My day started at 4 a.m., in the dark, and in an even chillier morning than previous days. Fall weather has officially arrived! As I set out to meet up with AnnMarie and Bryan to ride to the race, I couldn’t shake the grogginess or grumpiness that accompanied a lack of sleep from last night. It never fails; I can never sleep the night before a race, no matter how hard I try! As the three of us made our way to Hampton for the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon, we realized how punchy and ‘crabby’ we all were for having to get up so early. Good thing we all get along, or I think AnnMarie would’ve kicked us out of the car on the way to the race!
We got to the Hampton Roads Convention Center somewhere around 6:30, found the bathroom, and took off for our warm-up miles. It’s crazy to be running that early in the pitch dark! It’s a good thing there were lots of people out, and police setting up cones so that we weren’t run over!!! The chilly temperature was definitely a relief from the humidity we’ve had all summer long, and we both were saying how the weather couldn’t be more perfect for a race day!
By 7 a.m., we were waiting for others to arrive, and just hanging out with other local runners. It was nice to not be rushing around or standing in a forever and a day long line for the porta-potties. THANK YOU to the Hampton Roads Convention Center for letting us use the inside bathrooms all day. It was a nice bonus and change from the norm. (The Rock N Roll Series owners could take a hint from J&A Racing on this!)
Eventually, we had to head off to our corrals for the start. Today was a little different than a normal race. Today, I toed the start line of my 20th half marathon as a pacer for the 2:15 group instead of racing the distance. It was an absolute honor to be picked as a pacer for this race. I had so much fun talking to the other 2:15 pacer, George, and the runners who toughed it out with us throughout the duration of the race. We kept a steady pace throughout the race, and were able to pull in all the aforementioned runners right under or at the 2:15 mark today.
The course through Hampton was not one I was familiar with since I don’t frequent Hampton often, nor had I run this race previously. The quiet neighborhoods we traveled through were a welcome change from the normal scenery I see on most runs. The most beautiful part of the course was right by the water, where we had a clear view of the bridges and tunnels. The sun was shining, and the water was gorgeous to look at as we ran. I think my favorite part of today’s race was when we stopped a ridiculous amount of traffic in both directions as we crossed train tracks. It’s pretty cool to see that we get the right of way, when in every day runs, we often have to wait it out because most people won’t let you cross the street.
The volunteers on this course were amazing! We even had some individuals that lived in the neighborhoods we ran through cheering us all on as we passed. It’s so nice to have community involvement and appreciation for the challenges we face as we run a race. I loved the police officer who had music blaring, and was so enthusiastically cheering everyone on. He was saying, “Most people aren’t even out of bed yet this morning! You are doing an amazing thing! You are doing what most Americans would never imagine! You are going to rock this race!” What a motivator! He was awesome!
Looking at this race from the perspective of a pacer has really made me appreciate all I have learned about running races. Today, I didn’t take for granted what I know about the world of running, but rather shared it with those who stuck with the 2:15 pacers. We talked about pace, distances, races, training, having a coach, fuel, water vs. Gatorade, breathing, taking it easy versus using the energy you have to go a bit stronger, and so many other topics. I knew those running with us were listening when they would randomly pipe up with questions or insight of their own. It really was a fun day today being a pacer for the first time!
It is an incredible feeling to be able to help another runner meet their goals, earn a new PR, and break a time barrier that they had never been able to do previously. I am so thankful for the opportunity to give back to the running community that has helped me come so far in my own running journey. It means a great deal to me that I could make that difference for another runner. Thanks for letting me pace all of you today! You guys rock!
After tanking at the Rock N Roll Half with a semi-decent time (2:10:46), but an unpreventable trip to the med tent for heat exhaustion, this was an absolutely refreshing way to take on a race! We wrapped up the race at 2:14:27 with a 10:16 pace!
Live. Love. Run! Passionately!