I volunteered to pace the Duel Marathon this year in Wichita Falls. The Marathon Maniacs Pace Team needed a fast pacer to lead the 3:40 pace group, so I jumped in. I had never paced, and I wanted to give pacing a try - I also needed to deliver some snakes on breeding loan to Bryan Box in Wichita Falls, so I killed two birds with one stone by driving up there. What I really wanted to see was how running a slow (for me) full marathon on virtually no taper would affect my training. My only training concession to running the marathon this weekend was that I eliminated by 3x2mi repeat workout from Tuesday (replacing it with a 6 mi easy run), moved my 8 mi tempo run back from Thursday to Wednesday, ran a 5 mi easy on Thursday and moved my normal Wednesday rest day to Friday. Including the marathon, I still ran 72 miles this week.
I took off a half-day from work on Friday and drove up to Wichita Falls that afternoon. I breifly met up with some of the other Marathon Maniac Pacers for dinner, and shared a room with one of the guys (Marc Gill, the 3:30 pacer). Woke Saturday morning to a forecast of rain and snow. I really struggled with deciding what to wear - had I been racing, I'd have worn a singlet, arm sleeves, and shorts, expecting that my effort would keep me warm . . . but pacing 1:40/mile slower than race pace, I decided to go with a long sleeve shirt with my pacing singlet over it, gloves, hat, and shorts. My legs ended up getting a bit cold in the last half of the race being pelted by big flat snowflakes, and I probably would have been better served wearing tights, but mostly I was fine.
Before the race, I met up with two runners who wanted to run 3:40s - Rebecca was a 40 year old woman who had a PR of 3:39 who was hoping to BQ (needing at least a 3:45) and Walter was a 44 year old man from Guadalajara, MX, who had a PR of 3:44 who was hoping to PR. I'm happy to say that overall, I did my job by these two runners, as Rebecca finished with me at a 3:39:31 and Walter wasn't far behind us with a 3:40:59.
At the gun (literal gun, this race is started with a bang - using an antique double-barrelled shotgun), we started off a bit fast. Somehow, my watch had been reset to show "Current Pace" rather an "Lap Pace" and that threw off my pace a bit until I managed to get it reset. The first few mile we were met with temps around 37 degrees and light rain, which increased a bit through about mile 8 or 9 as the temperatures fell. I settled into a real steady, easy pace through these miles. Somewhere around mile 10, I saw my first snowflake, and by mile 13 as we ran up onto the Lake Arrowhead dam it really started to snow heavily, with big, fluffy, wet snowflakes. By mile 18 or so, it started to accumulate on the ground and on bridges (as well as on my hat, beard, and race bib). Running back directly into the north wind, legs being pelted by these big wet snowballs was interesting, and my legs felt like they were in an ice bath most of the last 10 miles of the race.
Rebecca, Walter, and I picked up a couple of other runners around mile 16, one of which hung with us most of the way (Ralf), finishing in 3:43, while the other fellow (never caught his name) ended up DNF'ing due to the cold. Walter dropped off behind me and Rebecca around mile 22 or 23 . . . I tried to push Rebecca to a PR (under 3:39) but she didn't have much left in the tank for the last 2 miles so we cruised in for her BQ time . . . and I hit the pace target requested of me ("as the 3:40 pacer, you should try to run a 3:39:30") almost exactly, finishing in 3:39:29.
Overall, the running 26.2 at a slow and easy pace didn't leave me sore or overly fatigued - I ran an easy 8 miler the next day and resumed my normal training schedule for the week. The next day, I really didn't feel much different than I do after a moderately paced 16 mile run at a 7:08 pace - so now I know that I can safely pick up easy paced races in between PR target races without adversely affecting my training schedule.
Shoes: I ran in Merrel Bare Access Ultras, size 10.5. Since it was scheduled to rain, I just wore one of my worn pairs rather than breaking out new shoes.
Shorts: I ran in my standard black 3” split shorts from Adidas.
Shirt: I wore a long sleeved Salomon shirt with the Marathon Maniacs Pacer singlet over the top. I wore "throw away" cotton gloves that I picked up at the Tucson expo - should have worn my dri-fit Brooks gloves instead.
Hydration: I really didn't pay any special attention to hydration on this one - took water and or powerade when I felt like it.
Socks: Injinji medium weight no-show toe socks.
Fuel: I planned on taking Apple/Cinnamon Hammer Gels at miles 7, 14, and 19, but ended up only taking one gel at the turn around around mile 15. Didn't seem to affect me. I also ate a 2-3 gummi worms along the way, but they were hard to chew as temps approached freezing later in the race.
Hat: Marathon Maniacs classic hat, which ended up with a layer of snow on the bill.
Glasses: as it was overcast, I wore no glasses.
Watch: Garmin 610. Somehow the "Custom 1" training page ended up with "Average Pace" instead of "Lap Pace" set in the window - I had to reset it on the fly. I don't really know how these things end up getting reset like that. Otherwise, it worked fine.