I want to talk about Pacing. But what is Pacing? Basically, I run 13.1 miles with a flag on my back, sometimes a vest, often just a t-shirt. If I’m really special I get to run with a balloon strapped to my top!!! All of these pacer tools are relevant to the time that I will complete the race in.
My name is Delroy Taylor. Well that’s the name my mother gave me! Nowadays just ‘Del’ will do, unless I’m in trouble. I’m 41 and from Warwickshire. I have four of those small humans that I call “bank robbers”, some call them kids! Aged 21 down to 12 years. Married to my wife Michele, we obviously live happily together… when I agree with her!
Why Pacing? Since I was small I always wanted to help people even, if there wasn’t anything in it for myself. It was usually the snotty kid at school that had no friends, or the kid last in a race on sports day. Often it was the puppy with a limp that got my attention. Nowadays I’m a manager (boring to some I know)! My time is spent getting the best out of people. Understanding their weaknesses, helping them to grow and working with them closely to improve and achieve their goals. This isn’t that far off from being a pacer.
As a child I was a hurdler. I always wanted to be Colin Jackson. Mother said I was good at jumping over things. Little did she know this was a tactic to avoid being caught by anyone with an ounce of authority! It wasn’t until I grew up that I found long distance running despite being physically active since a young age. I played football from the early age of six up until the tender age of thirty, then when the younger kids got faster the only option was to retire and hit the weights.
Go Hard Or Go Home
I became a gym junkie. Protein shakes; chicken breast the works. The weight and muscle piled on and the mirrors and T-shirts seemed to get smaller and smaller. Who actually enjoys being inside looking at themselves in the mirror? Well, me maybes, at the time… GO HARD OR GO HOME the famous gym moto hey !! I went home alright ….two hospital beds and two operations later for the same stupid shoulder injury.
Next chapter was all I could think of and I needed that fix quickly. I’m not one to rest idle and I knew I needed the next challenge. Michele and I decided to go for a run one afternoon. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t quick. Running is something I’ve never had an issue with but long distance’s I’ve never understood (boring or what!).
“Michele lets enter a half marathon” I asked two weeks after we’d ran three 5 kilometres and thought we were the next Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah. That’s how the fairy tale started.
The first ‘half’ we did I can remember watching people around the pacer. He was surrounded like he was some sort of movie star, I kinda wanted a bit of that.. (jokes). I followed the group for ages and thought “that must be such a cool thing to do”. Once I returned home I started to google ‘pacing’ and read up about it and what it entails.
Once I get something in my head I struggle to let it go even if it’s out of my comfort zone. I wanted to learn how to pace and I wanted to learn now. The wife would say this is sometimes obstinate stubbornness and determination and wishes I applied it to home DIY!! I reactivated my twitter account with the thought that, if anyone can help, surely social media would be the place.
Passionate About Pacing
This blog is the first time that I’ve actually ever really spoken about how I got into pacing. I often get contacted by a lot people who want to try pacing and I always give advice when I can. The path wasn’t easy for me. I followed pacers on social media and contacted events myself, all 3000 of them! Only a couple replied positively. At the time nobody helped me despite them saying they would ( they must of forgot me in the midst of all the flat lays)! It’s like any sport or even job interview. We all have to take knock backs. It wasn’t handed to me on a plate. I wasn’t from this background and didn’t know anyone in this arena. Unless you have been around this for years and your circle of friends are involved it’s tough to get a foot in the door.
Pacing is so very definitely rewarding. Whatever time your pacing at. Anybody who enters a race has a goal. Whether it’s a sub 1.30, 2 hour or just to finish smiling. They are all personal to them. Runners rely on pacers to be even and each mile to be the same pace. This way they know if they follow you they will reach their desired time.
However, being a pacer isn’t about running the miles robotically. It’s about encouragement and engagement with those around you. Supporting verbally, sometimes with a song or two and often with a big dose of encouragement in the form of ‘YOU CAN’ being bellowed loudly. It’s never about the pacer, only those around you and the tick, tock of your watch!
Helping Others Achieve
There is nothing more satisfying seeing people try to overcome personal challenges. I am so very fortunate to be able to pace mostly the 2hr group in half marathons. It is a popular time and an obstacle for most runners to break. I don’t pace for the feedback, or nice comments on social media. I know how it feels to want to break a personal target and if I can help others then I will. I have relied on pacers myself. some good, some unfortunately bad, but everyone has bad days at the office. If I can help anyone achieve a goal I absolutely will.
There are some other perks to being a pacer. Occasionally we get free kit and trainers occasionally. However, pacing comes with a lot of pressure. one bad day or bad conditions can affect someone’s race. Sometimes this can lead to a back lash on social media, slating your efforts. This can affect your reputation as you are only as good as your last race. You also have to be brutally honest with yourself and completely selfless. I have had a tough year, pulled out of personal races and also pacing events due to injury as I knew I wouldn’t be able to help people.
2019 – Pacing Marathon Majors
Next year is a big year for me. I have spent a long time pacing half marathons. But for 2019 I have been fortunate enough to be selected to pace for two international races, the Virgin London Marathon and The BMW Berlin marathon. Not only is this a dream come true but works with my own goal of focusing on the 26.2 miles next year and improving my marathon time. I’ve started working with a coaching team, Purdue performance, founded by Charlotte Purdue the GB long distance runner and Adam Clarke, GB middle distance runner and Mo Farah’s training partner. I have never been too proud to ask for help and this has helped me value the role of a pacer even further.
I sometimes have to pinch myself when I say that I’m going to be pacing these events. I feel like a kid in a sweet shop!! What an opportunity and experience for me! From fence jumping, football dreams, protein bars and small t-shirts to international marathon pacing… wow! I will put all my effort and focus in delivering the time on my flag.
Nothing beats the smiles on people’s faces when they cross the finish and knowing you may have helped them!