On Saturday, I will pace in the Rocket City Marathon for my third time. For those of you who are wanting to pace or learn more about pacing, here is a list of what I've done to prepare this time around:
1. Choose a pace that is reasonable for you to run.
In this document, our pace team coordinator Eric Charette states that all of the pacers have all run a marathon within the past year that is at least 20 minutes faster than the pace they are leading. I think this is important to note. You don't want to pace a group that is too fast for you (obviously), but you also don't want to pace one that's too slow for you either.
For this year's Rocket City Marathon, I am pacing the 3:45 group with a recent marathon time of 3:12. (33 minutes off)
In 2011, I paced the 3:55 group with a recent marathon time of 3:15. (40 minutes off)
In 2010, I paced the 4:15 group with a recent marathon time of 3:29. (46 minutes off)
This year, my time will be the most challenging for me to pace (since it's the fastest I've ever paced), but it will also correlate with a recent marathon time the best of all three times I've paced.
2. Run with someone who can help you keep the pace.
When Eric Charette said that he wanted two pacers on each time this year, I was very happy. I knew that I could do this thing, but I've struggled to do it alone. Guess who I found to pace with me? My own husband! I am reminded of a verse that was used in our wedding:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
It is soooo comforting to know that Rick will be there to help me do this (or to finish it if I can't). He has so many strengths that I don't, and we balance each other well (in life and hopefully in pacing). He is much more precise, better at numbers, knows the course better than me, thinks things out more in advance, etc.
3. Train at pace---and that means a few seconds faster than your pace.
I did a 20-miler last Saturday at an 8:31 pace (3:45 is an 8:35 pace). No, I do NOT recommend that marathoners run their long runs at pace (they should go 30-90 seconds slower than marathon pace during long runs). Pacing is different. You should easily be able to do a run at pace, and you should do runs at pace to get familiar and comfortable running that pace. It is good practice for the real thing.
From my little mishap last year, I learned to add about .2 of a mile to your total distance and use the pace per mile for that distance and not 26.2. I am a seasoned marathoner, but I never use a Garmin during marathons so I didn't realize that until last year!
4. Do an adequate taper, rest, and fuel.
Will this marathon be easy for us? NO! I am trying to prepare enough for this race without preparing too much. If I don't prepare enough, I won't be ready. If I prepare too much, I will not be getting the training I need for Mountain Mist (currently training for 50K trail run January 26, 2013). So while this run will serve as a training run for me for Mountain Mist, I still must give it consideration and take care of myself the week before.
I am being interviewed by local news stations about the marathon on Wednesday night. Apparently, I was the top local female seed! This honor usually goes to fellow teammate Candace, who is injured and not running this year. When I was told about the interview, I instantly said, "Well, I'm not racing, I'm pacing," but they still wanted to interview me anyway. I asked Rick and the kids to come along too. The kids are excited that Mommy is going to be on t.v.!
Rick and I spent a long time tonight trying to explain to the kids why Mommy and Daddy are running but not racing. We want them to understand why people pace. We are hoping to help others reach their goals on Saturday and to encourage and support them. We want our kids to know that when we run it is not always about us. Yes, we get free entry and a training run out of the deal, but we are not doing this for us. This is a way for us to help others in a unique way. Just like we can stuff packets for the marathon (and, yes, my whole family does this), this is something Mommy and Daddy can do for someone else. It was hard to explain all of this to little kids. They were probably more interested to learn that we get to carry signs when we run!