Monday, November 11, 2013

NYC Marathon Part II ~ The Middle Half

A few days before the Middle Half Marathon, which was held in Murfreesboro, TN on October 12, 2013, I received a call from my good friend Skip.

"A little birdie tells me that you want to run a sub 2 hr half marathon this Saturday"
"Yes, that's the goal" I said.
"Well, do you want a pacer?"
"ah, duh... a pacer? well, yeah. That would be nice" I replied without really knowing where he was going with this, and without really understanding what I was getting myself into.

Skip is one of those runners you always look up to. He is dedicated, committed and most of all he's fast.  So, what would he mean by "do you want a pacer?"

"I was planning or running my usual race this Saturday, but due to lingering injuries, my plan is to take it easy.  So when I heard you wanted to run a sub 2, I thought I would offer to be your pacer."

"Are you sure? You know that this pace is well below your normal pace. It will hold you back tremendously" I asked him.

"Yeap.  I figured if I pace you, first I can help you get to your goal, and second it'll prevent me from going too fast and aggravating my injury, so my motive is two fold." Skip told me.

And just like that, I had my very own pacer. 

Did I mention Skip is a very fast runner?

It was a perfect day for a race, weather couldn't have been better. I was nervous and yet excited.  I had never ran with a time goal in mind, I had never ran with a pacer.  But I felt ready.

I had asked coach Barry before the race what he suggested my race day plan should be. I wanted to know if I should go out faster the first couple of miles, settle into a comfortable pace during the middle of the run, then kick it into high gear at the end? or should I go slow, then fast and finish stronger, or should I go steady all the way through.

His reply was simple and to the point. He told me "don't over think it. Just go out and run, run your race, run your pace. Have fun."

So that's what we did. We started at a comfortable pace and settled into a more comfortable, steady one.  This served me well. I was feeling it. I would look at my Garmin and see that each mile was just where it needed to be.

Skip was more analytical than I was during the race. He was keeping track of our progress. Perhaps that's the job of a pacer, perhaps that's Skip doing what Skip loves to do, besides running fast.

Somewhere around mile 8ish, he said something like this: "don't want to jinx this, but we're running negative splits"

"WHAT?"  Negative splits, Me?  Never!  WOW!

Later on he asked me if I wanted something to feel really good about.  I said yeah, of course.

"See that 2 hour pace sign ahead?, they started way ahead of us.  Let's give it a push and pass them."  So we did.

We continued to navigate through he streets of Murfreesboro, without incident. The miles added up as we came closer to the finish line.  With some 2 miles left, Skip said, if you can, lets pick this up a bit and not only will you beat your goal, but you will  crush it.

"Crush a Goal?"... lets do this.

We crossed the finish line in 1:57:51, exactly at a 9:00 mile pace.  Two minutes faster than the goal. I will take this.

I would say that training for the NYC Marathon is well under way at this point. So far, everything that I set out to do has been accomplished. There's just three weeks left until D-Day.

But there's still much more to do! Many more hills to tackle, many more intervals to run, many more miles to log.

This is Part II of a IV part recap of my NYC Marathon Journey.  Part III ~ Why I Love My HOKAs coming tomorrow

NYC Marathon Part I ~ The Training Process, can be found by clicking here.