A successful, scenic pacing experience at the Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon

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Here I am with my pace sign before starting the Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon. (Veronica James photo)

Pacing a race can be stressful, but I love it.

On Sunday, April 22, I had the opportunity to pace the 2:30 half marathon group at the Coastal Delaware Running Festival with Beast Pacing.

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.

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Beast Pacers pose for a photo before the Coastal Delaware Running Festival half and full marathons. (Photo courtesy of Gregory Milbourne)

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.

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Here’s a view not far from the start of the Coastal Delaware Running Festival half marathon, full marathon and 9K. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

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.

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There was so much swag at this race — the shirt (which I love!), pint glass and magnet, along with the medal and trucker hat for finishers. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

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.

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Here I am after successfully finishing the Coastal Delaware Running Festival as a pacer. (Veronica James photo)

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).

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I had “2:30 PACER” printed as my personalized name on my bib. The bib is shown with the race shirt and finisher trucker hat. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

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!

Splits:

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)

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12 thoughts on “A successful, scenic pacing experience at the Coastal Delaware Running Festival Half Marathon

  1. Great job, pacer!! I agree pacing can be pretty stressful, especially since a GPS watch rarely matches up with the mile markers. Way to hit the goal range!
    I ran the half there. That was my first time running any of the races there too. I loved the course and the swag, but Rehoboth’s after party will never be topped.
    Good luck pacing OC this weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed! They need to do a better job letting runners know the whole inside of Grotto is open and has food/beer too. I assumed it was just that outdoor patio space at first.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading about pacing was really fun for me. I have never paced before, but I would like to try it sometime. I think it would be so satisfying to help runners reach their time goals. I have no idea how to get started being a pacer. I will have to look into it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome — I’m glad you liked reading about it! Beast Pacing (which coordinated the pacers for this race) has races all across the country. The contact is Vanessa Kline —info@beastpacing.com. You will need to send her your three most recent times for the distance you’re interested in pacing (half or full marathon) and maybe a little about yourself and she can let you know if she needs anything else! And it is definitely satisfying! A whole new way to experience running. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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