I realize in starting this post that I haven't written in quite a long time. After the heartbreak of not running the Philadelphia Marathon last year, and the long road to recovery (mental and physical) I had, even thinking about running made my heart ache. However, that whole experience just made me appreciate running and the sport itself even more. I took the time off I needed to heal, and came back an even stronger runner, a stronger person.
Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to be an official pacer for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in Grand Rapids, MI. I went into it a little bit anxious, a little bit intimidated, and VERY excited. I had no idea what I was doing, really...but I did a lot of research beforehand on the role of pacers and tips to stay on target, so that put me a little bit more at ease. This was my 6th half marathon, so the distance was something I knew I could do. The biggest challenge that I was worried about was keeping a steady pace because I have never really had to do that. I was a 10:30 pacer, which is quite a bit slower than I am used to running, so I had to make sure I didn't lose track of my speed. I printed a laminated bracelet of all 13.1 splits so I knew exactly where I should be crossing the mile markers, and also obviously had my Garmin watch with me.
The thing that made this experience so amazing was just knowing that I was helping so many women in accomplishing new personal records, getting to the finish line of their first half marathon, and even being a source of running knowledge and answering questions people had. At the starting line, I had several people ask to get their photo with me, because I was going to be their leader for the race. It almost made me feel like a celebrity! I knew right from that moment that being a pacer would be the most rewarding running experience I have had. As soon as the gun went off, I had the most fun 13.1 mile run I have ever had. Between getting pelted in the face with tiny ice balls and running through muddy grass and sharing lots of stories and laughs with amazing people, the ear-to-ear smile never left my face. After the finish, a few women had even sought me out to personally thank me. I can't even tell you how awesome I felt that I actually helped people.
I would absolutely love to do this again, and hopefully I will be asked to come back next year to pace the same race!
Now, onto the Lansing (Half) Marathon next weekend!!