Marathon day is coming up real soon and based upon my recent race results, I’m feeling ever more positive about how I’ll do on the big day. Perhaps I don’t need to run with a pacing group, as I had originally planned. Perhaps the pacer will slow me down. After all,
I could go the distance, I could run the mile. I could walk straight through hell with a smile.
I could be the hero, I could get the gold, breaking all the records that thought never could be broke.
When I’m standing in the hall of fame.
It was Kathy who set me back down to reality. “What if you go out too fast? You should definitely use the pacing group, at least for the beginning of the race,” she said. “In the later miles, you can see how you’re feeling and based upon that, decide if you want to break off from the group and continue on your own.”
And, of course, she’s right.
According to articles in Runner’s World Magazine, there are great benefits to running with a pacing group (which is free, by the way):
1-The pace leaders (who are chosen because of their years of running many marathons) run a steady pace and keep track of that pace so the group can achieve their goal of finishing the marathon at a particular time. If the pace feels too slow in the beginning of the race that’s normal. One of the biggest mistakes marathoners make is starting out too fast and then hitting the wall in the later portions of the race.
2-The pace team can provide fun and excitement for runners. Having a group of runners next to you can pull you through dark patches and give you motivation you can’t give yourself. Part cheerleader, part psychiatrist, a pacer spends many hours during the race encouraging, cajoling, and reassuring scores and sometimes hundreds of relative strangers to their dream finish line.
One concern I had is whether the pacing leader stops at water stations, since for the past few races I’ve been stopping at them. According to what I’ve read, most will stop or slow down and will tell the group at the beginning of the race their plans about this.
Okay, I’m sold! I’ll definitely run the marathon with a pacing group and promise not to change my mind again!……but for exactly how many miles should I stay with the group? Maybe I’ll feel so great at mile 20 that I can run ahead and pass everyone. I can be a champion….Ooops! There I go again! I will just have to take it one “step” at a time and see what the day brings.