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2017 Space Coast Half Marathon

We had great weather conditions for this event, we had 60 degrees at the start and 63 degrees at the finish line two hours later. The team dinner was good reconnecting with the group that comes to this race each year. Only Miami Marathon has more pacer people!

My morning started early as I woke up at 3 am for unknown reasons. Not a bad thing, it’s good to have extra time to prepare. Everything in that realm is well sorted, I drive to the race and park in a new place – a dry cleaning business that’s closed for the day. I am only 2 blocks from the start line. I know the pacers are meeting at 5:15 for a photo, I’ll have been to the restroom already and in place for that. My group at the lineup consists of all ladies… Jennifer, Valerie, Keibe, Hannah, PJ,  Lori, Sondi, and Jennifer Keyes whom I know from Palm Beach county. The other Jennifer lives or runs in Jupiter, Fl. I tell her about our group and where we meet each week for long runs. Lori and Sondi ran with me last year in the 1:50 pace group – they will look to stay with me for most of the miles then surge ahead later if they feel good. Hannah is someone that knows Pacer Kristen and was told by her that my 2 hr group would be a good fit. I give a brief talk on how we handle water stops, reminding everyone to tie shoes securely and that I will do most of the talking when the going gets tougher in their later miles. A guy dressed in orange named David joins in with us during Mile #1, he stayed for most of the race before scooting ahead in the last 2 miles.

We ran the first mile in 9:54, above the recommended 9:07 pace but the road heading out was crowded. Plenty of people disregard the pace per mile signs and feel if they are in a race, they need to be near the start point. It’s considerably different than the 1:50 group which I’ve done for the past three years. In those years we galloped to pace pretty quickly. Mile #2 had us 20 secs closer and by Mile #4 we were within 10 secs of perfect timing. I chatted with some of the frontrunners in my group, we are behind Pacer Callix and his 2 hour gang. The Galloway 2 hour group correctly starts behind us, almost catches up and then takes their walk break. We do well on the first “out” portion of the course to the turnaround. I remind the group to drink and eat their nutrition before they feel hungry or thirsty. I guess that my group has a dozen people, plus a few of the “followers.” Followers refers to the runners that won’t say they ran with a pace group – but they tail us the whole way until they drop off or zip ahead near the finish.

At halfway, we turn towards home and a few have peeled off. I told folks that we would invariably go through the turn area mile a teeny bit slower than we should, there are porta potties, two aid stations and a run over the halfway point timing mat. We leave there and hit Mile #7 about 12 seconds slow. Hannah is now up front running next to me. Her mom is in the race, too, following a slower pace team. Her dad was at the turnaround, they are Space Coast locals! Today’s run will be a personal best if she can finish in the 1:5x:xx zone with me. Our group is good as a gang of 6-7 in the 8,9, 10 mile areas. We pass a few people, I invite them to join and stay with us but they are already tapped on energy for today. Hannah says at mile 9 that it’s beginning to become a struggle. I fill her with only positive thoughts about how she’s already done all the hard work in training, the majority of the miles are already done, and how soon we will be celebrating at the finish with a group photo! She was so good in breaking through whatever she was experiencing. My chats with her got head nods and positive smiles and affirmations. This was us running down River Rd. one on one, going for her best time ever. So fun!

Well here’s a race day first. At around 10 miles, I reminded my group to use the nutrition they brought. Eat a gel, chew on the gummies, whatever, don’t think that taking anything any later in the race will help your performance. Hannah pulled out a sleeve of Clif Shot Blocks, the same thing I had in my pocket. She futzed with the packaging, and I offered to help her open it so she could focus on the running. She said she was ok and that it was open and ready now. Seeing her eat the gel block, I thought I’d use some of mine – the flavor I chose to carry today was a good one. I keep mine in non-ziplock plastic sandwich bags, so they are easy to reach in and grab. I put one in, chomped down and felt a crunch. Huh? They don’t crunch! I reach in and remove it from my mouth, along with a 35-year-old tooth crown stuck to the gummy. Really? Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 11.20.12 AMI pulled the tooth off the gel and store it in my Nathan 10k pouch. I’ll be glad I did that vs pay for a new one to be created. I tell my group what happened to many laughs. Seriously, I exclaim – “I will do anything to help you reach your goals, including shed body parts and other essentials!” This lightened the mood for ½ mile and made for a good bunch of laughs as we rolled forward with less than 5k to go.

At 11 miles, I told two of the runners, David and one of the gals to go faster if they felt good. At this point, the bridge at the base of the finish line area was well in sight, I used that to encourage them to really go for it, which they did. Hannah also soaked up these truths, she was a mere 19 minutes from the best time she has ever had, and although hurting some, I kept encouraging her to just run with me, not waste energy talking unless she wanted to, and keep rolling forward. I distracted her and the group back at the turnaround, asking them to “remind me at mile 11.5 to share with you my confession for the day.” That builds curiosity and Hannah was quick to remind me once we passed the 11 mile flag. I told them that our goal as a team was really to finish 30 seconds early – if they were with me and had started in my group, they were definitely going to get a sub-2 hour time if we finished together. I think that realization, with the tall condos and finish area in view, helped Hannah and two other gals significantly. They knew and believed they could!

The final 2 miles had all of us making sure we had good bib placement and smiles ready for the on-course photographers. I told my group the photographers usually sit on the long last straightaway. I also cued them in on the fact that spectators line the road and final finish area and these folks would be cheering for them. “Tingle time” for Ms. Hannah! She was right with me and at 12.5 miles I told her to run for the finish, she was so close, the last 800m was only two laps around a high school track. The rest of my small group did the same. Lori and another gal we had passed lined up next to me and sped up. I explained that I had to finish on time, but they were encouraged to surge if they had energy and felt good. For the final half mile, only I ran in with the 2 hour Galloway pace group leader. He said his group ‘kinda all ran with me, the run pace of a 2 hour run/walk group was pretty aggressive he explained. So I finished at 1:59:27, almost tripping over a rug they put done on the last curve to cover wet dirt. I took good pics with some in my group at the finish. Hannah was clearly the star of my group, she fought hard and really achieved what she hoped for a mere two hours before.space coast

It’s very rewarding to have been a part of that type of personal triumph. I know she was working hard and feeling discomfort. A few of the others met me at the finish line to thank me for the experience. I waited for a few of the girls I started with who finished in 2:02, 2:03 range.




2017 Miami Marathon

pacer-group-miami-2017Our morning started out uneventful. The Hilton is a good place for us to stay, I was rooming with Jeff Zern from Arkansas. A few other pacers were waiting for us in the lobby, they knew I was local and could lead them to a good parking spot under the American Airlines Arena. Seriously, how is that so convenient and still only $5?

It was 59 degrees at 4:45 am when we arrived at the Start area. My Altra shirt fit tight, size small was – SMALL! I went to the restroom inside the arena and came out and made a really good decision. I did the pacer group photo at 5:15. Then, I went back to my car quickly and put on long-sleeved Under Armour shirt. It was cooler than I thought and temps were predicted to drop all morning. This shirt was my insurance policy. And it matched the graphics on the Altra shirt – bonus style points for the race pics.

I met people in Corral E waiting for me from the Expo. I had 4 or 5 half marathoners, among them a friend named Jodi. Also, I had a few blue-bibbed full marathoners. Nicole, Jorge from Mexica, Leonardo, Maddy and a gal from NY dressed in all black. A few others stayed on the periphery, not talking or introducing themselves but definitely running with us. I went over the things I cover pre-race with my group: pace strategy, water stops, bathroom breaks, shoe lace tying and tidbits about the course. Some asked about the weather, I relayed what I knew… It would be cooler at the finish and we had an 80% chance of rain at 8:00 am. The race started on time and we didn’t have a prohibitive crowd running the first mile up the causeway hill. Staggering the start of the corrals has proven to be a good idea!

We ran the first mile 40 seconds slower than goal pace. I reassured everyone that we’d be on the right schedule very soon, start-line-miami-2017which was true. Mile 2 had us 25 secs off goal and Mile 3 was 12 secs above. It was dark and we had our first encounter with rain in the second mile. No changes for us, we were on the dark causeway distracted by the views of the cruise ships, a fireboat firing off the hoses in the air a la NYC, and a car ferry docking near the inlet. The rain stopped as we made Miami Beach, we ran around by Joe’s Stone Crab and up Ocean Drive with no showers.

A new part of the course had us run south on Washington Ave and then back north on Washington Ave again. We had more rain here on miles 5 -6 -7. My group was very good at keeping pace, we picked up another lady who spoke Spanish only, so I didn’t understand her name when she told me. The NY gal was good with conversation, I soon learned we had a big Spanish contingent that really wasn’t listening to me chime on in English. In my fourth year of pacing this race, this was new for me. Most everyone just smiled or made no reaction when I spoke directly to them. Odd, but the rain kept us quiet. I still gave advice, offered some touristy bits and helped thsouth-beachem know when water stops and aid stations were coming ahead. The Venetian Causeway was open this year, a welcome change from doing the Causeway bridge again at Mile 10 like last year!

On the Venetian Causeway, I picked up two full marathoners, Andres and Riccardo. Andres was wearing my home run club’s bright orange shirt, Riccardo was tall and dressed in black. They both ran up front with me and did some talking, which was perfect as we approached Miami. We were on pace for the miles 7 thru 11. Once we hit the mainland, it’s only 3 more miles with the half marathoners before we go south with just the full marathon runners. Maddy, who had drifted off to run and talk with a “cute guy” that spoke her language, was now back in our fold. We ran in the rain through Overtown and past various drum lines and bands. It was good to have fan support again. I was definitely getting cold. We parted with our orange-bib half marathoners and began heading south. Andres commented that, “They are weak” for not doing the full. This was his first marathon, he was big on the bravado to psych himself up, I guess! We crossed the halfway point at about 5 seconds off pace. I think  we slowed through the half/full split area.

Once at Mile 14 we went over the last significant rise in the course. Andres, Riccardo, Maddi and a few others headed away from downtown towards Coconut Grove. I took a pee break at the Mile 15 porta-potties, I told the group to stay at the same pace and I’d catch them. It wasn’t difficult, it felt good to stretch out and pick up the pace for a few minutes to catch them. And Andres’ screaming orange shirt was very easy to spot. We went through the neighborhood areas then into miles 18-20 in Coconut Grove. Andres dropped off, but we picked up a guy in red with headphones and a Camelbak. He would not drink at the aid stations, but he always stayed to the right in the way of everyone trying to get Gatorade or water. Annoying!

riccardo-dave-miami-2017Riccardo and a girl in a sports bra (Mimi?) were my closest runners, with a few in tow hanging on to our pace. The rain started up again near mile 22, here’s where we turn to run to, under, and back from the Rickenbacker Causeway. on this stretch I was mostly with the Camelbak guy and Mimi, Riccardo made a move to go for better than 3:50. Another guy in a blue shirt who was with us for awhile started to fade. A few others passed me – I encouraged them in the rain to go for the finish, they were running strong in the final two and a half miles.

The rain really picked up for our finish. I was alone and on pace in the final mile. I kept checking behind me to see if I could urge another follower to run in with me – no luck. The final small drawbridge at Mile 25.7 saw a few people walking and a good number of fans encouraging runners through the cold and rainy conditions. I finished up right near perfect time, (3:49:34) and quickly lost plenty of heat waiting for Helen to take the pacer signs. A few of my runners stopped to thank me, one older guy who I didn’t catch his name said he had paced with me three years in a row and was happy with his time. I quickly made my way to the VIP zone once Helen took my signs – the weather was getting worse and I was standing around in wet clothes. Coffee, eggs, bacon, it all helped!



Aboard but on my own plan

5mi. I always run the final interval workout prior to a marathon at my own “stay in the middle of the group” pace. Today was in the 50s, good practice for what I could wear in Miami. I stayed in the middle, never ahead of Attila and never behind Perry. Lilia and a few others were near me on some of the intervals.

1 mi warmup jog

600m w/200m recovery
600m w/200m recovery
600m w/200m recovery
1200m w/200m recovery
400m w/200m recovery
400m w/200m recovery
400m w/200m recovery
200m w/100m recovery
200m w/100m recovery

1 mi cooldown jog.



Miami Marathon 2016

A chilly start – but very successful day! My time was 3:49:34, very close to a perfect pacing day.

Let’s start with the expo…


Literally “chillin’ with the pacers” at 5:00am. American Airlines Arena.

The expo was in a new location this year, Mana Wynwood, the artist’s community of Miami. Parking wasn’t difficult since I was on for the first shift. I’m glad I left early, part of I-95 was closed due to an accident on Saturday morning. The venue was a large building that could have been a bit better utilized. There was plenty of space unused in the facility, it seemed like the marathon and all accompanying supplier booths were crammed into a smaller, designated section. Because of this, the expo felt more like a flea market! Tight aisles and crowded everything. Our Purium Pacing booth was very well positioned, not a single person could miss our signs, triple booth or enthusiastic workers. I think we boosted attendance in the pace groups as well as awareness of Purium products dur to the great location of our stand.

Pacer dinner was very good, surprisingly the Cuban-based restaurant we had used two years ago had a diverse menu. Some of our runners were overlooked with their servings, but honestly, this is bound to happen in a group of 25 or more. My food was well prepared and a good portion.I roomed with David from Erie, Pa. He was the 3:10 pacer. He had a very focused approach to his preparations. He wanted to wake up at 3am, eat something, then lie down for 45 minutes to properly digest – thankfully he didn’t budge until 3:30. I slept well, neatly tucked into the covers. David preferred to sleep in cool temps, so we had the air conditioner on all night!

I roomed with David from Erie, Pa. He was the 3:10 pacer. He had a very focused approach to his preparations. He wanted to wake up at 3am, eat something, then lie down for 45 minutes to properly digest – thankfully he didn’t budge until 3:30. I slept well, neatly tucked into the covers. David preferred to sleep in cool temps, so we had the air conditioner on all night!


The group in the hotel at 4:15am

Our morning drive over was the best we’ve ever had. A quick jaunt on 395 East to I-95 South, exit on 8th Ave and drive to 5th Ave. We went straight East into the Port area and parked under the AAA for $5.00 Easy as ever!

Pre-race it became apparent that my clothing was ok for the temps, as I had practiced during the week. The wind was a chiller, however, I couldn’t get warm at all waiting for the running to start. Corrals opened late, no reason why but it has happened before at Miami I remember. Thanks to Kristen for giving me a “barrel liner – 6ft tall clear bag to wear while we waited. April Flynn had two pink sweatshirts on, one of those worked just enough to keep my teeth from chattering, so a big thanks to her, too!

My group consisted of Melissa from Ft Lauderdale, who wanted to start with us but said she would end up running a different pace. Also hovering near me in the early miles were Sue (First marathon) Stephanie, Phillipe, Anne (from Melbourne, AUS) Felix (From Cologne, GER) Uttarrio, Wladimir from Ecuador, Gordon Turner (from south of Lexington, KY) There were two other gals from Pompano that stayed alongside us all the way past Mile 13, but I did not get their names, they were “plugged in” to their music.


With Melissa in the corral. Thanks Kristen for the large clear bag and April for pink sweatshirt!

The corral starts were wisely staggered, this is a big improvement! We were at 9 min mile as a group for mile #1. This 13-second differential was the largest I’d have all day at any mile marker. The cool weather allowed us to be right on pace by Mile 4 on South Beach. Sue was my “closest” runner in the first half, she stayed right by me listening and soaking in advice, tourist spots and anything else I was saying! We saw the race leaders coming back at us near mile 3.5, that’s always exciting. The new route on South Beach was very good, it seemed to go by quickly. I was not too cold at this point, but I wasn’t ready to toss the pink hoodie, knowing we had more exposure to the NNW wind on the run back across the causeway. I found the miles 9 & 10 on the Mac Arthur Causeway to be the toughest conditions of the day – wind in the face and a hill at Mile 10. Our pace was consistent but a tad slower going up the hill into the wind…

Once back in Miami, the half marathoners left for their finish line. I still had a sizeable group for the 3:50 full, maybe 10 people. We did well over the Mile 14 drawbridge, I kept reminding the group to drink more than they thought, since they weren’t having any sweat issues, which can be deceiving! I employed Sue to hold my water bottle and pacer sign between Miles 15 & 16 while I quickly did a pee break on course. Once back with the group, we did well through the small residential neighborhoods leading into Coconut Grove. Some of my group was now about 50 feet back running steady, with several others joining me at the front to talk or tell me how they felt.

Once we entered the 20-something miles, I got my group to concentrate on anything but “only 6 miles remaining.” We discussed a few neat things in that regard, then found ourselves making that right turn towards Rickenbacker Causeway. The sun was in our face and my best two runners came forward, Felix from Germany and Uttario. It was so nice to see so many runners going strong from this point on, usually in warmer Miami conditions people are doing plenty of walking!

We went down Brickell Ave with many people cheering for us. The wind was blocked by the buildings and trees, this two mile straightaway was the most rewarding for so many of the runners near me. Many were smiling, they had great conditions and were all running well as we approached the final two turns. I sent my two guys ahead because they had good energy – they both waited for me at the finish to thank me for helping them achieve great races. I waited for several people at the line, those that still obtained PRs and finished a minute or two behind me.


The MacArthur Causeway, on the course twice this year, mile #1 and mile #10.

I visited the VIP area for warm coffee and eggs. Then I went to the Hydration Rejuvenation area for an IV. This process is so beneficial! I mentioned it to so many people on the course and at the pacer dinner. I see their business doing very well here in South Florida!

2014 Palm Beach Marathon

PB marathon 14-227 miles (?) The 11th running of the Palm Beach marathon was one to remember. I covered the 10am-12pm Sat shift in the Pacer booth. Our booth placement was out of the way – there was a main “horseshoe” shaped collection of vendors that were centered on the grass at the Meyer Amphitheatre, we were not among that group. Being aside near the Lifetime Information booth was not an ideal spot. My friends from the area were challenged to find me, knowing I was in the Pacer booth and on the premises. In the booth, we no longer take name lists, didn’t have pace bands, so we have evolved into Q&A for pacing, which is fine. I knew to recommend folks to runnersworld.com or marathonguide.com if they wanted to make a wristband for the very next day. Pacer Fred and Pacer Rachel arrived at noon and took over the booth duties.

Dinner at Zuccharelli’s was memorable. Good food, everyone found the restaurant ok, and apparently this Saturday night was special. They featured live entertainment from male and female opera singers. Sometimes too loud, we did enjoy the décor, occasional holiday song, and laughs the duo brought to our meal. I think the group enjoyed the overall experience. We might look to return and start a bit earlier, as restaurants are crowded on the weekends so eating in a timely fashion becomes a challenge!

Race morning went smoothly, we met prior to 6am for a team picture.

PB marathon 14-4The race started on time, I had a healthy group of 15-20 ready to go along at the 3:55 full/8:58 pace. This year, the new course was very favorable to help the half marathoners since they would be with us for over 11 miles. Doreen, Erica, Heidi, Paul, Ryan, Bill, Brad, Samira (Sami) and three girls clustered together made up the group that surrounded me in the early miles. My friends Dave, Walter and Keith also started with my group, all were doing the half and each one was only with me for less than 3 miles. They sped up once the crowd dissipated on the long straightaways early on the course. Starting was 64 degrees. Mile 1 done in 9:22, Mile 2 had us still 20 seconds behind goal pace, by Mile 3 we were 12 seconds off. At Mile 4 we stayed on pace, the group was doing very well with vibrant and funny chatter from Erika and Doreen. Brad was close by and happy to be doing this pace. We stayed on recommended pace (within 3 seconds of perfect) for the rest of our miles to the half turnoff. My group at mile 11 was about 13 people, with 7 staying past the turn to run the full distance. I wished my halfers good luck, told them to keep the same pace for two more miles and they’d have their prize… and meet my at the beer tent after we were done running to Key West I joked!

The push to 26.2 – Wider roads and well placed water stops allowed us to stay at goal pace in West Palm Beach (Miles 12-15) and into Lake Worth (Miles 16-18) My group pared down, Doreen and all but two of the guys left us. We saw Pacer Scooby as we approached mile 17, he said the course was marked wrong ahead. This was the first year on a new course that used up early miles in the north section of town and wasn’t scheduled to go as far south as in previous years. I was ok on our time until mile 18, then we discovered two things wrong. Mile 19 wasn’t close to what our watches or my pace band was saying – we had now slipped to over 4 minutes behind – impossible! Plus I saw us running in parts of Lake Worth that had never been on the course before nor denoted on this year’s course map. I assured my group that we would continue running our pace and it would clear up at the end. We acknowledged something was marked wrong, but I assured the group I was going to get them home and in a great time. Erika, Heidi and Ryan were first time marathoners. Sami and Paul were on their second full marathons. Under four hours would be a PR for those two. The five of us, occasionally joined by stragglers from faster paces headed north up through Lake Worth and back into West palm Beach for miles 20-22. No corrections were evident in the mile marker placements, it was obvious something was placed wrong course-wise after mile 18. I knew where we were and that the mile markers for 23,24, 25 were correctly placed this far from the finish line. I kept the group together as we left the shade of the neighborhoods for the final miles along the sunny Intracoastal Waterway. Our pace was in the 8:55-9:00 mile range, but each mile marker showed us between 4-4:40 minutes slow on overall goal time. I didn’t announce it to my group – but they were in the process of completing their first ultramarathon! I explained that if they were running for a Boston qualifying time that they might be able to get the time adjusted for the extra distance, not a worry, no BQ attempts in my group. Sami and Erika stayed right with me, Ryan and Paul ran together right behind us. At mile 23 Paul faded and walked through a water stop, he was unable to catch back up into our group. Sami explained she was sore and it was tough to keep up. I explained our strategy was to keep clicking on pace for small bits, to the next stop sign, traffic light, etc. It worked! Sami stayed on, Erika and Ryan kept pace, we were in good shape at mile 24…

pb marathon 14-1 In the final mile, Erika felt strong and zoomed ahead. Ryan was content getting back under 4 hours, he was behind us but easily in view. Sami and I ran step for step in the sun, with a great breeze, around the Phipps Point buildings and under the bridge to Palm Beach Island. I kept telling her how close it was – we could see the top of the amphitheatre and knew the finish line was right there. We watched Erika cross and I told Sami we would cross together or she could finish solo for her pictures – she absolutely wanted to have me with the sign in her finish photo – so under the chute we went! We took a group picture – Ryan, Erika, Sami and I. It was a great feeling to have them all finish in times they were proud of.PB marathon 14-3

Space Coast Half Marathon

Space-Coast-Marathon pacer

Floating above Earth in the Space Coast race.

 13.1 miles (Pacing the 1:55 group) Today’s race had good temps and a nicely done start area. This was my first time at this event. Thanks to Pacer Kristen, we parked nearby and had no issues getting to the team photo and lineup on time. I met a few of my runners and discussed the course, their goals, shoe tying, water station strategy and the good conditions we had waiting for us. Of note were a young couple, Matthew and Carrie. They had previous PRs of 2:03 and 2:05 and were excited to try for the 1:55. Also chatty were Kissell, Lyndsey, Steve and Bob. They laughed at my jokes, therefore I knew we’d either have a good group – or they were delusional!

A nice space-themed blast off start and we were in two turns running on the river road that comprised 95% of today’s course. Our first mile was done in a 9:15/min pace, ok considering it was a two-lane road with plenty of people scattered in both lanes vying for position. I had told the group we would be slower in the beginning and we’d chip away at the small deficit and be on pace in the early miles. This proved true, at mile two I was 19 seconds off the goal wristband time, at 3 miles we were 11 seconds off, at 4 miles within 3 seconds of the 8:44 pace guidelines. We now enjoyed a less crowded street since we could still run both lanes and slower folks had drifted behind us. A few more runners (some with music) joined our group, I think I got most of their names – Lori, Don, Sylvia, Miriam and Pauline. We now had a nice stretch of road open to us, curving and right on the water.

The sunrise made it easier for us to see the pavement and where the aid stations were ahead of us. I always try to call out what I see left side and right side as far as hydration and porta potties. I let the group know I’ll be keeping pace mostly through the aid stations, they will see me in the middle of the road. I caution them not to zip right back up to me, they can stretch out catching me over 400-600 meters. We talk about how to drink on the run and what I use for chews and salt pills as a Florida runner exposed to plenty of humidity. We are on proper pace to the turnaround, which is comprised of two people in lawn chairs telling us to run across the grass between two trees. No chip mat?

We have lost a few runners that linked onto our group, one girl that was small in height and really sweating hard for being at mile 6-7. I believe at mile 8 we had slowed running through the previous aid station to 10 seconds behind, but I didn’t announce it to my runners. I kept distracting them with stories about Boston Marathon 2013 and 2014 plus asking who had traveled the farthest to run today, etc. I explain how people employ using longer strides and/or quicker turnover to vary what their legs experience over the distance of a half or full marathon. I ask our group about marathons, one guy had completed Ironman Florida just three weeks ago, and another had done a full several years ago.

We make the next two mile splits back on the goal pace, according to my wristband we are doing well. My Garmin watch didn’t charge properly, I borrowed my son’s watch and was challenged to see the small numbers in the earlier, darker miles. It certainly isn’t because I’m getting older, that’s for sure. At mile 10 I announce we have to do the same 5k that we did in the beginning, easy to do if it was the only distance we had for the day. As we cross mile 11 I’m now running down the only hill on the course according to one of our girls – approximately 6 feet of elevation change! I keep talking positive about each person keeping me in sight even if they feel sore or tired, because we are very close now and right on schedule. Once we are approaching mile 12, I now count off approximate distances in terms of laps around a high school track. I feel anyone can gut out running 4-6 laps around a football field if they resort to thinking they only need to go a bit further. My group has a core of 5 runners now, but the rest are within sight as I look back from the last aid station. Lyndsey explains we do not finish where we started, we run just past the only large building we see, into the park and almost to the Intracoastal bridge. IN the park we have music, fan support, and a winding semicircular walkway that passes restroom, picnic areas and under some shelters. I really don’t know where the finish is, some of my group dashes ahead because apparently they do! I stutter step at the 13 mile mark to let Miriam get close to me and I encourage her to keep it going, we are within 100m of the finish. I cross and see my watch display that I am only 4 seconds over the 1:54:30 time goal – I am surprised to see I got that close. Plenty of my runners thank me at the finish, three groups take photos right as we get our towels, this was a good day. Unlike pacing the full 26.2 distance, I had a majority of my people stay with me or close enough to be very satisfied pacing below 2 hours. I later learn through Kristen that her friend Steve and I both came within one second of the goal time – even more unbelievable!



Lifetime Miami Marathon 2014

Pacing for the 4:10 group…

Originally scheduled to be in the 4:00 group, two days before the race we receive notice that due to expected heat, we will start the pacing groups ten minutes slower. Ok, I did 4:10 last year, I’ll do it better this time!

skechers red ultra I used the Skechers Ultra shoe this race. I figured the upper portion of the shoe would be similar to the Go Run and Go Rides I have used all year. It’s that cushy “double stuffing” bottom I was anxious to feel. Worked well for me. I didn’t widen the lacing on my right foot near the toebox enough, so my sock folded over a wrinkle on itself on that foot, giving me some chafing inside. But clearly my fault, I should always dabble with the width and laces before just running a marathon, wouldn’t you think? Big thanks to Sole Runner in Miami for the great gear given to all pacers. Best singlet and shorts combo yet!


Guiseppe, the guest pacer from Italy! He did great in his role, including ordering plain spaghetti at our group dinner. He wanted something”safe” at the Cuban restaurant. Maybe he was right after all?

We had a few problems getting from the hotel to the race site.  Although the route was straightforward and we knew from last year to park under the arena, there was plenty of traffic and construction near the race start.  I was the lead car with three other cars full of pacers driving from the hotel in tow.  We parked under the arena and paid the $5.00 fee, which was easy.  We found an exit out of the basement parking lot that put us directly by the stairs in front of the arena.  Skye Bakker, Robin Platt and I used the porta pottys and went to the group photo meet spot.  We did the group picture once we figured out Marcela and some of the others were waiting at the very top of the stairs, we were at the bottom.  I went to Corral F before it were open for the runners with Danie, Andrea and Mark.  I didn’t have too many people clustered around me that planned on finishing at my pace.  I spoke to everyone about hydration, getting their shoes tied properly, how to drink on the run, etc.  I think many people have aspirations of a 2 hour half marathon or a four hour full marathon.  2:05 and 4:10 are not popular times people are chasing.  This year the starts were staggered by corral.  My group started approximately 20 minutes after the first group began their race.  It was warm, and the beginning mile is usually slow here in Miami due to the skinny exit ramp and hill we get to run.pacer group miami 2014

Starting out, I had many people around me wearing headphones, they weren’t really interacting with me.  I did have Mark Schachner’s son Matt, and girlfriend Tracy with me talking and keeping pace.  Our first mile was 10:15.  Not a worry, now the road was wider and the sun was beginning to rise in the east.  Miles number 2 and 3 were run our correct pace (9:30ish).  The first water stop is at mile 3.  There was a big crowd surging towards the right side of the road for their first drink. We did that well and I kept the group together. I knew we could keep the correct pace and chop off a few seconds each mile to get us back on the goal time.  I didn’t have to hurry to make up the 40 seconds, we could do it gradually on the narrow roads of Miami Beach. That worked well here at last year’s race.

The next 2 miles are on Miami Beach. We ran well at pace, making sure to stay aware of bumps in the road, uneven pavement and curbs and medians.  The water stops were always only on the right side.  This is a problem, especially for the half marathon with so many people on the course at once. I understand you can’t always have water on both sides of the street, but in many places on Miami Beach there is room on the right and left of the road.  We ran past the convention center and then on small side streets near the golf course.  These are miles 6 and 7.  Somewhere between mile six and mile seven we had made up the 40 second of deficit from the first mile.  It was during this period that Matt and Tracy fell off the pace.  I motioned to them thumbs up or thumbs down and Matt waved me to run ahead. Now our goal was to keep all half marathoners on pace until their turnaround spot. A tall male runner named Alejandro had stayed with us from the beginning. He never spoke to me, always using a “thumbs up” sign to let me know he was with us on the pace and successfully back with us after the mobbed water stops.  Alejandro was wearing a blue shirt but his most distinctive feature was that he resembled a certain “Lord and savior” popular among Christians. I wasn’t the only one to notice this, I saw others pointing him out and chatting. There were several other runners that I would take note of next to me or just behind me. They had blue bibs so they were in for the 13.1 distance. I spoke to some of them about reaching the half marathon finish line in 2:05. Again many had headphones and just smiled or waved when I spoke.


Once we were over the Venetian Causeway, the sun’s heat was noticeable on our backs.  The crowd in Miami among the buildings and elevated railway can be very loud. I made sure not to let this enthusiasm cause a surge in our pace. At mile markers 10 and 11 we were always within 5 to 10 seconds of goal time. The course heads south through the city, our group was now passing some of the tired half marathoners who were nearing their finish.  I made sure everyone in my group with a blue bib knew to stay left at the turn off for their finish line. And likewise, I kept the orange bib full marathoners with me to continue.

After the turn off but before the 13.1 half way mark I found two more runners that wanted to stay with me.  Eduardo and Alicea.  They both stayed with me for 3 to 4 miles. Running south towards Coconut Grove was easy at our pace because of there were less runners on the road and the water stops were more manageable. The temperature was rising, and now the sun was on our left side.  I tried to keep my group in the shade whenever possible.  I also encourage people to drink more than they thought. I explained that each cup filled was only 6oz, and you rarely got a full cup!  We ran south miles 14, 15,16 and saw Steve Chin heading north. He said he was at mile 21 and on pace. I went into neighborhoods with skinny streets and came out near mile 17 with less runners. At this point, no one was talking with me, I was telling stories and encouraging the group. It’s amazing how a few Paula Radcliffe and Alberto Salazar tales will entertain folks while they run!

Coconut Grove’s main drag, “Coco Walk” marks the place where runners are furthest from the finish line.  This happens between mile 18 and 19.  When I announced to my group that every step from here forward is taking them closer to the finish line, they are very happy!  I saw clouds and what looked like a rain storm coming from the east.  Two girls, Kristie and her friend join us before mile 20.  It starts to rain as we pass through the water station manned by the hammerheads triathlon group.  One of my male runners is a member of that group so he takes the pace sign and runs thru the people, enjoying his friend’s high fives.  I didn’t get his name but he was entertaining for the 2 or 3 miles he stayed with me.  He made sure to show me where LeBron James lived, we saw the police car stationed in front of his house signifying LeBron was home. Neat!

The following 3 miles were spent running in the rain. It was good to be out of the sun and the temps dropped a few degrees. I was now passing more people, trying to encourage them to run with me. The two girls were only 10 feet ahead of me but running the same pace, a man names Omar was slightly behind me and off to the side. I gained a few stragglers in the rain, then they would stop to drink water and not catch back up. Course turns right onto the tollway for Key Biscayne and Rickenbacker Causeway. We are approaching mile 23, those running on the other side of the road are almost at mile 24. One gal runs with me for ½ mile and walks. It’s now finished raining and I have only Omar next to me. He is laboring through the breathing, not in a medically bad way, in a “squeeze out the last drops of energy” way. I see Andrea M. running with Tracy on the other side of the road, then Jeff Gad running solo. We come around the covered water stop and head back to Biscayne Blvd. It is hot again, we have a breeze at our back and we are heading home. At mile 24 I see I am 3 seconds off perfect goal time of 2:09:30. Omar is silent in speech but huffing through these last miles. Another runner, Patrick, decides to stay with us after we pass him. Now we experience more fans cheering, clapping and we see half marathoners with medals on their necks walking on the sidewalk. We are doing the right pace and getting closer. We are three guys with the two girls now running 25 ft ahead of us. I hear Omar start to growl and muster up a yell…, I slow so he is right next to me and I ask if he’s ok. He was not cramping, it’s just tough going and he feels his legs slowing. Now he takes his earpiece out and he finally talks to me. He says,”I have to thank you so much, without you I would be way back there! I have followed you the whole way; I slowed for a few miles but caught back up.” I ask if it was his first marathon, he replies, ‘No, I did one a few years ago, that was 5 hours. Today with you I will have a great time!” I tell him what I tell everyone else – that once he gets to the finish, that time will be next to his name forever, so lean into the challenge now and stay with me. Another girl which we pass, Patricia, hops in with us for the last bit. We pass mile 25 right on time. A quick drink of water then I tell my three runners that we only have 5 laps around a high school track left. Five laps at nine and a half minute mile pace – they could do that ANY Tuesday morning I remind them! Omar moans loudly again but he is with us. Patricia fades a bit but stays close. We run towards the buildings and the little metal drawbridge.

miami marathon 2014-1

Poached photo shows Omar (blue shirt) Patricia and Patrick as we near the final 1/2 mile of the course in Miami.

There is less than half of a mile to go. I tell Omar that if he has energy left, he doesn’t have to stay with me, he can run ahead! He makes it up the bridge with some more encouragement and then paces faster down the hill. Patrick tries to follow him. Patricia is behind me but close. We make a right turn, run a quarter mile then a left turn. This is the finish chute, the two guys are ahead of me and they’re definitely not going to walk. I look at my watch and I have 20 seconds to finish at perfect time, but I am too far away for that. Rather than sprint and pass Omar and Patrick, I stay right behind them. Done in 4:09:43. I think hanging with Omar on the bridge and talking when he struggled took a few seconds off, but TOTALLY WORTH IT!

At the finish, I find the other pacers talking, I put my sign on the pile they were making and I spoke with Skye about his first day out pacing. He is a great runner, he really enjoyed it. Omar found me before I could get a medal and gave me a hug and a big thanks. I thought I had a thin group at the 4:10 pace. I was so looking forward to running with a huge group at 4:00, but the last 3 miles with a few determined runners made it a great day for me.

Palm Beach Marathon and Run Fest 2013

My first adventure for Palm Beach Marathon 2013 was to work at the Pacer Booth.  Whoever had been there before us must have put our box full of goodies behind the counter and under a drape sheet because we didn’t know was there. We scrambled to find some pens and printer paper to allow folks to sign up with all the different pace groups.  There were plenty of visitors in the first 2 hours of the show.  Myself, Jeff Gad and Skye Bakker worked the booth 10-noon.  It was apparent early on that my 4 hour pace group was going to have plenty of runners!  I was the only local person in our booth and in the immediate area – so I found myself giving plenty of directions to the start and finish line, as well as instructions as to where people should park the next morning for the race. I picked up my “10 year Streaker” jacket, I thought it would be embroidered not a heat transfer thingy. There are only 30 people that have done all 10 races, but only 3 including myself that have done all of the full marathons.

dave masterson pacer dinner

The pacer dinner went well at Carrabas.  Thank you for having run singlets available instead of shirts with sleeves.  We waited for almost 1 hour before being seated, so Tom wisely used this time to host the pacer meeting.  A witty waiter, good food and good laughs during the meal for everyone!

dave masterson bill rogers marathon I arrived at the race morning ready to go at about 5:20 AM.  It’s nice to be able to use the regular “VIP bathrooms” near the start line as a pacer.  My son was with me in the morning, he was running his first half marathon.  We stopped to get a good picture with Bill Rodgers and then I went into the corral a bit before 6:00 AM.  I saw many of the other pacers grouped together, they had just come from taking a group photo at the start line.  (I’m not sure how I missed that one?)  Before the race began, I spent a little bit of time explain to my folks how to drink while we’re on the run, how to properly have their shoes tied, and the importance of using a visor or sunglasses on such a warm day.  I had a really large group, most of which were half marathoners looking to finish in less than 2 hours.  For the last two months I had recruited several people to run in my group as a result of setting up a training group for first-time half marathon runners.  My local and friends for the half marathon were Ashley, Scott, Elizabeth, and Brett.  I also had an older gentleman whose name was “Moose Man” on his bib!  He had made several attempts to break 4 hrs in a marathon.  His last attempt had him less than 10 seconds over his goal, so he was very anxious to do well today.

The race started 18 minutes late.  That meant we were now running in daylight.  It wasn’t too hot at the start but I told each runner to cherish the time in the shade and relatively cool weather.  I knew it would warm up significantly later in the morning.  Our first mile was completed in 09:39.  I told our group that the first few miles would be slower than 9:10 pace due to the skinny streets and crowded conditions.  Our second and third mile was a little faster but not yet at 9:10 pace.  I had Andrea and her 4 hr 10 minute group run up near me one time, but we were making good progress heading north.  My group went through the first two water stations very nicely.  I was doing most of the talking with several others running very close to me also participating in the conversation.  Miles three, four, five were done at our proper pace.  When we reached mile marker six we were right on schedule for the 2 hr half/4 hr full.  Then next 2 miles led us back to the start line area and  it started to get noticeably warmer. “Moose Man” was sweating plenty, I asked him how he felt and he said OK. Another memorable full marathon runner in my group was Orlando. Orlando was a runner from New York City that used to live in Miami.  He is a chef at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle steak restaurant and was one of my strongest runners.  He moved to the front of the group and was talking with me for miles 5-16.  Other notable runners were Eugene from Norway and Greta from nearby Wellington Florida.

Once we passed the Start/Finish line area, the roads became wider and we had more room to run our correct pace through mile seven and mile eight.  That was good for everyone, there were many cheering people, music and the race announcer stoking the spectators.  He knows me – so he gave us a good shout out, our group responded with some cheers right back at him.  We ran along Flagler Drive hitting our correct time of 9:10 pace for miles 9 and 10.  The turnaround for the half marathon runners was at mile 11.  I prepared them long in advance as to how they could keep their pace for the final 2 miles.  I encourage them to meet up afterwards and tell me how they finished, each runner had a “free beer ticket” attached to their bib. I suggested that as many of us meet at World of Beer afterwards to catch up and review the race. Only the local friends that started with me came to this meet-up and told me their finishing times.  Ashley got 1:58:00; Brett.1:43:00; Elizabeth got 2:14; Scott the 1:57. Brett left our group at around mile 8 and ran clear to her new PR because she felt so good!

Excerpts from their Facebook posts –




dave masterson marathon palm beach 2013

pacing palm beach marathon dave masterson

Once the group split, I had maybe 8-10 people trailing me. Only Orlando would run next to me and talk, the rest would run behind me and close enough to hear our chatter and my advice. I encouraged everyone to take fluids at each station, even if they didn’t feel thirsty. We ran together for the next 3 – 4 miles in this manner. Greta worked her way to the front and talked with Orlando and I. At mile 13, my watch and pace band numbers were perfect – I stepped on the piece of tape (which was not at the same place as the MILE 13 sign) at my split, announcing to the group that we are in perfect time, we now have to do this same performance once more to get the goal time. I gave Orlando one of my Power Gels because he said he forgot his and we hadn’t reached the free ones given out on the course. My group kept going south at pace, they were happy and mostly confident.

As we left the waterfront and ran through the neighborhoods of Lake Worth, we lost the breeze. We had small bits of shady tree-lined streets, but now it was sunny and hot. Each water stop would have a person or two drink up and walk through the water stop or fall off the pace. This happened until mile 15. At that point only Eugene, Greta and Orlando were with me. pacing palm beach dave mastersonEugene fell back but assured me he was still capable of keeping the pace. Greta disappeared at mile 16 drink stop, Orlando about a half mile past that, thanking me and saying he’ll see me later in the day. Eugene ran strong although slightly behind me. We saw the race leaders and knowing our pace, I was surprised there weren’t many runners ahead of us on this out-and-back route. The heat was playing into the performance of many athletes.  Notable locals I expected to see were nowhere among the leaders. I saw Steve’s 3:25 group, no Jessica and the 3:35ers, then Jeff and the 3:45 people, but I think he only had one runner left with him.

I encouraged others at water stops and on the road to join me for a 4 hr finish. This wasn’t working, in hot conditions, especially for out of town athletes, once people break – they are broken. Eugene ran slightly ahead of me for a few blocks, then would drift back, then finally near mile 19 he faded. I was now alone, trying to encourage others to run with me as I passed them. I kept my pace, stopping to get two water cups at each station instead of just my usual one cup full. I knew the heat was really dragging down people’s performances, but historically, 6-7 or the past 10 PB marathons have finished in the 80s. It’s what happens here. I was on pace according to the watch and pace band at 19. At 20, I was 15 seconds behind, maybe that was due to  the walk thru the water stop. Mile 21 I was back within 4 seconds of goal time.

solo pacer dave masterson
At Mile 22 I dashed into the bushes for a quick pee break, I was now 21 seconds slower than pace. But just like at mile 13, I saw white tape markers with “22 miles” on them in the street and the sign for MILE 22 in a spot several meters further, so I figured I was close enough to my 9:10 pace that it was good. This really didn’t strike me until I spoke with Steve Chin following the race. He mentioned some of the miles in the “twenties” were long and some were short. I did not have a GPS watch, just a timer, so I went with what the course markings (tape and sign placement) said. At 23 I was still behind, now by 30 seconds, but I didn’t feel as if my running was slowing at all. I was running alone, not encountering too many people to pass. No runners passed me or my group after mile 15. Right after Mile 23 and until after the Mile 24 sign, I was back within 8 seconds of goal. It began to rain hard. I saw clouds ahead near the Finish line area, but didn’t think I’d get caught in a downpour!  Only a girl that I passed and an older guy were in this rain somewhat near me. I asked him to run with me, his name was John and my guess would be he was in his late 50s. He said this was his 360th marathon and he was slowing down rapidly, he would go in himself. I saw the 7 hour pacer and the “poop wagon” bus behind him, he walked solo down the middle of Flagler drive with plenty of race course ahead of him. Mile 24 and 25 were completed on a good pace, at 25 I was only 12 seconds shy of the pace bracelet goal time.

The rain stopped as I ran alone up Federal Hwy/US-1 among the shade of trees. No fan support here, just a realization that you’re almost done. I ran next to a girl approaching First Baptist Church, a significant local landmark because it’s very close to the final turn and last ¾ mile of the course. She tried to stay at my pace but stopped at the final water stop to drink, pour water over her head, and stretch a cramping calf muscle. I ran around Phillips Point and towards the finish area, which you can clearly see from Flagler Drive along the waterway. More spectators clapped and asked where my group was. Just before mile 26, I saw the Palm Beach Road Runners tent and friends that had finished their half marathon and were celebrating with drinks and music. I ran alongside the barricade area and gave at least a dozen “high fives” to my friends. At mile 26 I was ahead of the pace, but I really didn’t noticeably increase my speed for the last mile. I could have slowed and timed my arrival as the only runner close to the finish line, but for today it would have looked ridiculously obvious. My time watch at the finish read 3:59:04, the race clock had me at 3:58:58.

dave masterson pacingI’m not sure how crucial that “30 seconds” is when conditions were rough for the average runner. Either way, I ran solo for the last 7-8 miles. I easily could have arranged to stand near my friends just past mile 26 and pop over the finish line extremely close to 3:59:30. I don’t know how I was erratic in the last few miles – hopping behind pace and then getting to the finish ahead of schedule? It seemed as if my effort and pace were consistent throughout the day.

dave masterson world of beerWorld of Beer afterwards – fantastic post race scene with great friends and many laughs! We stayed until my friends Rouba and Olivier came. They flew from Paris to Miami last night and drove up to meet me this morning! So many people stayed after the race and had their free beer and a few more.  We went to Duffy’s Sports Bar for lunch afterwards, a chicken salad and several large glasses of water were my choice. I enjoy this race each year because more of our local people participate. This year I was happy to see our “Eat Sleep Run” crew finish well. What they don’t realize is how they’ll now sign up for more events, look for better times, they have been bitten by the runner bug!rouba olivier fossat dave masterson

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