Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pacing at the Thunder Road Marathon

Really, Friday to Saturday was pretty much a blur for me. After getting home around 9:30, there was only time for a quick bite and then to pack up before bed time.

Our pacer team was meeting at the BB&T VIP area at 6:45 the next morning. Meaning, I had to be up, get ready, then drive down, and make my way over to the stadium.

I rolled in the door about 6:30. There were a few orange shirts appearing in the crowd so I made my way over to catch up with them.

DC gave us a few last minute instructions. Eric, Rob, and I sorted through some last minute details on how we would sync up. The three of us were pacing the 3:10 group. Rob was run to the finish of the ½ marathon. I run through about 15 miles. Eric would jump in at 10 miles and run to the finish. With plans in place, Rob and I headed for the starting line. Eric headed off to get our club's cheer zone setup.

Believe me when I say “it was cold”. I had hand warmers in my gloves and actually kept them in my gloves the entire race.

They played the national anthem. Tim gave us the final countdown. Finally, we were off. It felt good to get moving. My face felt numb.

Pacing and racing have similarities yet are very different. When I am racing, I usually have specific splits to hit which will get me to my goal time. I rarely talk during a race, and I am totally focused on the road in front of me. Nothing else is important.

Pacing, I still have to hit my splits, but now I have talk to the people around me. I have to make sure that I am not leading them out to fast. I have to use my enthusiasm to push them to reach their goals.

Rob and I were running side by side. He was doing an excellent job keeping me in check. At the mile, we are about 5 seconds over a goal pace. The second mile, we brought it back to just about evening. For the next several miles, we alternated between being on pace and just a second or two over. Mainly, this was due to the long rolling hills.

At 10 miles, we are right on pace, and we picked up Eric by the Charlotte Running Club cheer zone.  

Miles 11 and 12 flew by easily which puts us about 15 seconds ahead of pace due to a tail wind. But the 13th mile was slightly uphill and into the wind.

Eric joins a group in front of us when they turn on the marathon course. Rob takes our group on to the finish. I slow a bit to catch to attach with the next group which I run with until about 15 miles.

At this point, I thought about cutting across to catch the end of the race but decided on a different approach. I would run backwards along the course to cheer on the runners. Running in the opposite direction does have it perks because I can see the smiles that come from my encouragement.

I ran all the way back to 10 miles and down around Latta Park. The trucks were picking up the cones as I came through. It was little sad to see the runners and walkers behind the trucks. Some of them didn’t know the course so they were asking me how many miles were left and which way did the course go.  It kind of pulls at my heart string to know they had paid their money to run and were working so hard yet they were being forced to the side walk to complete the race.

Let’s hope they all finished the race and received their medals. Better, this race gave them the desire to come back next year.

When it comes to running, I have always been focused on my personal goals. The rewards came in achieving something that was just out of my normal reach.  

Saturday for the first time, I helped others achieve their goals. Hearing their “thank you”s and seeing the expression on their faces was one of my most rewarding experiences ever.

Last but certainly not least, a big shout out goes to all of the pacers at Thunder Road for sharing of their time and energy to help someone else achieve their goals.


Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down Runner

No comments: