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Confessions of a middle-aged pace bunny

It's not easy being a rabbit. Probably should have done a little more research before I volunteered to lead a group of runners who wanted to finish last weekend's Toronto Marathon at a certain pace.

Thought I could do it in three hours and 30 minutes, which is substantially slower than my best marathon time.

Turns out, I was a flop as a bunny. Came in at just under three hours and 22 minutes – more than eight minutes faster than the promised time.

The reliability of rabbits to keep the promised pace is an issue of much worry to many amateur marathoners. They seek out advice on message boards across the internet. People don't take kindly to wonky rabbits.

There were signs that things weren't going according to plan early on. It was a cool day and I was taking in a lot of fluids. But the cool weather meant I wasn't sweating nearly as much as usual. When you're taking in that much fluid, what your body doesn't absorb or sweat away has to go somewhere.

My little pack panicked just after the 10-kilometre mark when their lead bunny had to hop into the woods to heed nature's call. I promised to catch up – but with a lighter load, I may have picked up the pace. Just a little.

The truth is, it's difficult to run substantially slower than you are used to, and while missing your target by a few seconds a kilometre may not sound like much, multiply it by 42.2 and you get out of whack very quickly.

We were four minutes ahead of pace at the half. I planned on having a little time to play with, because you tend to lose some in the second half as the reality of putting in that much mileage takes its toll on your body.

Several keeners kept up – even the one who lamented at 32K "bunny, your pace is killing me!" Turned out that the pace had quickened slightly in the second half and that four-minute advantage would more than double by the end.

Still, those who hung on were glad they did. At least half a dozen of them recorded their best-ever marathon times.

It's ok to be a pace bunny. You get to wear this hat with pink ears emblazoned with the time you're aiming to finish in. Spectators cheer you on, admiring those long ears.

Gotta work on that pacing, though. It's back to bunny school for this rabbit.

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