Thursday, December 12, 2013

A new first: Leading a pace group

I’d like to think that in my 32 years on this earth I’ve been around the block once or twice.  I’ve been to Alaska, I’ve ran with the bulls in Spain, I’ve even backpacked across Europe.  JUST KIDDING, I haven't done any of those things. This weekend, however, I’m going to do something that I have never done before! Poop without tweeting. I am going to be the pace leader at a race!  On Sunday I’m running the Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon in exactly 1:40:00.

In a perfect example of you can’t kill two birds unless the rock has gathered moss....wait, what? it isn’t what you know it is who you know, my friend Lauren not once but TWICE told me about the race looking for pacers at various speeds. I was very aware of the race and had even thrown around the idea of slapping on an elephant trunk costume and running naked banditing it. (Which would have been another thing that I hadn’t done before.) My running partner and one of my best friends are both running it so I was looking forward to lots of ass slapping and chest bumping the female spectators and whatever else guys do in testosterone fueled meet-ups. (Farting, I guess?) Fortunately though I hit up the race on Facebook asking about the pacer spot they had open and they said put on pants, weirdo yes!  Good thing, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of running even a part of the race without paying.....so instead I’m going to run the whole race without paying and get a medal and T-Shirt.

My buddies and I chilling pre race doing man things

In the past I’ve used pacers both for good race results and as a barometer of how far I was falling behind.  I might have had some choice words for the throng of people running 3:30 in NYC as they pranced by.  I ran with a pace group for 2/3 of the race when I BQ’d and when I broke 3:30 for the first time.  On the flip side, I’ve ran with some people who did NOT know how to pace (their pace was all over the map) and paid the price for it later in the race.  I remember the good pacers just as well as the bad, so I don’t take my newfound responsibility lightly.

The course is super flat so I’m going to rent a moped run even splits, slowing down for each aid station and maybe banking 15-30 seconds for the end. I'm also going to wear my NYC marathon pimp hat to hopefully shake off the stink of failure that was the NYC Marathon.  Fortunately, a 1:40 half is right at my long run pace, so I shouldn’t have any issues holding that the whole way while still being super annoying and chatty.  Unfortunately, my knee is being stupid and I haven’t ran in 2 days.  I’m taking today off as SUPER extra precaution and getting back into it tomorrow!

I don’t normally use the “ask question at the end to solicit comments”, but seriously – what do you like or dislike in a pacer?  I really want to get all of my kiddos to the finish line so am willing to accept any advice!!

What is that? Don’t call grown ass men and women “kiddos” is your first piece of advice?  Got it. 

15 comments:

Charly said...

One of the best pacers I've run with did trivia throughout the race. At every mile, he had a trivia question about the city and/or state we were runnin' in. Doesn't sound like much right now, but it surprisingly helped keep everyone focused. Good luck!

Poop jokes work, too.

Maria Diane said...

My least favorite pacers talked to the other pacer the entire time... leaving out the runners who were pacing with them- 'how RUDE!' (thank you Full House). I quickly ditched them and ran on my own, which was way more fun.

My favorite pacers were super encouraging, shared the split times (my watch doesn't do splits, or I can't figure out how to do splits on the dang smart and expensive 'watch' that doesn't tell 'real' time), and shared funny stories, jokes, ran around the group splitting the time in the front of the pack, in the back, in the middle, checking in on everyone (maybe she was a mother hen in another life?). But it made the whole race FLY by.

I assume based on your witty blog posts and general assumption of your humor, you'll be in this second category. I hope you have a BLAST and what a rewarding experience helping runners achieve their goal. Good luck! Can't wait to hear about it in a future blog post.

Layla said...

The two times I've paced, I made sure to regularly update people on our time, down to the second, and was honest if we were off by a few seconds. I wore a pace band and gave them overall updates (I admit that I was pretty excited when we reached the mile 10 sign and I was right there to the very second -- and I let them see how excited I was.)

The main feedback I got was that people liked the time updates, because then they weren't worried about the time. They also said they liked my mix of inspirational stories and pointing out random silly things or local trivia to distract them.

fueledbylolz.com said...

Chatting is a must. I've never run a full marathon with a pacer but did run a half with a pacer and it was so nice when they were chatting. I like the trivia idea.

I ran a half with a pacer that wanted to "bank" a ton of time in the beginning and it led to almost the entire pace group dying at the end.

Ty Godwin said...

Have fun! I have only been a pacer once but LOVED it. Quite satisfying to get (hopefully) some of them over the finish line to their goal.

Gracie said...

I ran with a pace group as a last-minute decision for my very first half-marathon. That was the only time. I didn't own a watch so it sounded like a good idea to me, but I realized when I hit the half and saw the clock that we were already 5 minutes behind! I left the group and finished slower than our 2-hour goal, but like 8 minutes ahead of the rest of the group! Drastic difference.
But despite that part of it, I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and would consider it again.

Gracie said...

I ran with a pace group as a last-minute decision for my very first half-marathon. That was the only time. I didn't own a watch so it sounded like a good idea to me, but I realized when I hit the half and saw the clock that we were already 5 minutes behind! I left the group and finished slower than our 2-hour goal, but like 8 minutes ahead of the rest of the group! Drastic difference.
But despite that part of it, I enjoyed the camaraderie of the group and would consider it again.

:) said...

I've had some pacers give additional information or advice about racing, like "we're XX minutes into the race, so think about taking your first gel" or "the strategy for water stops is..." Not sure if you'll get anyone brand new to a half marathon at the 1:40 pace group, but I guess it could happen.

Sounds like you'll have a blast!

Amelia Gapin said...

I like a pacer who is chatty and encouraging. Keep some light conversation going, but don't be too annoying about it. I've run with pacers who were really cocky before and I hated that (being confident is good though!). When I ran Chicago in 2012, the pacer also took on the role of coach and was constantly telling us all the things you know as a runner, but forget during a race. That helped a lot. And it also helps to really know the course so you can let runners know about upcoming turns and when aid stations are coming up.

Sue's Ramblings said...

This is gonna be really interesting! Looking forward to your recap. I've a lot of friends who pace the KL and Penang marathons and there'll be pace groups for the first time at this month's Newton 25km Challenge.

Lorenda said...

When I paced, I set my Garmin to give me a split every quarter mile and I could adjust from there. I've only paced in 10Ks. (I know, weird to have pacers in a 10K but there is a series of 4 of them here that are huge and use pacers.) The race director wants the pacers to talk to the runners the whole time so they assign pacers to run 1-2 minutes slower than we would normally. It's really weird to finish a race and not feel like collapsing! I had an 11 yr old in my group in two of the 10Ks. I feel like a big meanie in the last mile or so when people start to get really tired and I try to keep them going but if they do keep up the pace they are really happy afterward! It's probably the only time in my life that people will ask to take a picture with me!!

Jamoosh said...

Pacing is an art form. There are some very good pacers; there are a bunch of decent pacers; and, of course, some pacers suck. I am assuming that 1:40 will be "easy" for you and is something you can do when having a sub-par day. There is nothing worse than the 1:50 pacer straggling across the line 10 minutes after his pace group.
First and foremost, bring your special brand of Adam to the pace group, early and often. One thing I have done leading a group is to have someone else lead for a half mile or so (make it a big deal) and slowly migrated back to front, talking to and encouraging the runners. While the focus is on the group, from time to time, check your runners. If you see someone faltering, call them up to run by your side or run next to them and talk them through it. The group will understand - especially if you are maintaining your splits. You can even everyone else involved - say, "Hey everybody, let's give a cheer for Fred, he's looking great." Another thing you can do is count up then down. Have every one cheer at each mile marker (for example during the first half, "one mile down/done, two miles, down/done" and during the second half "five miles to go, four miles to go" etc.) I could go on and on, but I think you are going to be just fine. Heck, I'd sign up to run with you!

Sweet and Savory by Sarah said...

I like when they are behind me. As soon as I see one pass me, I crumble into a pile of desperation.

Honestly though, I've never ran with one. I just use them as a gauge to know where I'm running without having to look at my watch and do the math.

One Crazy Penguin said...

My biggest advice is to stick to the pace. Banking 15-30 seconds is fine, but I've had pacers who finish 5-10 minutes fast for a half marathon. That is incredibly disheartening and really made me mad. As long as you're upbeat and stick to the pace, I think you'll rock it!

Andrea said...

Be friendly but don't talk the whole time. Esp in those last 3 miles - chances are those running with a pacer are trying to push a new pace and really want people to STFU.