Pacer or No Pacer?

Packing for Miami has begun — a minor miracle for me, as I typically find two hours before departure a completely reasonable time to start throwing clothes in a bag. I’m more neurotic about races, though; I’ve actually been carrying a post-it note around all week with a list of things I don’t want to forget (new additions this morning include Body Glide and Band-Aids). I’ve so far set aside a pair of running capris, a pair of running shorts, two running tank tops, a long-sleeve shirt, many socks, three pairs of shoes (two of which I’m planning to donate at the expo, especially if something new and shiny — Brooks Pure Project, anyone? — catches my eye), and zero actual clothes. Sounds about right.

Obviously, I’m going into this race hoping to see 1:59:xx on the clock when I’m done. When I registered, I thought it was a given that I’d sign up for the 2:00 pace group at the expo. Now, though, I’m less sold that it’s what I want to do.

In the pro column, we have:

  • Pacing, obviously. I know from previous races that I do well when I have a rabbit (I chased the same woman for the first three miles of my 10K PR and kind of faded in the second loop until I found a guy to chick near the end).
  • In theory, I like the energy that could come from being surrounded by other people who have a goal to make and a pacer who’s determined to get us there.
  • The pace group might get me a better spot in an appropriate section of the start corrals and keep me from bobbing and weaving all over the place in the first mile, as is my typical pattern.
  • I might be able to relax and not get as caught up in the numbers on my watch or on the clock if I know someone else is dealing with that and doing the math for me.
  • ETA: Pacer Marie sounds awesome.

And the cons:

  • I know I don’t do well if my pacer gets ahead of me, as experienced during a handful of runs with Pete when I’ve asked him to pace me and then not been able to keep up. (I realize that is not the same as an experienced pacer who is expected to run evenly, but still.)
  • In practice, I actually try to tune out the energy of anyone and anything besides myself during a race.
  • I’m carrying a hand-held water bottle, so I don’t want to be thinking about staying with the group or losing the group at water stops.
  • I’m already in corral 2 and the race only has 4,500 people (the smallest half I’ve run, I think), so it shouldn’t be too hard to carve a path for myself and/or keep the pacer in view without officially joining the group.
  • Not running with the pace group means potentially getting in front of the pace group and using that as my motivation, which might be better for me overall … unless the pace group is in corral 1 and I start just a bit too far back to catch up.
  • I’m stubborn, and I know I’d feel better about breaking two hours if I do it on my own. (Better than if I try on my own and don’t do it? There’s the question.)

So: What say you? Pacer or no pacer? Have you ever run with a pace group or “unofficial” pacer? Do you prefer being paced or doing it all yourself?

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2 thoughts on “Pacer or No Pacer?

  1. Kelly says:

    hmmm, I’ve never really run with a pace group or pacer.But I see how they can be helpful! Maybe figure out an individual pace plan but keep your eye on the pace group? You can print out pace bracelets on marathonguide.com!

  2. I prefer to go no pacer and leave my fate in my own hands. But either way, have so much fun! I just left Miami..wish I could of stayed for the race

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