Yesterday was my third official pacing job. Friday night rushed down to the Akron expo to sign up some runners for pacing groups. Ran over to the pasta dinner but we were too late, all out of pasta! So instead we got to eat at the Mayors dinner. Fancy! Saw a few people we knew, but definitely felt under dressed and a bit out of place. By the time all of that had happened the expo was almost closed so we helped clean up then it was back to the hotel to go over last minute instructions, have a beer, and get everything ready for the next day. Took some fun photos and went to bed. It's always fun meeting the other pacers and Pacer Betty and I chatted until we were both finally tired enough to actually hit the pillows.
Race morning we were up at 4:45 and I proceeded to go to work on the Faux Hawk that my hubby had suggested I sport for the race. I had not really brought the right hair product for that but it looked all right and at least would be entertaining at the start until sweat and humidity took its toll. Had some coffee, cereal, and an apple then we all hopped in our cars and drove to the start. The race grew a lot this year and traffic was heavy, I got cut off and wasn't sure where the others were planning to park. The heavy traffic was making me anxious so I just pulled off into some bank parking lot and hustled to the porta potties and the start. Had to cut in line to check my bag because I was supposed to be lined up at 6:30 and it was already 6:40. I was freaking out a bit but teh volunteer was great about it and I got to the start with plenty of time to meet my group and get them all ready to go.
Pacer Betty getting ready
Mess of stuff prepping for the race
Trying on the race outfit night before
Wake up call are you ready to pace?
Pace Team members at the hotel
Saw quite a few familiar faces at the start line which was nice. Lots of SERC, CTC, and Vertical Runner friends all stopped to give me some encouragement or comment on the Faux Hawk. It looked like I had a great group and I was excited for the race to start!
At the start Chef Bill caught a photo of me. Thanks Bill!
In the interest of time (as in I have none!) I am including my pacer report as the rest of my race report, then going on to finish it out with a report on pacing in my cousin.
The first few miles were a little slow. It was very crowded and I didn't want the group to be split up. The first few aid stations were chaotic and volunteers were struggling to get water to everyone. The group did a good job though and we were never more than 27 seconds over desired overall time at each mile and later on never got below by more than 23 seconds (all miles were within 10 seconds of desired mile pace with the exception of mile 18 (Over due to hills 9:02) and mile 23 (Under, 8:26, yikes!) Although this did have us arrive at mile 23 right on pace.
Like any rolling course it was hard to hit even miles, but effort was even and the group did great. Other than that one fast mile I am happy with my performance (if I had nailed that mile I would have finished only 3-4 seconds under!), it was definitely hard to keep the pace back in those last few miles, I did not realize how much downhill there was in the last three miles of the course, it definitely helped the group get to their goals. Despite losing quite a few runners in Sand Run I still had a large group at the top and over 5 of them went on to finish in front of me, pulling away around mile 23. I was able to help a lady named Tracy get her Boston Qualifier and gave her the sign after the race. (Had several female Boston Qualifiers finish just ahead of me!) Tracy had looked strong at 23 and I thought she would pull ahead with a few others but she struggled a bit from then so I was really grateful to help her pull through and get her Boston qualifier. Came across the finish in 3:49:37. 23 seconds under and my furthest from the pin pacing finish so far, but still within the 30 second target we give ourselves.
At the last relay exchange point, 7.6 miles to go. Thanks for the photo Elizabeth!
I got highly praised by a lady who will be pacing next week and was a Badwater finisher this year, skinny little blond thing that said she has paced for Jim before. She definitely inspired my group! She did a great job and pulled ahead of us through Sand Run.
I focused a lot of my energy on reminding people to stay relaxed with the breathing and posture and reminding them to drink and take in electrolytes. The humidity was wreaking havoc on people, either through breathing struggles, cramping, or stomach issues due to electrolyte imbalance. I myself had some pretty bad stomach issues, but was able to soldier through. Donated some of my salt pills to some runners who had went out fast and were death marching with cramps.
I was actually able to pick up a few runners in the last few miles who were struggling, this was a first for me, usually they won't stay with me so it was nice to be able to help them finish a little faster, even if they didn't meet their ultimate goal.
I had a great time out there with this group, the time really flew by, even when I was feeling sick. A lot of 1st timers. Many of them didn't make it to the finish with me but all said thank you for my efforts. I even saw one of the first timers at Walgreens after the race and he thanked me and was still proud of his 4:05 finish. He was one of the ones I lost at Sand Run.
My only suggestion for the race director is longer and better staffed aid stations early on. With the halfers, relay runners, and full marathoners the first 3-4 aid stations were overwhelmed and it was impossible to get water to everyone without dropping pace. I had to get in and grab water for several of my runners.
I think the pace team did a great job (from what I saw). This was the hardest race I have done so far as far as pacing goes. Lots of little rollers and lots of aid stations made it tough to nail those miles. Bonus was actually having the 26 mile marked! Unfortunately with it being a bit of downhill to the finish if you were right on at 26 you were going to be ahead at the finish. The one thing I didn't do well this time was remind people to email Pacer Jim enough.
After I was finished pacing I grabbed a kiss from my hubby then it was time to change into my cheerleader outfit and get my butt back out on the course to run in my cousin Noreen who was running this as her first marathon. I was a bit worried about the timing, so I opted to run backwards through the course to make sure I did not miss her. I cheered on the other runners as I went. Heard lots of "You're going the wrong way" comments and just kept telling people that I was going out to run in my cousin, or made some remark about how I hadn't had enough and was going out for more. I surprisingly didn't feel too bad and was actually still running sub 9s on my way back out. My stomach issues thankfully had subsided and I was having fun cheering everyone on and thanking all of the volunteers for their help.
I found my cousin around mile 22. She was in a bad place. Bonking majorly and very worried about the 6 hour pacer catching her. She had felt great through mile 16 but the hills and drained her energy and between that, the pain, and blisters she was getting worried about finishing under the cut off. We power walked for about two miles while getting in powerade at each aid station. I told her there was plenty of downhill in the last 3 miles and we just needed to stay ahead of the 6 hour pacer til then where we would naturally pick it up and finish on time. We powerwalked the hills and when we would get to flats or downhills we would jog as best as she could and I would pick out points and tell her where we would run too and when we would get to walk and how far it was until we got some more powerade. She did a fantastic job. I could tell she was in pain but she soldiered through and we even helped a few others we passed to pick it up and finish strong. She did so well despite feeling so low and even managed to sprint in to the finish to finish under 6 hours clock time, about a 5:54 watch time. Somehow I had missed the race director earlier so I got to shake his hand officially at this point and we were greeted by our family cheering Noreen on. You could tell how proud they all were and I was so honored to be a part of her finish. Added bonus Tony the tiger and Mike and Kim were still all hanging out and Noreen got to meet some of my fabulous running friends. Tony had broken the age group award for Masters! How awesome to get to see him and give him a hug after such a long morning.
Noreen was kind enough to give me her beers and I sipped on one of those while we chatted with the family. Other than a nasty blister on my heel I felt surprisingly good for having covered 35 miles of pavement. We got to see our cousin John who lives in Texas now which was very nice. My hubby helped me find my car and we headed over to TBs to hang out with Solar and him to celebrate our days. Team F5 did great without me and came is second for females again. TB finished comfortably under 3:30. BB had an amazing day finished in 3:33! Twizzle and Beth broke the 2 person female relay record! The Speed Bumps kicked some serious booty! Basically lots of great races by lots of great friends. (Huge thanks for those that helped to cheer on my 3:50 group after their relay legs, it was much appreciated!) (I have missed quite a few friends here, my community of runner friends is getting so large, congrats to all of you!) And not under ideal conditions. The temperatures were great but I saw a lot of people broken by the humidity out there. Some really great runners were forced to jog/walk or call it a day. Everyone should be so proud of their efforts out there!
Post race in my cheerleader outfit and my rats nest on my head
All cleaned up and enjoying a martini with my hubby