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Indoor Recap 2011 - 3 Pacing Jobs - Matt Scherer

Published by
Matt Scherer   Mar 1st 2011, 6:47pm

I'm not sure exactly how it has happened but my career as solely a pace maker has been jump started this indoor season with 3 major jobs. Initially I wasn't even planning on doing anything indoor but luckily I was still in good enough shape where I could throw in a couple speed workouts and be ready to step on the track. With getting back in the swing of being on the circuit I've found some additional motivation from being around the other athletes. In those months of only training in the fall and winter I think it's easy to lose focus on the bigger picture and let your motivational side slack. It's never been a problem of getting out the door but more of after a workout when you know you need to do the little things like ice bath, core, or stretching. So I'm excited to get back to the States and work on putting together my spring training program. I need to hammer hard on strength and speed endurance while picking it back up on all those supplemental things that can give me an edge over others. I'm hoping I can get Mark and Tim on board with this too and keep our group on a similar regimen. But here's a recap of my past few weeks and the pacing jobs I've done.

Millrose Games, Wannamaker Mile - Madison Square Garden, New York City
Talk about a list of 'firsts' for me. I was actually trying to get into the 600m race as a competitor (600m is about the only race I'll run now) when I got a call from my agent wanting to know if I wanted to pace Lagat in the Mile there. That answer was a no brainer but there were alot of variables already becoming apparent in my mind. I hadn't been on an indoor track in about 11 months and never on one as small as the one at Madison Square Garden (145m). I'd also never paced a mile or even ran longer than 800m in a race. As the pacer they wanted me to go 1000m at 1:55 800m pace.
I typically don't sweat the unknown and this was no different. I just had to rearrange my workout schedule to do what I could to get the feel of a mile pace down. And I had to have the feel down because I couldn't exactly rely on a clock since it wasn't a 200m track. I also did my homework for this one. I spent about an hour on YouTube watching past years of the race, watching both the pacer and Lagat to study their style of running on this track; I memorized what every split needed to be at the finish line (every 145m).
So off to NYC I went. There was bad weather on the east coast that weekend but fortunately I only suffered a 2 hour delay at LAX. Later I heard of other athletes that had it way worse like a 10 hour layover or getting in at 3am. The limo service to and from the airport was very nice and made me feel pretty important haha. The meet hotel was just across the street from Madison Square Garden and just a few blocks from Times Square.
Running at MSG has always been on my athletic 'bucket list' so I was really pumped about running there. And since I was in the mile, the premier event, the lights were turned off and the spotlight on for athlete introductions. So I got my name announced and jogged around the turn with the spotlight on me for a little bit. Very cool. The race itself was not that exciting for me though. I went out at pace but no one followed. I think Lagat wanted someone between me and him but no one wanted that spot so he slowed the pace. I wasn't about to not his at least the 400m mark on time so I kept going, trusting in my feel for the right pace. I passed the first two laps (about 300m) hitting the times I wanted and then hit my 400m split. At that point I had maybe a 15m lead so I started to slow over the next couple laps until the group caught up to me. Then I hit the pace again trying to at least help them out for a few laps. my 800m split was 1:59 but the group was 2:01. Anyway, I just got to my mark and stepped off, careful to keep out of the way. Then watched the exciting finish from the side of the track.
Later that night I walked down to Times Square for the nightly ball drop but I guess they only do that for new years haha. So I got a slice of pizza and went back to the hotel. Overall a very fun trip. It makes me think I could be a 1500m pacer at some point too :)

Aviva Grand Prix, 1000m - Birmingham, UK
Monday of this week I got a call from my agent about pacing Birmingham and Stockholm on Saturday and Tuesday. Specifically a 1000m WR attempt for Kaki in Stockholm. Was super pumped about an opportunity like that and hopped on a plane to the UK on Wednesday. I watched 4 movies on the flight from LAX to Paris instead of sleeping much. Due Date and Unstoppable were the winners there. Arriving at the meet hotel in Birmingham I learned that this race was a 1000m, not an 800m and that Kaki was in this race too. No big deal, was just anticipating a standard 800m race here. I also found the one and only Russell Brown and his dad in the lobby of the hotel when I arrived. It's always nice to see the OTC crew out and about and I got to catch up on all the happenings in Eugene and it seemed that all is well there.
I think I was still feeling a little bit of the travel in my legs the day of the race and I wasn't particularly satisfied with my performance. The plan was to go through 400 at 52 (another pacer was going 400-500) and then I was to continue hitting 600m in 1:19 and go 700-800m. After a false start or something the race got under way with another competitor getting out fast and made it pretty difficult for myself and the other pacer to get to the lead. In fact it took me 100m and the other guy almost 150m to get in our positions. After that things were normal. We went through right on at 52 and 1:19 and then my calves started to tighten up and I decided that instead of trying to get to 700m and possibly slowing down the field I stepped off at 650m. I really wished I could have gotten to 700 or 750m but in that situation I did more good for everyone else by stepping off. Kaki won the race over Boaz Lalang but no world record.
Because of the long travel and quick turnaround to Stockholm I really didn't get to do anything in Birmingham. I got a good night's sleep after the race and then it was off to Stockholm for another 1000m record attempt for Kaki.

XL Galan, 800m - Stockholm, Sweden
Well I definitely got a sort of demoted feeling upon arriving in Stockholm. Or maybe it was the plan all along but the pacer for the 1000m was Ismael Kombich, who just last week ran 3:34 for 1500m. I was scheduled to pace the 800m B section which really just didn't get me that excited. But before I get into the happenings of the meet take a look at the picture of the Erickson Globe, where the meet was. It is Stockholm's premier events center and looks ridiculous from the outside. The inside is almost just as cool and is now the coolest stadium I've ran in. The weather here is crazy cold. A high of -6C for the time I was there. Brr!!
The actual track itself wasn't that great and was really the only part of the experience that wasn't high quality. But that didn't stop several good performances. My race went ok, nothing spectacular, and was won in 1:47. Some guy at the meet that I think was in charge of the pacers seemed to be pleased with it. Then I got to watch Swede Angelica Bengtsson set three national records in the pole vault and Shalane Flanagan run a great 3k to place second to Meseret Defar. Kaki's 1000m was the last event and the pacer did an excellent job I will say. But Kaki just doesn't look like he's anywhere close to WR shape and was still 3 seconds off the record. My guess is that he bumps up his appearance fees when he says he's going for the WR. But like Ryan Brown commented on my facebook status last week, he's been saying he's going for that record for like 4 years. So maybe next year..

Overall it was a fun meet, a fun week in Europe, and an exciting indoor season for me, especially since I didn't even thing I'd be doing anything until June. Right now I'm sitting in the Stockholm airport and I'm starting to realize that I have a 9:30hr flight to JFK and then a 6:30hr flight to LAX with a couple hour layover between. It's going to be a very long day and since I slept well last night my guess is that I'll be awake for all of it. I hope either they have a good movie selection on the flights or my laptop battery lasts longer than a couple movies. I do have my iPhone which has a great assortment of country music along with backgammon, cribbage, and solitaire. And next week when indoor is officially over for everyone I'll be excited to get back to basics with my training. I'm looking forward to a month's worth of hammering weights, core, and some good old fashioned hard workouts. All in sunny Southern California, of course :)

Playlist favorites for the plane:
Down on the Farm - Tim McGraw
Chicken Fried - Zac Brown Band
John Deere Green - Joe Diffe
Little Bitty - Alan Jackson
Love Your Love the Most - Eric Church
Song of the South - Alabama
Up On the Ridge - Dierks Bentley
This Cowboy's Hat - Chris Ledoux
Ladies Love Country Boys - Trace Adkins

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