‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’: How Nerves Help Power Our Pacers
On marathon day, our seasoned NYRR Pace Team Presented by Biofreeze will pace marathoners who are looking to finish in times between 3:00 and 6:00. For those looking to hit their target, pacers are #MySecretWeapon in the fight against the clock. As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility” and that rings true for our pace team.
It’s not a job they take lightly, either. We asked some of them about race weekend and how they handle the responsibility of leading people to their desired times.
It’s All About the Details
Being a pacer comes with great responsibility. Keeping people on pace is just a very small part of it. Before the race, we spend a lot of time studying the course in detail so runners can have the best experience. For example, we take note of all the hills and bridges along the way, the locations of all the water/fuel stations, port-a-potties, medical stations, and even the photographers. We also take note of the interesting landmarks and history in each neighborhood so runners can learn the rich culture of New York City.
However, pacers are like normal runners. We also need rest and are required to eat well and hydrate before the race. I will take extra care of myself because I am responsible for leading the group and making sure every runner enjoys the course. I will usually avoid talking too much a few days before the race (except for when I am working at the expo) to make sure I can talk and scream loud for my runners during the race.
I will get to know my runners in the corral (names and personal goals) and go through race strategies with them. Pre-race, it’s a final check to make sure runners' shoes are double laced, watches are turned on, and they are ready for the cameras.
New York Is Something Else
Pacing is stressful. Pacing a marathon is even more so. But pacing the grandest of them all, the TCS New York City Marathon, works on the nerves like nothing else. Even pacers are not immune to the energy and excitement in the city during race week and spending a day manning the pacer booth at the TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance only amplifies it. The best approach for me is to go with the flow and let the emotional tide carry me and my pace sign all the way to Tavern on the Green.
Nerves and Excitement
There are more nerves going into a marathon as a pacer than as a regular runner, especially because of the visibility and prestige of the NYC Marathon. The excitement is unlike any other race and I take it as my duty to guarantee that we make it to the finish line at—or below—goal time.
I've paced in races when it was difficult due to injury or sickness, but whenever I'm feeling low, I remember the extraordinary amount of confidence those in my team bestowed in me, and I've been able to push through with their energy and dedication as support. Pacing fulfills a need in my soul to better the running community at large and help runners achieve their goals, regardless of the finish time or pace.
Tears of Joy
For me, pacing is so personal. I get very nervous as I am responsible for those runners who go with me and I want them to succeed, meet their goals, and be happy. I have met the most amazing people/runners through pacing, each with their own story, their own reasons for running.
I have shed tears of joy and sadness through races with my runners, listening to the stories of the obstacles they have had to overcome to be out there on race day, as well as their goals and the stories that led them to running.
Broken Sleep the Night Before
The night before the race, I can’t sleep. So if this happens to you, don’t worry. It is normal. However, try and sleep the days prior to race day. One thing I do—and I recommend people doing the night before—is choose everything you are going to wear on race day, and not go looking for it that morning. Remember, nothing new on race day, no new sneakers, socks, shorts, or shirts.
Remember, on November 4, you can run—for free—with the NYRR Pace Team Presented by Biofreeze at the TCS New York City Marathon! For more information, click here.
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