Lessons learned pacing the SLC Marathon

The past couple posts I have mentioned that I was getting ready to pace the 3:35 pace of the SLC Marathon.

I was really excited for this, but also really nervous. As experienced of a runner as I am, I have never really been good at pacing.

In my training runs, I have tentative schedule in mind … mainly knowing how many days with fast/hard/hilly runs, days where I take it easy and days where I do long runs. I generally pay attention to my body and really go from there.

Races are pretty much the same mentality. I know not to go out too fast (especially speaking of marathons and halves), but for the most part, I go by feel and make sure to fuel really well. Case and point, this last October when I ran the St. George Marathon, I really had not idea what kind of a pace I was on to finish at. I had a goal of bettering my time of a 2:58, but I was really quite shocked to come down the home stretch, to see that I would be coming in under a 2:55.

Looking at my watch and keeping track of mileage is really something I don’t like to do.

However, I had always seen pacers at the larger races, and knew that this was something that I really wanted to try doing, mostly because I respected them so much.

When I was asked to pace, I was so excited. I was originally asked to do the 3:15, but I really wanted this to be easy, so I asked to do a slower slot, and was given the 3:35 slot.

This brings me to my first MAJOR lesson learned about pacing:

Slower does NOT always mean faster.

When I trained for this, I was putting in the mileage, but not the time. My 20 mile run took me just over 2.5 hours, and I was doing my best to take it easy. But when I got to mile 22 at just over 3 hours, my legs were spent. This makes sense, as the longest run, time-wise I have done in 3 years, has been right under 3 hours, and this was when I raced marathons.

I greatly underestimated time vs. distance.

Along these same lines, when you are running (and I could just be speaking for myself) significantly slower per mile, than you are used to, it does mess up your gate a bit, causing pounding and pain in your legs and hips.

So… if you are wondering how it went, well, let’s just say, I helped my pace group along 22 miles, and then the other pacer (so grateful to have her), brought them in to the finish.

I finished, but it was a walk, run, type thing, due to sharp hip pains. Ugh. Not fun.

Some great notes to end on

The pace team that I ran for (Salt Lake City Pacing Team) was sponsored by Adidas, which just so happens to make the shoe I run in, AKA, the Adizero Bostons. I love Adidas, and was so glad to be running and representing their apparel.

Along with this, the SLC Marathon  was the first marathon after the Boston bombings, so there really was such a great feeling there. One of the other pacers made some ribbons for us to wear and right at the starting line they played “Sweet Caroline,” just like they do at the start of Boston.

Right before the start. -- Did I mention it rained the whole time? Well, it did :). I am the one with the grey bag, yellow cap and brown jacket.

Right before the start. — Did I mention it rained the whole time? Well, it did :). I am the one with the grey bag, yellow cap and brown jacket.

The ribbon we got to wear to show our love for all those affected by the bombings.

The ribbon we got to wear to show our love for all those affected by the bombings.


So many runners wore Boston shirts, and there was just such a great feeling out there on the course.

Anyway, I am so grateful for the experience and hope that I will be able to do it again sometime, with many of these lessons learned in mind, so that I can do a better job.

Closing note: If/when you see pacers out there on the course, tell them ‘thank you.’ Pacing is not an easy task.

This entry was posted in born to run, exercise, family exercise, health, running and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lessons learned pacing the SLC Marathon

  1. Alice says:

    This race was my first half and I loved having the pacers. Thank you so much for pacing.

  2. Dominick S. says:

    I hope you understand how motivating it is that you pace 3:35 and that is my goal for NYC! Such an athlete but I completely understand your comment about running at a much slower pace, I think it is much more work on the body to force it to slow down anything more than a minute of what it is use to…great job and I will definitely be thanking my pacer in New York.

  3. Pingback: Pacing the Utah Valley 1/2 | runariran

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