Are you failing as a pacer?

What is wrong, did I miscalculate? Was her training enough? Did something go wrong with it? How could that be…
Oriane are you like failing as a pacer? As a want-to-be-trainer? What is wrong…
Yesterday was Berlin Half Marathon day. Ultimate goal was to pace my lovely friend Gina to a personal victory. Not only did we want her to achieve her personal best (last HM Time was 2:09), but we wanted to break the 2H-Mark. Preparation went as a preparation goes, with ups and downs. The conditions for the run were ideal: the sun and the wind were coordinated in a perfectly synchronized choreography.

But let start from the beginning…

BIB Pick-up

After work, Martin and I biked to the exhibition at Gleisdreieck to meet with the rest of our friends. Raphael, Gina, Iwi, Maty, and Sonja were all there. The BIB pick up went pretty quick. In and out. Where do you start? Block A for Martin (wtf!), Block B for Raphael (double wtf, it’s his first HM) and C for me and E for Gina. But whatever… Gina and I are starting in the same block anyway. Pacer/runner couple. Yay!

After walking around with my old friend, Mr. Compulsive-Buying-Feeling, I managed to buy only a couple of PowerBar shots. Yes! I managed to go through the ENTIRE exhibition without having a socks or shoes buying-attack. Thumbs up!

 

Race day! 36. Berlin Half Marathon here we go!

We arrived at 9 AM on Karl-Marx-Allee where the start takes place.
Gina met some friends, we changed, we talked a bit. Laugh a little. She was really emotional with all the excitation of the race. So many runners here to achieve their own goals today.

before start failing as a pacer

On the way to the drop-bag, we cross the way of Martin and Raphael. We decide to meet before the start, but unfortunately, we won’t make it on time with Gina cause we get caught in the line for the toilets…

I tell Gina we need to get into block D. She starts getting nervous, doesn’t want to add more stress to the actual stress she already has.
“Relax – Don’t see stress where there isn’t any!”
And we go into block D.

Remembering what Gina asks me during our last training session, I tell her the plan.
“You asked me if you could do the pace for the first 4KM. OK, but I am allowed to tell you if we’re too slow or too fast. And you have to tell me how you feel – if comfortable or not. We want you to get in your flow. After the first 4K, I pace. Right?”
“Alright.”

The first blocks are already gone. Gina is silent. She gives me a kiss. It’s almost time.

Note for readers: starting from now, the read is divided into my thoughts, always followed by Gina’s thoughts.

failing as a pacer count down

Run like you were flying

The first 4 KM are good. Gina is smiling, we are talking, so I guess she feels good. I’ll ask her in a minute. First KM, what is the pace. Oh, gosh, 5’20/KM. Maybe we should slow down. The plan is to hold a 5’40/KM pace actually…
“Gina, how do you feel? Is the pace ok?”
“Yes, let see how it goes, and in case, we can slow down”
“Ok.”
Is it a good idea to let her decide the pace here? I am not so sure about that. But I never know how she will react if I start to be more strict. I really want her to get through that finish line. Happy.
—–
Gina – I am so happy and full of endorphins, I could cry! We are so fast and it feels awesome. Yes, I will run that thing in under two hours, of course. Arne Gabius get out of the waaayyy. Why do we run through Brandenburger Tor towards Goldelse? The other way around would be more fun. Oriane dropped her bottle, she laughed a little. I love her. Sun! Legs! I am flying.

 

And you’re sure the pace is okay?

We are holding the pace. This is good.
“Gina, you’re okay?”
“Yeah… ask me at KM7 again”
“Ok”
I hand her the bottle almost every KM for a sip. She needs to drink. She doesn’t handle the heat well.
It’s actually a good pace to enjoy the scenery. I realize I have never look around me during this race, always focused on running my personal best. This is actually fun.
—–
Gina – Well, this is surely fast. Let’s see at KM7 how I feel.. I should be in the flow by then. As usual. 5:26/KM average by now, well we can slow down later if we need to. Nice.

 

You must expect great things…

This morning via Instagram, I reminded Gina something really important…
As Michael Jordan once said

You must expect great things from yourself before you can do them.

We are slowing down. I know Gina doesn’t work as I do. If I yell at her, she’ll stop.
I need to encourage her. I know she can do this.
But I am not sure she knows it herself. If she believes in it too.
“Keep it going, I am proud of you.”
I smile. Hope she’s fine.

Relying on someone is nice. But at the end of the day, what matters is what you believe you are capable of. What matters is that you rely on yourself and on your capabilities. Everyone can believe in you, but if you don’t believe in yourself on your own, well… Chances are low that you’ll reach your goal. You can cheat on the people. But not with yourself. Not when you’re running.
—–
Gina – 7KM! Where exactly is this flow- or tunnel-thing? Hello? This is fast. My legs are heavy. Are we getting slower? Oriane says she is proud of me. Must mean everything is good. Well, then…

 

Why am I doing this

Ok, something is wrong. She’s at a bad place. Hurting. Are you failing as a pacer? Are you really that bad? How come she’s not getting in the flow. Is she overthinking? I hope she is not beating herself up. It’s her specialty.

We are slower since KM5. I told her we can hold this pace until KM11 so she can rest a bit.
But after, I’ll have to take the pacing over.
“Don’t worry, everything is fine, try to get into your flow”
I take some pictures of her. She’s still smiling at least.
—–
Gina – Slowly I get a taste of hell. This doesn’t feel good at all. How exactly should I keep this pace for the rest, ähm, 14 kilometers? Why am I doing this? Oriane says we keep this pace until KM11, then we can slow down a bit. Alright.

hurting failing as a pacer

Welcome in hell…

I am a bit worried. She’s still hurting. It’s not the legs I should have trained with her, but her mental.
It’s too early for her to get into her negative-thoughts-tunnel. Not yet. How the hell am I going to get her out of it. We need to keep the pace.
“Gina, keep it together, you’ll get there!”
She is too far from me.
“Gina, keep it up! You go girl!”
—-
Gina – Soooo… I was promised a nice pace starting from 11… Why is this woman always running in front of me? Am I so slow? Nothing feels good. I only feel fucking stressed out. I can not enjoy any moment right now… IT’S ALL IN YOUR MIND, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER.

km9 failing as a pacer

You already did this

“Gina, it’s not your first half marathon, you can do this! I mean it’s less than training what you have left. Keep the pace!”
I am playing no games. We really need to push the pace.
I don’t want to take her down, but I don’t know how to handle her.
So you wanted to play the pacer uh…
Well look at your masterpiece. How is it going for you both?
You’re a bad pacer. What did you actually expected.
Maybe it’s true and you overestimate your capabilities?
Thing is, you’re failing as a pacer. She is at a bad place right now. You see it. She feels it. So now what?
What is it you’re gonna do to save the day my dear.
Oh, shut up brain.
—–
Gina – Maybe it’s mindfuck thing she did last time…where she pretends us to be too slow so I push even more when really we are fast as hell. Please… If not, actually I feel like a turtle. Legs hurt. I don’t want this. I can not run this fast any longer. Make this stop. Somebody? Please?

 

Did I miscalculate?

It’s weird. When I look at my watch, it doesn’t fit with the plan.
We should be more ahead. Where did we slow down? I should have written the plan on my wrist.
Don’t forget to drink and eat. You’ll be more useless than you already are if you hit a low point.
I need to check where we should be by now.
I take my phone of the belt to check on the time. And what I see is not so good.
We need to be at 1:25 for 15KM the latest… I start stressing out. I am totally failing as pacer, as a friend.

When it comes to running, I have my mindset.
I try to give everything. And when I cross the finish line…well when I cross that finish line I usually have nothing left. Especially when I run my personal best.
What is it with Gina? Does she really want it? Does she really love to run? Or is she just trying to prove something?
She is hurting so bad. I feel so useless. I could tell her anything. Nothing works.
I’m pissed. Not against her. Against me.
Did I project my own passion and my own way to run on her? Not everyone works as I do.
And surely, she doesn’t.
What do I miss here? Someone, help?
She is angry. If she could smoke from the ears and nose, she would be right now.
—-
Gina – I hate this world. I hate you, little children clapping in the crowd! People, I hate you all! WHY DO I DO THIS?? I NEED TO LAY IN BED! A SLOTH, THAT IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL. NOT A KANGAROO, NOT A PUMA OR WHATSOEVER. This is fucking hell! STOP SMILING PEOPLE STANDING THERE CHEERING! THIS IS TORTURE!!

 

Get your shit together

I feel angry. A lot of aggressions here.
I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I feel really angry.
Gina ignores what I tell her. And when she talks, she’s not the kindest person I know.
It’s always like that. In training too. Hate during the run. Love after.
But it can’t be like that all the time. I didn’t register for the race for me, but for her.
I did not wake up this morning for myself, but for her! What is wrong with this world.
Am I too harsh on her? Was she really ready? How could you be so sure?
We need to keep up the pace.
Oh her mom. Oh wow, that was a good push! Hope she will use this energy for the next kilometers.
I remember during Paris Marathon… Having beloved one on the course cheering for you is best to keep pace.
“Come on Gina, this is good”
NO! And she drops the pace again.
—-
Gina – *sees mommy in the crowd * runs fast as hell for the next 10 seconds * hates the world again after 30 seconds.

 

Where is this high everyone talks about??

“Gina, we should be at KM15 at 1:25 the latest. Push a bit. Just a few second faster, and then keep up”
We won’t make it. I feel so bad. I failed miserably.
I am SO angry at myself. I should have trained more with her. We should have done more hard sessions together. The one you wanna scream. The sessions after which you have NOTHING left except your eyes to cry and your mouth to puke. SHIT! This is all getting in the wrong direction.
KM15, 01:25:40. It’s too slow. Fuck it!
—–
Gina – Ok. Come on. You should be somewhat high by now. Instead, Oriane says something like “I calculated wrong”, “we are too slow”, “keep this pace” “we won’t finish your goal time if you don’t run next to me”. She always points her finger next to her while I crawl a good two meters behind her. And I want to scream.

 

Let her having some fun

Maybe we should give up on A-Goal. And go for B. She will run a best time anyway. We agreed last week, to have three goals. You always need more goals during a race. It’s important. This is what keeps you going.
This woman is making me crazy. If I slow down to run next to her, she slows down. If I run faster, she gives me the angry look.
“Gina, you did not train by pouring rain or in the cold for this! You did not get your ass up in the morning for THIS! You can do this! Keep up the pace! You’ve already done this before, now it’s just a bit faster!”

At least, she’s looking at me. Ah no. Now she ignores me again.
I feel useless. This is the first time something like that happens to me.
It doesn’t matter anymore. Let her having her fun. I will run next to her.
“You look like you’re having a Sunday walk, ” she tells me.
Is it a blame? Brrrr….
—-
Gina – 5KM to go. It’s over soon. As well as your dream to finish this goddamn fucking thing in under 2H. By now I already know I won’t make it. Oriane looks angrily. If I have to push harder I stop right here. It’s impossible. Please let me get in the pace to just enjoy this a little. I am completely desperate. There is no way we finish this in less than 2H. Well if I interpret the way Oriane looks and talks to me… Please, just let me somehow enjoy the last KM until then… I hate this. Everything hurts. I hate myself. I am a big balloon full of hate and anger. HATEHATEHATE.

You are not failing as a pacer

There are days where you’re not at a good place. This is one of these days.
Ok, it doesn’t excuse the fact that she’s bitchy with you. But try to handle this. You can do this.
It’s ok. It’s her race. You are not God! It’s not only in your hand if she doens’t make it. Try to make the last KM feels comfy for her. A little bit. Just a bit, she still needs to get her PB.
I smile to her. I encourage her. But she’s not listening.
Should I keep talking? Or do I annoy her? Wow, the angry look when I wait for her!
“Gina, we run your pace now”
She doesn’t react. She keep slowing down anytime I get near her.
I give up. I’ll just keep it up and continue to encourage her.
“We’re almost there”
Actually we could make it. If finally, she could DIG DEEP in her head…

I wanna be proud of my effort, I wanna know that I’ve given and tried everything. And when your body is giving up on you, the mind is all what you have left then. – Anton Krupicka

I know how she is. She must be beating herself up right now… And nothing I say, can help her. I wish I could take her out of this negative-thoughts-tunnel.
I smile at her. And think “it’s okay.”
—–
Gina – *sees friends at the corner * draws hope and runs a bit faster * recognize their astonished faces as the mirror of myself – I must look like a daying pig *back in old hatred-mood.
ICH HASSE MITTE.

tells everything failing as a pacer

zoom failing as a pacer
Yes, that tells everything!

 

It’s almost over, keep it up!

I am quiet. Just making sure she does not stop. Give her water. And runs next to her.
I feel completely lost. Useless.
Keep telling her that it’s almost over. I can’t stop thinking about the book of Scott Jurek, Eat and Run. What if I keep telling her that it’s almost over and she stops suddenly? What if her brain just shut her body down?
I keep smiling to her. It’s not the end of the world. I play up a bit to make her laugh. AAAh finaly. This might be a smile on her face.
—–
Gina – Ok it’s over. Soon. Try to get into it now. Yes, Oriane stops running to wait until you get to her now or then. Just ignore that. You are a big comfy couchpillow, they do not run that fast. Go it’s over soon. Maybe a 2:05 or so, just lump it.

 

21KM+ Something

I can’t believe now she is pushing the pace.
She could have done it before. I need to sprint. Good that she keeps up now.
It’s almost done. She will have a new PB. Good for her. It’s not the A-Goal, but it still good.
Wow, girl, you did fail as a pacer. Look around. This was not part of our plan!
—-
Gina – Ok, there it is. Finish. You can puke in less than 2 minutes.
FINISH! Shaky knees. A cough that almost resulted in vomit (it didn’t).
A happy Oriane telling me that I have a new PB.
Watch says 2:01, which is a new PB. But not the goal.
A happy Oriane and me, full of guilt and shame.
I was so bad to her, and I felt and still feel terrible.
Water, beer, crying and laughing at the same time.

the eend failing as a pacer

the end failing as a pacer

Let’s go it some Pho now.

 

Assesment?

I was really thinking I was failing as a pacer during the whole race. One of the biggest mistakes I did was to project my way of being, my personality on Gina. I expected her to run hard, to dig deep. I thought, when I think I touch the bottom, I dig much more deeper, and this is what I wanted from her.
I forgot that not everyone works the same. All my coaches, being running or horse riding in the past, were yellers. People who made you feel like shit during a workout. Or even a competition. Coaches that pushed you to the edge by making you dig sooo deep. This was how I learned sport, competition and most of all competing for personal best. This is how I love running and being coached. This is how I work. Exactly. This is how I work. But not how Gina works.
As my flatmate told me after the race… Not everyone has the same experiences in life. You can’t expect someone to react as you do. Because she did not learn it that way.

As a solo runner, I have to admit this was a new experience for me. I have paced before. But it was different. I have been paced, and I loved it. I guess we should have trained more together. We might know each other really well, but when it comes to running and competing… Well, people are different. With this experience, I know I will act differently in the future. Wisely.

And to the question, if I will ever pace runners again? Yes. But differently.

 

I was not failing as a pacer. Nor was Gina failing as a runner. You can have good days as bad days. And the good is… You always have a day for a new PB.

2 Comments

  1. I loved this post what an amazing job! I loved reading all the thoughts here. Keep up the great running!

    • Oriane

      Thanks my lovely friend! We’ll see how my next pacer job will work out 🙂

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