Totally agree with you about water stops being awkward. I used to feel exactly the way you describe - wanted to run through them - afraid to stop (and also a point of pride - that I had practiced drinking while running so I damn well was gonna run the race they way I had practiced).
Nowadays, I slow for and sometimes even walk through the water stops. At the big races, there's too much congestion. Small races typically have one table where they hand out both water and gels so I need to stop because it's not possible to open the gel while holding the water! I'm simplifying here, of course. Those are just the likeliest problems but there are lots of other problems at water stops that you just cannot practice for! (Another: volunteers aren't being clear about whether they're giving out water vs gatorade or aren't giving enough in the cups!)
I didn't think of that about the pacers, and I will say I HATE jockeying for my own comfortable spot in the beginning of a race; adding the stress of keeping with a pacer might be too much. Typically I don't stop for water, just try to slosh as much into my mouth as possible while I keep moving (awkward!). I'm always afraid if I stop, I won't get started again!!!
As for pace, I'm hoping to keep it right around 10 minutes. I don't have an exact time, but our 12 mile run was right around 10, maybe a little over. It's possible we ran for 2 hours and 5 minutes. Honestly I was sooo ready to be DONE running that day I just didn't care to check. My loose goal is to finish the HM in 2:15:00 I think that's possible given our typical pace. The 10K we did that follows the same route as the HM (flat and FAST) we held a pace of 8:42. And the 10 miler with HORRID hills was under 10 minutes as well, by just a hair, so I don't think that 10 for 13.23 miles is completely out of the question. Man, we'll see.
It's the Rockford Marathon. You know, I'd just be happy to come in BEFORE the first FULL marathon runner finishes!
I had the same goal to run a half marathon. My ultimate goal was to complete the race which I did... I did my own pace and loved it. I don't think for me a pacer would work. Did better than I had planned and now have marked it off my list . Loved it and now on to new goals. You will do fine...remember it's FUN!
Since most people only talk about the positives of pacers, I'll mention the negatives:
I used to run a steady pace but found it required a lengthy warmup which always made me feel like I was burning off valuable energy. Plus, in most HMs there's a lot of congestion in the first couple of miles. Trying to go out at race pace was frequently maddening as trying to keep the pace meant a lot of jockeying - very frustrating. I also found it hard to keep up with the pacers because they'd be jockeying too. In very congested races, I frequently hear people say they lost sight of their pacers in the first minute! (Doesn't help when the pacers are vertically-challenged.) Lastly, you may want to run through, slow down, or even walk through a water stop. You may not want to do it the same way. At some HMs, I find
Now I'll do a very brief warm up. Then I start my HMs running significantly slower than my overall pace. Congestion no longer bothers me. I don't have to jockey for position as I know I'll be passing many of these people later. After a mile or two, I'll pick it up, and then toward the middle of the race, assuming everything's feeling good, I'll run a bit faster. One benefit of this strategy is that you end up passing lots of people in the 2nd half of the race which is a wonderful boost exactly when you need it. Pace groups don't fit this model, alas.
Oh man. Just typing that is making my pulse race!!!! This is REALLY happening! When I set my goal at the beginning of 2011 to run a HM, it really was not something I thought would happen for real, and and when it didn't happen by year's end....well, I really didn't care. And now, here I am with this renewed sense of motivation, and am running a freaking HALF MARATHON in 3.5 days.
Has anyone run with pace groups before? I was thinking it might be nice to hook up with a group and attempt to keep pace. My running partner and I are typically pretty consistent with our pace time, so that's a thought.
And WHY, oh WHY did our town have to get all over-achiever on us and make the half 13.23? Isn't 13.1 ENOUGH??? couldn't they have shaved a block off there somewhere?
Seriously, my pulse is racing just thinking about this weekend.....
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