Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Race Report: Carolina Beach Half Marathon

I love doing new things and I got a chance to do something new on Sunday by being a pacer in the Carolina Beach Half Marathon!  You've seen pace groups before - they are the herds of runners in a race clustered around a runner carrying a big sign with a time on it.  Running with a pace group is great because a) it's fun, b) it helps prevent you from going out too hard, c) they help you keep pace when the going gets tough, and d) you get to forge a little camaraderie with cool peeps who happen to be the same speed that you are.  If you're a spectator in a race, it's nice to have pace groups because you know where the runners are in the race that are going by you and it can help you know where to look for the person that you're trying to spectate.  The role of the pacer is to finish the race in exactly the time that is printed on the sign that he or she is carrying.  People are relying on you to carry out this duty - their PR's depend on it.  The best way to do this is to run the perfect negative split.  This can be tricky because you don't want to go out too fast and risk people blowing up at the end of the race, but you don't want to go out too slow such that you don't reach the goal time.  The pressure is on and you better be able to deliver the goods.

When I originally agreed to pace for the Carolina Beach Half I signed on for the 1:40 group.  However, upon seeing that this race was a month out from my A race (Savannah marathon), Tom Clifford told me to switch into the 1:30 pace group so that I would get a good marathon-pace workout.  I was nervous about doing this because I wasn't 100% sure I'd be able to run a 1:30 half in the midst of 65-mile training weeks on fatigued legs.  But he said, "If you can't run a 1:30 half, how are you going to run a sub 3 hour marathon?!"  So I dropped into the 1:30 group.

Come to find out I would be pacing the race w/ Eric Torrey, a veteran 1:30 pacer.  This was good because I knew that if I couldn't maintain pace he'd be able to finish the race easily.  I did a mile warm up with a few pick ups and felt good.  The weather was cold (50s) and there wasn't much wind.   We gathered at the starting line with our sign (Eric carried it for about 1 mile before ditching it to volunteers) and a 4-5 people huddled around and spoke of hopes of breaking 1:30.  I remembered back to when I first broke the 1:30 barrier and how impossible it seemed at the time!  It was a good group and everyone stayed together for the first half-ish.  Local celebrity Richard Segal was amongst us and there were people cheering for him at every turn!  When runners in our group broke off and ran ahead it was kind of hard not to go with them, but it was our job to stay on the 1:30 pace so Eric and I ran together from mile 7-12.  I was surprised to find that I felt really good for pretty much the entire run.  Within the last mile we caught back up to Steven Dees and tried to give him a final push of motivation to get to the finish.  He gave a gutsy performance and ended up with a PR by over a minute!  Just awesome!  I spent the remainder of the morning chillin' by the lake and watching friends finish the race - fantastic job everyone!!!

Overall it was a great race, well-organized, and very enjoyable.  Weather was perfect and post-race Moe's hit the spot.  I'm super pleased with how well this run went.  We nailed the pace and finished right at 1:29:07.  While I can't say that it was easy, I can say that it was not difficult.  I feel like this is a good sign that my training is working.  It bodes well for Savannah and I'm starting to get really excited for that race.  I believe I can crack 3.

Congrats to Amanda & Kristina on their first 1/2 marathon!

Mr. Enoch does it again!

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