Being a Pacer is something I never thought much about. In fact, my high school mascot was a Pacer. Yeah….try getting hyped up at a pep rally with a Pacer as your mascot. But in the running world, a Pacer is respected. In fact, many people look up to and esteem to be a Pacer someday.
So while I was pacing at the Brew City Half Marathon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a few weeks ago, one of the girls running along side me asked,
“How did you know you were ready to be a Pacer?”
I had never been asked this before, and didn’t know how to respond right away. The other girl pacing with me was a first time Pacer herself, so she didn’t know how to respond either. In fact, she was very nervous about pacing for the first time.
Finally, I came up with an answer: I knew I was ready to be a Pacer, when I felt that I understood my pace, and what specific paces felt like even without looking at a watch. I also made note, that you don’t have to be fast to be a Pacer, you just need to be confident in your pace. This doesn’t seem like much, but keeping a consistent pace can take a lot of practice. A LOT!
During a race or even during a regular run, most people (including myself) get this feeling that they need to go out hot. But in most cases, this does not bode well for a good race. What does make a solid race is understanding your body, and knowing how hard you can push yourself. That is why many experienced runners start out slower and then get quicker throughout the race, also called doing “negative splits”. Once I started being more consistent with pacing during my long runs and tempo runs, I felt confident in pacing others.
Most of my experience as a Pacer came from helping pace a group of runners on their long runs in Chicago. We stuck to a steady 9:30 min/mile pace week after week. After a summer of pacing long runs, I finally paced my first race, the Brewers Mini-Marathon. This was a hard race to pace because it was hilly and windy.
I’ve paced a few races since then, and I love helping people reach their goals or at least being there by their side as they push themselves to a new limit. Being a Pacer wouldn’t be such a fun job if it weren’t for the amazing people you meet along the course. They are the true rock stars out there, and it’s a privilege to Pace these amazing people.
If you are interested in reading my review for the Brew City Half Marathon, check out my BibRave review!