Keeping Pace With The Capital City Marathon Pace Team


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By Anne Larsen

On Sunday, May 20th, hundreds of runners will converge on Sylvester Park in downtown Olympia. These runners have been training for months in the rain, wind, snow, and every other crazy weather condition the Pacific Northwest can throw at us!

It’s early –really early. The majority of Thurston County residents are fast asleep in their cozy beds or just starting their day off with coffee and ThurstonTalk.

Meanwhile, Sylvester Park is a hub of activity. Portable toilets line the perimeter of the park, last minute race packet pick-up and questions are being addressed under event tents. Runners of various ages, sizes, and abilities are stretching, warming up, shaking out the pre-race jitters, and milling around. The energy is electrifying. Runners everywhere will be thinking  “where did all these people come from? Where have they been training? Holy smokes, this is amazing!”

Among the hundreds of volunteers, spectators, and registered runners will be a gang  of 18 runners sporting bright yellow Club Oly Pacer jerseys. These runners have volunteered to “pace” runners in the marathon.

In its second year, the Capital City Pace Team will provide marathon pacing for the following finish times: 3:20, 3:30, 3:45, 4:00, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45 and 5:00 hours. Running with a pacer is FREE! That’s right, FREE! Leave your watch and worries at home and hook up with a pace team that will bring you to the finish line in your ideal time.

Ok, so what does a Pacer do? Who are these people? Well, I will be one of them, if that adds any comfort to your decision! But in all seriousness, our job as Pacers is to support you, coach you, and push you to your goal. Our job is to put you, the racer first, and we’ll do anything humanly possible to help you reach your marathon goal.

How does that happen? Well years of experience and Garmins…that’s the secret. Shhhhhh. I will speak  for the Pace Team on this one……but nothing makes me happier than seeing a friend or fellow runner that I’ve paced hit their time. I will stop at nothing to make that happen – and if you’re in the 3:45 group, you will witness that! I WILL pull Gu out of my sports bra – just for YOU!

A Pacer will remind you to run with first 10 miles of the marathon with your head (that’s right….SLOW down and run pace!), the second 10 miles with your legs, and the final 6.2 with your heart.

So who are we? We are men and women – of various ages and speeds. We all met last Sunday at Jen Edwards house (of epic ultra fame!) to discuss the course, pacing strategies, and really….just to drink beer! But, we had not only the race director, Nona Snell there to coordinate logistics, but course experts to guide us in our race strategy. I would trust every runner in that room to coach me for 26.2 miles.

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Anne Larsen and Alexis Erickson

My pacing partner – Alexis Erickson -and I will do this. We will hold you back in the beginning when you get all gung-ho and think you can run 6:30 minute miles….because of the excitement and momentum of the start. I will flat out tell you, “a marathon is not recorded on the time you ran the first mile, but the time you cross the finish line.”

We will introduce you to the other runners in our group.  We will stop at every water stop and remind you when to take Gu -and we’ll carry extra Gu for you! Uphills and downhills, we know the course. If you trust us, we’ll get you there across the finish-line, in 3:44:59!

If you haven’t done so already, sign-up for a Capital City Marathon event – or come out and cheer the runners! This is a day the Olympia shines!

A huge shout-out goes to Jen Edwards and Club Oly for recruiting and supporting it’s Pace Team.

I can’t wait to see all the runners on May 20th. Nothing but PR’s (personal records) and Boston Qualifiers baby!

A special thank you to Denny Brooks from On The Run Events for the wonderful photos of last year’s marathon pacers.  To view the race calendar, click here.


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