Marathon pacing, aka ouch!

Last year I had just had Jasper and missed another chance to lead a pace group at the Austin marathon.  I was so happy when I got invited back this year.  It’s really fun, you get to relive your first marathon all over again through others, and you get loaded with super nice gear!  I do the 5 hour group.   All the pacers run times slower than what they typically would race at.  This way there are no worries about making the pace…it should be easy.  The challenging thing about running the pace group is the pace remains the same…there are no surges, no easy miles.  It’s unending, rhythmic shuffling.

I did not go into this 100%.  It was a very tough week, with a little boy who had one illness after another.  I was worried I would get his respiratory infection, but his pediatrician assured me that at worst all I could get as an adult was a very mild cold.  Well, guess what I got starting Friday night?  A mild cold.  Not too bad, but you really want to be 100% on marathon day.

I slept terrible last night too.  I was nervous, and I am a light sleeper anyways, so everything woke me up, and then I could never go back to sleep.  This morning, I thought “Why do I do these things!”

A really good thing about pacing was I had my same partner, Korrie.  We work really well  together and communicate well about time to speed up a little or slow down a little, and there is absolutely no bickering between us.

The marathon experience starts for us the day before at the Expo.  I met Korrie for a run at 900 to fine tune our plan and at 1000 hit the Expo to work in the pacer booth and answer runners’ questions.  I was wiped out at 100, after talking for nearly 3 hours straight and feeling a little run down from my little cold.  It is really fun though, to reassure a lot of first time jitters, and remember what that was like 21 marathons ago!

Race morning came and we all met at a really nice hotel in downtown Austin where the pacers get VIP passes!  We walked to the start as a group and Korrie and I assumed our spot towards the back of the pack.  It took us 22 minutes to reach the start after the gun went off due to crowds.  We quickly dialed into our pace, and things were pretty uneventful for several miles.  It is fairly congested until the half marathon leaves us at mile 11.  Korrie and I were hitting the pace spot on, chatting, and meeting runners who wanted to run with us.  About mile 13 we both confessed some aches and pains.  This worried me.  I normally do not hurt at this point.  It was mainly my feet.  We got Nike shoes since they are the sponsor and I had worn this model in the past with no trouble.  I did a few shorter runs in them with my orthotics and I thought all was well.  I guess I was wrong.  I could feel my toes bruising, which for runners means black toenails that you end up losing and they hurt!  I had no choice but to just tough it out.

That was the theme from the halfway point…just toughing it out and holding our pace.   We did have fun, and I was thankful to be doing this since a year ago on marathon day I could barely do 4 miles.  Sometimes you just have a hard day.  I was a little sleep deprived, a little sick, a little sore in my feet, all added up to making a 5 hour marathon a little challenge.

At mile 23 Mike and Owl were waiting to cheer me on and it was a huge uplift for me.  I had time to run up ahead to Owl and give him a big kiss.   From here on out it was just hold on to the finish.

We nailed the pace though at 5:00:02.  Just about perfect.  We got our finisher’s goodies and hobbled to the hotel.  My feet were wrecked!  Arthritis joints weren’t to bad, but the toes attached to the joints were so sore and bruised.  I guess Nikes do not work with my orthotics and I swear to remain an Asics girl….it’s too painful otherwise.  The food at the hotel was pretty picked over and I honestly just wanted to get home.  So I made the painful 1 mile walk back to where I had parked my car.

Ok, the aftermath.  This one just wore me out.  I think it is multifactorial.  I’ve been feeling strong and running great for weeks, but maybe 5 hours was just longer than my feet really wanted to hold me up.  That is a heck of a long time to be out there.  It was 75 and muggy when we got  done, so I am sure I lost enough electrolytes in my sweat to give me the slight hangover sensation I have now.  And my feet are sore!!!!  I should have known better with the orthotics there was just no wiggle room on my shoes, but I have learned the hard way.  I am currently a marathon invalid.  I just put Jasper to bed, so now my feet at up, and I am in bed with lots of pillows.

I’ve had runs before where I felt horrible right after and fine the next day, so that is what I am hoping for.  With Jasper there is truly very little rest time, so I hope I don’t hurt too much.

I learned from this that 5 hours is just a long time to run no matter what.  Never underestimate the marathon.    At one point I swore off ultra running since I don’t want to run for 5 hours until next year’s marathon pacing!


1 thought on “Marathon pacing, aka ouch!”

  1. Nice job pacing, you did a great job hitting your mark. Sorry about the shoes, I’ve become a fan of one brand and haven’t switched in years as I’m afraid of what might happen. Hope you feel better tomorrow and recover quickly.

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