Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Experience as a 3:40 pacer-Indianapolis Marathon

Crystal and I during the race.
This past weekend I ran the Indianapolis Marathon.  It was the sight where I had my first Boston Qualifer at last year (click here to read about last year's race).  I hadn't ran in a race since August when I ran a little over 50 miles in 8 hours at the Howl at the Moon 8 hour ultra.  I had planned on running in a race in September in Kentucky but because of severe flooding that race was canceled so I decided to just start my training cycle for my goal Marathon in November at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  I am hoping to improve on my PR of 3:09 that I set there last year.  Now don't get the two Marathons confused as a lot of people do.  The Indianapolis Marathon is run in a park like setting at beautiful Ft. Harrison State Park usually the 3rd weekend in October and the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon is run in downtown Indianapolis the first Saturday in November. I contacted the race director for the Indianapolis Marathon a couple weeks before.  I ran this race last year and was looking for a good training run just 2 weeks out from my goal marathon and inquired about being a pacer for the race.  He said he had spots open for a 3:30 and a 3:40 and I could have either one so I chose the 3:40 as that was about the pace I was wanting to do for my training run (8:24 pace).  This wouldn't be my first time pacing in a race.  Two years ago I was a pacer at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon for the 4:40 pace group and now 2 years later I would be pacing an hour faster group.

The week leading up to the race I really didn't taper because I was using it as a training run but I did take in some extra carbs.  My fuel for the race would be what it always is.  Cliff mocha gel and water and planned on taking my first gel at 30 minutes then each additional on every 40-45 minutes. I had some gatorade to drink while driving to the race but no food.  I usually don't eat before a long run and if I do it is usually just a granola bar.  I remembered the course quite well from last year with some pretty good hills at mile 3, mile 10,11 and mile 25. That mile 25 hill almost cost me a BQ last year.  We couldn't have asked to better weather.  Much better than the rain I experienced here last year.  It was mid 40's with a little wind. My plan for pacing was to run as even split race as I possibly could and was planning on leaving about 1:00-1:15 extra for that mile 25 hill as I knew they would need it. I started out with a pretty good group and about the first half mile began talking to Crystal.  She said she was hoping to run under 3:40 and was going to just stick with me. I was happy to have the company and was hoping the could stay with me the whole race.  So for a 3:40 marathon I would need to maintain a 8:24 pace for the entire race.  First mile was an 8:15 which was pretty good controlling the pace at the beginning. The next few miles felt great with miles of 8:18, 8:12, 8:05, 8:06.  The group was still sticking together pretty good and Crystal and I continued to talk.  Mile 6 in 8:17, mile 7 in 8:07, mile 8 in 8:19, mile 9 in 8:15.  At this point I was still talking to Crystal and noticed someone yell my name.  I looked back and to my surprise it was my football coach from High School.  Coach John Fallis.  He said he was looking to run around a 3:40 so he stuck with us for a while.  I was beyone excited at this point.  I had run with coach during a training run last year but never in a race.  At age 70 he looked as strong as ever.  We continued to run and talk and the miles kept flying by.  Mile 10 in 8:14, Mile 11 in 8:29(remember the hills here), mile 12 in 8:15 and mile 13 in 8:12.  Half marathon in 1:48:55 so about 1 minute under pace.  I was still feeling great at this point and most of my group was still with me including Crystal as we continued to talk away.  Come to find out this was her 28th marathon/ultra and she had run 3-100 mile races which was very similar to me as this was my 26th marathon/ultra and I had done 2-100 mile races.  We are also running in the same 100 mile race this coming January. We also started running at right around the same time.  I kinda joked around with her asking her if we were related somehow.  She said she had run Boston the last couple years including the time of the bombings.  I will definitely be picking her brain when it comes to my Boston strategy. We continued to go and around mile 14 we picked up a couple more ladies.  They were running in their first marathon.  I said for your first marathon you are doing great.  They stayed with us till around mile 21 and then started to drop off but Crystal was still right there with me and we continued to talk.  Mile splits were mile 14 in 8:19, mile 15 in 8:36, mile 16 in 8:11, mile 17 in 8:14, mile 18 in 8:25, mile 19 in 8:26, mile 20 in 8:28, mile 21 in 8:19, mile 22 in 8:21, mile 23 in 8:21, mile 24 in 8:15, mile 25 in 8:28, then remember the last mile with the hill I was telling you about and how I wanted to leave just a little time for it.  Mile 26 in 8:53 with a marathon finishing time of 3:39:24 on a pace goal of 3:40.  I even still placed in my age group with a 5th place finish. Goal pace for the marathon was 8:24 and I finished with a pace of 8:23.  Crystal stayed with me the entire time and finished in 3:39:03 and was first in her age group.  She looked great and finished strong and then the very next day went on to finish the Columbus Marathon.  The exact same thing I did last year.  See, I told you we were twins.   The last 1/4 mile I saw my kids on he course so I stopped for a second to give them a hug and kiss then I finished.

Marathon/Ultra race #26 complete and the 73rd time I've covered at least a marathon distance in a race or as a training run.  It was a great experience and I loved every minute of it and would love to do it again next year.  I helped pace 4 runners to a Boston Qualifying time.  To me that means more than any race.  Helping others is what I love to do. This was the 1061st day that I have run in a row of at leas 1 mile outside.  All my races are special and hold special meaning to me.  This one is extremely special, one because I got to run with my football coach from high school Coach John Fallis who taught me growing up about Discipline, Commitment, Enthusiasm and Effort.  I still use what he taught me then still this very day and will never forget it.  Coach Fallis placed 1st in his age group.  Two, I got to meet a new friend in Crystal.  I must have done something right because she hired me as her coach after the race.  I am really looking forward to working with Crystal and coaching her.  She is a great athlete.   What a very special day I will never forget.
Coach Fallis and I after the race.
My girls were there showing support for the runners

Leading the 3:40 pace group.
Coach Fallis. First in his age group.

Feeling great at mile 25.5
My results.  Goal pace was 3:40, I'd say I nailed it.

Greencastle gang before the race.
Noel and I before the race. Noel had a 21 minute PR.