Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Am I a Second Class Runner Because I Pace?

My P90X enabled me to carry that sign
for 26.2 miles.
On Saturday, I finished my 11th marathon. I'm a little in awe about that. In fact, I paced the 3:50 finish
time for the race. This is only 5 minutes slower than my first marathon that happened only four years ago this fall.

I've had a few friends comment on all the recent marathons that I have done. The question is something that usually starts with "So, did you run this weekend?" At which point I say something like "Yeah, I did the Utah Valley Marathon..." In turn the comment from those who know I run a lot say, "Did you race it or pace it?" When I tell them that I pace it, they tend to not be as interested.

It makes me wonder if the fact that I pace a lot gives the impression that I'm not putting in the work for a marathon. It has me a bit baffled as to what a good response would be. Since I'm rather mild mannered and haven't chewed anyone out over the comment, I'll justify it a little here.

The facts of pacing:

  1. I get in for free. Most races in my area running around $85 for early sign up. Multiply that by three or four races and it starts to add up quick.
  2. I am timed, get a bib, shirt, medal, etc. just like everyone else.
  3. A marathon is 26.2 miles regardless of whether I am pacing or racing.
  4. I get the opportunity to give advice to those who are running with me and get to cheer people on to the finish.
  5. I have to be in marathon shape to run a marathon. This means that I'm putting in the training miles just as much as the next guy. 
  6. Running slower isn't always fun. I paced a 4:30 finish the first marathon I paced. I hurt for days after because I was exerting a lot of energy into running slower than is typical.
  7. I get to be super conscious of my time/energy because others are relying on me. My goal for each race is to be 0-30 seconds under the target time. For example, Utah Valley Marathon I finished in 3:49:41.
That's it. I enjoy the opportunity, but I also find myself wondering if I'm really pushing myself to get faster or if I'm just doing it for the free entry. I definitely feel as though there is a motivation to train if I am signed up for a race versus just pacing, but in the end I still have to be physically and mentally prepared to race.

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