The 2:15:25 didn't shock me as nothing Paula would do would surprise me. She's the most impressive athlete of either gender I've been in contact with in the sport. I had paced her to 2:17:18 world record the year before so I knew she could run faster.
Actually I should say I "ran next to Paula" during her 2:17:18 world record instead of "paced her".
Chicago was a bit concerned about men pacing women and the visual of men being in front of women, so we were advised to run to their side. There was definitely a substantial amount of wind in Chicago and in the later part of the race I didn't think it was fair for me to be in front of Paula while Catherine didn't have someone in front of her. So I knew Paula could run a lot faster with a peleton of pacers.
You can read my recap of pacing Paula to her first world record here:
One thing I didn't realize is I wrote that piece write before London 2003 and I wrote about what I thought Paula could run: "I had seen talk of 2:15:00 pace, yet even I thought this might be a little fast, as her fastest half in Chicago was 'only' 1:08:15 (2:16:30 pace - although the last 4 miles of that were into the wind). Now, however, I see press indications saying the pace will be around 2:16:00. This sounds more reasonable to me, as in the back of my head I figured the weather could be a little better than Chicago (getting her under 2:17) and then Paula could find a way to knock another minute off her time. Maybe we're all getting ahead of ourselves, as nearly exactly 5 years ago to the day of this year's London Marathon, Tegla Laroupe ran 2:20:47 in Rotterdam for the new world record, and now we're talking about Paula possibly running 5 minutes faster. Amazing.
I for one will be staying up late next Saturday night to listen to the BBC's online radio broadcast of the race. It definitely won't be quite as good as being right off Paula's left shoulder the entire way. But I'm still excited about the race."
(For the record Paula hit 1:08:02 at halfway and ran a negative split)