finish line and won the race in 2:59:11. Conner and I crossed the line in 2:59:10, 50 seconds faster than our pace group, but we sped up when we ran Madeline in.
     Overall, it was a fun day. I started thinking how two years ago I trained my butt off trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon and ran a (then) PR of 2:58. Now I am pacing a three hour marathon and feeling relatively comfortable running that pace. It goes to show that improvement takes time, but if you put in the work and effort, you might be surprised at what you can do.
     As always, thank you for taking some time to read my blog!

No comments:

Post a Comment