Monday, October 8, 2012

Pacing the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

Well, Sunday was the day.  My opportunity to be a pacer in a marathon for the first time. It was at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. I got the honor to work for the team at  What a great organization to be a part of.  They pace lots of races all over the United States and Canada.  Special thanks to Jim Crist for allowing me to pace for his organization.  I got to wear some cool race stuff too from Race Ready!!

The group I was going to be pacing was the 4:40 group.  My goal was to bring in my group in as close to 4 hours and 40 minutes(10:41 per mile pace) without going over the 4 hours and 40 minutes and maintain even splits throughout the entire 26.2 miles.  I was so looking forward to this.  A nice relaxing run where I didn't have to worry about trying to get a PR.  I just got to do what I enjoy to do and hopefully motivate others in the process.

It was a very cold Milwaukee morning.  29 degrees at race time.  This would be my first marathon where I wasn't running in 90 degree heat.  From one extreme to the next.  I was still going to wear shorts but a long sleeve compression shirt under my race shirt was definitely in order for this one.  I had a fairly large group from the start.  There were first timers to people that had run 15 marathons or more.

We were off.  I am used to running anywhere between 7:30-8:00 per mile in training so I had to slow it down a bit.  First mile in a race is usually a lot faster mile just because of the adrenaline at the start.  My goal was to keep them at pace at the beginning.  We didn't want to go out too fast or that could be disastrous.  They would need the extra energy in the later miles.  First mile, not too bad.  it was a 10:31 pace.  Aid stations were about every couple miles so my strategy would be to be a few seconds faster on the off miles and go slower during the ones with aid stations in order for the runners to get plenty of fluids and stay well hydrated.  The 2nd mile was a 10:43 mile. Pretty much right on target.  I then had splits of 10:22, 10:29, 10:19, 10:48, 10:32, 10:46, 10:12, 10:33, 10:40(right on), 10:10 The group was staying together nicely.  I had about 20-25 runners at this point.  I was still feeling great, not tired, nothing.  I was coasting through this and it felt so awesome.  Mile 14 was a 10:29, then 10:30, 10:41, 10:31, 10:47(at this point I was getting really comfortable with the pace), 10:30, Mile 20 at 10:51.  At this point in the race I start to see a lot of the runners falling off.  After about mile 20 my group is down to about 4 runners.  My goal is still to finish as close to my 4:40 time without going over. Mile 21 at 10:33, Mile 22  This is the point in the run that some runners sometime hit the wall 10:50.  No wall for me.  Still feeling great, not tired, nothing.  At this point I feel like I can run all day!!  Mile 23 at 10:31, Mile 24 at 10:29, Mile 25 at 10:55 as I slowed down just a little to encourage other runners to go.  We've got this!!  Mile 26 at 10:55.  Here is the finish.  Come on group!!  We've got this!! Got my group in right below the goal of 4 hours and 40 minutes or 10:41 per mile.

This was probably my favorite marathon ever!!  It was a beautiful course almost the kind of scenery you would see in a magazine.  Beautiful tree lined residential areas on a crisp fall day with the leafs turning beautiful fall colors.  The last 4 miles was an easy downhill that ran along Lake Michigan with breathtaking views of the Lake.

 Like I said it wasn't about getting a PR.  It was about helping others attain a goal.   I got to meet a bunch of great runners while helping them reach their goal.  I had a few runners come up to me after the race and thank me for maintaining a steady pace throughout and helping them get to the finish line.  To me there is nothing more rewarding than that.  What an incredible experience.  Motivating runners to reach their goal while doing something I love to do.  RUN!!