Today I ran the KC half marathon as a co-pacer for the 2 hour mark. Our job was to pace the runners who wanted to come in right under 2 hours utilizing the 'Smart Pace' strategy. The short version - We did it!!
The long version - I had an awesome time running with my co-pacer Stacy and helping so many runners achieve their goal. I paced last year for the 2:10 half and had a good time, but did it on my own. At times, I felt like a crazy lady who was carrying a stick and yelling out words of encouragement and running tips. This year, when I yelled, I had a partner in crime! :-) Not only that, but we sang a song almost every mile we passed. It went a little something like this (adapted from "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus) - "I got my hands up, we're running our race, mile 1 flies away, I'm noddin my head like yeah, moving my feet like yeah." We changed the lyrics a bit if we were running up a hill or if I just messed them up by accident. (It's a new song to me so I really had to think about it)!
Aside from the silly song, I think we did a really good job holding our pace and sticking to the 'Smart Pace' strategy. If you're not familiar with it, we started off slow and gradually increased our speed until we settled into goal pace after a few miles. We built a little cushion in the middle miles then relaxed the pace a bit at the end. If you want to see what this really looks like, check out http://www.races2remember.com/Pace_Bands.html . It's the only way I'll ever run a race! There's nothing like feeling great at the finish and being able to pass so many people at the end. All because you consciously didn't get caught up with the adrenaline of the crowd and go out too fast. I don't really know how many people we were able to help out, but I'm guessing quite a few people were able to gauge their pace just by seeing us up ahead or by passing us at some point. I do know that several friends who started with us felt great and were able to leave us. All of them finished 3-5 minutes ahead of 2 hours. We had wonderful racing weather! Temps in the 40's and overcast skies the whole way. It was a bit chilly, but with a long sleeve shirt (under my short sleeve pacer shirt), capri tights, gloves, and hat, I was comfortable enough.
Overall, I was very happy with my experience today. I only have a few critiques for how the aid stations were run, but I will save those comments for Eladio and the race committee. I'm very proud of our hometown race and how it's grown over several years. I don't expect we'll ever be the size of Chicago or New York, but for our size of city and the hills we inevitably have to have, it is a wonderful, scenic course. Not a super fast, guaranteed PR or Boston qualifier course, but if you train properly and the weather cooperates, it is possible.
In fact, my good friend, Ann did just that. She has been trying for a few years to qualify and she did it today with a time of 3:44:10. She just had a birthday and only needed 3:50, but she really went for it and killed it! I'm so proud of her and thrilled that she accomplished this long time goal. I'm also very excited because with the timing of her qualification, she could run Boston two years in a row. Which means, she can run Boston next April and then run it again with me in 2011, if I qualify next fall. Oh please, oh please....! If I get there again, I really want to run it with my friends. So that means, you all have to qualify too! (You know if I'm talking to you!)
Congrats to Ann, Theresa, Stephanie T., Stephanie G., Mallika, Pritha, Adina and all who ran today! Thanks to all the volunteers, including my dad who helped set up and take down the aid stations! Thanks to Eladio for letting me pace again this year and redeem myself from last year and to Stacy for being an awesome co-pacer and friend!
It's been a very busy week and my body is finally feeling the fatigue. I think it's time to wind things down for the night and get some rest. Sweet dreams!