It's Friday night, I have other plans for Saturday morning than parkrun at Long Eaton. But, its Pacer week you say! One of my preferred times is still free!
You have brand new luminous green pacer vests that actually fit......I can't resist - I'm in!
Thanks for the vests Rob and Kirsty.
This will be my 109th parkrun, over 100 of them at Long Eaton.... the 13th time in a pacer vest - but I'm not superstitious, nothing will go wrong!
(Mike pictured below on the right.)
I deviate from my normal warm up and head down to the gathering of hi-viz. The "proper" volunteers - this pacing malarkey still sees me get a good run out. I love getting the vest and then getting back to the warm up - promoting the team of pacers and hopefully gathering some interest from people who might sense they can latch on and have a new target for their Saturday morning.
What I don't love - is standing on the bank and being introduced. The fear of falling up or down the bank is half the problem, being a bit in the limelight is the other issue - but its soon over and we can mingle in, almost unnoticed but for the bright green vests with a number we have committed to in the world’s largest font!
The pacing brings some nervous energy with it and I always hope to do the vest proud; * Get round! Despite having always completed a parkrun, I do worry I'll need to hand over the vest mid-run to someone more capable.
* Hit the target time! Ideally I want it dead on or 1 or 2 seconds under. Never over. Never!
* Even splits! I want to run a consistent time from start to finish. No fast starts or fast finishes. Consistency all the way.
* Get some of you PBs! I've been fortunate to get the P1 token (just the once) and a few PBs for myself along the way, but nothing is more satisfying than helping someone else hit a PB.
The start is the most difficult. Even just picking where to start. Too far forward and I could distance myself from the people behind who could pace off me, too far back and risk getting boxed in and starting to slow. It's ok to weave through on your own - but I'm now conscious a group following won't be able to take the same line.
What's great is when someone comes over - knowing I'm their pacer early on makes things much easier. So do introduce yourself, let us know you target and we'll do what we can to help you (no piggybacks though apparently that's taking it too far).
Off we go... not too fast, everyone sets off fast, hold back, check the watch, little slow - but better than too fast, try and pick the line that people can follow, check the watch, thank the marshal, check the watch. Through 1km, 2 secs over - close enough. A small group tucked in with me - perfect start, as we cross the bridge for the first of 4 times.
Maintain the pace, sit on the front, let the group draft, the wind is light as the sleet starts to fall.
We come through to the funnel of marshal's - it’s always welcomed and we pass halfway. Another couple of seconds over, I'm happy with that – a slight negative split run isn't a bad fall back to perfect splits.
One of the runners who hoped to stay with me had dropped back - I will encourage her on. But I have a small group with me so the pace stays as it was. Through 3km check the watch, the times a bit better. Passed the super happy marshal at Parkside exit despite the weather.
Volunteers are awesome!
As we cross the bridge for the 3rd time the lead runners already coming through - I can't help but try and calculate his finish time...he's flying. I wasn't wrong. 15:18 for James Teagle as the first finisher, Harry Lupton and Aston Perrin both smashing the 16 barrier with equal times of 15:42 for 2nd and 3rd spot. Amazing!
Through 4km, check the watch - the times coming in, this should be almost perfect. A number still with me, some start to push on as we catch others - hoping they tuck in and have a finish left in them. We cross the bridge for the final time, take the last turn - check the watch as we hit the home straight!
Tick, Tick Tick... the clock continues to count up. It's the final stretch to the finish but the pace remains consistent, there's no surge to the line, no grasping for that extra second. Runners come passed me, I encourage them on.... I urge those behind to pass me - what is this madness? This is pacing...... and I love it!
OH NO! I'm going to miss the target time. I'm going to be over. I pick the pace up a little - I'm now torn between consistent running and hitting the time. A runner flies past me with about 20 metres to go, Check the watch - I'm gutted for him if he was relying on me.
I cross the line.... 10 seconds over. Pacer run #13 has jinxed me!
I'm disappointed, the pace was ok but I seem to have ran long. As I browse the results later I see 6 runners between me and my target time.
I mill around after, joking with the Race Director.... why did I suggest I'd do the run report this week bounces around my head. But it’s all in good spirits.
I catch up with some other runners and delighted that Florine Hiersemenzel smashed her target time and finished first female with a time of 18:47 - I think you need to pace me Florine, not the other way around! Linsey Ryall was second female in 20:05 - ahead of the 20 minute pacer. Sorry Linsey! Megan Rosier took the third spot with a 20:24.
Despite the poor time keeping a few people have asked if I can pace them at other times - absolutely. I'll try and even hit the time for you. I’d urge anyone to give pacing a try - it completely changes the dynamic of your parkrun and is so rewarding.
A massive thanks to all the volunteers & pacers this week, great running conditions - not so great for standing around in I imagine!
See you next week
Mike (The not quite 20 minute pacer)