Pacing a race can be stressful, but I love it.
This meant that I would run the race at a consistent pace in order to help runners aiming for a 2:30 finish time meet that goal. It’s about an 11:27 per mile pace, but because hardly any race comes out as exactly 13.1 miles on a watch, it takes a good amount of adjustments — and brain power. Someone even mentioned that because I was there, she didn’t have to think — which is great!
I wore a Paceband during the race that has cumulative times for each mile listed. So, even when I would hit the mile marker about a minute after my watch logged a mile, I kept myself on track to cross the finish line in under 2:30. With Beast Pacing, the 2:30 pacer is permitted to come in between 2:29:00 and 2:30:00.
Before the race began, I found my place in the third corral on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk and held up my 2:30 sign, which was on a wooden dowel. People asked if I’d be running the whole race with the sign, and I told them yes. Holding the sign really doesn’t bother me, and it allows people to see me from a distance and use me as a guide even if they aren’t running with me.
This race was a little different than some of the other races I’ve paced, in that I felt like I had some of the same people around me for much of the race, which was cool. Sometimes I don’t have much of a group.
A woman came up to me after the race and said she’d run with me for about 10 miles. There was another runner who ran with me for a while and ended up probably a few minutes in front of me — always great for a pacer — and another that I ran with for at least the last few miles; she also finished ahead of me.
When pacing, I am very focused on the mile markers to stay on track. I arrived at the first mile marker slightly before my watch hit one mile, but for most of the race, my watch was hitting the miles slightly before I would get to the mile markers.
My plan was to walk if I got to a mile marker early — for example, if I was supposed to be at Mile 1 at 11:27 and I got there at 11:10, I would walk for 17 seconds. However, after the first mile, I must have really gotten into a rhythm because I would hit most mile markers very close to what was on the Paceband. So, I just kept running. In the last few miles, I tried to stay a little ahead so I would not have to sprint or speed up at the finish.
I also walked briefly and got water at each water stop. I have had hydration issues in the past, and I think it’s important to hydrate even when it doesn’t seem necessary. As a pacer for the 2:30 group, I think it’s also a good reminder for people running with me that they can stop and hydrate briefly.
When I got to the boardwalk at the end of the race, I could see the finish and was at 2:24 something. I tried to slow down so that I could ensure I crossed the finish line between 2:29-2:30, but I also kept up a pace that would not put me behind a 2:30 finish. Although I felt like I slowed down, my Garmin app shows the last part of the race (which was 0.23 on my watch rather than 0.1) as 2:28, which was a 10:53/mile pace. All of my other splits were between 11:09 and 11:28, with a total race average of 11:16/mile. I mentioned earlier that adjustments are necessary, so if you are running a race with a pacer, that’s why it may seem like a pacer is going a little fast at times.
My finish time was 2:29:08, which I was very pleased with. Knock on wood because I am pacing again this weekend, but I was so happy with how this day went. I got to help runners while enjoying a scenic course on a gorgeous day. It was 50-something degrees at the start and sunny, and although it was slightly hot at the end, I did not have any heat issues or trouble with maintaining my pacer pace. I also got to hang out with my friend Veronica before and after the race.
I had never run a race as part of the Coastal Delaware Running Festival before, and it was a great half marathon. The course, which is very flat, includes the beautiful Gordon’s Pond trail and starts and finishes on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk. I got to see the sunrise before the race, too.
There’s also a ton of swag — runners receive a shirt, a pint glass and a magnet, and upon finishing, runners receive a BOCO Gear hat (read more about BOCO Gear here) and a nice medal. The festival includes a marathon, half marathon, 9K and 5K, and there are also connecting medals for the challenges (two race distances).
After the race, runners were treated to regular post-race snacks and then a full buffet at sponsor Grotto Pizza — I got pizza, baked ziti, chicken tenders and salad. Runners could also have three beers; I had one. The only complaint was that there were some lengthy lines, but I realized after waiting in the long food line outside that there was no line for the same buffet inside.
This coming weekend, I will be pacing the same time, 2:30, at the OCMD Island to Island Half Marathon in Ocean City, Maryland. Cross your fingers that the heat and humidity will stay away!
Mile 1: 11:09
Mile 2: 11:20
Mile 3: 11:23
Mile 4: 11:26
Mile 5: 11:24
Mile 6: 11:15
Mile 7: 11:28
Mile 8: 11:13
Mile 9: 11:16
Mile 10: 11:17
Mile 11: 11:06
Mile 12: 11:04
Mile 13: 11:13
Last part (watch had .23): 2:28 (10:53/mile pace)
Total: 2:29:08 (11:16/mile pace on watch for 13.23 miles)