This past Sunday, I crossed something exciting off of my “To Do List” – I ran a half marathon as a pacer. The race was the Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, KS, and was expected to have an awesome turnout this year.
The pace group that I was responsible for leading was the 1:55 group. Stacy ran beside me as my co-pacer (she is a seasoned veteran at pacing) and together we had the energy and pacing skills needed to lead our group to their goal!
The pacers for this race follow a Smart Pacing strategy. This strategy helps you to run a smart race, and ensures that you don’t start out too fast. It also gives you some cushion on the hills.
I have used the Smart Pace Strategy in all of my recent races, and let me tell you – it works! If you visit the Smart Pacing website, you can learn more about the strategy, and how it can benefit you. There is also a link to Races2Remember, which uses the Smart Pacing strategy to create Pace Bands.
The Pace Bands are genius. They include a number of different races (13.1/26.2) and customize your pace band to that race. These people are SMART. And they know what they are doing. They will create a band just for you, and do it for you cheap. Please, give ‘em a try for your next big race. You won’t regret it!
The pace band for my race is shown below.
Now look at the elevation chart for the race. See how this band compensates for the hills? And gives you warm up time, as well as the inevitable slow down time at the end of the race? Like I said, it is genius. And it will help you to run the way you should run.
Ok, now I will transition off of the Smart Pacing soapbox, and talk about the race.
Stacy and I lined up at the start, and met our group. We had such a fun assortment of people with us, and all were trying to achieve a goal of breaking 1:55. I love being around people who love running as much as I do, and they were certainly present in our pace group.
The course was hilly, and had some questionable areas (i.e. running at least 5 miles on a sidewalk…..) but it was great overall. And most importantly we were able to keep our group together.
Around mile 11 Stacy encouraged everyone who was really feeling it to take off and finish out the race as hard as they could. We had one guy that wasn’t so sure about this, but after our encouragement he trusted that he could do it, and he ended up setting a BIG PR!
By the end of the race, Stacy and I were crossing the finish line alone. Our group had spread their wings, and flown to the finish. It was amazing to see.
Our official race time was 1:55:11. Best case, we would have finished in 1:54:59, but we stopped right at the end to cheer on some people that needed that extra encouragement (good for them, not so good for our final time).
Pacing was a blast. And was everything I had hoped it would be! Nothing is more rewarding than MULTIPLE people coming up to you after the race, thanking you for helping them reach their goal. Everyone was so gracious, and so kind. They made the experience so enjoyable, and well worth the time I put towards it.
I hope in the future I am able to pace again (if that additional 11 seconds on my time doesn’t black ball me). I also urge everyone who has the opportunity to pace a race to snatch it right up! You will not regret it.
Have you ever ran with a pacer? Or as a pacer?