Back in June I took on an unusual volunteering opportunity. I would be motivating runners as a pace runner during half marathons. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into because running a half marathon is hard work let alone being a cheerleader at the same time.
This fall I paced two-13.1 milers and the experience has been incredible. I learned new things about myself and how this unique volunteering opportunity has helped me in my professional and personal life. Here are my main three takeaways.
It’s not always all about you.
When I first started running I used to think that running was solely a personal endeavor. I did not like to run in groups, I thought that running in groups wouldn’t help me and that it would actually hurt my performance. Boy, was I wrong. Just like a work-life, a running-life needs team-time. It’s that team support that helps you get through the tough times. Being a pace runner taught me that helping others achieve their goals is also helping me achieve mine. It has taught me to be a better observer, empathizer and decision maker. As I ran the Craft Classic 1/2 in October, one gal iI was pacing was nervous about the upcoming hill. I was nervous too but hearing her talk about it made me remember to talk to her about strategy. I told her to engage her glutes and stay focused. Next thing I know she zoomed ahead while thanking me. Just seeing her succeed this ‘bump-in-the-road’ helped me plow up that hill myself. It’s all about the team and this is 100% in a work environment.
Set a positive example.
Running is hard. Working is hard. We all know that and it is ok to talk about the negativity that comes with it. It’s also important to talk about the positives and do that more often. During pacing I have to make sure I am keeping my team on top of our time, where we stand, if we are ahead or if we are behind. While pacing the Phoenix 3TV 1/2 in November I noticed my group was behind about 40 seconds around the 6-mile mark. I was open and honest and let them know that we need to pick it up for us to finish at our goal time. I also reminded everyone how strong they are for being out here and how we are in this together and that we will get through it. Same with work, there are going to be down moments, but lets remind each other about the successes we just had. Remembering positive moments goes a long way.
Seek out those in need.
I’ve paced three half marathons and two of them were officially through Beast Pacing and Runner’s Den (my first pacing gig was personally for a friend.) In all three pacing scenarios there were moments where I sought about those in need. Usually while I pace there is a group of people that follow me, we are a team. Sometimes though there are people not in my immediate team that have needs. During the Phoenix 3TV 1/2 I noticed the 2:50 pacer was struggling. I let the people in my 3-hour group know that I was going to speed up to check on him and told them all to keep the pace they were going to reach their goal. As I caught up with the 2:50 pacer I saw him taking breaks and hunching over. I was scared for him, but he insisted he was ok, but he told me he was about 7 minutes behind his pace time. So I took a huge risk and asked if he would switch times with me. He thanked me and we switched signs. This meant that at mile 9, I had to up my pace by 2 minutes a mile to catch up with the other 2:50s. For 3 miles. I had gas in the tank and started to push! Every person I passed I chatted with and explained my plan and told them they will see me when I slowed down. Each one asked me about the other pacer who hurting which reminded me about the kindness we all have for each other. I finally caught up in time and now I would be finishing at 2:50. This was the moment I started to seek out the runners in need. I spotted a gal who was straining. I joined her and told her our time and let her know how many miles we have left. We had .6 of a mile till the finish line. We both turned the corner and saw the chute, I told her she would easily finish sub-2:50 and I sent her on her way. Turned around and started looking for more orange bibs (the 1/2'ers) and found a guy who was on track. He mentioned his calf was hurting and I told him to focus on what felt good. I told him he was good to good to go and that I had to look for other 1/2’er and sent him on his way to the finish line. The 10k'ers were all running in at this point and I spotted one other 1/2'er, I screamed out "A 1/2 marathon runner is coming through and she's going to sub-2:50!" We both ran through the finish line together, she made her goal and we high-fived each other. This experience reminded me that it’s good to seek out those in need at the workplace. They might not be in your immediate team but it’s ok to offer them help.
I had no idea pacing runners would help me professionally. Excited for my next running opportunity and the new people I help along the way.