Slow and steady wins the race. Learning about pace is one of the hardest things a runner can learn. My addiction to my garmin and a year with the San Diego Track Club taught me everything I know about pacing. Add 8 more years of running and a ton of enthusiasm and I felt cautiously optimistic about pacing my first 10k this past weekend. I would be pacing the last pace group, 11:15 pace or a goal finish of 1:10.
I practiced for several weeks, going out to maintain an 11:15 pace for 5-6 miles on my usual courses. On race day, I planned to wear two watches. One Garmin for current pace and distance and one Timex for chrono and self marking for each mile. I met the team of pacers on a bright, beautiful spring morning. I took my spot at the start of wave 4 with my giant 1:10 sign waiting to see if anyone would join my flock. My desire to do right by these folks was deep. Having the added pressure of being the only one in the field wearing a bright orange shirt marked 1:10 just added to the nervous excitement. A few folks introduced themselves and I to them, we took our spot at the starting line with a woot and a holler and off we went.
Along the race course, I was my usual self-chatty, encouraging, loud, and filled with dance breaks. Also along the way, I was meticulously calculating each .25 mile. How was our pace? Are we too fast? Too slow? Should I account for that “rise in the pavement?” I had great feedback from my team-lots of thank you’s and laughter. Each mile seemed to fly by-at a nice 11:15-11:20 pace. In my mind, I knew we would get to mile 5.75 and the steep downhill would allow runners to finish strong. So as we approached that spot, I wished many of them farewell as they flew our 11:15 nest and took off. I continued to shout encouragements all the way down. I finished in 1:09:47. I feel like 13 seconds differential is a pretty good first shot at pacing a race.
It was after the race that I felt such deep pride for the runners from our flock. Many said encouraging things like, “this was my first 10k race” and “I have never run all 6 miles before” that just made me gush with delight for them. The best reward for pacing this group was to know that they had met and exceeded their race goals. It was awesome. I am so proud of them.
I can’t wait to pace again!