A Simple Running Log

April 28, 2014

Training for 4/28/14

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 1:20 pm

I think I have a future as a pacer!

Friday evening, when I went to pick up my stuff for the half marathon the next morning, the woman in charge of the pace groups said there had been some last-minute injuries and asked if I’d like to lead a group with a faster goal time. I definitely hadn’t spent much time dialing in that 2:50 pace, so I immediately agreed, and got moved to the 2:30 group. For once my procrastination paid off!

I got a bright yellow shirt that said “pace team” on the front and back to wear in the race, as well as a “2:30 pace” sign on a stick I would carry while running and a band to wear on my wrist that was printed with the elapsed time at which I should hit every mile marker. The organizer told me it was fine to bank some time in the beginning and even finish a minute or two under goal time, to give people running with me a little bit of a cushion.

We drove to Fenwick, and had barely made it into the beach house when it started pouring outside. It rained like that the rest of the night, but was supposed to clear up before the race started the next morning.

My alarm went off at 4:40 a.m. Saturday. I was dressed and out the door by 5. Clark gave me a kiss goodbye and told me to run slow.

It had stopped raining, thankfully, but it was chilly and very windy. I parked at the Ocean City inlet and was on a school bus headed for the start line on Assateague Island by 5:45. I sat with a woman who told me she was planning on running with my pace group, but I never saw her again after we got off the bus, so I don’t know what happened to her.

I had an hour to kill before the 7 a.m. start when the bus dropped us off in the state park lot. I took my sweet time in a tent, pulling on my arm warmers and taping the laminated pace band around my wrist. I dropped off my gear check bag, and took off for a short warm up to try out the 11:27/mile pace I’d be running.

That's the Ocean City inlet as seen from Assateague, behind the big annoying watermark. It's like they're trying to stop copyright infringement or something.

That’s the Ocean City inlet as seen from Assateague on Saturday morning, behind the big annoying watermark. It’s like they’re trying to stop copyright infringement or something.

The pace was easy enough, even running into the wind, and I felt pretty comfortable in shorts once I got moving. The only thing that was concerning me at that point was the dumb pace sign. The wind kept catching it and whipping it around. I was worried I was going to tomahawk someone right in the face with it.

About a mile into the warm up, which I was running down the road that leads to the national park, I really had to pee. It was pretty much deserted, so I ducked into the brush along the road rather than run back to the start and wait in one of the mile-long lines for a port-o-potty. I don’t know what the hell is growing on Assateague Island, but it tore the shit out of one of my ankles and left a bunch of barbs in it. Oh well.

I ran back to the starting area. We were less than 15 minutes from the supposed start, but only a handful of runners were anywhere close to the starting line, and none of the other pace group leaders were in sight. I walked a ways past the start mats and waited.

It wasn’t long before runners started peppering me with questions, since I looked like the closest thing to a race official around there. Are we going to start on time? (It’s 6:57 and they’re still bussing in runners; it’s not looking good.) Is there a 2:00 pacer? (There’s supposed to be.) Why are you the only pace group leader out here? (I don’t know!) Is it OK if I wear my race bib on my back, under a jacket? (I guess, but why??) And my favorite — will there be a trash can near the start where I can throw away this empty water bottle? (Do I look like a park ranger?)

There was one cute moment though. A younger woman (turns out she was a college sophomore) came up to join my pace group. Her mom insisted on taking our picture together, which elicited a very exasperated “Moooooommmm!” haha. It was her first half marathon, and I got the feeling her mom had been insisting on pictures of every little moment for quite a while.

The rest of the pace group leaders filtered in, but it wasn’t until about 7:20 that they sang the national anthem and got us ready to go. This was the first year they started the race on Assateague; until now, they’d finished there and bussed people back to the inlet. I think they didn’t have enough buses to get everyone to the start on time, because they were still dropping off people after 7.

But eventually we were finally under way!

Can you find me? The 2:30 sign should make it easy.

Can you find me? The 2:30 sign should make it easy.

Probably the biggest advantage to starting the race on Assateague was getting the Verrazano Bridge, the only real “hill” on the course, out of the way in the first mile.

More than 2,400 runners going up and over the bridge.

More than 2,400 runners approaching the bridge.

I had my Garmin set to show me my pace and the total elapsed time. There was no first mile marker, since it was on the bridge, but the Garmin showed I ran it in 11:15, just a little fast, but not bad.

The pace felt easy to keep consistent, and the wind wasn’t bad in the crowd, so I was feeling pretty good overall. We hit the first water stop just over the bridge, which I walked through.

Right after the water stop, I was joined by a guy who looked so much like Daniel Tosh I kept waiting for him to make an inappropriate joke about, well, just about anything. He never did though.

The next few miles were along the shoulder of the road. Miles 2 through 5 were 11:27, 10:59, 10:59 and 11:06. There was a short out-and-back on a side street here, and then we were back on the road.

Mile 6 clocked in at 11:00 by my Garmin. It was here that Tosh pulled away from the group, the college student said her right foot was hurting her and she might drop back, and a few other people in the group said the pace seemed a little too fast. I tried to explain to them we were almost right on target by elapsed time compared to the actual mile markers (as my and probably everyone else’s Garmins were beeping off the miles before we got to the actual markers), but they didn’t seem convinced.

This was also when an older guy asked me how my calves felt, because I land so far forward on my feet. He said he didn’t think my heels had touched the ground once the whole time.

I reigned it in for everyone. The next few miles continued along that road, except for another out-and-back through a subdivision. Miles 7 through 10 were 11:26, 11:33, 11:15 and 11:24. We were consistently a minute or less under goal elapsed time at every mile marker.

The weird thing was, as slow as that pace was compared to the Shamrock half just a month earlier, it felt normal since everyone else was running the same speed. The power of suggestion, I guess. I was getting pretty bored with it though. My feet were hurting, probably because I was running differently to run that pace, and it was tempting to just hand off the pace sign to someone else and take off.

As we worked our way through West Ocean City toward the Rt. 50 bridge, I had a new yet very familiar concern — gut pangs. I’d been waiting for that. I hadn’t been able to go before the race, and running 2.5 hours without problems is a stretch for me any day, regardless.

Mile 11 chimed in at 11:28 as we approached another water stop with two port-o-potties. I made an executive decision and darted into the open one. I was able to take care of business pretty quickly, and then took off to try to catch back up with my runners as soon as possible.

We ran over the Rt. 50 bridge toward Ocean City, and were moving faster than the line of traffic trying to get to the beach too.

Passing traffic at just over 5 mph. Suckers!

Passing traffic at just over 5 mph, while checking my pace for the millionth time at least.

Around here, I caught up with two of the most complimentary people I’ve ever met. Two women asked me if I ran for a college, because my form was so good and I wasn’t even out of breath. “You’re in college, aren’t you? You look so young!” one said. “Nope, I’m 31!” I told them. Please, tell me more about how awesome I am! This is great!

I didn’t see the 12th mile marker, but the Garmin beeped that I’d run it in 12:23 because of the bathroom stop. Just past that, a bunch of us got stopped at the last intersection before the boardwalk to let an ambulance through.

When we finally got going again and made it to the boardwalk, we had to run a little bit north, away from the finish line, before making a U-turn and running in the direction of the inlet. I had no idea how I was doing on final finish time, thanks to the bathroom break, the lack of a 12th marker to check elapsed time and getting held up at the intersection. Several runners saw me and said “Oh wow, I’m running 2:30 pace right now?” and I’d say “Maybe!” I was feeling like a terrible pacer, honestly.

We ran around the pier and then down to the inlet, to the finish line.

I'm a blur in the background here, approaching the finish. It's the only shot of me near it.

I’m a blur in the background here, approaching the finish. It’s the only shot of me near it.

Mile 13 was 11:14. I hit the stop button on my Garmin as I crossed the finish and saw:


Officially, my chip time was 2:29:51. I NAILED IT!

Just past the finish, two women I remembered running with through most of the race approached me just to thank me for doing such a great job of pacing. They’d run 2:28, which was a PR for both of them.

I got my checked bag back and sat down to dig out my sweatshirt, when a guy walked up to me to thank me for pacing, and to shake my hand.

And later, after I’d gotten my one free beer (Bud Light, bleh) and was on my way to the parking lot to leave, another woman stopped me to tell me I’d saved her race for her with my pacing. Saved her race! Me!

I thanked everyone who thanked me, and told them it honestly meant a lot to me to hear all that. I also emailed the woman who’d organized the pace groups and told her how much I’d loved pacing. She said I’m more than welcome back to pace again in next year’s race!

So that was my first pacing experience. I got an iced coffee on the way back to Fenwick. When I got there, Clark and his dad were just leaving to go surfing at the Indian River inlet. I passed on more physical exertion, and instead took a shower, ate some lunch and took a nap on the couch. That evening, Clark and I went to Ropewalk, and then came back to the house to watch the Richmond race. I slept through most of it, but I did wake up in time to see someone who was not Jimmie stupid Johnson had won!

We drove home first thing yesterday morning. We had to meet Clark’s coworker around 11 a.m. to go to the O’s game, but I needed to get in a short run first. Things in my feet and hips felt weird, probably from the weird stride the day before. I pounded out three quick miles and felt 100 percent better.

The game was fun, even though the O’s lost again (my streak continues.) This was the view from the suite:

Not too shabby!

Not too shabby!

In addition to the all-you-can-eat food and beer, the suite also got a visit from former Orioles player Jim Orsulak.

I’ve got nothing on the schedule between now and the St. Michaels race in a few weeks. Today, I’ve got strength training and a short easy run to do.


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