I hadn’t planned on running this marathon. But a friend of mine emailed me a little over a month before the race, and said they were looking for pacers. He knew I was an experienced pacer. I told him to go ahead and pass on my name. But I didn’t hear anything back. I thought about emailing the guy directly, but decided that it wasn’t a big deal if I ran it or not. It actually conflicted with my training if I ran it too hard. But I have a warm place in my heart for the Buffalo Marathon. It was the second marathon I ran, and my first decent performance for a marathon. And they also used my picture in their magazine ad which appeared in Runner’s World and Running Times. And as of this writing, they are still using my picture on their website.
But about a week before the marathon, I was contacted about being a pacer. He asked what paces I would be interested in running. I told him I could pace a 1:45 or slower half, or maybe a 4:15 or slower full. He gave me several options, and I went with leading the 4:30 pace group.
On race day morning, I got up at 3am, finished getting my stuff together, and drove from Rochester to Buffalo. I parked in a parking garage, and walked to the expo building. I picked up my pacer’s bag, and also the bag with my race shirt, and the various freebees. Then I went back to my car. I was going to pin my bib # to my shirt, but I didn’t get a bib. Hmmm. And no timing chip. I did get a nice Buffalo Marathon Volunteer shirt with PACER printed on the back. I guessed the pacers here didn’t get bibs or chips. Weird, since the other three marathons I have paced, I got bibs and chips. I did pin my pace chart to the front of my shirt. Hmmm. I still have some time to kill, so I took a nap in my car.
After waking from my nap, I changed into the rest of my running gear, and headed towards the start area. I used the porta-potties. Then I entered the coral, found my spot, and held up my 2:15/4:30 pace sign. Slowly people migrated towards me, and some asked questions about my pacing plan. I told them I was going to try to run even paced. I said that at the aid stations, I would grab Gatorade and or water, and just passed the aid station, walk while I drank. It was going to be a warm day, so I encouraged them to drink lots. While we were waiting to start, my buddy Al found me and said hi, before heading further forward in line. He was going to try to run a 4:10 marathon. Go Al!
They sang the national anthems of Canada and the USA, and then we were off. It was a slow walk towards the start line, I started my Garmin as we crossed, and then we were off. My Garmin 305 was giving me funky numbers while surrounded by all the buildings. There was no way were running near 4:00 minute/miles! LOL! I ran at what I estimated to be about 10:00 minute/miles. One of the people with a foot pod, said we were right on pace. Shortly after the start, after the crowd started spreading out a little, I chucked the sign. As we passed the first mile marker, we were a five or ten seconds ahead of pace. I said we would slow to a walk for a few. That’s what we ended up doing the whole way. If we were ahead of pace at the mile marker, we would walk for however many seconds we were ahead of pace. The course was pretty crowded at first, but slowly spread out. I had a good group of people for the first half. Along the way, I told jokes, or recounted funny stories, or talked about races I had done. Just before the halfway point, the half marathoners split off to run to their finish, and the full marathoners turned right followed by a couple more quick turns. Most of my group disappeared at the halfway point, but I still had a four five people with me for the full. But most of these people slowed in the next few miles. I held pace, slowing to walk at the mile markers and aid stations. Eventually I had just one guy running with me. Around the 18 mile mark, he said he needed to slow down, and was going to try for 5 hours. I wished him luck and kept running. It was really getting hot. I drank more than usual at each aid station, and was pouring water over my head. People had hoses out in front of their houses, and were spraying runners, or they had their sprinklers out. I took advantage of these, and tried to cool down, while trying to keep my feet dry. The fire department also had some hoses set up to spray runners. My clothes were soaked, but that was okay. It was more from the hoses than from sweat.
The last quarter of the race, got pretty tough due to the heat. The heat and humidity were just draining on me. But I had a job to do. Even though I didn’t have any runners running with me, didn’t mean I could come off pace. People were still asking me what my pace was. I had a woman with the Team In Training group run with me for a bit. She would fall back some, or go ahead some. I had to tell her and another lady that she was running with for a bit, to move to the left side of the road, where the road was in the shade of the trees lining the road. Seemed pretty obvious to me, but they had been running along in the full heat of the sun, on the right side of the road.
As I approached the finish line, I slowed to a walk, and then jumped up and clicked my heels as I crossed the line. It felt very awkward, and lame, and spastic. I got some cheers and applause. But I saw pictures of my jump later, and it looked awesome. It looks like I am four or five feet off the ground. I stopped my Garmin at 4:29:11. Pretty close to my 4:30 goal time. I would rather be a little under, than over.
I got my medal and some water, and headed for the massage area. I was looking around for my buddy Al thinking he might be waiting around for me. But I didn’t see him. I later learned he finished about 20 minutes after me. Apparently I passed him around the 18 mile mark, but never saw him. He said he saw me go by. There was a line for the massages, so I waited. They ended up closing down the massage tent, and I was the last person to get one. I made my way back to my car. I called my wife to let her know how I did. I changed into dry clothes in my car.
On my way home I stopped at McDonalds to get a milk shake and some food. I find a milk shake is really good after a long hot run. The first McDonalds said their shake machine was down. This was after they had already taken my order. It took 10 minutes to get my money refunded. I drove to another McDonalds and got my food and milk shake.
After I got home, I emailed the guy who contacted me about leading a pace group. I gave him a short synopsis of the day, and let him know my finishing time. I never heard back.