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THE JOY OF BEING A PACER

Date: 
11/21/2014 - 11:43

By Barbara Latta
Barbara Latta .jpg
(Barbara, a member of the North Carolina Road Runners, will celebrate 31 years of daily running in December. “My morning run is such a habit, I cannot break it. I really enjoy my mornings outside with nature and the fresh air with the song of the birds,” she said. This is her report on running the City of Oaks Half Marathon held Nov. 2 in Raleigh, NC.)

Brad Broyles and I have been pacers for the City of Oaks Half Marathon for four years. Every time we do this I believe we do a better job and enjoy it more. This 2014 year was the very best.

On Friday evening at packet pick-up, we started answering the call to be a Pacer from the people who came to the Pacer Table. I talked to Amy, Beverly, Roosevelt and others who requested our help running on Sunday in the half marathon. Some were running a half marathon for the very first time.

Some were recovering from an injury and needed some encouragement. One woman was running in honor of her son who had died within the last two years. One man had been doing the Galloway runs and felt he might need a group with whom to run and help him stay on pace for three hours.

Brad and I were pacing the three-hour group. Brad is the “leader of the pack.” He has the watch which beeps to alert him when we should run and when we should walk. After trial and success, Brad and I decided that if we ran for two minutes and walked for one minute we would arrive back at the Bell Tower within the three hour goal.

We have a great time during the run. Last year we wore hard hats and told anyone who asked “Why?” that we were building an experience. This year we wore turkey hats. My gobbler did not always stay upright and these hats caught lots of attention. People would shout, “Look at the turkeys!” I usually did a “Gobble, Gobble” back to them. Thanks to Kathy Broyles for selecting the hats. We also wore the bright yellow shirts that had PACER on the back.

We also decided to walk through the water stops and strongly encourage each person to take some water and Gatorade, if they liked. This has worked well and we even stopped at the first water stop. I bring up the back and noticed that some of our group did not take water. I encouraged them to at least take just a sip because we do not know how long it will take to arrive at the next “watering hole” and it is getting warmer.

We did not stop as a group at the porta pots. We kept going but anyone who needed to stop was allowed to stop. I would fall back to encourage them to “catch up with the group.” This year we did not lose anyone to the porta pot. One year we saw a runner go in but she never caught up. We lost her somewhere on the route. Maybe we found her this year among several runners who joined our group mid way.

During a three hour run it is enjoyable to me to get to know some of the runners. The lady who had lost her son had a sad story which brought tears to my eyes. I have two sons and I just cannot think of having a son die before I do.

Roosevelt was always running in the front. Several times Roosevelt asked me if I were sure we would make it back to the Bell Tower by three hours. I assured him we would if he would stay with us and he certainly did. At the very end, when he could see the FINISH LINE, Roosevelt took off at a faster pace getting ahead of the group. He did finish with two minutes to spare. He was so happy and I was so happy for him.

At the end of the City of Oaks Half Marathon we all received a medal. This was a very special medal with a turning center. Also this year we received “Finisher” shirts just as they gave us after the race at Peachtree Road Race on the Fourth of July in Atlanta, Georgia. We were more excited about the Finisher race shirt than the one we obtained at registration. This was the first time for “Finisher” shirts at the City of Oaks Race.

The City of Oaks is a well-run race. The director is the best. The volunteers are plentiful and seemed happy to provide us with liquid. No volunteer even yelled at us when they were splashed with water as we grabbed for a cup in their hands. I say thanks to the many sponsors who made our City of Oaks races possible. We truly appreciate the sponsors. The Papa John’s Pizza servers kept providing hot pizza. Never has pizza tasted so delicious as when you finish a long race. Thanks also to the parents, children, spouses and other spectators who came to cheer us on during the race. Your presence was a present to us. I had so much fun that I believe I will do it again next year if Brad is up to it also.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Running Journal and Running.Net welcome stories and photos from readers. Send to RJ@Running.Net.

PHOTO: Barbara Latta, a happy runner. (Photo by Teri Saylor)

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