Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pacing the Columbia Marathon (4:15:00)


       This year was the 1st year for the Columbia Marathon a new home for runners in South Carolina. First of all this was am amazing event better than other well established Marathons I have been to, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to be a part of it.

       When I got to the expo the night before the Marathon I was full of so much excitement I could barley hold it back. I chilled there for about 3hr very unlike me. The pre-race dinner was so good.
The menu is as follows:
Tossed Green Salad with Assorted Dressings
Penne Pasta
Tomato Basil Marinara
Shrimp Scampi
Italian Grilled Chicken
Chef's Selection of Seasonal Fresh Vegetables
Fresh Garlic Bread
Assorted Desserts including Healthy Adjustments
Iced Tea and Water

       Dick Beardsley was the guest speaker and best selling author - in running and in life. Dick is the 3rd fastest American born runner and he still has the 5th fastest U.S. men's marathon time in history. Best know for his 1982 Boston Marathon "Duel in the Sun" with Alberto Salazar, Dick is also a two-time Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier. He is a two-time winner and course record holder of the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN and has won the London and Napa Valley Marathons. His speech really got me pumped for the run and many runs to come.

       The morning of the run it was a chilly 45 a bit cold for me, but as soon as we got started wormed up fast. I meet Andy at the start; he was the other 4:15 pacer and a great partner for this. There were many friends there some I got to see and some I missed, but happy to know they were among the all the runners.

       Andy and my plan was simple—run the first loop a little fast keeping a steady pace. This would allow for a positive split on the second loop. There are some good hills on this run and the last one is a BIG (insert bad word here) and being able to have a positive split would give a buffer on that bad boy the second go around. Next keep the runners happy. I think that was the easy part for us. We were like a regular comedy club. We had a large group until about mile 18 and I think some of the runners were keeping up with us just for that reason. The pace set was 9:44 min miles but we went a little faster 9:36 par mile this would give us the buffer for the last hill and allow us to slow down at the water stops. As I am typing this I keep cracking up. “the plan” haha really Joe? That’s just how it worked out.
       There were water stops with Gue, water, Gatorade, and bathroom every mile. I have never seen that in a marathon before and was just amazing. Never needing or wanting anything for two long was just great. Having two pacers was a great thing as well. One of us would be able to hit the bathroom wile the other keep pace, keeping the runners on track. Most of the people running with us had a goal to finish in under 4:30:00 and I think most did. As we came up on the home stretch the two runners that were with us the whole run took off and others just stayed in front of us. We crossed the finish line in 4:15:12. Pace 9:44 per mile dead on we came to do a job and not only did it, but I feel that we did it well. This was a great honor for me. I may not have looked like it but I don’t really show anything other that being a good ball most of the time. Crossing the finish and seeing the RD’s wife there to congregate the runners and the RD there to take pictures with the finishers was a great surprise as well, you don’t see that much.

       I now have 3 things in shadow boxes the state flag given to me from the governor of South Carolina the day I got out of the Marine Corps, the US flag given to me from the president and my medals from my service to the Marines, and now my pacer shirt, bib#, and medal from this experience. I hope the runners all hit there marks and maybe we helped a little along the way. To everyone involved with this Marathon did an amazing job and should be very proud of what they were able to do. Maybe next year Andy and I will be at the starting line with 4:15:00 on our backs again. 

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