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Running with a pacer

August 21, 2012

I had never before considered running with a pacer. I had heard of it for much faster runners and thought it was just a ‘thing’ you did if you were trying to win races, not for the mid-pack plebs like me. However, a member of the Running with the Perth Crew Facebook page put up an offer to pace at 1.50-1.55 for the Perth Half Marathon and since my previous PB for a half was 1.57 and I’ve ALMOST broken the 50 minute barrier for 10km, I thought it was realistic. My initial goal was lower than that but my training has not been fantastic.

Originally there were going to be a few of us but others pulled out and in the end it was me, Trish and her husband for most of the race. Obviously the way this works is that the pacer can comfortably run faster than the required pace over the distance, they set the pace and the other runner (me!) doesn’t have to worry about pace at all, just keeps up with the pacer. For our 1hr55 half we were aiming for a pretty steady pace throughout; Perth Half is a flat course with no particularly challenging sections.

Trish also offered to fetch my water/electrolytes from water stations and hand them to me so I didn’t have to slow down and position myself to get the water. When the wind picked up at a couple of points along the course she also took the position bearing the brunt of it to conserve my energy.

It was really awesome. Not only was I relieved of the need to constantly think about my pace, but it was a particularly congested start and it took quite a lot of work to get onto the required pace over the first couple of kilometres. I think I would have slacked off at that point! The middle of the race is my strong point so I was quite comfortable from about 4km through 14km, just sitting next to or just in behind Trish. I started to struggle with about 5km to go, but the course is very familiar to me – it’s where I run for training quite often – and having a pacer really helped me keep on at the right pace.

In the end I must have dropped off a teensy bit despite a surge in the last 500m, because I JUST missed the 1hr55, I finished in 1:55.28 Argh!! That’s still a 2 minute PB so I’m happy with that given the training shortfall.

I’ll see what happens with City to Surf this Sunday but I haven’t got great hopes as I was knocked absolutely flat by this flu. I got up to do the Western Mudd Rush on Sunday but felt awful through the chest in the running sections, and this week I’m working full-time so no time to rest.

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