Pace groups (Read 805 times)

    All: Another new thing for me, forgive me if this is redundant.


    Assuming I get through Wednesday's 5-6 miler OK, I'm going to enter the half-marathon at OC Marathon weekend tomorrow. Race is Sunday.


    I ran 43 miles last week, am feeling pretty good, and while I couldn't run a 21s 5K right now -- my training hasn't been pointed toward that, just miles -- I think 1:45-1:50 might be a realistic half goal.


    There are several pace groups, and I wondered what people thought of them.


    1) Are they a good thing, or a coward's way out? (JUST kidding.) Seriously, in a crowded race, could I benefit? Or will I just naturally find somebody running my pace.


    2) What's the etiquette? What if I pick  the 1:50 group but feel better than that? Is it OK to run ahead, or is that rude?


    3) Is it better to pick a group that might be a bit faster than my goal? (1:45 or 1:40)? Or is that asking for an early demise?


    Thoughts appreciated.


      1. "It depends".  Both on you and really on the group.  Pace groups can range, both because of the pacer (experience, attitude, and how much she/he talks... versus your preferences) and the other folks in the group.  Beware garmin nazis.


      2. Not rude!  It is your race.  Do what you need to do.  Just because you start out with a group does not mean you are chained to them.  If you want to pull ahead, pull ahead.  If you want to pull away (up or back) because they bother you, do it.  Not rude.


      3. Hmmm.  First off... going out too fast is going out too fast.  On the other hand, if your goal is reasonable but requires you to work very hard and risk that it might go well or it might go poof, then perhaps you'd extend yourself a little.  More true (for me at least) in a half than a full.  In a full, I would never recommend starting with a group that seems a wee bit fast.  Now, that said, if you are shooting for 1:45-1:50, don't start with the 1:40 group.  Too fast is too fast.


      Feeling the growl again

        Pace groups can be good, bad, or ugly.  I have seen all of these versions and the only time I tried to follow one it was ugly (pacer supposed to run 5:25s dropping 5:10-5:13 then 5:30).


        Run your race.  Unless you are roped together, there is nothing wrong with running ahead.  If you fall behind they're not going to wait for you, after all.


        Better to go out slow and speed up then go out too fast and bomb.  "Banking" time is a bad idea in any event over ~800m.

        "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand


        I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills


        an amazing likeness

          There is a lot of pro and con and there's been some pretty good discussions here on RA which may help you.


          Here's a google search to some of the topics, should you want to skim them before everyone piles in with the usual volume of advice in replies to your posting.   (which isn't a back handed way of saying you should already found and read them...)



          Limited exposure on my part to using pacers, but there seem to be some good points and counter points.  On the good side of the equation are all the points around:


          - Let's you not have to worry about the pace and just run.  Lot less mental load. Especially early in the race.

          - If the pace group you're in is a stretch for you, it can help pull you faster than you'd make yourself go.

          - The pacers are generally really good folks, very experienced, and can be good company if you're faltering.


          On the other side:


          - Pacers can run either even effort (and vary the pace) or even pace (most do this) and you need to ask to know what to expect.

          - Some try to bank time and you can find yourself running faster than your training supports.

          - You have no idea if the pacer is good at it, and it may too late by the time you figure out that they aren't. (seldom an issue)

          - You will only do as well as the pace group on a day when you may have a lot more in you.


          Lots of folks split the difference and start out with a pace group / pacer and then either drop off or go on ahead on their own, depending on the day.  It's not at all unusual to see a pacer late in the race with only a handful of runners left from their starting pack.

          I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)

            I knew it was probably already addressed elsewhere, just didn't take the time to look, and appreciate the non-piling.  Smile


              If I were you I wouldn't worry about going with a pace group at the OC half marathon.   Besides a fun downhill start, there are some rolling neighborhood climbs, and then a big bottleneck at the narrow path crossing PCH.  You may feel pretty stressed if you lose touch with your group here, (which you are almost bound to do)  

              Then you come to some nice uphill slopes, and some gorgeous scenery along the upper back bay, some nice flat neighborhoods and boom you are running to the finish line!!   Enjoy!  Smile


              Running is stupid

                It's my old neighborhood -- my apartment used to share the parking lot with the Pierce Street Annex bar -- so you might be right, maybe treat it more like an experience than a robotic race for time -- this is last minute, so don't have any preconceived goals -- and enjoy the experience. Good advice, thanks.

                  It's my old neighborhood -- my apartment used to share the parking lot with the Pierce Street Annex bar -- so you might be right, maybe treat it more like an experience than a robotic race for time -- this is last minute, so don't have any preconceived goals -- and enjoy the experience. Good advice, thanks.


                  +1.  This is my vote for you.  Enjoy, and good luck!

                  Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject. - S.J.

                    I:53:29, ran with the 1:50 pace group woman for much early. Two things: "rolling" in California is borderline hilly to a Floridian, and the course was tight through Back Bay, so some delays there. Quads gave it up a couple of times, but a beautiful course and a good day right between goal (1:45) and disappointing (2 hours). No complaints.

                      nice job!  & close enough to your expected goal.   gives you good experience & pacing for next one & better idea of what you need to do in the future if you desire to keep improving those times.  from the other posts sounds like a very nice HM in S. Cal 


                      great work