Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Word on Various Race Paces

As part of my attempt to keep you guys entertained while I'm on vacation, Bill so graciously offered to share some thoughts about marathon running with you all.  

A big thanks to Melanie for inviting me to do a guest post while she is on vacation off across the pond.  I hope you are having a great time and also a great race Melanie!


I am Bill from Love To Run.  I live in Wisconsin and, as the name suggests, I love to run.  I used to be a middle distance runner in college but have moved up to the marathon.  I have now completed 17 marathons with 2 more planned this year.


Have you ever wondered what it is like to run a marathon at a faster or slower pace?  What is it like running at that pace and what are the other runners around you like?  Well, while I have never been up near the lead of a marathon with a pace of sub-2:30, I have run a lot of different paces in between whether it has been running the marathon myself, with someone else, or running as part of a relay.


In 2007, I was the last leg of a marathon relay team that ran 2:43.  Let me tell you, it is far less crowded up here.  I was running fresh as I haven’t run that far yet, but the runners I was near are so in the zone... so focused on the task ahead, even at mile 24.  A few are struggling but still are focused unlike I think I ever am at anytime during a marathon.


A few times, I have run in marathon relays where the pace was at just under 3:00 or just over.  A little less focus with these runners.  Near the end, some struggle a bit more but these are experienced runners and perhaps they are having a bad day if they are struggling.  There is not much talking between runners here also.  Just running and maybe working together but no talking.  This is usually where the first female runner comes along in the smaller races.  These ladies are like the faster guys, very focused and wanting to win the race.


In 2006, I ran the second half of a 2-person relay with a time of 3:20.  This is where the guys are trying their hardest to qualify for Boston.  There's a bit of talking and encouragement going on and working together to help for a better time.  They know the time they need to run to qualify and are determined to do it.  Some falter at the end, and that is quite sad to see in the last 2 miles.  They are so close, but the experience will do them good.  The runners are starting to become friendly here but not overly as talkative and using up valuable energy.


In 2007, I ran the Grand Rapids Marathon in 3:43 while running in a pace group.  This was a lot of fun and the runners were very friendly, and everyone wants everyone else to do the pace time.  Lots of talking at the start but less near the end.  There is a lot of encouragement going on here, but the pace group steadily gets smaller as the miles pass by.  There are a lot of ladies trying to qualify for Boston here, and it is really thrilling to see someone accomplish their goals at the end.


I have run too many marathon in the 4:00 to 4:20 range.  This is a fun pace.  Lots of fun runners and many who are not competitive but out for a good time and just to finish.  Lots of talking and encouragement going on.  By the end though, there are more walking now as these runners can be less experienced (not all) and have gone out too fast and are paying the price over the last 6.2 miles.  You would have thought I have learned by now, but I find myself doing that still. 


I ran the 2009 Austin Marathon in 4:43 a day after I ran a different marathon.  This pace, in my opinion and experience, had the runners having the most fun.   It seemed like over 75% of the runners liked to talk and talk to the crowd as well, many posing for pictures and stopping to see family along the way.  I assume most of these were first timers, but I could be wrong.  I really enjoyed this pace and recommend the runner who has run a lot of marathons to slow down and try this pace at least once.  Run with a friend who needs help at this pace.


The slowest pace I have ever run at was with someone running the New York City Marathon in 5:58.  I ran the last 9 miles and while a few seemed to be having fun, I think most of their fun was before mile 17.  Most of these runners are, I assume, first timers and have never run further that 20 before and they are really paying the price.  A majority are walking by 22 through 25 but dig up the strength to run the last mile.  I tried to encourage these runners as they needed it, and I hope they appreciated it even if they looked like they didn’t.  I know most did.  I applaud these runners for doing what most people have never done, run a marathon!


These are strictly my experiences and opinions.  You could have had a completely different experience so don't  pound me too much if you feel I am way off base.


Keep reading Melanie’s blog.  It is such a wonderful insight into a person who also loves to run and how she manages her life to do just that: run!


Nicole said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing! Are you from Michigan?? :)

Sharneysrun said...

Very interesting post! How cool to experience the marathon from so many different perspectives :-)

Running and living said...

Awesome post. Ana-Maria