Bull City Half Marathon- Race Recap

This past Sunday I ran Bull City Race Fest again!  Third time in the four years the race has been running.  The only time I didn’t run it was a few years ago when I ran the Greensboro Marathon the day before.  Yes, I hated to miss it that year but I just couldn’t get myself out of bed at 4am after a marathon the day before.  My legs and energy were shot.  This year was another story.

Everything about this race is just awesome.  Tons of runners, nearly 6,000 every year running the Half, Five miler and 1 miler combined.  I was asked to be on the pace team again this year, one of my absolute favorite things to do.  Since I’ve been struggling a bit with my feet I decided to pace the 9:00 mile group.

I paced with with a great runner, Drew, who I hadn’t met at previous pace experiences at this race.  He was an awesome pace partner.  In 2013 I paced the 1:45:00 finish group, in 2015 I paced the 8:30 per mile group with my son, and now 2016 the 9:00 mile group.

Race morning was near perfection weather wise.  52 degrees, and just beautiful.  This race has always been ultra lucky with fantastic weather.  We lined up with our pace sign about 20 minutes prior to the gun.  As you can imagine, this group was loaded with folks wanting to beat the 2:00:00 Half finish.  I love a huge group of runners, especially on a hilly course.  Runners ebb and flow, and you get a chance to meet and talk with so many new faces along the way!

Our race was filled with ups and downs, as you would expect on the hills of Durham.  Such a great course though, giving runners a chance to see many parts of the city.  We kept a great consistent pace.  Constantly checking our progress, Drew and I maintained a pace of about 8:57 through the first half of the course.  As with most races, our timing devices were a little off from each other, and also the mile markers on course, but doing the extrapolations each mile, we were confident our pace was on target especially knowing how difficult and hilly the final miles are.

We ended up bringing tons of folks across the line with new PR’s, and many more just so happy to finish that tough race.  Pacing is always tough work.  My goals are different depending on each races expectations of how close to the target each pacer should be, and much to my surprise I came across the line with a perfect 1:58:00, 9:00 minute mile pace.  So difficult to nailed it perfectly, in fact I’ve never done it.  Most races expect a finish within a minute under goal time, but not over.  This one may go down in the books as the only perfect finish I’ll ever have.

It was a great day!  Finish festival with food trucks is always a bonus, especially when you can spread out and bask in the sun and also the glow of an awesome finish!  Thanks Bull City, and big thanks to Drew for pacing with me!  I shall return!

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I’m a Half Marathon Pacer!!!

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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.

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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.

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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?