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How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

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How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  ounce on Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:04 am

On November 22, I'm pacing Reina for the Wild Hare 50 in Warda, Texas.  Warda is a few miles north of La Grange, Texas (yes, the La Grange from the ZZ Top song).  Compared to the northern California area that she's used to running in, Warda will be flat.  The race is 1-3.2 mile loop followed by 6-7.8 mile loops.  The course is a mountain biking course on a ranch.  I have walked the course.

I am not allowed to begin pacing duties until 2 p.m. (she starts at 5 a.m. and the course closes at 8 p.m.), but I registered for the 50K race so I could be out there with her, if she needs it.  I don't expect to finish a 50K (4 loops), but I expect to go probably 3 loops.  She will likely finish between 6 and 8 p.m.

So, what should I be telling her, looking out for, not telling her, when should I overrule her on something that's pretty obvious to a reasonable ultra runner (e.g., wear a jacket if it's cold and she's in a sleeveless top)?

I am also her crew.  She is 0 for 2 on the American River 50 in Auburn, CA.  She has had tummy issues in the past races and we have worked on that facet during the summer.  I believe she has that problem licked, now.

What shouldn't I do?  Thanks for the help.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:05 pm

You should ask her all these questions.

But really, she should be able to answer all this for you.  She may not definitively know what she wants having never run the course, but she probably has a good idea of what kind of involvement she prefers.  And ultimately, it's her responsibility to brief you on everything that might come up during the race, including fueling, hydration, clothing, how much to push her, etc.

That said, make sure you know the race rules.  Most races don't allow muling, Leadville being the famous exception.  Know if you're allowed to take her pack at aid stations to fill it with water/fuel.  Know any cutoff times and be able to very quickly calculate what pace you two will have to keep in order to make them, if worse comes to worst.  Know the course itself.  Study it.  Run the loop beforehand if you can.  

Don't let her go out too fast.

Lastly, there will be high and low points.  Try to be the positive (but not overbearingly so) light that stays consistent no matter what's happening with her.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  Jim Lentz on Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:36 pm

In the early miles of a 50 mile race I love some banter if someone is pacing me. For the last 20 or so miles I don't have a sense of humor. Expect her to be in a good mood at times and a pretty bad mood at times. It all is good at the finish, so try your best to go with the flow. She will definitely appreciate the company.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  KBFitz on Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:39 pm

Ah yes, La Grange -- they gotta lotta nice girls ... but now,  I   might   be   mistaken ...

Well you don't pace actually. It's more like sharing the journey. You regale her with your wit and storytelling prowess. And just be there with stories and conversation to shorten the road. Walk when she walks and run when she runs. The most important thing is to provide company. It truly does shorten the road.

Of course, as her crew you bring her whatever she needs -- food, drink, gloves, jacket, etc. But don't underestimate the importance of simply providing good company.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:23 pm

Kevin pretty much nailed it.  First you must know what pace she wants and make her stick to it, and it is your responsibility to rein her in if you are going too fast and encourage if it is going south.  And you must be pretty much a non-stop wealth of jokes, stories, etc.  Do the talking for her and keep at it.  When Kevin and I finished with Vivian at JFK last year, the two of us were a running comedy show and it got everyone around Vivian to keep it going.  Also, you need to responsible for keeping her hydrated and fed.  Know her plan and keep her on it while recognizing any issues.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  mountandog on Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:18 am

remember you will feel fresher than she will so avoid the tendency to go too fast.  You will feel good, she won't.  Trying to drag her along at your pace or a even a slightly faster pace than she can go is an easy trap to fall into.  Stay very conscious of pace.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  Schuey on Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:29 pm

KBFitz wrote:Ah yes, La Grange -- they gotta lotta nice girls ... but now,  I   might   be   mistaken ...

Well you don't pace actually. It's more like sharing the journey. You regale her with your wit and storytelling prowess. And just be there with stories and conversation to shorten the road. Walk when she walks and run when she runs. The most important thing is to provide company. It truly does shorten the road.

Of course, as her crew you bring her whatever she needs -- food, drink, gloves, jacket, etc. But don't underestimate the importance of simply providing good company.


Kevin has hit the nail on the head. One of my best moments and something I will always cherish forever was the conversations Kevin and I had during my first JFK! We had some laughs, I cried and we laughed some more but it sure did help make those middle miles go much faster! Kevin was pacing me but he wasn't, I was still setting the pace and he was there to help left my spirits and keep my mind in a good place. Which he did and I will always be thankful for that.

Chris and Kevin both did the same thing in my second JFK which was even more important since I end of up with a fractured foot, I knew something was wrong but wasn't sure what it was. And they were both there for me to help keep my mind off it for the last 32 miles I need to run on it.

It's all about keeping you runner on track but a lot more about helping keeping them mentally focused and keeping them sane!
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  ounce on Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:53 pm

I sincerely thank y'all for the sage comments.  Both of us came up with a separate pace plan for her.  Her plan has her finishing an hour faster than mine.  Mine has her finishing with 20 minutes before the course closes.  So, somewhere in between works.  Even finishing 1 minute before the course closes is an official finish...even if she's DFL.

I know that I'm not going to be able to get her to run, if she doesn't want to run.  But I think she'll be well cared for during the race.  Since I'm not racing, I can be a chatterbox.  During the Houston marathon back in January, she was pacing me for the first half and we didn't chat much.  I was much more anal about running the tangents than she.  I had a goal and I was focused on that goal.  Since I'm under no pressure for me to perform during the race, I can keep it light on the course.

Now to hope for good weather.  Thanks again.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  cush on Thu Nov 06, 2014 6:43 pm

Kevin, now ZZ Top is running through my brain.

You've already received great advice.  Just be a positive distraction. Point out the good. Ignore the bad. Tell her she looks great an is doing great even if it's an all out lie.

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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  Mark B on Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:04 am

I held off to let those with more expertise help you (and they gave you some very good suggestions), but I'll chime in from my own experience: The best single thing you can offer is your presence. It can be tough being all alone out there after the group splits up, and it's even more difficult if you're having a rough time and other runners are leaving you behind. Stay with her.
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Re: How do I pace at a 50 mile run?

Post  ounce on Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:58 pm

cush wrote:Kevin, now ZZ Top is running through my brain.

You've already received great advice.  Just be a positive distraction. Point out the good. Ignore the bad. Tell her she looks great an is doing great even if it's an all out lie.
I'm not married to her.  Laughing   But, I get your point.
Mark B wrote:I held off to let those with more expertise help you (and they gave you some very good suggestions), but I'll chime in from my own experience: The best single thing you can offer is your presence. It can be tough being all alone out there after the group splits up, and it's even more difficult if you're having a rough time and other runners are leaving you behind. Stay with her.

Well, I just hope she can hang in there from 5 a.m. to noon.  She doesn't want me to complete the 50K because she wants me as fresh as possible for the 3 loops, which is fine.  But as her crew, I'll see her after each loop.

Thanks to both of you.
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