It turns out pacing a marathon can be quite good fun. It was by no means easy, but the more relaxed pace meant I could enjoy the route more than usual and cheer along with the spectators. Over the last few years Angelo has been gradually taking his marathon time down, from 3:38 across several marathons to 3:09… getting closer to a London good for age qualifying time. He had done all the hard work I had asked of him, but all the numbers were so close to the wire that a little pacing assistance may be all that was required to seal the deal. Fortunately for Angelo he had an I.O.U pacing card from when I ditched him in Liverpool… and he called it in as I gave up on any idea of racing in Seville. Despite my disappointment and not being in shape to race I was looking forward to the challenge of pacing and paying forward the aid others have given me in the past.
My opening gambit was a 4:36 km – which aiming for an average of 4:23 may seem like a bold move. However, the congestion and need to approach the long distance with caution meant this was a perfect warm-up for us to get into a rhythm. I was glad to see Angelo remain calm and just follow my lead. Gradually we crept into 3:05 flat pacing having accrued a deficit of 27 seconds, crossing halfway in 1:32:57. No panic here – on schedule more or less. We now required a second half of 1:32:02 to make our deadline. We arrived at 40km just 10 seconds adrift from our target having chipped gradually away at the deficit with 3 consecutive 5k splits of 21:53. All we needed now was 2195m in under 9:28… that’s 4:18 km pace. This is where the calm collected start pays off, the gradual chipping away at the pace, sticking to the race-line, the micro-management of effort – all to keep some resource left for when it mattered. With some sounds of making considerable effort (egged on by some verbal abuse from myself) Angelo cleared the last 2kms with splits of 4:15 and 4:11, capped off with a dash to the line to finish in 3:04:41. We certainly ran by the numbers but it was finished off with a hell of a lot of heart! Looking forward to seeing the times continue to tumble