This was the third time I have participated in the Quad Cities Marathon races. In 2010 I ran the full marathon and last year I participated in the marathon relay. This year was something new. I am training for a 100 mile ultramarathon coming up in November and was using this year's marathon as a training run. I also paced a friend of mine, Brian, on his first marathon attempt during this years race.
The weather was perfect for running, sunny and temp was in the 40-50 degree range. As in years prior the race started with a cannon being set off. The race course itself crosses the Mississippi river twice and runs through the states of both Iowa and Illinois and all four of the Quad Cities plus the Rock Island Army arsenal. After the cannon sounded it took us almost 3 minutes to actually cross the start line. This years race had 5500 runners and is about as big a race as I like to run. Anyway mile 1-3 involved running out of the Moline Ill downtown area then up an on ramp and across the river on I74. They had closed down a lane of the interstate for all the runners to cross on. Once across the river we headed back up hill and then right making a small loop before we headed back down hill. Mile 4-9 or 10 was run along the river on the Iowa side as we ran on the river trail through the towns of Bettendorf and Davenport Iowa. Brian was looking good and we maintained a 10 minute pace slowly gaining and passing other runners along the path. His goal was to finish hopefully in 5 hours and we where well under that pace.
Mile 11-13 we crossed back over the river and headed onto Arsenal Island. Rock Island Arsenal is the closest military post to where I live and is a logistics command. The buildings are over 100 years old and it is a beautiful little post self contained on an island. We ran miles 13-18 here winding our way around the golf course and housing areas. We passed a Confederate Civil War cemetery as well as the national cemetery. We were still maintaining our same pace although about mile 16 Brian started showing the first signs of fatigue. His pace wasn't as fluid and he mentioned his IT band and knee, both problems he has dealt with before, were starting to act up. But he kept on moving forward.
Anyone that has ever run a marathon knows that the real race starts after mile 18. We exited Arsenal Island approximately mile 19 and headed downhill back to the Ill side of the river. Once we hit Moline again we could hear the finish line to our left but we had a to take a right and head on a 6.2 mile out an back along the river. This is where I earned my money as a pacer and why I was there to support Brian. The wheels were starting to come off as his IT band started to tighten up. During the next 6 miles he struggled against himself as his leg went numb and he started having issues with his toes. I continued to encourage him. I alternated between cajoling and orders to keep his mind off the pain. His pace slowed to between 11-12 minute miles but we were still well under his goal time and he never walked. I even tried the old " look you can see the finish line" trick. Slowly ticking off the miles we got closer and closer until we actually could see the finish line. Brian's stride got a little more fluid and he finished the last .5 miles strong in front of the cheering crowd. He did a great job and we finished in 4:41:02. He is running the Las vegas marathon in december and I hope he learned some valuable lessons he can apply at that race.