Had the chance to get my very first pacing experience yesterday for Beast Pacing @ the Utah Valley Marathon in Provo, UT. I was the 4:25:00 pacer, and it was quite the experience.
I’ve had some memorable experiences with pacers in the past who have kept me on track to meet/exceed my goal time for a race, and I thought the world of them for it. The mind will tempt and tease you at parts in a race, thinking if you just go a littler fast for X amount of miles you’ll finish WAY ahead of your goal, and you end up huffing and puffing and walking because your body overdid it way too early.
Being set on a specific time was at times pretty tricky. I told everyone at the start, that at each mile mark, I would be calling out a number (ex. -4 or +2) and the meaning behind the minus and plus was we were either over paced (-) or under paced (+) and the next mile would reflect those numbers. Started with about 22 people in the cluster, so for those first few miles, it was pretty packed together. There were about 6 guys and 3 gals that hung by me pretty good the duration of the marathon, which made it more enjoyable being able to converse with them to make the time go by. I had an extra salt tab about 15-16 miles in, and one of the 50 year old’s running with me was mentioning he thought he was beginning to cramp. I passed the salt tab his direction, hoping it would ease his possible dreadful home stretch later on. About 2 miles later, he was saying the symptoms were hardly noticeable now, and whether it have been mental or the salt tab was actually doing work, he was feeling better.
The views throughout the canyon were incredible. I’ll never get sick of our mountain ranges here in northern Utah. You just can’t beat them, anywhere. I’m very biased, having lived here my entire life, but show me a flaw in our views if you can find it. The day was a little cold at the start line, but once the race started, the cold didn’t exist any longer, and it surely didn’t take long to wish it was still cold either. The sun would periodically hide behind the ranges, but about 80% of the race was in the sun, making for a few extra cups of liquids throughout the stations and the internal prayers to the higher powers to be gentle and prolong any cramping/exhaustion until post race.
The last 2-4 miles are the killer on this course. Not so much the elevation +/-, but the way it plateau’s and goes on, forever. You stare down the road of the finish for easily at least 2 miles, wondering if the sights you see are truly even existing. There is a building right before the finish line, with a huge banner on the top, that says “Finish Strong”. If you are finally close enough to read it without squinting, and can see the logo of the Utah Valley Marathon on it, the overwhelming feeling of relief sinks in, knowing you did it.
I get goosebumps just reliving all my finishes across those timing pads. Being able to work and train so hard to accomplish your goal, something you at one point never, ever would have thought you could do, continues to be a reality, finish after finish. All the cheering, the crowds, your fellow runners and your supporting cast, without all of them, the experience just wouldn’t be remotely close whatsoever. The volunteers, the race directors, and the law enforcement monitoring the streets while the race moves on, there are so many hidden factors going into your big day, that I tend to overlook when I’m sitting on my couch, saying forget today’s run, I’ll just run tomorrow. They are out there, while they could be doing anything else in the world, but they are there helping people enjoy a day they worked incredibly hard for, and they are there supporting, ensuring you have the best possible experience you can.
Many thanks to everyone who has, continues, or considers volunteering for one of these events in the future. Ultimately, it couldn’t be done without so many moving pieces coming together.
Finish time: 4:24:04
Loved every single minute of it.