Today I ran my third Parkrun 5k, and for the first time, I was a pacer. I was pacing the 28 minute group, which equates to a 9 minute mile, a nice, relatively easy pace for me for 5k. As it was Halloween, most of the runners were in fancy dress too!
I was given a “28” sign for my back, and a balloon to let runners know I was a pacer. There were even more runners than usual out, through a combination of the unseasonably good weather, and the attraction of getting dressed up I suppose!
We set off, and I had a small group of runners following me from the start. I tried to keep a nice even pace, and I planned on banking 15 or 20 seconds on each of the first two laps, so that I could give my runners an easier last lap, and a chance to break 28 minutes if they wanted to. My little group didn’t last long – I looked around at the halfway point, and discovered I was down to one runner, all the others having fallen off. Nothing for it but to keep going – they’d either catch up or they wouldn’t, but I decided not to slow down, as I knew if they were struggling now, they wouldn’t be able to make up the time later. I passed the start line on the first lap exactly on the planned time, 15 seconds ahead of a nine minute mile, not bad for my first pacing job!
I was the only member of my family running today, as Catherine and Lee decided to give it a miss, and Adam had a soccer match immediately afterwards so was saving his energy – though he admitted he missed the run as he watched me go around.
I passed the line on the second lap again exactly on point, banking another 15 seconds or so, to make for a slightly easier last lap. By halfway around the last lap my last remaining runner was flagging a bit, so I started to encourage her on, and she rose to the challenge. Around a quarter of a mile from the finish my balloon snagged on a twig and burst, causing my runner to give a scream, and me to suffer a minor heart attack. I pushed my runner for the last section, and got her to sprint the last bit, to try for a PB – she took off, and I’m pretty sure she made her PB, though I didn’t get to ask her at the end. I crossed the line in 27:52, which I was very happy with – as close to 28 minutes as makes no difference.
I enjoyed the experience of pacing a lot – it puts a different focus on your run, and demands a fair bit of concentration on exactly what speed you are doing. I would definitely do it again.
I had to rush off afterwards, as I needed to clean the blood off my face and get out of my torn rags before showing up on the sideline of Adam’s soccer match! They didn’t win the match, but well done to Adam on scoring a hat-trick in the Kerry ETP squad trials on Sunday – can’t ask much more of a striker than that!
Well done to all the volunteers and runners in this weeks Tralee Parkrun 5k – I believe it was a record turnout, and was certainly great fun!