(Sheri, me and Angela - two of my favorite girls)
Saturday was the day. Another 1/2 marathon that I was unprepared for. Did I mention that I am a terrible trainer? Especially in the winter. And then in the summer, I need races or events to participate in to keep my training going. This weekend was no exception.
I didn't know much about the course until packet pickup and then got the 411 from some others in the pacing group that I am lucky to be a part of. NGL - starting psyching myself out, but realized it is what it is and there is no changing it.
Got up early, but since the race didn't start until 9 - it was thankfully not too early. Grabbed Sheri and made my traditional stop at the sev for my pre-race monster and maple bar.
We met up with the other pacers, chatted, moved around a bit to stay warm, took some pictures and did our final prep.
Stacy, Joe and myself were pacing the 2:10 group. As a pacer you offer encouragement to those that are trying to stay with you, keep an even pace and make sure no man is left behind. We had some around us acknowledge that they wanted to make the 2:10 time or less, so after getting some names, we started off.
The course was a tough, technical and very challenging course. Add in the strong winds that we spent a good portion running into and it was a real trash kicker. Stacy and Joe were fun to pace with and the people that were sticking with us were a delight to chat with. One in particular won my heart.
Brad was running his first 1/2 ever. He looked to be the same age as my sons, so I was instantly drawn to him. He was trying hard to stay with us, but as I watched him, I could tell it was a bit of a challenge. Every so often, he would drop back and then slowly catch back up with us. Often I would turn around, run backwards and make sure he was in striking distance. Making sure he knew we were watching out for him
As we came onto a road that we knew had a wickedly steep S-curve turn in it, some runners were getting nervous. We decided to name the hill so that we could make it personal. The lady next to me was getting nauseated and really wanted to walk. We kept talking and I gave her the privilege of naming the hill. First she said "Sue" but I quickly vetoed it since that's my Mom's name. She came up with Karen. From there on out - the ugly hill was named Karen. We talked about her, we warned her, we told her we were gonna own her and make her our b****.
As we neared it and could see it in our sights, my poor girl had to pull off and walk. Since I have to keep the pace, I couldn't do much for her other than offer some suggestions and encouragement and keep going.
I turned around and checked on Brad. He was right there ready to tackle it. There were others we came up on that were either walking it, or barely trotting it. At this point, either option had no shame. Once we reached the top - we let ourselves celebrate a bit and then kept moving forward. This was about mile 11 so we knew we were almost done. As we rounded the park and came into the last couple of turns, we slowed our pace because we were ahead of schedule. The couple of runners that had stayed with us the whole time actually moved forward and got ahead of us. YESSSSS!!! Coolest thing ever.
So now, cute Brad was ahead of me and I was watching him closely. I so wanted him to finish with a sprint. There is something about digging deep down inside and grabbing a hold of every last bit of energy in you and putting it all on the line. I caught up with him, asked him how he was doing and he confessed that he was losing a bit of steam.
As I ran alongside him, I offered some encouragement. I pointed out a stroller up ahead just slightly ahead of the finish line. I told him that once we hit that stroller, we were going to kick it and sprint. He said he didn't think he had it in him. I reminded him that I KNEW he did, he would just have to dig deep and find it. At this point, I told him to go ahead and hold back for minute, catch his air and prepare for a hard sprint.
The minute we hit the stroller, I yelled "Kick it NOW! Go Go Go!" And damn if that kid didn't do just that! I pulled a little behind him so that he would cross alone and by this time the whole crowd could see that he was literally giving it every last ounce he had and was wildly cheering him on.
I had the best feeling in my heart right then. FOR HIM. He did it! His first ever, and he was able to pull himself in a minute under his target.
I lost him in the chute so I never got a chance to congratulate him, but that's okay. Guaranteed he's still on his high even now. His first. NO ONE can ever take that away from him. EV.ER.
As a pacer, this is what it's all about. Encouragement. Offering advice. Cheering on someone other than yourself. Helping someone else achieve a much desired goal.
I want life to be more like that. Yes, we all have our personal goals and we should constantly strive to achieve them. Yes, there are some races that I won't pace just because I am working on my own PR, (life goals), but at the same time don't we all need to be cheerleaders for others? What's interesting about the pacing group is that there all different pace times. So true in life isn't it? We are all at different stages and regardless of that stage, we still need cheerleaders. We need someone running beside us, offering encouragement, advice and sometimes pushing us beyond what we think we can do.
Whether we are racing or pacing, we are in this event of life together. Hopefully we can recognize that more and give of ourselves to benefit others.
That my friends, is why I have come to love pacing.
Thanks to our Captain Walter, my fellow 2:10 pacers Stacy and Joe, Chris for taking awesome pictures, to Brad for inspiring me and finally to all the cheerleaders I've been lucky enough to have at my side. Life is about tackling it together.