Sunday, June 7, 2015

2015 Steamboat Marathon

26.2 Miles - 4:00 Pace Group Leader (3:57:31)
Steamboat Springs, Colorado

I got roped into this race by a friend of mine about a month ago to help the Marathon Maniacs pace the Steamboat Marathon. He was pacing 4:00 but moved down to 3:45 so I could have the slower time. Coming into this race I was beat, 50 mile PR 5 weeks ago and marathon PR 3 weeks ago. My friends are always are calling me crazy but this time I was starting to believe them. I ran the steamboat marathon last 5 years ago in a time of 5:02! Yes you read that right five hours and two minutes which was a PR at the time. That seems like a different life ago which was a little way into my weight loss journey. I believe at the time I was about 210lbs. 5 years later and another 30lbs loss my marathon PR is now 3:26 I have wanted to come back and prove myself on this course that beat me down in 2010.

0-10 Miles, 1:30:26, 9:03 avg pace (1:10 under goal pace)
Being the 4:00 pacer makes you a very popular person at the start of the race. Just standing in line at the bathroom and then eating my PB&J near a trash can I started acquiring runners and answering questions. Most popular questions for pacers are “how many marathons have you run?”, “are we running even splits”, “have you run this race before?” and they kept coming but that’s all part of the gig. I told everyone at the start of the race that we would be running even effort splits meaning a little faster on the downhill and slower on the uphills. People really seemed to like this strategy as we ran about 20 sec/mi fast on the downhill and then gave it back by climbing slower than pace. This race has a ton of downhill but the website fails to mention it has lots of ups too. My group started out huge maybe 20- 30 people but after 10 miles we were down to 10 people who were serious about breaking 4hrs.

11-20 Miles, 10 miles in 1:31:30, 9:09 avg pace (overall 1:16 under goal pace)
Another thing the race fails to mention is the heat. Maybe it’s because the race starts above 8,000ft but that sun seems so intense. Around mile 11 or 12 I saw a girl about 100 meters in front of our group collapse. The shoulder of the road had a steep drop off and I thought she had just stepped off the road and fell down the hill. But as we got closer I saw her try to sit up and immediately fall over 2 times. I sent my group off on their own and stayed with the girl and another runner that had also stopped. It didn’t take me long to flag down a race vehicle and at the same time a bike medic pulled up to the scene. She was in good hands so I left and quickly rejoined my group. Mile 13 featured a big climb on the road and running by even effort we slowed to nearly 10:00 pace. But it didn’t matter that hill took half my runners. And the hills didn’t stop either my pace group slowly disintegrated though as I slowed as much as possible. At mile 15 we were only ahead of pace by about 20 seconds. On the next downhill we again picked up the pace banking a few second per mile, I warned the few runners I had left about one more tough climb where we would give back all our banked time.

21-26.2 Miles, 6.2 miles in 55:35, 8:58 avg pace (overall 2:29 under goal pace)
The heat and the hills had completely imploded my pace group leaving me 1 runner. As promised the 1 runner and I hit that big hill on mile 21 and gave back some serious time. Cresting that hill I asked her how she felt, she was doing great in feeling really good, I told her “well I am not the 4:00 pacer anymore now I am you pacer if you want to speed up”. With a few miles to go we dramatically picked up the pace grabbing a few 8:30’s. Now nearing the end of the race the 4:00 pacer is one of the least popular people on the course, often people were cursing when they saw me but others joined and again our group began to grow. I knew it was a bad sign when I passed the 3:45 pacer, it was so hot and hilly I felt bad for him. Finishing the race was pretty awesome as I remember how much I hurt finishing in 5:02 and today I was coasting in at 3:57.

That puts me at 2-0 for pacing and this time on a tough hot course. When I finished I was surprised to see the 4:30 pacer at the finish, apparently medical pulled her from the race. The other pacers all looked like hell and a little depressed, then I heard that 3:30 missed his time as well and 3:45 still hadn’t finished. The next day at work I learned that I was the only marathon pacer to hit the goal time! After the race the one runner I took from start to finish came and found me to say thanks and get her picture with me. It was her first marathon and she was so happy how it all turned out. That one thank you made it all worthwhile.

I believe this one is early on in the race maybe around mile 10.  The maniacs have an awesome pacer sign very light and the pole has holes drilled,  it was easy to carry for 4hrs.

Finish line photo



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