Thursday, December 9, 2010
A First Time Pacer
This weekend I have been given the awesome opportunity to do just that (where running is concerned, although since I've only been married 3 years, I don't feel that we've run out of "firsts" yet). For the first time ever in my running experience, I will have the opportunity to be a marathon pacer. I will be the 4:30 pacer for the Rocket City Marathon this Saturday, and I could not be more excited!
When Eric Charette e-mailed a group of runners (myself included) about the possibility of having pacers in the marathon, I was ecstatic. He had yet to pitch the idea to the marathon committee and he was putting out feelers to see who was interested. I was very interested, but felt that the only pace group to which I could commit was the 4:30. I had already promised to pace my mom for her 4:30 marathon finish and Boston qualifying time, and I did not want to go back on my promise. Even if Mom did not factor into it, however, I probably would have chosen this pace group anyway, as I have only run 1 marathon under 4:00 and 6 under 4:30. I felt that the pace for a 4:30 (roughly a 10 minute pace give or take a few seconds) would be comfortable enough for me to maintain easily while encouraging the runners around me.
The marathon committee approved the pacing group idea and Eric solidified the pacers for each group. I checked with Mom to make sure she did not mind, and she was all for it. She said it would force me to stay on pace even if she did not. Usually, when we run together, she tells me a pace she wants to run but if she drops I will drop too to accommodate her. In the marathon she wants me to hold the pace no matter what, and now I am committed to doing just that.
It feels amazing, when I look back a mere two years ago to the first time I reached and broke a 4:30 marathon time. My best up until that point was a 4:43 and a 4:30 seemed doable, but so very far away. On April 26, 2008 I ran the Kentucky Derby Marathon in Louisville, KY finishing in 4:28, and I was thrilled, amazed, overjoyed. Jason, his brother Jonathan and I had all traveled to Kentucky for this race. It would be Jonathan's first marathon ever, a major PR for Jason (2:38:58), and a major PR for me.
I remember the moment around mile 20 when I realized where I was and how much time I had to finish. I felt great and knew I had what I needed to push it. I had been keeping my eye on that 4:30 pacer the entire race and had managed, to my surprise, to stay with him. As I approached the finishing chute, I saw Jason standing outside the fence cheering for me. "I DID IT! I DID IT!" I screamed at him as I ran through the finish line.
It was then like one of those cheesy moments in the movies where the lovers are reunited after a long separation for whatever reason. I ran to the chain length fence where Jason was standing on the other side. We grabbed hands and kissed through the fence as I excitedly repeated the fact that I had done it and Jason excitedly told me about his amazing finishing time. We then went to check on Jonathan...who thought he might die, but he recovered quickly and had done rather well for his first marathon (3:56:57) - and on VERY little training, I might add.
And now, two years later I am the 4:30 pacer. It blows my mind. I remember how I used to look at 4:30 marathon runners in awe wondering how on earth they ran that fast. And now, not only can I do it myself, but I have the opportunity to help others do it! Amazing.
I am honored to be the 4:30 pacer this Saturday. A marathon is a long, hard race no matter how many times one has done it. I will be running with people who are striving to reach that 4:30 goal, just as I once was, and I am thrilled to be able to join them on that journey and help them through it. I will wear my bright red Nike Pace Team shirt with pride, and I will hold my 4:30 sign high as I pace for the Rocket City Marathon.