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10/5/16 12:16 P

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Catherine, you're correct about the ability of the pacers. I found some online biography information on the pace team after the race and the two guys doing the 2:20 pace had PRs of about 2:00 and 1:45 respectively. They kindly put aside any ambitions they may have had to go for a personally great time so they could help others.

I figured I would run a bit more than 13.1 by the end given the crowded conditions (over 1,600 participants in the HM plus over 300 marathoners on the same course). I was just surprised my phone app was almost dead on at mile marker 5 since the beginning of the race was understandably the most crowded. I didn't think about elevation change making a difference beforehand because this whole area is pretty flat, but I've also learned in my training that even small hills can make a big difference in pace. Since the first few miles were heading mostly south and next 5 miles were mostly west and north, well, I haven't bothered to check a contour map, but it wouldn't surprise me if there was a little more climbing in the 2nd part.

Good point on not trying to hold a pace on hills. That's one I figured out during my training. Attacking a hill is a bad idea. Allow yourself to slow down going uphill and of course, unless you consciously slow yourself on descents, you'll naturally speed up and that's fine too. It's sort of like driving in the mountains. On flat land maintaining a speed is good, but you'll burn more gas trying to maintain your interstate speed up a long, steep climb. :)

The crowding at the start of the race was a bit of a problem for doing Galloway method intervals. Hardly anyone else was doing them, so after my walking intervals I had to expend energy repeatedly going around the same runners again. I dropped back from the pacers some because there was usually a clump of people near them, but it was still crowded for awhile. For that reason I skipped the first couple planned walking intervals.

You're right. Pacing gets complicated! :p


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10/4/16 6:25 P

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Actually, the phone app and the race markers are probably both right. You are running into something most people new to racing aren't aware of, which is that the distance of the race course is calculated on the shortest, "best" distance. What that means is: straightest lines on straight portions, most efficient running of turn tangents, etc. In real life, none of us, especially in a crowded race, can run all the tangents perfectly or avoid any side to side movement, all of which adds to the distance that your legs actually traverse. Every time you weave around a runner, run to the side of the road to get water, move side to side for any reason, you are adding to the length of your race. The longer the race, the more this can add up.

I ran 20 marathons and usually by the end of a race, my GPS watch said I had run between 27 and 28 miles (vs the 26.2 race distance). Once I caught on, I became very careful to not dodge around runners or move side to side on the road any more than I had to. I studied the race course to learn where the turns were so that I could anticipate them and not find myself having to run across the road (etc.) It feels good psychologically to pass other runner but often isn't worth it. Pass by overtaking, not dodging. The "best" marathon for me was one year at the Newport Marathon where my watch read 26.4 at the end. That is an "out and back" race with very few turns and only about 900 runners. But that was unusual.

In that same regard, when I calculated the average pace I needed to achieve to hit my race target, I usually put 28 miles into the calculator for the distance, since I used my watch to track pace. The pace that my watch showed would be influenced by the longer distance that I was truly going. If I paced by 26.2 on my watch, I would come up a little short.

People really serious about targets (more so than I) don't rely on the pace info from a watch or phone app. They wear wristbands that give the required elapsed time at each mile marker and set their watch to monitor elapsed time.

Interesting about your pacers. My initial take is that terrain was most likely a factor there. Which brings up another consideration if you are pacing yourself. To plan the best pacing strategy, you definitely need to look at the elevation profile of the race and take hills, narrow portions of the route, etc., into account. Going out too fast is the number one killer of legs at the end of a long race. But running hills too hard is probably a close second. I'm sure you know this, but you should never try to maintain a constant pace over hills and flat portions of the race. Instead maintain a consistent level of effort. This means you will naturally slow down and speed up going up and down hill compared to flat. By the way, I always drive the race course before the race (if I can) because an elevation profile can only tell you so much. It is sometimes hard to tell the grade of the incline from just looking at an elevation profile.

See, I said answering a pacing question can get complicated.
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Makes you appreciate races that provide pacers, right?

One other interesting tidbit about pacers. Someone pacing a 2:20 HM is almost certainly a 2:00 or even 1:45 HMer himself. They want to insure that the pace will be easy for them to maintain.

Edited by: LIVE2RUN4LIFE at: 10/4/2016 (18:29)
Catherine

If you're not having fun, then why run?

You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.
-- Joan Baez

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
-- the Buddha


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10/4/16 2:31 P

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Nah, I didn't mean just for half-marathons. That was just my recent experience. It's good to know you take a somewhat different approach depending on race length.

I have my split times for the 5 mile, 10 mile, and finish from the HM and oddly enough, the pacers didn't keep a consistent time all the way through if these splits are correct. The first 5 miles were about 10:00/mile, the next 5 went over 11:00/mile, and the final 3.1 miles went back down. I was back to about 10:00/mile in the last part and finished a bit over a minute ahead of them, so they were around 10:20. They did finish right on 2:20:00, as I said, which amused me. :)

It's possible the 5 to 10 mile part of the course had more uphill than down. I'm not sure. I'm also not convinced the mile markers were entirely accurate. The app I was using on my phone nearly matched the mile markers at the 5 mile point. I showed 4.99 miles, if I remember correctly. However by the end of the race. my app showed a total distance of over 13.5 miles. I want to give the course makers the benefit of the doubt and figure my app was off on the total distance, but it's interesting that it was right on for five miles.

It sounds like one decision to make is how soon to pick up your pace if you're going at your target pace or slower, but you feel really good and realize you can do more than reach your initial goal.

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10/3/16 9:12 P

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Is this question specifically about pacing a Half Marathon? I would do what your pacers did, i.e. Maintain target pace from start to finish. If it was really a "challenging" pace, I might go for slightly negative splits, i.e. slightly slower first half vs second half. The key pacing challenge for endurance distances is not to run faster than target pace early in the race. If you have trained well, that faster pace will feel easy for the first few miles and adrenaline can speed you up at first, especially if you are pacing by feel. Don't run as fast as you can. That what leads to boinks.

Catherine

If you're not having fun, then why run?

You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.
-- Joan Baez

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
-- the Buddha


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10/3/16 8:07 P

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Thanks, good information... :) Let's assume, as you did, that you've been good, trained well, and know what a realistic but challenging pace is for you.

On a side note, I was hugely impressed with the two pacers I followed for my half-marathon on Saturday. Their target time was 2:20 and they took that very seriously. I talked to them briefly after the race and they both felt like they had people counting on them to achieve personal goals. Their official time for the 13.1 miles? 2:20:00 on the nose. hah.


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10/3/16 4:30 P

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It depends on a lot of factors. An important one is how long a race you are talking about. Pacing a marathon is whole different ball game from pacing a 10K.

It also depends very much on how you have trained and how realistic your target race pace is. Is that race pace one you have just selected as one you'd "like" to accomplish or is it based on time trials (like the Magic Mile) which give you an assessment of what your current fitness level can support?

Most important of all, how have you trained for the race? A time trial gives potential; training gives results. There are a number of specific ways to train that prepare you for sustaining race pace over the target distance.

There is debate over pacing strategies. Here is my experience. (Again, assuming you have trained appropriately). For short distances, pace yourself evenly over the entire race (i.e. 10K or shorter). That would even be my advice for a Half Marathon, too. The problems with pacing a marathon is that you will always feel great at the beginning (again, assuming you have trained properly, including a taper). It is too easy to go out too fast. Going out too fast is what gets you in trouble at the end.

Sooo, if this is your first Marathon, go for a negative split, i.e. run the first half a little under race pace, increase your pace in the second half. See how your legs feel at 20 miles and go even faster if you can. If not (you will be able to tell), hold back the last 10K. You will finish with a smile on your face rather than collapsing. If you are an experienced marathoner and have learned out to hold a steady pace, run close to target pace from start to finish.

Edited by: LIVE2RUN4LIFE at: 10/3/2016 (16:30)
Catherine

If you're not having fun, then why run?

You don't get to choose how you're going to die, or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.
-- Joan Baez

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.
-- the Buddha


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10/3/16 12:58 P

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As we probably all know, it's common for people to be faster early in a race than they are late in the race. As we tire, it generally gets harder to maintain a certain pace. So I was wondering... let's say your goal pace for a half-marathon is, for simplicity sake, exactly 10 minutes per mile. Is that the pace you try to set at the start? In the middle? Do you try to keep the same pace throughout the race, or do you assume you may slow down late in the race, so you start a bit faster than your goal? How much faster? Of course you don't want to start too much faster as you don't want to burn out early.

If you've run races with both the Galloway method and a more traditional run all the way through approach, do you pace it any differently?

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