What a weekend! From the girls running their races to pacing the 10k and being with my whole family for Thanksgiving – it doesn’t get much better then that! First off, being a pace bunny was a blast! I’ve run everything from a 55:58 (PB) to a 1:13:xx (4 months postpartum) in the 10k distance over the last 10 years. It’s not always about getting THE best time but it’s about getting YOUR best time.
Pacing the Valley Harvest Marathon -10k
I was up at 4:35 am not because I wanted to but because my watch alarm went off by mistake. I had no idea it was even set, needless to say both Saï and I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I tried hard and kept my eyes closed until 5:45 am when my phone alarm went off, but Saï was wide awake – sorry!
My cheat sheet stayed under my gloves.
I left the house around 6:30 and parked about a 1/2 km away from Acadia University where the race starts/finishes. As I approached the arena at 6:55 they were already turning cars away as the parking lot was full! I got to the track and picked up my 1:10 sign and headed inside to drop off my bag only to realise I had my wallet with me. Who brings a wallet to their race ? I’ve never done this before. Luckily, my running buddy’s husband was going to be there and he held on to my wallet while I ran.
It was bloody cold outside! It was long sleeves and gloves running weather. I wore my Lunatik running shirt, long sleeves, a tank and then my White Rabbit Pacing shirt over top. I had my gloves and Pro Compression socks on and a tutu with a bunny tail 😉 And of course, bunny ears that flapped in the wind!
After meeting up with Krystol, who was running the half marathon we headed out to the track and wished each other good luck. We’ve only been able to do training runs together this year so this was another run that kinda sucked that we weren’t doing it together. Having said that, we both had some goals to catch in our own races and were happy/excited for each other’s runs.
Photo credits: Krystol’s husband Casey.
After the half marathoners took off, the group of us 10k pace bunnies made our way to the start line. Slowly but surely the crowds stared trickling in. I had already got my Garmin ready to go so at this point I knew everything was going to be good. As I stood in the line my friend Tracey (who ran her first 10k race) found me….though it was easier for her to find me then the other way around 😉
One ear up, one ear down…that’s how I roll!
Casey picked me out in the crowd of 10k’ers 🙂
Things got tight in the start area and I wondered how many people would actually want to run with me or stay away from me? I mean hey….sometimes you want to stay well in front of a pace bunny, not with them. As the gun when off I found myself moving forward and starting to think about the 10k I had ahead of me. Would I meet anyone? Would they talk to me? Would I be on my own??? How do I break the ice?
I quickly met a lady named Jane and we ran together for a bit. Just before the 1km mark I noticed I was WAY ahead of my speed. SHIT….I’m failing already went through my head…time to put on the brakes a little. I held my sign over my head so runners could see where I was located as we ran. It was quiet! There were groups of runners, friends chatting and individuals blasting past me. I’m pretty sure I had a permanent smile on my face the whole run!
I kept my pace as close to 6:55, though technically, I should have been running a 7 minute kilometre. I wanted a little breathing space in case I slowed down too much or sped up to quickly on the hills. I tried to encourage the runners around me especially after a good hill and when we saw the first few 10k runners coming at us.
As we ran across this open area that is a long stretch I normally hate running across. It’s usually windy, lonely and boring but not this time! As other runners approached us on the other side of the road it was nothing but smiles, high fives from other pace bunnies and lots of hello’s to friends I saw running. It just seemed so relaxed and social …. like everyone was friends! Around the 4.5k marker, I let the runners around me know I would be dropping my sign at 5k. YES….I ran 5k with a sign in my hands…we all did! The runners around me all said no problem, we’re impressed that you still have it! Ha ha, me too, I thought!
Before I dropped the sign, Sandye shouted out to me “hey Piper”! I looked back and smiled – ha, someone knew me, FUN! She actually wrote me an email a few days before saying that she was hoping to run with me though she usually runs 10:1’s. It was great to actually meet her while running. (And she killed her 10k…not walking once!!!!)
Once I dropped my sign I just wanted to go! My arms and shoulders felt better, like a weight had been lifted. It wasn’t THAT awkward running with a sign but sometimes when the wind picked up I had to pull it down and keep it out of the wind. Since I couldn’t speed up, I just took in the view, cheered on the runner’s around me, had a few conversations and kept running. It was great!
Sandye and I would catch each other and I got to meet her friend Lynn, that she was running with. I later found out Sandye was running for another friend who wasn’t well. As the kilometres kicked on by, they would push forward and I would eventually catch up while maintaining my pace.
I felt great. I felt comfortable. My pace was under control. I had lots of energy and could carry on conversations as needed. I was loving being a pace bunny. As Sandye and Lynn started to run faster ahead of me, another group of 4 women were just behind me and wanting to finish in 1:10. We talked and I warned them of the incline ahead and then to push it when they got onto the Acadia track.
As I ran up the incline I noticed my time, it was around 1:08:xx and I thought….SHIT, I’m going to fail and finish too early. I slowed my pace down a bit and encouraged the runner behind me to keep going. I approached the photographer and he encouraged me to throw my arms in the air…….so I did and it felt GREAT!
Casey took this from the stands!
Even though I wasn’t running this race for myself, God, it sure felt great to run IN a race again. What an annoying year of injuries and missed races I thought! This isn’t my race but it was such a great race for me! As I approached the finish line the MC announced my name and again my arms went up…I was proud! Then I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin at 1:10:01 I DID IT! I was so surprised that I finished exactly on time.
I received my medal from a twitter friend Tracy which is always a great way to end your race. I was so happy I finished on time I did a double fist pump in front of me. After taking the day to be with my family, I found out that I actually finished my 10k in 1:09:59 !!!!!! I time I am extremely proud of.
After I finished I made sure to find Sandye as she was faster than 1:10 and we got a picture together.
1:09:59 is far from my personal best but I’ll tell you, pacing and finishing in 1:09:59 was just as awesome as my PB last year. I had a few people come up after the race and thank me as they were following me and wanting to finish in 1:10. I had runners pass me and thank me “thanks bunny”. It really was all about runners helping runners achieve their goals.
Speaking of goals. After I finished I ran back out onto the course and waited for Krystol. I cheered on the 10k’ers, halfs and some full marathoners. Again, some runners would thank me as they ran by and lots of people commented on my outfit. As I saw Krystol approaching after the 2 hour pace bunny I ran with her. She was tired but I was hoping to lift her spirits a little and push her towards the finish line. I don’t know if I helped but I know it was great to see her finish….no sobbing tears from either of us this time 😉
All I can say is that this year has not been the year I had planned. I missed 4 races, had 2 injuries, lots of tears and frustrations but I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I had. Volunteering at numerous races is amazing. Not only do I highly recommend pacing a race someday, I look forward to the next race I can pace. I loved my time, my pace, the course and the people around me. Runner’s are a great community to be immersed with.
White Rabbit Pacing is a non-profit group that started up this summer. I was extremely excited when I sent off my email to request pacing the 10k at Valley Harvest only to get a response with “I was hoping you’d apply”. Pacing this race is definitively a confident booster after having such a crappy running year.
Congratulations to all the runners at Valley Harvest Marathon, White Rabbit Pacing and the other pace bunnies. Now I just have to get through this week of traveling for work, some last-minute training runs and then a the trip over to PEI without the kids! I’m ready for my 3rd half marathon now 🙂
Have you ever followed a pace bunny? Or avoided one?
Are you good at maintaining a specific pace during a race?
Have you ever thought about pacing at a race?