I am looking forward to the Bengaluru marathon on 19th October in just about two weeks from now. It will be my first long distance( >= HM) event in 6 months after Boston in April. It will also be my first experience of being a pacer. Pacers have been around in international marathons for a while and pacemakers have helped professional runners beat world records. The growing number of races in India means increase in the size of the long distance running community and as a natural progression in the sport the number of runners aspiring to beat their previous times and/or meet a certain time target has also gone up. Pacers in Indian races started appearing since 2012. I usually run a road race with a time goal in mind. Due to my injury I was not sure whether to run this race or not - even a half marathon. The opportunity to pace helped me make up my mind. If I had not opted to be a 2:30 pacer for the HM and still run the race I would have probably ended up running it in about 2 hours or so, which though much slower than my HM PB of 1:44 is still too fast given the current state of my recovery. (Have been advised to run slower than 6:30 per Km pace)
On race day my plan is to run between 6:45 and 7:10 per Km and get to 17 Kms in about 2:01 or so. At that point I will encourage the runners still with me to push hard and give it their best to try and finish between 2:25 and 2:29. I will continue at about 7:05 per Km staying with the slowest of the runners who are likely to complete under 2:30. I may need to tweak this strategy once the race route is announced depending on the elevation profile. As always I will keep a watch on the current pace and average pace on my Garmin - average pace of 7:04/Km will result in a 2:29 finish. For those doing their first HM the last 2-3 Kms could be a challenge - both physically and mentally. I hope to egg them on to cross the finish line within the target time. It has not been easy for me to do my training runs at this pace. By consciously running slow I am able to manage a pace of around 6:30 per Km. Am not able to keep it closer to 7 mins per Km pace for too long. The longest I managed at 7 mins per Km pace was 13 Kms in 91 mins on a treadmill. I did a 21.2 Km in 2:22 at an average pace of 6:46 per Km my longest run since end of June. Once I get into the groove I am confident of running between 6:45 and 7:10 pace - in general I tend to run fairly even pace. I am eagerly looking forward to helping runners do their longest distance or achieve their personal best and with no time pressure on me hope to have loads of fun doing so!!