Less than 2 months after I ran my P.R. marathon in St. Louis, I embarked on my 10th marathon, with a decidedly different feel and approach...I was a pacer. Many marathons hire pacing teams to run the race at a specific pace for competitors to run with so they can achieve a specific goal time. Typically, pacers are experienced runners that are assigned to run a pace slower than what they would be racing at so that they are assured of hitting the goal time.
I had run 3 shorter races as a pacer during the months of April and May (2 half marathons and a 30K) and hit my goal pace right on with each of those, so I felt pretty good entering the Stillwater Marathon. This was a relatively new marathon (only its 3rd year...and it no longer exists) so it wasn't a large field of runners, but I had a group of runners go with me at the start of the race. I was supposed to run 3:45, which was much slower than what I was accustomed to, which presents its own challenges. The other challenge of this pacing role was that Stillwater is a very hilly part of Minnesota, so it was a very tough course. The weather was warm, so it certainly didn't help many of the runners trying to keep pace with me.
I managed to stay right on pace through the entire race and came across the finish line in 3:45:05, only 5 seconds off of the goal! By the final 10K of the race, only one runner was still with me, and he never once said a word to me, so I hardly knew he was there until the end. Despite being a very different experience, it was still a lot of fun. I know the people that I helped pace for however long they stayed with me appreciated it, because I got a lot of thank you's at the finish line. I've never been an official pacer in a race since the Stillwater Marathon and I don't envision doing it again. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the races I paced and the people I got to run with, but there is something about toeing the starting line of a race where you know you are going to give every ounce of energy you have to see how fast you can run. Being a pacer, that feeling just isn't there. You have a prescribed pace and can't go ahead of it, even if you're feeling good.
After the completion of Stillwater, my focus turned to some incredibly important moments in my life beyond running. The summer of 2010 was certainly a great summer of running, but so much outshone that. I took a new teaching job at Wayzata High School, where I currently teach and coach today. I moved back to the Twin Cities metro area in Plymouth. Certainly the best part was getting married to my best friend, Jen, on July 30th!!!