Women’s 10k pacing 2016

Sunday 5th June was the new day of the Glasgow Women’s 10k. New date in the calendar (it used to be early in May) and new route. Fit Girl and I had run what we thought was the route a few weeks ago, and it seemed good.

I found out under a week before the event that I’d be pacing 50 minutes. I knew I could do it, but I thought the hot weather might be a bit of a challenge. It ended up getting very hot on the route.

We left the house at around 9am in stunning glorious sunshine and walked to Kelvingrove. A good thing about the changed location is that it starts and ends in the park (instead of different points like the old one).

I was given a green number and a 50 pace back pack, along with a Duracell tshirt and some bunny ears… not forgetting my bunny tail.

I met a few other pacers (from the Bella Harriers) and spent the rest of the time with Fit Girl, getting ready for the start. She had a yellow / white number (starting at 1030) and I was to start in the group behind her (at 1040).

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to run with the bunny ears, and sure enough, they fell off as soon as I started running (by mistake – honest). Before long we headed to the start line on Kelvin Way.

As everyone in the green section warmed up, I slowly made my way to the front of the pack. But as I was going, I noticed a lot of people saying – I won’t be able to keep up with you, or – no way, I can’t run 50 minutes.

The way they used to filter the run was fastest / club runners in the white section, yellows behind them. Then green and pink slower runners or walkers. This year it was based on ‘music decades’. And it caused a bit of a problem for me trying to pace 50.

a. In the most part it seemed not many people in my section aimed to run 50 mins, and …

b. I ended up catching a lot of walkers from the white and yellow group and had to weave in and out of them. (It was challenging for me, never mind anyone following me).

I was thinking maybe it would have been better if I’d have been pacing 60 or 70 in that group, but it was too late. I was on the start line of the green wave and Bryan Burnett noticed me and shouted me across the start line. He looked like he was having fun doing what he does well.

I was also pleased to see Victoria (who was running her first 10k event) and Susan who came up to say hi, which was nice.

At the start I noticed I had maybe 3-5 people around me who said they’d try to run with me, and a few stuck with me for the first km or so. Running down towards woodlands with hardly anyone in front of me, I thought – maybe this is how elites feel – lonely, solitary on the course ….then we hit the park and the got stuck behind / had to weave between walls of walkers from the group ahead.

Donna was with me at the start, and I met Lesley and Lindsay too – two people I’ve coached in the past. As I ran and cranked up the pace, I noticed a girl called Helen and Lesley were either with me or ahead of me.

About a half mile in, Helen noticed that my pacer flag seemed to be broken. Just then we turned left UP Yorkhill street (I think it was called) which I didn’t expect. Then a sharp double back on ourselves. I took the opportunity to stop quickly and fix the flag – automatically (but stupidly for lace reasons) stopping my watch.

I said to Helen to go on and I’d maybe catch her. But when I started again, I realised I was ended up overtaking a lot of people (greens) instead of pacing them. My aim was to run at around 8 minute miles through out, maybe a bit faster at the start, or slower on the up hills and faster on the downhills.

I caught up with Helen again at the new transport museum and helped her pace. And I also caught up with Lesley at this point. She realised I was with her, and said some choice words out loud. And I told her to stop complaining and get on with it…
(and I kind of laughed to myself, as I could imagine to anyone who didn’t know we knew each other, they’d maybe think I was a horrible pacer). It seemed to work as she said she felt better / quit complaining after it. She seemed to be running well, even in the heat.

Running down into the north part of the clydeside towards the bells bridge, it was quite congested and to keep pace I had to go in the cobbles to run past people.

At the BBC I noticed my work Twinnie and her husband Mark (who took some of the action photos). It was around 3-4 miles in by this point and it was starting to get really hot. I’d just overtaken a 60 min pacer from the group ahead, but I still couldn’t figure out who I’d be running along side, or what their aims would be (white / yellow / 60 ish I think?)

Just past the BBC I caught up with Susan who id net earlier, and joked that I’d caught up with her. Then I powered on. Along past STV and over the squinty bridge, I smiled for the camera at a few points.

Then on and up Finneston for the hill I knew was there. I took some relief in going through the showers, but the heat was getting to me and it was starting to get hard. I was keeping an eye on my pace, and I knew the hill would slow it down.

About then I realised I was still overtaking people, and started encouraging anyone who had stopped to walk to – come with me, let’s go. I got a few people running again, and had a look around me to see who was with me.

Then I decided, instead of powering on at 8 minute miles to get MY goal of 50 minutes, with not many people following me, I would slow the pace down a bit and encourage those who were on their last 1-3km. Running at or just above their pace to help encourage them along. (Maybe 8:30 – 9 min miling?)

As we were bearing the long snake of a finish, I was encouraging a lady called Joanne and trying to get the crowds to cheer her on. Then the road seemed to go on for ever – among Argyll street, then over, down, along, and then finally up towards the finish.

Lesley had overtaken me, and was powering on home to beat me.

I slowed and looked behind me a few times to encourage people to overtake me, which some of them did. The woman in the image above, we ran together for a bit, but I didn’t get her name as we were running.

Then I came into work on Monday, to a thank you email from her for helping to encourage her.

I was on pace until the last mile, when i decided it would be more beneficial for those around me if I kept at or just ahead of their pace, rather than speeding on ahead trying to get closer to 50 minutes.

When I crossed the line, I slowly walked forward, trying to see if I could see anyone I’d helped. I saw Helen who I’d started with, and apologised that I’d had to stop for my equipment malfunction!

Here’s a joker (below) who kept photo bombing some of our pictures. Very funny.
A few people thanked me after the finish line, and I got my goodie bag and went to see some of the other pacers.

All in all it was a good day, in challenging conditions – it was hot, and I’m not sure a 50 min pacer was best placed in the green section. And perhaps not having the timed sections, maybe made it harder as we came across a lot of walkers (which can’t have been much fun for them either).

The other part was the route, which was on the whole good I thought (especially staring and fishing in Kelvingrove)… but perhaps an extra run along the north side of the Clyde after being on the squinty, up to the daily record building and back, could help remove the double back at Yorkhill and the snaking and what seemed to go on forever, end.

It does double back in the Clyde, but we could run along the riverside, then the road and then up Finneston and no snaking on Argyll street at the end. My last point is that the small tshirt was massive … Why can’t we ever get tshirts in a race that for us?!

Here’s some feedback for the event, which overall I think was good, but a few simple changes could make it great.

Good points
– Start and end in the same place
– Event village
– Warm up and music and chat at the start
– Overall a good route, but could be tweaked / improved

Points for improvement
– Get the waves back to timed waves (so walkers are in the back groups)
– Vary the pacers throughout the groups. (Faster ones in white and yellow waves, slower ones in green and pink). – tshirts to be smaller
– Route to be amended slightly to take in more of the Clyde and less double backs / snaking.
– would an earlier start time work for cooler temperatures? (Or would that impact people getting there / transport).

I’ll feed all of this back to the great run team, as I’d like the event to improve and be really great. And I have to say I’m very grateful I was able to help pace it for another year, even though it didn’t go quite to plan for me.

I may have missed my 50 minute target for the first time in 4 out of 5 years pacing the event (I came in at 52:45 incl 30 sec stop to fix my sign).

But maybe it goes to show that sometimes things don’t go your way (equipment malfunction and walkers), and you can still salvage something out of it (encouragement to others towards the end, no matter what the pace is).

Hopefully I helped a lot of runners keep going, get a pb, or have a good / enjoyable run.

Next up for me is Skye half marathon on Saturday, and if the weather is hot, I may consider taking it very easy indeed! 🙂

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