Over the past four years (minus 2016), I’ve paced the Valley Harvest Marathon 10k – 1:10 finish time. Pacing a race is an experience that is hard to explain to others.
I was really hoping to pace VHM this year but there was no pacing group organizing pace bunnies. Less then two weeks prior to race day, former pace bunnies received an email saying that True North Pacing (new group) was looking for bunnies, so I quickly replied YES PLEASE! I wasn’t really sure I wanted to run the 10 k on my own since I was really supposed to be doing a 18 km long run as part of my half training. So when the opportunity came up to pace, I jumped at it.
I was lucky enough to be the 1:10 pace bunny for the 10 k. Knowing that this coming weekend I have my half marathon I’ve been training for, pacing a 10 k would be enough for my body. It was also Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada), so I planned to cook a turkey and roasted butternut squash for my vegan husband.
I hardly slept and this seems to be a night-before-race-day-theme along with dealing with a head cold. The head cold was easy to deal with but lack of sleep just isn’t fun. Pushing both of those things aside, I got up and out the door and off to Acadia University. There were multiple events: wheelchair, ultra, full, half, 10 k and 5 k. As each race started, the crowds grew a little bigger. It was a little on the chilly side, around 7 C (44 F).
As the bunnies lined up, I met a few people that wanted to run with me, exciting!!! The gun went off and we moved forward a little, only to be stopped before the start line. As I passed over the starting line, I turned on my Green Garmin (Forerunner 10) and then my 230. Yes, I use two Garmin’s! I like how easy it is to set up my Forerunner 10 to keep me on pace but I wanted to have my 230 on to track my current pace.
My plan was to run between 6:55 and 7 minute per km to keep us on track for a 1:10 finish time. We went out a little fast but I managed to slow it down and have the first km in 6:58. I chatted with runners, warned them of pot holes and upcoming water stations, along with hills either up or down. Most know the route though.
The wind picked up as we crossed over the Dyke Road/358 hwy and my bunny ears moved slowly backwards but never fell off. I’d see each bunny that was ahead of me with their pack of runners pass by. I also saw friends running their race which is always exciting and motivating. There is magic in the motivation of seeing other pace bunnies that just paints a permanent smile on your face. At least, that’s how I felt running as a True North Pace Bunny.
We hit the turn around point and it was mainly flat until a big long hill before a gas station. I had to keep my pace no matter what so I kept trekking along up that hill and passed a few people all while encouraging them and telling them I’d see them at the top.
Hennigar’s Hill was next…down then up. This can be a hard point in the race for many, it has been for me before. Down we went, me keeping the same pace and runners taking advantage of doing down a little faster. I caught up to some people and pushed up Hennigar’s Hill feeling pretty good.
As we neared the 2k mark, two women looked back and me and in shock let out a “oh no” and sped up – it made me laugh quite a bit as I knew they wanted to finish before me. I also had a man say that he was following me for a while, lost me and found me again. He then went far ahead of me and finished strong. I had one gentleman running with me for most of the run and he was great company. I hope to run with him again with a local running group.
We climbed the last incline and into the stadium and I thought I was 2 minutes under (but wasn’t) so I slowed my pace down a bit more while running around the soft track. As I encourage my group of runners to go for it and they all did. I crossed the finish line in 1:10:06.
Though I was over by six seconds, I was pretty proud and happy that I accomplished what I committed to doing. I high-fived a few runners, grabbed some water, dropped off my medal into my bag and ate a banana. After that, I headed back out tackle Hennigar’s Hill again.
A number of pace bunnies went back out to help other runner’s up Hennigar’s Hill – the last BIG hill. I think I ran up it 7-8 times before I felt too cold to run anymore and ran back with a group of women. They were running fast and were super motivating! It felt good to run with a small group of fierce women. I didn’t want to intrude on their run but also wanted to encourage them along the way as I ran back. As they circled the track, I ran directly to the finish line and finished 7 k for a total of 17 k for the day.
I still don’t know how to explain how it feels to be a pace bunny, other then it’s hugely motivating, inspiring and awesome experience for me. I hope to pace a few more races next year with True North Pacing. And yes, then went home, cooked a turkey dinner, filled my belly with WAY to much food and desert and enjoyed the evening with my family. Full heart, happy body and my soul filled immensely on Thanksgiving weekend.
Have you ever ran with a pace bunny?
Anyone else race last weekend or this weekend coming?
Past pacing 1:10 – 10k:
- 2015: 1:09:59
- 2017: 1:09:37
- 2018: 1:10:06
Thanks True North Pacing and Valley Harvest for another great event! I don’t blog daily but you can follow me over on Instagram. I’ll be running the PEI Half Marathon this Sunday!!!