It is bad when a race pacer becomes the pacee. This is what happened at the ING MEami Half Marathon yesterday. I was dropped by the person I was pacing. Yikes.
The past three half marathons I completed were playing the part of a pacer. I helped Kristen, a fellow BRA member, PR on all of them. At least 2 & 11/13.1 of them.
I was originally signed up to do the MEami marathon until I developed a knee injury about 3 weeks ago. At that point my training slowed and also my motivation. I then convinced Kristen to let me pace her to a 3rd PR at the MEami Half. She agreed. Not sure if it was reluctant or not but I didn't have to pressure her...much. Part of me still wanted to do the full. I would pace Kristen to the 12.8 mile point and then be a game day decision on left for the half or right for the full. This was on the assumption that my knee would improve. But I still didn't have the motivation for the full so I decided I would just do the half and save myself from any further injuries which could/would hamper much more important races around the corner.
So having that in mind, I also didn't care much about my nutrition the week leading up to the half. I ate at McDonalds several times during the week. On Saturday, the day before this race, I had a 24oz Corona at 8am on the ride to MEami. I had McDonalds for lunch. Several more beers later in the night. A sleeve of Girl Scout Trefoils at 10pm. I should have been better since I did have a responsibility to someone but I was thinking "it's just a half".
The MEami marathon was sold out at 25,000. Very intimidating to some. Including Kristen. We met at the corral and I told her the game plan. She was very nervous. She had also been having some ankle issues the past week and didn't want that to hinder her performance. I couldn't do anything about the ankles but I was able to calm her nerves about the race. Just run like it's a training run with your BRA friends. Run right behind me while it's crowded. If you start to fall back yell at me and I will slow down and pull you right back up. Take some type of liquid each chance you get except for the last mile unless your dying. I will set the pace so don't look at your watch.
Speaking of watches. I turn my Garmin on a few minutes before the start and I get the message batteries low. I have Kristen give me her Garmin and she takes mine. I was also wearing the GoPro so there will be video coming. I may need to do some editing first.
We start out towards the front of our corral which had been moved up to the starting line. We averaged about an 8:15ish through the first few miles. It was very humid. I think it was over 80% which as a Floridian we should be used to but it doesn't help. The first water stop was after the 3 mile mark. We fuel up and continue on. We start up one of the bridges when I hear Kristen yelling my name. I got lost in the moment and had picked the pace up a little bit and her ankles were also starting to hurt a little. I brought the pace down for her to get with me and then I gradually picked it back up some. Still hovering above 8:15ish to 8:30's.
I was starting to have some nice stomach cramps. I knew I needed to make a pit stop at some point. I decided to make that stop just after mile 5. I told Kristen to keep the same pace and stay on the right side and I will catch up to her.
I took care of business and I damn sure felt better.
An observation here. Running on South Beach at about 7 a.m., you see who some of the party girls are. There were women in tight dresses and high ass heels walking down Ocean. I don't know if they were coming from or going too breakfast. Or maybe it was the "walk of shame".
Off now to catch Kristen. She either had a damn good pace going or my break was longer than I thought. It took me 28 minutes to catch her. I thought for a while maybe I missed her at one of the three water stops I passed. I was running about 8:08 or better. I was so wanting to catch her hoping I could drop the pace at that point. My knee was also starting to hurt more than I expected. I should have slowed my pace and realized I had the miles to catch her.
I then saw her just after the 8 mile mark. I was happy. Turns out she was too. It was at this point when she starts to slow and needed me there for the push. I told her she was doing great.
We did slow the pace to just above 8:40, but we were well ahead of a PR on the current pace. My knee started hurting a little bit more. But I was also getting tired. I misjudged the "it's just a half". We kept the same pace to just about the 10 mile mark. Kristen was running strong. No complaints. Or at least she wasn't saying them out loud.
It was at this point I realized that she was now becoming the pacer. I gave her her Garmin back and told her that she needed to wear it in case I had to stop because of my knee. The truth was that I knew I was going to have to stop but not because of my knee. I was getting tired and she was wearing me out. This was her race. I wanted her to have her watch so she could get the time when she crossed the finish line.
She pulled away from me before mile 11 and I was able to catch back up but only for a short distance. I slowed and she didn't. It was time for her to fly and not return to the nest.
I ended up walking a little and then hobbled in to the finish. I shall race another day. I am of the philosophy that "I run because I want to. Not because I have to."
So Kristen, can you pace me on my next half? Great job.