Monday, May 21, 2012

Pocono Run for the Red (Hot) marathon Pace Report

Yesterday I paced the Pocono Run for the Red Marathon in Stroudsburg, PA.  This was an extra special weekend for me, and the reason it was special had nothing to do with me.  I had three members of my family toeing the same line with a goal of finishing their first marathon!  Not only that, but I had a ton of family (and Lauren and my kids) there cheering for everyone.  And I must say, I'm incredibly impressed with how well each of them did. 

Lauren's sister, Carolyn, had joined the Runners World Challenge when she signed up for Pocono to "celebrate" her 40th birthday which was two days before the race.  She had run two half marathons and "easily" crossed the line at 3:45:36, her fastest mile being her last one!

My brother, Jeremy, and his wife Michelle planned to run the first half or so of the race together which they did.  Jer went on to finish 3:43:34 while Michelle got nabbed by the nasty heat we were dealt and willed herself to a 4:54. 

I added three marathon finishers to my immediate family yesterday, that is freaking inspiring....and awesome!

So how'd my weekend go.  A short recap with some photos...

I headed up Saturday to set up the / MotoACTV booth at the expo.  Now this isn't a huge race, but it did double in size this year from 700 runners to 1300 runners, so not too small.  The expo wasn't large, but it was busy all day.  We got set up and the first three hours just flew by.  It is so neat to meet all of the runners who stop by the pace tables, hear the story, talk strategy, etc.  What's also cool is to catch up with runners who have run in other groups that I've paced.

So after the expo was over, a few of us pacers grabbed our MotoACTV and took them for a little 4 mile spin.  I had spotted an ice cream joint earlier that I HAD to check out so I could plan my dinner accordingly.  The race had a free pasta party for the runners, so we got to mingle with some of the runners and see some old friends.  Then we had our pre-race pacer meeting and walked up to the ice cream shack which TOTALLY hit the spot.

I got all my stuff ready and hit the sack.  Plan was to meet in the lobby at 0545 to head to the bus pick up for the start.  It was a warm AM, temps near 60 so I packed some extra Powerbar PowerGel to keep me topped off with sodium since I'd be out on the course for longer than normal.  Goal time: 3:15, 7:27 pace.  I was supposed to pace 3:05 but one of our pacers got injured and I took over 3:15 which was a good thing considering the heat....and the sinus infection I was diagnosed with on Friday.

We made it up to the start, headed into the high school for rest rooms, stretching, etc.  By 7:40 we were lined up on the start, firing up our MotoACTV's and briefing our groups.  I had one of the larger groups that I've ever paced.  A full range of people..young, older, male, female, local and far off.  The temps were in the mid 60's already so I reminded my group to hydrate early and often and not to skip any water stops as they were located two miles apart.

The first half of the race was beautiful.  Shaded, tree covered roads, downhills and great volunteers.  I had a pretty large group and some extra motivation.  Lauren and the rest of the family would be at mile 9 cheering us on waiting for Carolyn, Jer and Michelle.  I don't often get to see their smiling faces cheering for me, so I was excited and I made sure my group welcomed them as we ran by.  

The kids getting ready for our arrival....
My group coming down the hill, notice the snazzy PINK Race Ready shirt!
We had a great group, here we are 9 miles in and still 25+ strong!
Feeling pretty good here, most of my splits were in the 7:25-7:35 up to this point.
A beautiful day, but HOT.  You can see how hard my group is working here.
Headed up the first "climb" on the course.  There would be many like it from 20-26.
Ready for Mommy/Aunt Carolyn!
Ring those cowbells!
Carolyn was all smiles.  And they even gave her bib #40 for her 40th birthday!
 So I rolled through the half right on pace at 1:37:28.  With all the downhill in the first half I really concentrated on making sure my group didn't go out too fast.  First 13 miles or so my splits were 7:25-7:35.  It felt like each water stop we hit (on two mile marks) my group would shrink.  As we hit mile 18 and rolled through the water stop my group splintered.  A few of them regrouped with me on the ensuing downhill and we stuck together through 21.  I could tell the heat was getting to them and I encouraged them to keep their HR's low by easing up the inclines and recovering on the downhills.  By mile 21 I was running solo.  Me, the road, the sun and the sign.  By this point I had been consistently hitting 7:20-7:27 so I was about15 seconds ahead of goal time.

I was getting HOT and bummed that I was by myself.  I did my best to pick up stragglers as I went which was successful, but each of them had to drop off eventually.  I caught up to Keith Strawn, the "Pink Tu Tu guy" about a half mile before the finish.  He and I chatted for a while as people were commenting on our matching pink!  As I hit the track I picked up three guys who were determined not to let my pacer sign finish in front of them!  So I crossed the line, solo, at 3:14:36.  I was glad to be done. 

Now it was the waiting game.  I caught up with some friends and many of the runners who were in my group and gutted out some incredible finishes...and qualified for Boston!!  The plan was for Lauren to run the last 10 miles with Carolyn so my eyes were glued to the entry to the track.  And they arrived...ahead of the 3:45 pacer!!  Carolyn looked so strong, I was so impressed, screaming at the top of my lungs for her.  She did awesome.  So I found the rest of the family and we grabbed a bite to eat.  By this point the temps were in the 80's and the medics were busy.
The kids had fun "racing" on the track waiting for Aunt Michelle.
And she did it!  The kids crossed the line with her which was so cute.
So it turned out to be a great day and a great weekend.  Logistically this is a great race and I'm glad I volunteered to pace and be a part of it.  Now I need to get in the pool, REV3 Quassy is COMING SOON!

Few cool "gadgety" things that helped me: First and foremost, the PowerGels with the sodium in them, I took three of them; Second was sunscreen and a visor!; Third was my MotoACTV and pace bracelet; Fourth were the cool Race Ready shorts which gave me easy access to my cache of gels as well as a great place for my room key; Lastly my trusty trainers, my Brooks Adrenaline combined with Swiftwick compression socks. 


  1. Great race report, as usual. And wow - I am in it this time! :) For the record, I have finished three half marathons. Two with Laurie, so those count more of course! What a great day we all had. Thanks for capturing it.

  2. Sounds like a great weekend! Fun read!