Saturday, April 6, 2013

My First Pacing Opportunity

Race #9 of 2013

A local guy by the name of Jonathon Crampton, who is head of the Utah Race Pacers, asked me to pace the 2:20 group for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon on April 20th.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity but secretly, I was scared to death.  I've never paced before but have wanted to.  Having a free race entry is a pretty awesome perk I'd say.  Salt Lake Half Marathon is a pretty big deal and an expensive race and I had decided not to sign up for it.  So when this opportunity was handed to me I decided to give it a try. Adidas is one of the sponsors for this big race and all of us pacers got free shoes to run in, so that was a huge perk as well.

Well, back up a couple weeks earlier to today!  I was asked only a short time ago if I would jump in and pace the Winter Strider's Half Marathon up in Ogden Canyon, above Eden, Utah.  I knew instantly I wanted to because the head of this pace group, Walter Brown, said I could have a companion helping me.  My friend Hollie said she would love to do this with me and I was ready for a so-called "practice run" at this pacing before the "big deal" at Salt Lake.  Me and Hollie would be pacing the 2:30 group which is basically an 11:26 minute pace. 

I set the alarm for 3:55 am.  Yes, that is not a misprint.   Eden Utah is kind of far away.  I got dressed and ate a bagel and some banana and peanut butter and got out the door by 4:30 am.  I was picking up Hollie and Josh in Bountiful and then heading up to Eden.  I needed to be there by 6:15 am and we made it with time to spare.

We met a few of the other pacers and got our bibs pinned on and our singlets put on over our shirts.  It's still pretty cold in the mornings, especially up in the mountains so I dressed warmly.  These early Springtime races are a little hard to guess how cold it's going to be when running.  I was brave and ditched my gloves and coat at the starting line and had no regrets.
It was fun to have people come up to us and say they wanted to try hanging out with us.  We said "Great, we will have a good time together."
Loooook, it's my friend Melanie who also found me at my last half marathon in March at the Shamrock run.  We runners kind of get around.
We had a nice bus ride to the top and hopped out quick to get in the line for the ports.  We walked to the very back of the group since our pace group was the slowest one assigned.  We decided to do a photo with our best impersonation of Cory Reese, minus the jumping. Big eyes and thumbs in the air, it was Hollie's idea, promise.
The race started at 8:00 am and we were off.  This was one of the few times in a race I actually felt so hungry.  Last time I had eaten was at 4:30 am and here it was 3 1/2 hours later.  I was so glad when we got to about mile 5 and they were handing out gu's.  That was a happy treat for me.  I had another gu around mile 9.
Hollie was a super companion and kept track of the time.  She let me hold the sign.  We both had pace bands on our wrists so we would know exactly where we needed to be at each mile marker.  We were always within just a few seconds either ahead or behind.  She would say, "We need to go a little faster, or we need to slow down"  She did so perfect.  I may just have to hide her in my drop bag for pacing Salt Lake since it's a one man job that weekend and I'll be on my own there. 

Having somebody run by your side for an entire 13.1 miles was simply awesome.  We chatted with others around us as well but oftentimes it was just her and I.  Josh hung with us until about mile 6 and then he said he tapered off to go flirt with somebody.  Go Josh!

The miles seemed to fly by and next thing we realized is we were coming into the finish line and it was over.  This seriously seemed like the fastest half marathon I've ever run.  It's amazing what some good conversation and good company will do for a run.  The weather was cool but gorgeous.  The scenery was peaceful and beautiful.  We passed horses, sometimes running too.  We passed a couple of ponds with big reeds and frogs croaking like crazy.  I told Hollie that was something I never hear where I live.

We were told that we should try to come into the finish line no more than 30 seconds ahead or behind.  We were so proud to be there only 15 seconds early.  I think we passed the test and now I feel somewhat relieved and a little more ready to pace the Salt Lake Half Marathon in 2 weeks.
 The after race treats were yogurt, fruit, and granola, some yummy fruit bread, and hot chocolate.
I got to meet another person who is also pacing at the Salt Lake Race, Paul Fulton.  He brought some yummy peanut brittle his fiance' had made to share with us race pacers.  I didn't want any until he said it melts in your mouth like the inside of a butterfinger.  YUMMY!  I took a piece and put it in a cup to take home for Mark to try.  Well, that piece didn't make it to Mark.  It was just too delicious.  
Me, Walter Brown, the head of the American Flyers Pacing Group, and Hollie Doyle.  We had so much fun and certainly hope to get to do this again.
 Another perk of pacing besides a free race entry is the shirt and an awesome medal!


mCat said...

YOU will make an awesome pacer!! So sad that I can't do this anymore since those are some of the best people I know! Seriously, Paul is a dear friend and you are a lucky girl to get to pace with this group!

Love the "we runners get around"

Yes we do!

Christy said...

You're awesome. We will look for you at SL!

Amy @ Run Mom Run said...

Wow! Sounds like a blast! I'm glad you got to practice. Pacing can be difficult.

I really want to pace a race sometime. I've had so many awesome people help me at races along the way so I'd love to be able to pay it forward!

Cory Reese said...

I believe that is one of the most awesome medals I've ever seen. Congrats on a job well done!

Yo Momma Runs said...

Congrats on an excellent first pacing! You did awesome! You should ask Salt Lake if your friend could help you. That race sounds big enough to definitely have partners for pacing! Now I want to go find a pacing gig.:)

Jenny Lynn said...

It is so fun to see all the great races you are participating. Looks like you have some great partners as well.

Doran & Jody said...

AWESOME for you!!!