I could just about nickname this race "Fairview, Part 2!" This race was awesome. Another half marathon in the books, and my second one to have the pleasure of running as a pacer. LOVE LOVE LOVED it.. Can't express enough of how much fun I had today. I was humbled by over the last 3 years, that I would at the point in my running career where I could honestly say that running 13.1 miles is EASY. I'm not at all tooting my own horn, but merely appreciating more and more of the athletic talent that is unfolding within me. I've always learned to respect the distance, no matter what. Today was another day of showing my love and respect for 13.1 miles. I've heard of runners saying that the Half Marathon is just about their favorite distance. I have to agree!! Here is my recollection of today's epic journey across my hometown.
It was my luck I stumbled upon the opportunity to pace this course. As I've said before, this race has an affiliated race (same course) called Heels and Hills and Him that takes place in September. I ran the 10k at HHH, and placed 2nd in my age group. Today was just a revisit of this course, only venturing out further, and finding a reward in what it takes to be a pacer. The Heels and Hills pace team is formed with an elite group of 16 men (2 men per pace from 1:50-3:00) known as the "Men in Skirts". Yes! I said skirts. The Heels and Hills race is a non-profit group that supports the activeness in women. As an encouragement for women, moms, housewives, etc to get active. Us men in our skirts had the pleasure of pacing these ladies today.
The course itself took place in the northern part of my hometown of Irving, Texas in the area known to locals as Las Colinas. Along the Campion trail that runs down through Las Colinas, under some of the major highways, and then loops around and comes back. Beautiful course, mostly flat with a "fair share" of rolling hills. Perfect trail to run on if you want that all chasing PR if you ask me, sets the Heels and Hills course. With temps in the low of 50 and the high of 69, perfect conditions, and as a bonus, the course was predominately shaded, so it was a great race to run overall.
As every race I blog about, I always start with the very beginning. Usually with the expo, or packet pickup, to getting up at the crack of dawn to get ready. Well, this race was more simplified then some of the big races like Dallas White Rock or Cowtown, where it's a 3 day event. This race was so laid back, and easy to manage. It involved me going Friday afternoon to the hotel where the expo was held to get my gear. I was in and out in under 5 minutes. I was so excited about this race, just like I was when I ran my first race 3 years ago. I went to bed last night at 10 and got up at around 4:30 this morning, and was wide awake. Did the usual take the dogs out routine, showered, dressed, and was out the door by 5:40. Along the way out to the course with Stacie, I had the added pleasure of bringing my mother with us to the race. Luckily, she lives just 5 minutes away (driving time) from the course, so it was no challenge getting her, some essentials we packed and on our way. I had to improvise a bit by dropping them off close to where the starting/finish line was and make U-turn to the parking garage. Again, another great race where parking was free, and I even got a spot right by the entrance. Win-win!! So, I parked, grabbed the chairs I loaded up and the other essentials mom and Stacie used while I was on my journey with the other runners.
Just so happened, they walked up, found the first corner spot of the race and camped out there. Not only that, they met my pace partner, Jerome "Jerry" Floyd aka "Big Sexy". I eventually caught up with them and reunited with Big Sexy, as I had met him at the Fairview Half we paced in last month. Great dude, good sense of humor and we clicked immediately. Our jokes and "sexy humor" made the 2:20 awesome as one other runner said to me after the finish. With time to spare, and as all of the pacers showed up, word got out quick that the MIS were on the scene and runners after runners flooded to us like we were a rock band getting pictures taken with us. I gotta admit, I enjoyed the "rockstar" moment. Not very often I get this kind of attention, so I drank it up. What would you have done?? Honestly!! By 7:15 sharp, our pace team Captian, Jose Vega aka "Pepe" got us together for our group picture over by the line and then more pics from the runners came and went. That was the fastest 15 minutes of the day because the next thing I heard was the announcer calling the Half Marathon runners to take position as they began the start of the race, followed by the 10k, and then 5k runners. Big Sexy and myself took our place about 10 yards behind the 2:10 pacers, heard the National Anthem, and then it wasn't long after that that the race took off.
As we inched our way up the starting line, I had my stop watch set for once I stepped over, I would hit the start button and then take the pace flag and take off. Once over the line, I felt the wind in my face and the joy of running was within me again. I stayed to the right hand side of the street where I knew my wife and mom would be. Cameras aimed, they took a few good shots of me and Jerome taking off with the group and from there, I knew this was going to be a great run. Since Jerome and I have had a fill for this race after running it before, we knew where certain spots and turnarounds were going to be. I don't what it was about this race, but it was somewhat hard for me and Jerome to maintain the 2:20 pace. For the first 3 miles, just at the 10k turnoff, we kept the pace on target. As my old habit stirred up again, I felt warmed up and sped up JUST a little bit. A "little bit" was a somewhat an understatement, as we passed mile 4, we were close to 5 minutes ahead of pace time. I took advantage of that incase there was a wall that was hit, we could cash in on some of the minutes we were ahead of. This plan worked to the T!! As we reached beyond the 10k mark, Jerome and I were exactly 5 minutes ahead of pace. Going into the second half of the race, and just a small round of hills, this worked well for us. All we had to do now was keep encouraging our group of runners and let them know they were doing fantastic. I had one lady ask me questions that she thought was "stupid" regarding the race if it was an exact "out and back" race. I told her not to worry about asking a stupid question because there have been some races where it was considered out and back, but had a big loop at the end prior to swinging it back to the finish line. At mile 8 we had crossed the same bridge we crossed before going to the big loop after the 10k split and was met with a set of arrows going one and another set pointing a different direction, and a courtesy cop pointing us to the way we needed to go. Big Sexy was humorous enough to tell the officer that we weren't drunk, just dared to wear these skirts. I myself made more fun by lifting the front of my skirt trying to do a "Marilyn Monroe" impression. Failed... LOL!!
After that little laugh, we were going from mile 8 into 9 with yet another set of confusing arrows. My philosophy was to just go with the flow of traffic. The majority of the runners ahead of us were going straight and the one confusing arrow was pointing towards a big hill that looped back onto the course. My philosophy paid off as there was a race guide sitting on the job and telling us at the last minute to NOT go up the hill. Not to complain Mr Race Guide dude, but DO YOUR JOB!! By, then I had also began to feel a bit of discomfort in my leg, which again was my IT Band. I have got to get that fixed. I stopped, stretched, continued till just after mile 10 when it happened again. So, stop, stretch, continue again. It worked. This is were those 5 minutes Jerome and I had in the bank was getting cashed in. At mile 11, we were 3 minutes ahead, so it was easy for us to slowly inch our way back. Little did we know, what we thought was inching back was actually going a bit faster. At mile 12, I could hear the crowds and announcer talking through the PA, and we had dialed back down to being just 3 minutes ahead. By then, mine and Jerome's little rat pack we had formed throughout the raced had dissolved some. Only to have it grow back towards the end. One of the runners that had stayed with us had mentioned that we had gone a little too fast for the group, which we humbly apologized for, but paid off right at the end, when we hit the last hill, then the last turn off before hitting the main bridge where the line was.
As we made that turn, Jerome and I had dialed back down to being just 1 minute ahead. We exhausted that last minute by encouraging one lady who we had passed up for a split second. I quickly turned and yelled "come on".. this is your race, finish strong. Then Jerome followed up by letting her know this was for her not us, so finish strong. Amazing how spent that woman was, she found it in her like all experience when seeing the finish to gun it. I as a pacer was taken back again by all of my past races where I felt that same desire. This lady finished right at 2:20 with Jerome and myself. Just before I passed the line, my wife and mother had moved over towards the finish line to get some pics of me as I was coming in. It was a nice easy jog coming in and it felt so rewarding to pace yet another great race. Finished right at 2:20 as the clock said 2:19:59, then it clicked over as I crossed. Nailed it again!! Finished, got my medal, high 5ed Big Sexy as we did a great job pacing our group. Got some water and mingled a bit. I met up with my wife and mom for more pics, then mingled some. I waited around for my tattoo buddy Andrew aka "twentysix-two" as he was pacing the 2:40 group. He came in, hi 5ed me and took some more pics, had some laughs, and felt rewarded for what we all did today as pacers. Even though we were the "men in skirts", I would do it again in a heartbeat..
All dressed up and ready to go. A litte teaser. You'll see the skirt in action!! hehehe
Me and Jerome aka "Big Sexy:, Our goal was to make the 2:20 group the sexiest group of the race. Goal achieved... hahahahahaha
Here comes the Men in Skirts..
And I'm off. Yes this skirt made me look fat! LOL. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Me and Big Sexy coming in for the finish. I had to show some leg.
Giving the bling the bite. Notice the bib says "Timmaay"
The 2:40 group. Andrew and Johnny coming on in.
Me, Andrew, and Lisa.
"Brothers in arms" - Andrew
I sure made momma proud. Wifey has requested no pics of her posted in this blog. If I want to sleep in my own bed (with her) tonight, I will honor that request. Anyways, she's proud too.
I walked away proud of myself as well. The effects of the injuries and failures from the past are now behind me. This race has set the pace for me as to what lies ahead this summer. I'm still on tap for my 90 runstreak starting May 15. I don't have any races planned or lined up for this summer, other than to just run my streak and run to be fit and happy. I'm looking forward to the fall schedule as I gear up to Half Fanatic qualify. Game on!!