Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pacing Success

I ran the Heels & Hills & Him half marathon today, but i didn't just run it. I served as a pacer for the 2:40 group. I got there early enough to park and meet up with a couple of folks, including my original Twitter buddy Mark and his family, and my Red Light Runner hockey momma Jennifer.

Our traditional pre-race self-portrait!
About fifteen minutes before the start, I wandered over to find my balloons - it appeared that my 2:40 balloons had popped but I found a set of unmarked balloons and made my way over to the start line. After a group pic of the pacers, many of which were wearing the same knee-high pink striped socks I was,  I set myself between the 2:35 pacers and the 3:00 pacers. There was a group of about six runners that started with me, and before we knew it, the starting gun went off and we were underway. 

We chatted for a bit at the start, and settled into a nice rhythm and a nice pace. After about three miles as we walked the water stop, three of the group took off earlier than we did and ended up getting about four-five minutes ahead of us at the finish. Another couple of girls sped up after about the halfway mark, but I had one girl that stuck with me for the entire race. She had some difficulty around mile 10, which is a usual tough spot for the half distance. She was determined, though, and we ended up finishing strong at 2:39:40. Her family was at the finish and it was really rewarding to have been there for her first half. 

Even though I didn't really do much more than keep an even pace for her to follow, and talk to her during some rough spots, it felt so great to have helped her, and it was a very, very rewarding experience. It reminded me of how much I love to run, and how much I love to help other runners through the tough spots, and how much I enjoy motivating and pushing people to reach their potential and attain their goals. I thought about all my friends that I've paced before now, and how I talk to them to keep their minds off the pain in their feet, or the heat, or the cold and rain, and how much fun it is to see them cross the line and realize, "I did it!" They are the ones who do the work, and who put one foot in front of the other from the start line to the finish line. I'm just the one who gets to see it happen, up close and personal. 

At the finish! Yes, I carried those balloons for 13 miles! 
Here are my splits, from all but the last mile.  I never saw the Mile 13 marker and I forgot to stop my watch at the end, so those are screwed up, but the others are accurate to the mile markers. 

Mile 1 - 11:38 - little bit fast
Mile 2 - 10:47 - way fast, but we were on a downhill here
Mile 3 - 11:56 - right on target - three runners moved up in pace here
Mile 4 - 11:43 - little fast
Mile 5 - 11:49 - right about on target
Mile 6 - 11:35 - little fast
Mile 7 - 11:55 - right on target - turnaround point here - two other runners moved up in front here
Mile 8 - 12:00 - serious uphill here 
Mile 9 - 11:37 - little fast
Mile 10 - 11:31 - little fast, but we wanted to bank time
Mile 11 - 14:16 - for a potty break - by now, Candace was my only pace-ee so I waited for her
Mile 12 - 12:00 - right on time
Mile 13 - 13:?? - never saw the marker - heard rumblings that the course was long 
Mile .1 - ???

Total time was 2:39:40 for my pace-ee and I crossed in 2:39:48.  At mile 12, we were at 2:22, and I know we didn't slow down that much in the last mile, even though it was a serious uphill into the wind. So I'm not sure what happened there, but bottom line, we made it in our goal time, and the others in the group surpassed their goals by an even bigger margin. 

In terms of my results, my time was good for 8th place Athena out of 34. It was a great day!!


Jenn said...

People like you are wonderful!! I know it's ultimately up to the pacees, but know that it helps so much to have someone running beside you. I only did the 10K, but I hope to have someone like you to run along with me when I do my first half.

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