Friday, March 25, 2016

Tobacco Road Marathon March 13, 2016

Most of the pace crew for TRM 2016
Another Ken and I running post - again, his thoughts are in blue

Not a new race for me... Its a local event that gives so much back to charity and the community.  I love being part of it.  Great leadership for the race and well run.  

Another new race, another new experience.  

If my memory is right, I paced here 2 twice and raced here once for a total of 2 fulls and 2 half's counting today.  Short version?  The half marathons went great, but I blew up on the fulls....  

This year I signed up to be a pacer again, this time for the 2:10 half group.  There was a girl who I hadn't me before named Kim that I would be pacing with and Ken was along with us as well.

The Tobacco Road Marathon starts at USA Baseball, makes it way to the American Tobacco Trail as an out and back down the trail and back to USA Baseball.  It is in our backyard and an area I spent a lot of time running in the past.  I have not run this area since before my injury so it will be good to run some old familiar ground.  This time was different though, Amy was pacing the 2:10 group and I was going along for the ride.

Woke up early on a spring forward Sunday morning.  What were we doing again???  That's right, races start early....  boo!   

It’s the Sunday that begins Daylight Savings time so we spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep.  Even though the race compensated for that hour by starting later, there was no spring in my step this morning.  But after a couple cups of coffee we were out the door and finding our way to the parking lot to catch the shuttle.

Parked at Net App said hi to Paula who was directing traffic and hopped on the bus for the ride to the start.   

Our nerves were definitely getting the best of us this morning but I knew it was still going to be a great day.   As we started walking to the shuttles, one of the Police officers said to cross the street and walk on the inside of the white line, all I heard was “ok, walk the white line” so I commented back that it’s not fair to have to walk the line at 6AM.  We all laughed and that seemed to spark a lot more laughs for the rest of the morning.  We said Hi to Paula as we got to the shuttle and headed to the start area.

There were already a lot of people there an hour before the start.  Met up at the pacer tent and met Kim. We talked some.  Asked her if she had paced before and she said no.  Told her what my plan was - run about a 9:30 - 9:40 pace and walk through the aid stations.  She was good with that - yay!

Rounded everyone up (or most everyone) and snapped a pacer picture.  

We get to the start/finish area and find the Pace team and Amy takes care of figuring out who she is pacing with and some of their race details.  Then a quick picture of the team by “The Flash” and then we wandered around.  It was a lot warmer than Myrtle which was good, but we knew hydration and body temp were going to prove to be critical factors.  So off to the Med tent we go…why so early, the race didn’t even start…Amy wanted to cut off her sleeves before we started.  To be clear on that, she wanted me to cut off her sleeves, yes it was funny.  Thanks to the Medics for being good sports and putting up with me.

We walked over to the start and lined up in whatever order i guess... lol!  One suggestion if i could offer one to the race committee, is to have flags in the start area that indicates pace per mile so we better know how to line up.  

Then to the start line we go.  We were singing along to whatever happy song was playing when someone said, “I’m sorry I was listening to these two sing”.  Of course we start laughing because here we go again…  Then at the start line we continued to laugh as we waited…and waited for the start.  Lots of familiar faces at this race too so plenty of conversations going on.

waiting for the start
Regardless of our unique line up we were there at the start with a good group of runners who wanted to run it in at 2:10.

The morning was warm, a bit humid as they were calling for rain but so far the sun was still low in the sky....   

We start at 8 and all anxiety of crashing goes out the window, the run was on and there is a job to do.  Now, again I’m only along for the ride but I knew I had my own job to do, keep moving forward at the pace they said.  Goal, keep them all hydrated and bring them in on time…got it.

The miles early on were not bad.  It was a full course tho.  For several miles it was packed with people.  It took miles for it to thin out...  I was soaked with sweat by mile 3.  Its early in the season for a warm run and i sure was not used to the humidity or the heat yet...  I was being careful with the people running with us too - told them to hydrate at the water stops while we walked through them.  

The road from the ball park to the trail was a sunny, crowded journey of 2.5 miles, not bad just a lot of people.   Some were saying that it should thin out at the split, but it really didn’t.  Once we hit the trail it was nice, shaded and just a good surface to run on.  On the way out everyone was in good spirits and we hit every water stop just as planned…Amy and her partner were doing great and they achieved their goal pace at every mile marker.  Naturally we started to come across the lead runners and groups so things stayed tight on the way out. 

Saw several friends out there volunteering their time at the water stops - some even got sweaty hugs from me - lol!  Right Bob?  Thx to all the volunteers who spent their day out there for the runners.  Can't do it without them!

Fuzzy selfie while running
As the miles went on, the heat went up, and the amount of runners in our pack started dropping....  It was indeed getting warm for the first part of March!  I was feeling it too.  Wasn't completely worn out but I was tired and it was warm. 

For me the run was going really well.  At the turn my legs felt good and I had plenty of energy.   This is a much better feeling than at the Myrtle Beach half.  The pace was good to maintain and there were plenty of water stations to walk through.
I think it was around mile 9 or 10 where Kim handed me the 2:10 pacer sign and said "Here, take this"  She was not feeling well and needed to back off the pace.  For whatever reason that gave me a boost of energy - cause it was up to Ken and I to bring in what was left of the 2:10 group.

People were strugglin out there.  I talked to several folks along the way, asking how they were doing and to "come run with us"  some would for a while, but then fall back again.  

Heading back things were still going well for me and it seem like Amy and her partner were staying strong too and still hitting our goal pace at each mile.  However, the interesting thing I learned about being a pacer is that you will lose and pick up different runners along the way…your job is to stay on pace.  I know every runner has good and not so good days and today ended up being a not so good day for Amy’s partner.  A couple miles before we got off the trail and hit the road she handed off the pacer sign to Amy and fell back.  I saw the switch flip inside Amy.  It was the OK, game on, this is mine and it’s time to bring them in.  Yes, we got this and it was good to see.

Those last 3 miles were tough.  The sun came out and there were a lot of people that were hurtin.  Medics were on the course for some people who needed help.  We were trying to stay hydrated and finish under pace time, and reel in a few of the ones were hurting.

Amy just seemed to get stronger and stronger as we continued and made the turn from the trail to the road.  The temperature went up but she became more vocal and kept encouraging other runners to come along and finish.  Then at one point she looked at me and said “you haven’t kissed me this entire race”… I was like but you’re working…Yes we held hands a couple times before but she was right there was no kiss yet.  So not to soon after I was like ok, give me a kiss…and she did, to the comment of “you just kissed some random runner dude” from one of the ladies running with us.  Then Amy replied “nope, that one is mine”…so yeah there is that.

Brought that last mile in slow, and finished right at 2:09.  Pretty happy with that :)  

Brought them in at 2:09!

As we approached the top of the last little hill I was gassed and ready to walk it in so I told Amy to go on and take them in.  Of course she wasn’t having any of that and said we were finishing together, side by side… did I mention how great she is?  So I suck it up for that last bit of the hill, made the turn into the park and we ran to the finish.  We finished side by side and hand in hand at 2:09…success!!!

Got our metals, some pizza and frozen chocolate milk and chilled out for a little bit.  Didn't stick around long, didn't even make it to the beer tent - what what??Even after the shuttle ride and drive home, we were still home by noon. 

Another good pacing event doneThankful to be able to pace.  Love helping people reach their goals and that finish line.  Sometimes all someone needs is a word of encouragement or someone to run it in with.  

Thank you Amy for letting tag along on this race and opening my eyes to yet another aspect of running.

Pacing…where you run for those in your group to help them achieve their goal.  Now that’s cool.