Experience of a first time pacer
From a pacing perspective, I can say that I had almost as perfect a race I could have imagined. Before the run, I had worked up my pacing strategy which I had published and shared on my blog. This article was widely read and I received so many comments on Facebook and through emails on the account the good folks at Procam had created for us pacers.
My BIB#: 2280 Finish Time (Net): 5:25:00
Finish Time (Gun): 5:28:51 (the all important time from pacing perspective)
My strategy worked on roughly how the group would be running the first half and the second half, and highlighting the importance of other time factors, like the time taken to reach starting point, time needed for hills, time for walking breaks, slowing down in second half, but I did not go into KM by KM breakup of splits since I felt that it was something which only I should be concerned about, and the rest of the group should focus on running. So, I made a chart for myself, which had minute by minute splits for each KM, keeping in mind the starting delay (assumed to be 2 minutes, which actually turned out to be about 4 mins), each KM split had time accounted for walking, as well as hills at the KM where the hills actually were. I got the splits put up on my BIB itself, so that I had a ready reckoner all through the race on how the bus was doing. I know that doing calculations while running is really really difficult, so better to avoid those troubles.
Before the race day, I had decided I would start from the ‘D’ group instead of the allotted ‘C’ group, since most of the runners who were looking to run with me were from ‘D’. This probably cost me a couple of minutes at the start, but I felt it was the right decision. People at the back would probably have found it impossible to catch the pacing group if they were already behind by 2 minutes at the start.
As for the race and the pacing group, it was lots of fun all the way. Passengers kept coming in, and passengers kept
leaving as well, those who could not keep up with our pace. At the 25K mark, feeling that we were comfortable with the pace goal, actually spent a minute of our time stretching our legs as I felt that in the long run, it would act as a time saver rather than time loser. I have always felt much better after doing the stretching in between the race. For the initial part of the race (most of the first half), we were a minute to two behind the target (though we had a 3 minute buffer to take care of even that), but were were making it up, gradually.
The hills at Peddar road on the way back were tough as always and required a lot of walking, not an issue since every minute of that walk was budgeted. Towards the end, as we entered the Marine Drive section, I checked my watch and found that we were right on target pace for a 5:30 finish as per gun time. From here on, we pushed just a wee bit more, and finally ended up finishing in 5:28:51, just about a minute inside of the target time.
So, that was a quick note on my experience at this year’s pacing, and I really enjoyed it. Pacing is a lot of responsibility, it keeps you on your toes before the race, and gives you a few nervy moments, but at the end of the day, that feeling of satisfaction is immense, not on how you did, but from how happy our fellow runners were who managed to finish the race in time, mostly by their own strong will and determination, and helped in a small part by the pacing. I hope SCMM team will continue with this, and even look at more brackets like Amit suggested, like 4:15, 5:15, even a 6:00 hour one looking at how many runners could not manage 6:00 hours.
Negatives about the event:
- Finish line clock, it was just flickering, could not see actual time.
- No gatorade for marathon runners anywhere on the route, except at one place where they were serving a very diluted mixture. Poor.
- People complained of too cramped entry to holding area at finish. I was probably ok since I finished late.
- Faster runners complained of a big overlap with half runners, Ashok Nath mentioned it was 18KM overlap, which really slowed him down!
Positives from the event:
- Super route, heat played almost no part. Sun on our back till Marine drive, and then just 3-4 KM so no issues at all with heat
- Early start made wonders too
- Nice video coverage of the run, though mostly elite focussed unlike ADHM where they had a significant focus on common folks. No non-elite full marathon coverage, though the half, dream run were more covered.