I've been with my running group, the Loma Linda Lopers, for two years now. This is my second year, and I feel like I've learned a lot and have a lot to offer because of it.
Now, I've been given the chance to influence others a bit more directly.
I have the chance to become a pace leader of my pace group, the 10:30s. I filled in a little bit on Sunday during our 14-mile run, and filled in a little bit the time before that, two weeks ago on a 13-miler.
Our pace group has two leaders already but one is 15 weeks pregnant and probably won't be able to log long runs before too long. We have 15 planned for Sunday and then have 15 and 18 on consecutive Sundays in December. Our other pace leader has had foot problems and recently was forced to take a month off from running. He's slowly working his way back.
So they've turned to me to see if I would be able to fill in. I said I'd do it and am grateful and humbled to be thought of in that way.
To be honest, I thought that it would be interesting and perhaps enjoyable to be a pace leader someday. I thought that it would be rewarding to help first-time marathoners get through the training and then run a full marathon for the first time, run it alongside them and help them get to the finish, but I didn't expect it to happen so quickly.
Now, the thing about our group that might make it more appealing to have me aboard is that this is an experienced group. We've had some members drop off so we have either one or two runners who haven't run a marathon yet but not sure if they are still with our group since I haven't seen them in a few weeks. Nevertheless, had our group had more first-timers maybe the group would have needed someone with more than two marathons to help the first-timers run their first marathon.
Still, I do feel that I have some good qualities that will help me be a good pace leader. The main quality I feel I bring to the table is strength. I can get through runs. I'm determined to get through runs. And group members need a leader who is strong and who can finish runs.
Sunday was a good example of that. I really didn't feel like running 14 miles in the rain but when I was out there on the course I felt good. After two miles, one of the pace leaders asked me if I would be able to lead and I agreed so I jumped to the front and led. My first mile in front, I ran it at 10:35. That's perfect. I kept us in that range for the four miles until our group had whittled down to four. We were pretty much running in pairs at that point but I still wanted to be strong for the other runners' sake. I think it's more encouraging when you have someone who looks like they're strong and have energy remaining, and I don't anticipate that being a problem when I'm in charge.
Next week we have a 15-mile run planned. I may be in front the whole time next week or it may be a mixture as it was this week. Whatever the case, I'll be up for it.
All eyes will be on me so I don't have a choice but to respond with another strong effort.