"...The marathon is not an easy event. You cannot predict..." Haile Gebrselassie
So says, "Da Man" and so it is.
For the Houston Marathon, I was an official pacer. Yep, I was supposed to pace the 3:10 folks. You know, keep them running steady in the early miles, hold 'em back in the middle, and encourage 'em in the last 3-4 miles when it's really tough. Basically, try to keep the group running at an average of 7:15 per mile. I was really excited to be a pacer. And I was looking forward to a good, tough, workout.
On Thursday evening, before the marathon, I felt a "tickle" in my throat. By Saturday I was sick with the crud. On Sunday morning...well, let's just say that had I not been a pacer, I may not have run at all. Certainly not as a hard workout.
But, I took a hot bath, felt a little better, and thought, "maybe I can get the pace group through 20 miles." In hindsight, it's just amazing how one can rationalize ridiculous decisions. I mean, 26.2 miles is tough if you have both lungs working perfectly. And when they are not...things get ugly.
Anyway, things got ugly.
The plan was to start out slow, and pick up the pace gradually. We did; and hit the half at 1:34:38. Just a hair early but certainly not a bad pace for a 3:10 marathon. As we continued toward the 14 mile mark, it was a struggle. I couldn't seem to get enough air. At first I thought that maybe I had picked up the pace too much. At mile 14, I looked at my watch. 7:33. I knew it was over...I had been slowing down.
After that, every single water stop was a slow walk, then a jog, then stop for coughing, then jog...well, you get the picture. And that 7:33 for mile 14....it was my fastest mile of the 2nd half. I finished in 3:33:44. Over 23 minutes late to the party....
Oh, the pace group? Fortunately, the Marathon Veteran's group understands the need for two (2) pacers. Peter took the group in just under 3:10 on a very steady pace. Nice work Peter!
I love this sport. Especially the marathon. But it is truely humbling.
Everything has to be perfect.