Don’t get any crazy thoughts. No more 26.2 miles for this girly.
The Charleston Marathon/Half Marathon/Shrimp and Grits 5K is this weekend, here in my beautiful city. The Charleston Marathon a great local race for a decent price, the proceeds benefit public school arts programs, and it’s not too big like that other large race my city is known for… the one that will remain nameless in this post… the one involving a bridge.
I ran the Charleston half marathon last year and had fun (you can read about it here). Here’s Nadine and I at the finish.
Instead of running for myself this year, I am pacing the half marathon. Pacing is a great way to give back to the running community, and even if I’m not in shape to race a half marathon, I have enough endurance to run it. I will also help at the race expo.
For my readers who don’t run large, long distance races, here’s how pacers work:
Let’s say you train for a half marathon, and a few weeks before the race, you settle on 2 hours as your goal time. On race day, you can line up behind the 2 hour half marathon pacer, who will wear a bright green shirt marked with “PACER 2:00” and carrying a big sign that says “2:00”. If you run with that person, you can meet your goal. We pacers will be running with people and encouraging them during the race. It’s free to run with a pacer, and you can read more about the race pacers here.
My pace group is the 2:30 finishers, which is about an 11:20 pace. It’s the slowest pace group the Charleston Half Marathon offers and about 45 minutes slower than what I’m capable of running.
Recently, I told someone I was pacing and my time slot. His first remark was how slow that is, then he said, “Whoever put you in that time slot must not think much of you as a runner”. That comment stabbed me in the heart. I said that I’m nervous but excited, and maybe I will be a good pacer since I’m vocal and encouraging.
Last Saturday, I ran 7 miles to practice that pace and made some new friends. We ran, talked, and took pictures. It was honestly one of the most fun long runs I’ve had in awhile.
The half marathoners with a 2:30 goal aren’t that different from those with the goal of a 1:45, the fastest half marathon pace group. They train hard and hit the pavement on Saturday morning just like the local elites. Most of them run longer each Saturday morning, sometimes starting an hour before others, to get their total mileage in.
Many half marathoners aiming for a 2:30 finish are first timers. Some found running on a fitness journey and have lost large amounts of weight. Others just run that pace and enjoy it. Some even say they get their money’s worth out of the course. They run for fun and love, not necessarily to be fast and win- and that’s okay!
Just like those who win or place in races, my 2:30 half marathoners have stories of triumph and victory. They proudly wear their medals all day, take pictures on the run, and enjoy the post-race beer. I have the same respect for them as I do my friends who run half marathons a whole hour faster.
I will toe the line with my 2:30 pace group on Saturday, but my respect for them is already deeper than it was before I signed up to pace.
Good luck to everyone running in the Charleston Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K this weekend. No matter the distance or pace you run, we all cross the same start and finish lines, and we are all runners.