Pacing the Buffalo Marathon!
TLDR: Well the local marathon and half REALLY needed pacers so I volunteered I ended up taking the first
half of the 3:30 Group (1:45 half) and I'm happy to report that my pacing duties went
well. I hit the half right on the nose at 1:44:53.
Long story: I was a little late to the start, getting there about 20 minutes before the gun and I people starting to flock near me. Some nervous questions about even pacing and trading off to a different pacer at the half way point. Also got a couple suspicion looks (probably because I don't really look like I can run as well as I manage to). And we were off.
The weather was suppose to be horrendous, 85 by 11am (race started at 7am) with full sun and humidity but it held out and was only 65 by the start and ever reached over 75. The runners go SO lucky.
Since the half and the full start
and run the first half of the race together I had a very large group
with me. My goal was to run even splits based on my chip time but because
of the slow start and the crowded first and second water stop I was about 30
seconds slow overall at mile 3. I was totally not use to the crowds at the mid-pack. It's tough pacing because if I was
alone I'd drop that extra time in the next two miles but I couldn't
here, if I did I would be destroying people and ruin races. I slower dropped the extra time over the next 7 and by mile 10 I
was right on the nose. It was tough holding the pace at about 7:55-8:00.
If I stopped paying attention or let it run down a hill I'd drop down to my regular 7:35 pace for
a couple second before I caught myself. Another thing I was ready for was that you can't totally rely on your GPS watch
because you need to run based on the actual miles. Being in a kind of a crown I ended up running sloppy
tangents threw my watches pass off by at least 5 seconds per mile.
Something else I needed to account for when hitting the mile markers.
My little heart attack happened at the pacer exchange (20k mark), I also almost missed the second half pacer. We ran by the pick-up
and I called out to the pacers but no one came. I started to get a
little panicked but he saw me as the pack went by and luckily caught up. I was contemplating in those seconds if I had it in me to do the full (I'd rather blow up than abandon them at half way). I figure I could have done it but it would have been ugly do to my shorter training and the fact that my nutrition plan for the half was only a couple cups of water. Luckily I didn't come to that. As we approached the finish/full split I took my group to the finish and the rest of the pack continued on.
In the end it was totally fun and I'd love to do it again. It was
great glancing over my shoulder and seeing a wave of people behind me. A lot of people seemed very appreciative that I was there especially
the newer runners which made me happy. I got a bunch of thanks-yous from all different types of runners with different stories. From the first timer to the guy that couldn't afford a GPS watch. Plus the best is that I have a nice race shirt with 'Pacer' across the shoulders, it looks pretty legit.
This was also my first year running the Buffalo Marathon and it was a very well run race with a nice course and great crowd support (including live bands). The weather is always a little iffy at the end of May here but I'd totally consider racing it next year.