I received some great news yesterday afternoon! I volunteered for, and was chosen to be a pacer in the Half Marathon I’m running in this weekend. This throws such an interesting curveball into my race plan, but I couldn’t be happier about it. So many reasons come to mind…..
First off, I have been wanting to volunteer at a race for quite some time now, but haven’t. Reason being, I work most weekends, and don’t get a lot of time off. Normally, if I request a day off at work, or take a vacation day, it is to actually run a race, not volunteer at one. Being a pacer allows me to run the race, but also “give back” to the race, and to other runners. Why didn’t I think of this before now? Well, I guess being a pacer requires some confidence, and being a fairly new competitive runner (three years now), I didn’t have a lot of confidence that I could go the distance as required, and be held accountable, if you will, to a given pace. I really have the confidence now, so why not give back, and help others.
I have been chosen to be the Pacer for the 8 minute per mile group at the Bull City Race Fest Half! Yes, this means coming in at just under 1:45:00 finish time. This I can do, and feel confident about. I have now run 17 Half Marathons, and my average pace is well below that. Yes, I have run in races where I actually tried to run with pacers to better my time, and sometimes it has worked and other times it has not. I have been on a course and caught up to and passed pacers that I was trying to beat, and other times, sadly, I have been overtaken by a pacer late in a race. This all changes this Sunday on race day. I am the pacer!
Secondly, I have to run a race now that is different from how I normally race. I have to pace myself from beginning to end, at the same pace. This I look at as a challenge, and have been wanting to do for quite some time now. I have tried this in training, and have been very successful, but never at a race. This will be my challenge, and I look forward to it. I am usually the runner that goes out quite fast, and gently, over the mid section of a race, finds a slower, more balanced pace for me, and then finishes strong. On Sunday, I have to start out at goal pace! and maintain it. This is very important, as I will have runners of different abilities trying to stay with me, so going out at a 7 minute pace or faster is not an option this time.
Thirdly, there is the whole camaraderie aspect. This will be the first race where I will be the one doing the guiding, the leading, the pacing. Others will be looking to me for support. I am not used to this, but have to do my best. I am not usually a talker while I race. The occasional “thank you” to aid station volunteers, or the timely shout outs like “looking good” or ” keep it up”, to other runners near me during a race, is about my norm. I am not shy, but I just don’t talk a whole lot, or strike up conversations with random runners during a race. I will have to be more vocal this time.
I look forward to this Sunday, being a pacer. Now, I may love it, and I may hate it and never do it again. Time will tell. I just know that this is a great way to give back, and support the race and other runners. I will certainly report back with how this all plays out this weekend. I’ve taken on a new challenge, let’s see how this goes.
Question for you…. Have you ever been a pacer for a race? If so, how did it go, and what did you think of it? Any advice for me this weekend?
- Half Marathon #18 (plaviska1970.wordpress.com)