Where to start? I had an absolute blast running this race. I was pacing the 1:10 pace (7:00 minute/km) and enjoyed every minute of it!
I started the day pretty early at 5:15am and snuck the dog out of the house for a quick pee without waking up the whole family. THIS was a big mother runner win! I needed a little time to wake up, change into my running gear but managed to get out the door about 6:08. With no traffic in sight, I made my way to Acadia University and parked on a side street to later avoid crossing runners on their route.
I met up with with a few runner friends from the city and then got my 1:10 pace sign and bib. It was such a beautiful and WARM day….17c and it wasn’t even 7am at that point! It was a little muggy but still overcast which would later clear and just get hotter. I was able to see Ben Brown take off (Para Track Athlete) for his 10k, the full and half marathon runners start and then it was time for the 10ker’s to line up. We started at 8am.
My running buddy Krystol managed to find me (even with my sign not visible at the time) before we started. I had a few people say that I was their pace bunny or that they wanted to stay between me and Sherry (1:15 bunny). Perfect! As the gun went off we all shuffled forwards only to be halted abruptly as you are at the start of any race. A few laughs later and we were on our way again. Garmin’s chirping all around.
Traditional Pre Race Selfie with Krystol.
KM: One to Six
We weren’t very far into the first kilometre and I was worried I was running too fast. That first km is always the hardest to run the slowest but when you are a pace bunny you’ve got to be really careful. I slowed my pace down a little and kept moving forward. It was rather quiet during the first few kilometres but a lady in red (sorry, I can’t remember your name) started chatting with me. She had paced races before and asked how my pacing was. I said pretty accurate and she said “oh good”.
After climbing Hennigar’s Hill (on the way out) my pace slowed down a bit but I got it back on track and we were about 15-20 seconds ahead of the 7 minute/km pace. I thought I had missed the bucket to drop my sign in and was trying to decide what to do with it. Do I just drop it and pick it up on my way back, do I run with it the whole time – no???? Eventually, there was a volunteer collecting them and I gladly gave mine over and shook out my upper body. You know, it’s not easy running with a sign!
Down the hill we went to the first water station where I gladly took some water – it was getting HOT! It was extremely flat at this point and runners (50 minute pace bunny) were coming on the opposite side of the road. I always love seeing super fast runners. I enjoyed a few conversations with some runners and made the turn around at the 5k mark. I started to lose a few runners who wanted to finish between 1:05 and 1:10. The sun was blasting on our faces at this point and occasional gusts of wind would stir up and push against us. Luckily another pace bunny (Greg) reminded me of this at the start and I was prepared.
After the wind, we hit the water station again (yes please). We then climbed the hill by the Irvin gas station which I think is the hardest one on runners. The location and the incline and really can get you and as a continuous pace bunny, there was no stopping. I just kept going but slowed down my pace slightly, cheered on those running or walking and made my way up the hill to recover at the top with a slow pace before picking it up again.
KM: Six – Ten.
As I mentioned, I lost a few runners at this point – they either picked up their pace or dropped behind me but I always had small groups of people near by. We had half marathon’s zoom by us which was amazing!
Back towards Hennigar’s hill – the last major hill to climb – I again, just kept moving forward and encouraged other runners. From there it was smooth sailing at a nice and steady pace. Towards the last kilometre there is a long incline that most people forget about or don’t realise they still need to run UP before entering the track. As we got to the top I was a little worried I was too fast for my time but managed to smooth it out a bit.
The track is like heaven on your body at the end of this race. The pounding on the pavement vs pounding on the nice soft track is like night and day. I managed to find my running buddy and kept going to the finish line.
One ear up!
I crossed in 1:09:37 out of my 1:10 pace time! I’m pretty happy with my time though there is a little part of me that wished I was closer to the 1:10 like I did two years ago (1:09:59). I had a blast! I had a few runners come up and thank me for pacing them which was awesome. To know that you did the job that was expected of you during the race is pretty darn sweet.
I guzzled a bottle of water, stretched and grabbed a cookie and banana before heading back out again. WHAT? Yes, that’s right. Most of the pace bunnies when back out on the course to help other runners in. This was a whole other experience.
Post race….happy runners!
Though my race pace duties were done, I went back on the course and cheered on the runners. You know sometimes that little boost is all a runner needs. I saw some runner friends and lots of people I didn’t know. I came across this lady (which I never got her name) but she wasn’t feeling great and just done. So we walked together for a bit and then ran and walked some more. She had run a half marathon the week before (amazing, eh!!!!) but just wasn’t feeling great during this half.
We talked a bit more and made our way into the stadium on that sweet soft track where we walked again. I took her water belt as it didn’t seem to be comfortable for her, so I figured I could carry it and she’d feel a little better. She made her way to the finish line and I stayed with her for a bit. This was probably the best part of pacing – helping a complete stranger finish her half marathon when I believe, all she wanted to do was stop. I wish I would have gotten her name as I’d love to connect with her to see how she made out.
I went back out a few more times and some runners where really having a hard time with the heat. I reminded them to slow their breathing down along with their pace and ran them through to the finish area. There is nothing better then the finish line at a race. To see the faces of all the runners (the fastest to the slowest) is amazing. The blood, sweat and tears that have gone into all that training and their final run – a great accomplishment achieved!
I’ve had a few people say “how do you pace a race?”. Well, you run your run. You trust yourself (practice your pace). You use a Garmin or two like me. You do the math in your head constantly and focus on the other runners not yourself. In the end, you cross the finish line when you cross the finish line and more then likely if you’ve done your job right, you crossed as close to your finish time as possible.
Eventually, I had to leave to get back to my family and make the trip to the city for Thanksgiving dinner with my larger family. That meal was THE BEST MEAL EVER! I ate so much and then crashed hard at 9pm. My body was done!
A big hats off to all the pace bunnies with White Rabbit Pacing last weekend. They all did amazing! I’m looking forward to pacing again next year.
How was your weekend/Thanksgiving?
Love hot races in the fall or hate them?