I finished Air Force Marathon feeling a bit dissappointed that I had an off day. I was determind that Chicago would be different. I planned out where I would be hydrating and taking nutrition. I decided I wouldn’t walk the stops as I did in Dayton. I was a woman on a mission. I have been pretty vocal in my facebook groups about why I dislike pace teams. They cause you to ignore your body and can ruin a great race really fast. However, for some reason I set my sights on the 4:25 pace team at the start line. It was an ambitious goal for this conservative gal, but I knew if I stayed focused I could do it. It took 12 minutes to cross the Chicago Marathon start line and once we got going it was incredible! I felt like we were flying…then after a mile it dawned on me, we were cruising. I mean really flying. I looked down at my garmin and got a 8:30 min/mile pace. NO WAY- my garmin must have been on the fritz. Sure enough a runner a 3 miles up confirmed the “4:25” pace group was actually on pace for a 4:10 marathon. Say what?! I backed off and dialed it down, but I knew the damage was done. I was going to be toast the 2 half of the marathon. Sure enough 18 miles hit and it was a tough walk/run to get to that finish. This confirms why I strongly recommend in most cases, to not run with a pace group! Often they cause you to ignore your own signs and focus solely on pace. However, how do you reach a goal you set if you don’t have a pace group?
Here are my recommendations on how to reach those running goals/PRs without those pacers:
- Set REALISTIC running goals. If you can run a half in 2:15, then a 3:35 running goal may not be realistic. This is one of my favorite tools to figuring out a realistic pace goal for various races. The Orignial Pacewheel: http://www.pacewheel.com/PaceWheel.com/Home.html
- Make a pace band. These are easy to make at home and keep you from going out too fast. Their are also several companies that make tattoos, but I personally like to make my own at home. I cover with shipping tape and make a “A” goal and a “B” goal. Make your own paceband: http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/racing/runners-world-pace-band-generator/3918.html
- Ask yourself “can I run for 26.2 miles at this pace? I usually do this check at the beginning and know the answer right away. If you feel like you can’t, then back off. You can always kick it in gear the second half, but you will never regret going too slow in the first half. Trust me.
- Plan out where you are going to refuel and hydrate before going into the race. I recommend going to the last table of the stop and stating to the volunteer exactly what you want.
- Finally, if you do run with a pace group, be sure to run with a group that is running the correct splits for the goal and is within a realistic goal time for you! Listen to your body and if at any time it feels too much, back off.
Those are my tips to make your PRs and/or race goals without a pacing group! They are ones I have learned throughout my 15 years of running.