I did something recently that I have never done before. I paced the 2:30 group at the Warwick Half Marathon. I had never planned to run the Warwick Half Marathon as I was due to run the Coventry Half Marathon two weeks later. However, on the 20th February, the British Heart Foundation contacted the Striders asking for pacers, and for some inexplicable reason (I must have been feeling super confident), I said yes. The way I saw it, I needed to do a 13-mile run that week anyway (as per my plan) and if I was pacing other people, I would be forced to run slowly. After all, how hard can pacing be?
Almost as soon as I agreed to pace, I regretted it. What was I thinking? I can not even pace my tempo session equally, let alone a half marathon on a very undulating course, while also being encouraging. Plus, I only had a week to practice my pace before the race….. eek! As it turned out, thanks to Mother Nature, I had a lot more time to practice my pacing technique as the Warwick Half Marathon was cancelled due to the snow.
Just as an aside, I know that there were a lot of moans about the fact that the race was canceled, but it was completely the right decision. A few of my club mates and I ran the course on the 4th and although the roads through Warwick were clear, the little roads off Rouncil Lane were treacherous!
Anyway, the race was rescheduled for Sunday 8th April and I did a number of runs where I forced myself to stick to 11:25 mins per mile, the pace that I was going to try and maintain throughout the event. Despite my preparation, on race day, I was papping myself. As someone who has followed pacers previously, I know first hand the faith that you put in them to get you around the course, and I felt this pressure not to let them down. That pressure intensified as I donned the very unflattering flag (as shown below).
As it happens, I didn’t manage an even split throughout the whole race (I wasn’t far off), but I knew the final section was predominantly down-hill, so I did ease off slightly up the hills to help the rest of the group. That aside, I came across the line in 2:29:44, which for a first pacing effort isn’t bad!
However, pacing the race itself was soooooo much fun. I got to chat to loads of people and it was quite emotional seeing the group I was with succeed and set PBs. I even got a hug from a couple of runners on the finish line. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I have already signed up to pace next year. So if you’re racing the Warwick Half in 2019 and want a guaranteed sub-2:30, come and say ‘Hi’.
Until next time, happy running!