What’s it like to be a pacer for a race?

This past week, our friend Marathon Matt from RunClubSF put out the call for volunteers to pace the 2017 SoFi Golden Gate Half Marathon.  Pacing was a 2018 goal for the Running Lushes, and we had the weekend free.  We jumped at the chance to achieve this goal a little early!

Full of nerves for first time pacing, we showed up at the start line with our pacing signs (2:40 and 2:50 pace) and found our place at the start line.  We quickly made friends with the surrounding runners and encouraged the first timers to pace with us to meet or beat their goals.

Here are our unexpected surprises about pacing a race!img_4866

  • Holding a stick for the whole race:  It is challenging to take off layers, get access to gels/water while one hand is occupied holding the sign.  Fortunately there were individuals in each of our pace groups willing to hold the sign for a few seconds when we needed another hand.  Shout out to @liftrunstacey from Livermore for your help with the 2:50 sign and hanging with us the whole race. Side note – it is difficult to hold a sign on Golden Gate bridge with the windy conditions. The 2:50 pace sign almost ended up in the pacific ocean.
  • It is difficult to maintain a pace – We both paced a speed that was slower than we normally run and though we had some guidelines, it was definitely harder than we thought to keep consistent.  Using a Garmin or other running watch with the pace wristband from Marathon Guide definitely helps ensure you stay close to your target finishing time.
  • People coming in / out of pace group:  Some people may stay in your pace group for the entire race, but many people start with you and finish before or after your group. Others will join in the last few miles and cross the finish line with you.  Either way, it is great to have the energy that comes with running with a group of people.
  • Don’t listen to the fears in your head – Layne was nervous about being able to actually lead given it was her first time.  On the flip side, Kat was a bit nervous if she could maintain a pace much slower than her normal race pace.  In the end, neither one of these fears were justified as Kat crushed her pace and Layne ran a little fast giving some folks an unexpected PR.  The lesson here is to be confident in your training and do not let the nerves consume you into not trying.
  • The sense of accomplishment and pride helping people reach goals – The single most rewarding part of the experience was the appreciation from others in playing a small part in helping them achieve their race goals.  We had so many people acknowledge the effort afterwards and that was really nice to hear.

This race was a blast!  From the expo, to the scenery and the post-race beer garden wine and beer party,  it was well produced and had a great vibe.  Getting the opportunity to pace was an added perk, and we would definitely sign up to pace this race or another one again.  Oh, and did we mention the huge medal doubles as a bottle opener?  Running Lushes approved!

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