March 26, 2014

Racing with a pacer!

If you have been following our blog and read my marathon recap from earlier this month, you know I ran my race with a pacer.  Meghan, a speedy runner from my group, Without Limits agreed to pace me for the Quintiles Marathon on March 16th.  It was both thrilling and scary to think about running a race completely in the hands of someone who was trying to get you to a specific goal.

Meghan and I had the pleasure of meeting several times before race day for long runs.  The first, at 10 miles, was to be a straight run at goal pace, with some pickups (a few minutes at a quicker pace) 6 times.  This run gave us a chance to chat and get acquainted with each other. Not only did we chat about running, but everything else too. But what I did learn that day was that Meghan did not race in the same way as me.  She normally races with equal splits.  I, on the other hand, practically always negative split my half marathons and both of my prior marathons had large negative splits. I had to trust my coach Sami and Meghan that I could race this way too. Our second run together was two weeks prior to the race and was a 20 mile run with the first 10 at race pace doing run/walk.  We completed the run, and were nearly at goal pace the entire way!  Both of us were ready for race day.

Some of the huge benefits you get from running with a pacer include the following:

1.  No need to keep checking your Garmin Meghan set her Garmin to change colors if we got below my goal race pace (10 minute mile, although I think she used 9:58) I hardly looked at my watch except at the half way point when she stopped to use the porta potty.  I took a quick peak to see our time which was below goal pace!

2.  Encouragement from your pacer  I was so lucky to have my own personal pacer, and she was amazing about keeping me upbeat throughout the race, chatting and keeping me entertained by talking with the other runners around us!

3.  Fueling  Navigating the water stops was so easy during this race with Meghan in the lead. And at times I felt like a celebrity when she grabbed water for both of us!

4.  Confidence  This is an intangible, but I certainly felt a higher level of confidence running with a very strong runner who knew how to pace and keep her runner comfortable.  With her encouragement of both myself and those around us, she kept the race light and fun which can be very challenging over 26.2 miles.


In lockstep with Meghan on race day!

Christine also ran her Shamrock half marathon the same day with a pace group and found it hugely helpful.  You can read about it here! Next month, I will have the privilege of pacing one of the girls from our Without Limits group during her first half marathon.  It will be so exciting to help Mitzie reach her goal at the Divas Half in North Myrtle Beach.

Have you ever run with a pacer, or been a pacer? Tell us about your experience.
(Pam)

20 comments:

  1. There's times when I like a pacer (super fast runs) and others I enjoy running solo to push myself - it's definitely a team effort with a pacer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree completely Kat....it is a team effort and I am so grateful to Meghan!

      Delete
  2. I've never ran with a 'pacer' but one of my best friends ran my first marathon with me for company and encouragement and it absolutely worked! If I ever have a goal pace in a race, running with a pacer or pace group sounds like a great idea. I know I get tired of looking at my Garmin all the time when I have a time goal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whether it is a pacer or company, running a marathon is much easier when you have someone with you. I ran my first solo, my second with Christine and this last one with a dedicated pacer. The last two races were by far easier with someone there by my side!

      Delete
  3. I've run with an unofficial pacer before. My PR is from running with a friend (who is much faster than me) and just trying to keep up with her. She still ran it slower that she's capable of, but it was my fastest time and not just literally. Having her to chat with made the race seem over before I knew it! And having someone there to run with is always great for that push I need when I give up on myself. I always want to try running with a pace group but I'm too chicken, I don't know why! lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kellie, I have always avoided the official pace groups, but now that I have seen what Christine did with one of those groups I may give it a try. It is amazing to have your own pacer....so comforting during the difficult parts of a race.

      Delete
  4. You and Meghan look so cute in your matching outfits! I usually run at my own pace but Lacey has used tried to pace herself with the pacers during Shamrock. How fun that you will be someone's pacer soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Meranda. I did not know Meghan would be wearing the same shirt until we connected on race day. I am really excited about pacing Mitzie....it will be a great experience and she is such a fun girl too!

      Delete
  5. I've never run with a pacer, but always thought about it. Especially for a half marathon, because I can't seem to push myself hard enough to PR if my life depended on it these days. Truth be told, I'm a little afraid of falling short of expectations on someone's else's "watch," but after reading this, I feel like I might want to give it a try! I'm glad you had such a great experience, and obviously, it worked! Congrats again! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jennifer....I would encourage you to try a pace group. It really worked for Christine and clearly I was lucky to have my own private pacer. I bet you will surprise yourself on what you can accomplish with a group!

      Delete
  6. I've never really run with a pacer; during the RNR NOLA half I kept my eye on one though because I had a time goal in mind. Maybe when I run the Country Music half next month I will tag along with a pace group!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristen, I think it would be worth it to try starting with a group and then you can determine if it is working for you. We would love to hear from you if you use the pace group next month!

      Delete
  7. I have only been a pacer! It was one of the best experiences I have ever had! It is so much fun to focus completely on the other person. I'm still debating about running with a pace group at Gazelle Girl - time will tell!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Megan, I am so excited to be a pacer.....it will be refreshing to focus on Mitzie's goal and I can't wait to encourage her and help her through her first half. You will be fine at Gazelle Girl whatever you choose. Can't wait to follow your race!

      Delete
  8. That's so cool! I never officially paced before but have paced friends. I've never thought to tell them to leave their Garmins at home and leave the worrying about time to me. Duh! Thanks for the tip, Pam!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jen, I remember seeing you pace Heather last year at the Princess Half. I did wear my Garmin, but honestly, I could have left it at home!

      Delete
  9. Congrats again on your BQ, Pam! It's been so fun to read along as you've tackled this goal. I actually got to run Glass Slipper as a pacer for the first time this year for a dear friend of mine and I absolutely LOVED it. Coaching her to a PR on the half by 24 minutes was the highlight of my race weekend. It's definitely something that I would love to do again and for sure something I would like to do by having someone pace me for a race. I hope you have a great race pacing Mitzie! I can't wait to read about it in a few weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much. Wow....coaching a friend to a 24 minute PR in a half is amazing. Great job and yes, I can't wait to be a pacer next month!

      Delete
  10. I have never run with a pacer but I remember seeing the cliff bar pacers at Tinkerbell half and I used them when I realized I was ahead of the 215 pacer and that was definitely too fast to start. I stopped & took a walk break and waited for them to pass me before I started running again it was a really good way take sure I didn't burn out too fast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Candace, It is amazing how consistent they are with pace, and it can be very helpful when you see them on the course. I hope Tinkerbell was a great race.....Christine and I hope to run that one in 2015!

      Delete