In May, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Liverpool half marathon, I shaved a massive 13 minutes off my half marathon PB and how I did it was really quite simple.
For the first time in my five half marathons I spotted pacers (2:15) in my corral. I had decided before the race that 2:15 would be my dream finishing time although a more realistic time would be about 2:19 (my PB at this point was 2:24). Actually, even 2:19 would be amazing considering how little I’d trained.
Once the race started I made a beeline for the two pacers and set off alongside a small group of other runners who were also sticking close to the pacers. I was quite surprised at how easy the pace was; slower than I usually run at the start of a race. It made me realise how I must set off too fast in the first half then really slow down in the second.
I was buzzing running alongside the 2:15 pacers thinking ‘wow imagine if I finish in 2:15’, considering I finished my first half in 2:31 a year earlier. I even mentioned excitedly to one of the pacers that I had never finished in 2:15 before.
The first 6 km of the course was rather non-descript scenery wise until we hit three parks in close succession; Princes Park, then the larger Sefton Park, just after 9 km, followed by Otterspool Park just after 13 km. Most of the race took place in parks which I didn’t mind and Sefton Park was particularly beautiful.
At 14 km the pacers started to slip away from me, most likely due to me slowing down on the few small hills which were on the course, and for the remainder of the race I ran about half a kilometre behind but still with them in sight. At this point I thought my hope of 2:15 was definitely out but I may still beat 2:19.
The last 6 km of the race was alongside the River Mersey. By 19 km I was buzzing yet again, so excited to get to the finish line and get a new PB. To my amazement I saw on my watch the time was only about 2:08 as I was approaching the finish area.
I ran strong at the end, full of adrenalin, with a huge smile on my face as I made it down the last 1.5 km on Kings Parade back into the Albert Docks.
I crossed the finish line in 2:11:52 and the photo below captures that moment.
This achievement has made me realise that I can run faster than I thought and that I just need a pacer to help me maintain a faster pace or else I will slow down and take it easy a bit.
I’m a comfortable runner who will not push too hard in case I cause any pain to myself and hamper my hopes of reaching the finish line but I’m going to start pushing myself harder.
What are other runners’ experiences of pacers – do you use them? Poll below!