We’re in St John’s County!
It’s mile 23 and we’re still on the hill to get to the top of the JTB bridge. The sun is shining and the heat is on. I am feeling “peppy”(that’s my co-pacer’s nickname for me), and ready to send the 5 people still with us ahead for a PR. 30 second walk is up, time to run and get to the top of that bridge.
It begins weeks before, the Galloway director ,Chris Twiggs, calls for anyone who might be interested in pacing the Donna marathon. Without hesitation I volunteer. It’s rewarding to pace runners for their first marathon or even their 10th one. Every experience is different for everyone including for pacers. 26.2 miles is not a distance to laugh at. You might have done dozens but that 1 marathon you might feel ill or going through an injury or the weather might be off. You just never know. So I said “yes” hoping and praying it wouldn’t be like the Jekyll Island Marathon(I was having an off day that day). I had no idea what group I would be pacing or who my co-pacer would be. I was ready for anything.
We were down to 2! The other three in our group had moved on, but guess who we picked up?! Jeff Galloway and two runners he was running and giving sage advice to. We were at the top of the JTB bridge! We had made it. Now all we had to do was let gravity take its course.
5:45…it’s all set. Then another pacer asked to trade, so we made it work. New pacing assignment-5:30! And then it was race weekend…how did that happen? After our annual Social Shakeout run at Southern Grounds, it was time to work at the Donna Expo and pick up my pacing stuff. The next day would be my pacer duty at the Jeff Galloway booth. As usual, Momentum Pacing takes care of all its pacers. On Saturday, I complete 2 out of 3 races for the Booby Trap Challenge. In between the 10k and 5k, we take our pacer group photo. 6:30 a m for the Donna Marathon on Sunday.
We are coming down the ramp and then a right turn! Eagle eye me sees the 26 mile sign…we are home free! What’s our time? Oh no! We have 8 minutes to get to the Finish line. I have the pacer flag, I guess I’ll be sprinting. No time to lose. Go! Go! Go! That’s when I hear the 26.3 cheers.
We’re late. I am up at 4. I eat, I have my coffee, shower, and head out at 5:45a m. Traffic is light until C.R. 210. We park and I have enough time to get in the potty line. Then a quick kiss to my honey, who is pacing the 3:45 half(10/30), and then off to find my group and my co-pacer, Ric. Wave 3 is ready! I carry the pacer flag-what a nice large group! I know Prudence and Patti(from GOTR). Everyone else is my newest BRF for 26.2 miles. The weather is nice with cloud cover and cool breezes. People are out and I’m feeling good!
Pacing through PVB(photo courtesy of Joanne Carrizales)
My legs are pumping, my lungs are burning, and I feel nauseous trying to beat that darn clock and crossing that finish line. 5:30:30! The 26.3 cheer section goes wild! My boss(Chris T.) collects my pacer flag and asks about his boss who’s steps behind us. I get a picture with one of the two runners who stay with us, and then collect my medal and head towards Runner’s Village transformed to celebrate the 5:00 and up marathon finisher -26.3. My co-pacer has a 2 hour drive back home and clears out quickly. Very anti climatic. Except, I persevered and had conquered my demons. Take that 26.2! I was greeted by my husband who provided me water and chicken noodle soup.
As we ran/walked/ran, we made small talk, joked about the luck we were having with the weather, and I continued to check on the runners and joke with them. It was crowded until the half marathoners turned left, and we kept going straight down 1st street. The weather gods were kind. After Oceanwalk, we were dropping runners like flies, but we kept encouraging the ones who stayed with us. I saw so many people I knew! It made my heart full to see them. We saw Elvis, a pink gorilla, and breast cancer survivors. It was a definite block party throughout the beaches.
Pink is the color of choice today.
How do you know pacing is for you?
You feel confident running at various paces.
- You like to help others reach their goals.
- You are ready to encourage and be a running cheerleader.
- You’re not worried about a PR.
- You follow the pace and your watch.
- You find joy in running and want to share that joy with other runners.
- You like holding the pacer flag.
- You have a bladder of steel(or a co-pacer/group member who will hold the flag while you run to the potty).
All kidding aside, pacing is really so much fun and I’m so glad to get the opportunity every year at the best marathon I know. See you next year at the Donna.
Remember it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey,