"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pace teams. Love 'em or hate 'em? In my one and only experience with them I give them an incomplete. I ran with a pace team in Seattle last year, three weeks after a somewhat disastrous (at the time) showing in Newport. I felt like my best chance to reach my goal in marathon #2 was to avoid at all costs a big problem I had in marathon #1. Namely, running mile after mile by myself. Granted, there were 27,000 more people running in Seattle (at least for the first half), but I felt like if I had someone I could stick with who knew what they were doing that this would give me the best chance for success.
I decided to start with the 3:45 pace leader. There was a group of about 12 of us (though there were probably many more keeping any eye on our leader and adjusting their pace accordingly). I held the pace fairly well for the first 10 miles but miles 11-13 I struggled to keep up. I began to drop back just after the halfway mark and once again was running more or less by myself.
Mentally, it's one thing to see your pace leader increasing the distance between the two of you knowing you'll probably not be able to catch up. It's quite another to be passed by the pace leader of the group behind you, especially when you know they started 2-3 minutes behind you in the corrals. Thus was my experience around mile 20. There went the 4:00 group, not flying past me by any means, but definitely moving faster than I was.
I pulled myself together and finished in 4:07 but I have since questioned whether or not a pace team helps me or hurts me. Newport won't have any pace teams, it's just not a big enough race (900 runners, marathon only), but Seattle will. And so I have a decision to make. Do I or don't I? And if I choose to do so, and my goal is 4:00, do I start with the 4:00 group and trust that I won't let them get away, or do I start with the 3:45 group and give myself a cushion (or who knows, maybe if I'm feeling great I stick with them the entire race), telling myself that whatever happens, I will not let the 4:00 group pass me?
Pace teams: helpful to you or not?

In other news, I'll be spending the first weekend in October here. I'm in!

No comments: