Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Motoring in the Motown

Detroit Marathon October 17, 2010
Paced the 4:45:00 group; Finished 4:44:58

Standing in the corrals on this fall morning the temps were very favorable.  A lot of first time marathoners were excited as we discussed the plan to cover the 26.2 mile journey.  Within minutes the race was in motion and Eminem "Lose Yourself" was blaring through the speakers.  The corrals were sent out in two minute waves. So after about 16 minutes of slow progress my group was nearing the start line waiting for the chance to take on the course.  Suddenly, it was our time and we were up to speed right off the line. I hit the first mile split at 10:40. This was 13 seconds ahead of the goal.  So I got the group slowed down and before I could do anything more we came to dead stop just before we started the climb onto the Ambassador Bridge. It was a slow stop and go process in crossing the bridge.  Once we were on the decent into Canada we were making up some of the 80 seconds that were lost in the first three miles because of the congestion on the single lane of the bridge.

Passing through Canada it was a beautiful fall morning. The sun was now up and the temp was ideal. Lots of cheering as we made our way towards the Windsor Tunnel. This tunnel brings you back into Detroit under the the Detroit water. It is officially the only underwater mile in any marathon.  I practiced for this moment by learning to count my strides.  I explained to the group I can not talk in the tunnel because I need to count since the Garmin wont receive a signal.  Checking the race results it posted an exact 11 min pace through the tunnel. I had counted a 10:55 pace, but I very happy with that. Not to shabby for being a human Garmin with only a 7 second variance to a prescribed pace.

Well now we were back in the states and eight miles done.  The group was still all together and the camaraderie was building. Everyone was supporting each other as we stayed on pace.  Coming into the half marathon mark I was only 23 seconds behind the goal.  I had figured out from the bridge how I was going to cut that 80 seconds without sacrificing any of the runners. The plan was working I had only lost two at this point and with another 13.1 miles to go cutting off 23 seconds was just a mere two seconds per mile.

A good friend of mine jumped in at mile 13.5 and kept us company through mile 16.5.  At one point one of the runners in the group fell back. My buddy went back and got his spirits back up and by mile 17 the runner was back with us. He said that my buddy had really encouraged him and pulled him through the low spot he was going through in those two miles. I was really excited to hear that. As always in miles 15-18 Indian Village is one of the most supported areas! The residents come out and give out candy, cheers and beers!! I skipped on the beer and went for the jelly beans.  I knew there would be more beer in the later miles. Just before leaving the village I high fived Benny from Benny and the Jets. How cool was this day going to get? I mean really, right on schedule, great weather, a great group and now Benny.

Heading into Belle Isle the sun was warming up a bit but not to the point where it gets uncomfortable. The Isle also has a lot of wind on it. I encouraged the runners to drink enough because the lack of shade.  Everyone was staying hydrated and around the isle we went.  As we left the isle one of the runners in my group made her move. She held back through the first 22 miles as we discussed and was looking remarkably fresh. Her goal was to beat her boyfriend's time of 4:43:00. I gave her the needed splits and a good description of the last several miles. Away she went and later I found out she beat his PR by 10 seconds.

Heading into the final miles my group had shrank down to two runners. Since mile 14 I was losing one per mile. It is always tough to see someone fall back.  The group worked together alot encouraging each other and I would side up to each one of the periodically giving them some one on one encouragement.  One of the runners at mile 23.5 dropped in right behind me. He was stride for stride as we made our way to the finish. He told me to tell him when we were a mile out. I said, "don't worry you got this and we are going to finish."

Within a few minutes I saw the final beer stand at mile 24. Approaching the aid station I hollered out "Beer Me!! Beer Me!! The pacer needs Beer!!" I got a few laughs and landed two full servings of beer. I checked to make sure my only runner was still in tow and away we headed to the finish.  Occassionally, at this point he was fading. I would slow down and turn around giving him a thumbs up and a smile. He would pull up and continue on with me.  Entering into mile 25 I saw another ultra runner friend of mine Al Durham pacing his father. We chatted a bit and encouraged each other on the run.

Turning the final corner on to Fort St; me and my only runner ran the last .2 into the finish.  I checked my Garmin and it showed the last mile at 10:53 and only 1 second under my chip time.  I could not be more proud sticking to the goal and working down those 23 seconds on the back half.  The official time came back 2 seconds under the chip goal, but I am happy with that too!! I stuck around the finishing area for awhile. Most of my group was not far behind. It was nice to see that they were so close.  Especially, most of them were first time marathoners and to hit their prediction goal that close was amazing.

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