As someone who has run 10 marathons and more than two dozen half marathons, I participated in last week’s Publix Georgia Half Marathon more of a “run than a race”, something I had never done before. I tried to pace a friend of mine to a sub 2-hour finish; at least that was our goal. It was somewhat relieving to know I didn’t have to push myself really hard (normal finish time would have been about 1:45-1:50). I knew my friend could run better than she had in the past, she just had to learn how to pace herself and “race” smarter.
So off we went, aiming for a 9:00 min/mile average. Slow down I told her, you’re starting too fast, don’t get caught up in this crowd. You’ll be okay, trust me, hang back. First mile 9:04, cool, we are right on target. Ok, here’s our first water stop, now skip the first few tables and go to the back ones, there are less people there. Grab the cup and squeeze it, you’ll instantly form a spout to drink from, plus it sort of covers up the water so it doesn’t spill anywhere. Toss the cup to the side; aim for a trash can, make it easier for the volunteers to clean up.
Sun’s coming up, look at those great views of the city. Take it all in, enjoy this. Hey, on this hill make sure you swing your arms, pull yourself up the hill. Let your arms do the work. You’re doing great. And look at all these curves in the road, I want you to run the tangents. Remember the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, so cut across the road slowly, and get to the other side. And here’s another turn, do that again. Run the tangents, always.
A downhill, yippee! This is called free speed, don’t brake with your legs, let them turnover and zip down this hill. Let it fly. Check out these cool stores, buildings and houses, look at all the fans, enjoy yourself. Sure, easier said than done, I know.
Piedmont Park ahead, now look down, don’t look ahead of you. Pay attention to the 10-feet in front of you instead of the big hill, it will make it seem easier. I know it’s hard. Ok, another hill, keep on going. Use your arms, don’t look up. And now a downhill, more free speed, take it when you can.
The finish line, only ½ mile away, no walking, don’t give up now. Around the corner and there it is, look at all these fans! Enjoy it! Smile for the camera!
While we missed the sub 2-hour mark by four minutes, I still was able to pace my friend to a 12-minute PR on that course, so that was a huge victory. It was a fulfilling race, helping someone achieve a goal and not feeling the pressure to push myself too hard. There’s not much better than that!