Nothing could make me happier than seeing the happy faces of some runners who paced with us all the way to the finish line during the Run United 1 (RU1) 10k event. They exceeded themselves by finishing 70 minutes pace time (7 min/km) earlier than expected. Their finish time could be considered as their personal best (PB). That was the job of a pacer—to bring runners achieved their finish time goal of 1:10 (in hours). The task can be daunting but hearing participants saying “thank you” or having a photo op with you or simply giving you a high five after finishing, in itself, the best compliment they could give to Pacers.
The opportunity to be a pacer was my way of giving back to runners and l thank Unilab Active Health for the chance. Like them, I was once a newbie, too. I learned from advanced and experienced runners as they, too, gave me tips when was starting to embrace running. I applied those tips in my daily runs, long runs, and races and found them helpful. Tips gathered, coupled with learning the craft of running and writing those experiences, made me what I am now as a runner. Sufficed it to say that running (sometimes) wasn’t about winning.
Running helped me find my best self or worst self. When I was out there running, it gave me a different feeling of euphoria and perspective. Running, to me, was not just about you or me, but of something bigger than ourselves.
It was not a first time for me to be a pacer. I had my baptism of fire in 2009 during the first Quezon City International Marathon. I was the lead pacer for the 2:30 pace time for 21k. We finished three minutes earlier than expected. That was a PB for the runners who paced in our group. The second stint happened during the 2014 HP Recovery Run (I still have yet to write about it, by the way).
Those who ran with us last Sunday, finished four minutes earlier than target time of 1:10 (in hours). Not bad at all! We maintained an even pace all throughout the race. Based on my Garmin watch, our group ran an average pace of 6:30 min/km. I was running silently behind the lead pacers—an experienced triathlete and the other runner who recently finished a marathon in Tokyo, Japan. Then the other pacer encouraged me to run with the other lead pacer. The triathlete pacer became the cheerer of the group. She was so good that her cheers encouraged participants to stay in the pack.
There was no time wasted. It was a quick stop in every water station after taking a sip or two and off we go running again. From time to time the cheerer in the group announced, “Water station is way up ahead” “Drink up!” “Is everyone OK?” “70 minutes regroup!” And this continued up to the finish line. When we saw the kilometer marker with 4k more to go, I knew it would be a personal record (PR) or a PB for the participants. We slowed down our pace at the last two kilometers. Around this time, we maintained an average pace of 6:40 min/km. As we were on our way to the finish line, the last 200 or 100 meters or so, our group’s cheerer/pacer shouted, “70 minutes runners sprint now!” Heard fast footsteps behind me. FINISH! Mission accomplished! We gathered again after crossing the finish line for a quick picture taking. And, guess who took our photo? It was no other than the son of a former Philippine President. WOW!
Finishing together made me remember a line from the Born to Run book, and I quote, “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other but to be with each other.” How awesome is that?
This wouldn’t be possible if not for the opportunity and trust of Unilab Active Health (ULAH) bestowed upon us, running bloggers. Thank you so much to fellow blogger Bards aka Banana Running who took care of us in behalf of Vimz aka Kulit Runner. That said, thank you, too, ULAH for making my alter ego RUNNING DIVA a part of your Run United 2015 Exceed Yourself campaign.
Until next time!