As I’ve discussed before, I’m usually a solitary runner when it comes to my training. Not because I’m a hermit, it just seems to work out that way. I’ve said before, I don’t mind and kind of enjoy it. That being said though, I do like to run with friends too. Especially on Race Day. Not to say that I haven’t run by myself at an event, but usually I stand at the starting line with someone. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone to an event solo. Hat Trick Day 1 and Hat Trick Day 2. Yup, that’s it. What a time to be flying solo too, when there is so much to see and do.
I will admit that I didn’t think much of being by myself for my 5K & 10K. These were shorter runs. These were the type of runs I do all the time by myself. Plus with the 10K being my goal race, I was focused on making sure that I followed my plan. There wasn’t much more to think about before and during the race except making sure that I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there. No time to think of anything else. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize. It worked too because I was right where I wanted to be even a little faster than I thought I would be.
On the morning of the Half though, things were a little different. It was a longer race. I had more time to wait and was less worried about making sure that I was in the right spot when the race started. I discussed with my running Mama’s my strategy for this race. Since I had a really good 5K & 10K and was feeling good, I thought that I would start with a pace group. I was playng it by ear weather to start with the 2:10 or 2:15. My thought process was actually to start with the 2:10 because if I felt the need to drop back I would be able to pick-up a latter pace group and still finish in under 2:30. Sounded good.
I wadded through the runners standing around waiting for the start of the race. I noticed something as I was standing there alone. It seemed like everyone had a buddy. Now, I know that isn’t the case, but it certainly felt a little lonely. This was only my third half and the first one I was running on my own. It was time to put my big girl shoes on and do it on my own. But I also know myself, I know that I tend to go out to fast and end up running reverse splits this way. In my previous two Half’s, I let Robyn or Janna set the pace. They calculate and run and I just play follow the leader. I’m a good follower. This is why I wanted a pace group.
Now there are some who may think letting others set the pace proves that you are somehow less of a runner and that I’m somehow “cheating.” I don’t buy that. Unless someone else is also taking my legs and running with them, these running snobs can kiss it. To me this is no different that having a coach tell you what to do. Do you think less of me because I admit this?
So as I was bobbing and weaving looking for a pack to join, I saw the pace setter. From the back, she looked like one of my good friends. This woman had spunk dancing to the music. Plus she had pink gloves on. No sure if you’ve noticed or not, but pink tends to be my color for running. I was sold. I weaved my way into the pack and I stayed. Then during the run, you realize that you do start to think of yourself as a pack. We heard a few times, “Go Pace 2:10.” I wasn’t alone anymore and it was nice.
We also had a leader. Someone to follow. Someone who knew what she was doing too. Someone who gave you confidence that she knew what she was doing, so it was easy to follow her. I’m sure we’ve all heard the story of the pace setters who blew it. This was, obviously, not going to happen. Ingrid not only led us but also talked us through the course. It was a beautiful course, but a slightly (Ha Ha) challenging one with rolling hills, step hills, but also some blessed down hills and flat parts. Ingrid knew them and told us what to expect. I knew that on those big hills not to worry about pace and go by effort, but it was reassuring to have someone say those words out loud. She also reigned me in when I was getting ready to go too fast on a downhill reminding me that just because it’s downhill doesn’t mean you push too hard.
I stayed with the pack. I felt good. My legs felt strong. I got to the point that I was pretty sure that I was going to hit my target. Then something changed. I started thinking that maybe I should pull ahead, but I was worried. Then Ingrid told the Pack that if you were feeling up to it to go for it. She even told us when to take the leap. I pulled away feeling strong and confident. I also knew that if I fell back it would be ok. So off I went.
My last three miles, I ran
Finished with a 7:05
I know I would not have been able to finish this strong without my pace group. Not sure if another pace group would have worked as well, but this was a great fit. The bar has been set very high for the next pace group I join. There is something to be said in running with the pack, but in the end I am a bit of a lone wolf too.