Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's never too late (Tacoma City Marathon 4/30/17)

The plan was to ride Vashon Saturday and run TCM Sunday, but 5 days ago I got this email

Pacers Needed

The Tacoma City Marathon & Half Marathon are in need of a few Pacers this weekend. Here are the pacing spots that still need to be filled:



I’ve always wanted to pace a marathon. It’s one of those rites of passage. I can proudly say, I’ve never failed anyone I’ve paced in an ultra but pacing a marathon is different. It is like driving a bus, and people get on and off, you have to be encouraging to all but can't get too committed to a single runner, and there's less wiggle room. I remember following the 4:00 pacer at my first Chicago marathon in 2006, and overhearing her talking about a marathon she had run 2 weeks prior.  Outrageous. But thanks to the Maniacs here I am signing up to pace a week after a 50 miler.

Looking back at my times over the past year, a sobering reality. I barely beat 4:45 when I’m “racing”. And TCM is a hilly course. Another sobering reality, I go to pick up my pacer shirt and I can’t fit in the large. XL it is.

I decide I should bail on Vashon, and instead did a nice 38 mile FLAT ride on the Centennial trail in Snohomish with EG. Holy nostsalgia of BRS rides of the past. It was cold but the pink flowers were out.
Yes, these are twin Ti Davidsons. We “climbed” 458 ft over ~3 hours and talked about “getting the band back together” at the office, while getting some much needed caffeine at the Proper Joe. Sobering reality #3, how my quads felt even this leisurely ride, but it was the right thing to save the legs for pacing.

After the packet pickup at MM “world headquarters” I head to Oly to meet Elmer for pre-race dinner. Listened to my new fave addiction, SYSK podcasts about lying, composting, and other fascinating topics like, “Southerners weren’t ‘lazy’, just infected with hookworms”.  

Went for a short walk and saw a lovely waterfall, feeling the cool spray on my face another nostalgia.

Chef Elmer prepared an amazing carb load with grilled bread from Bread Peddler (with mashed potato on top), scallops, spiced shrimp, corn on cob and salad in wooden bowls, then I balanced a big bowl of buttered Whirleypop popcorn on my belly while watching “Hangover III”. Went to bed ridiculously early on the awesome army cot, woke up 4 AM to start the laborious process of anti-chafing before heading to Tacoma.

We had to wait about an hour outside in the cold before the start. A lot smaller crowd than when I last ran it at the MM reunion, but some familiar faces, like the Prez.

Ran into R., an experienced pacer. I expressed my anxiety, my slowing times, the fact that I didn’t have a garmin. He tried not to look too surprised when I revealed my plan to rely on the paceband taped to the pole, as well as my “internal garmin”. “Good luck with that”.

I was pretty nervous, took off waaaaay too fast. Had no idea what speed I was going but I could see the 4:00 pacer way off in the distance and figured was OK. Then I hit the mile 1 marker at 9:10, a 4:00 pace. “you’re pacing 4:45 not 3:45!” and “you’re ahead of pace!" came from passersby. My reply, “I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry”. I slowed down, and by mile 4, I was on pace, but running alone. Not easy to be a bus!

Met up with first time marathoner Amanda, and we ran together about 10 miles, she was actually pulling me along the hills of the 5 mile Pt Defiance loop. She was a former competitive Scottish Highland dancer and she educated me about the differences between Scottish and Irish dancing, and we both confessed a love of blood sausage. We parted ways at the Blues Brothers station, hamming it up and taking photos I got 1 minute behind.

It was a perfect weather day, and I got to try some new race nutrition, Huma energy gel with chia seeds. Yum. Ordered a box immediately on getting home. 

As a serial positive-splitter, I am all too familiar with the sinking sensation of being swept by multiple pace groups, and I felt a little like the grim reaper, carrying a stick with a maniac with cat on head, casting shadows while descending on runners. But chatted with many wonderful people. Met Barry who apparently had run the same distance as I did at Dizzy Daze. “don’t get chicked” was enough to get him running again despite a knee injury.

Got dual medals and chatted a bit with MM PK and Angie,

saw RD tp! and the dude who signs the national anthem, got to cheer on Amanda finishing before heading home with an ice cold diet coke.

I was so glad to finish in 4:44+ but next time I'm getting a garmin. Hopefully I won't run them through the laundry like my last 2 iPods....

No comments:

Post a Comment