On Sunday, my incredible fitness adventure will take me on yet another once-unimaginable turn as my pace leader duties will begin in earnest.
Along with a fellow marathoner, I will pace the Loma Linda Lopers' 10-minute-per-mile pace group. This new part of my fitness journey will be challenging. Now, I've conquered so much from then until now that this might seem like just another challenge to overcome. However, this will add a new wrinkle - it's not all about fitness anymore.
I have to lead people. That requires being a leader of people. Which requires leadership qualities.
In some ways I think I'm more of a lead-by-example person. But this is an undertaking that will require more than that. I don't necessarily think it's an impossible task but it's one that will take me a bit to get the hang of.
I do after all have some fears about this whole pace-leading thing.
* The Right Balance: If this group is anything like the other groups I've been in with the Lopers, we will have veteran marathoners and runners who have not run more than 5-6 miles. Finding a balance between the two groups of runners within the group could pose a challenge.
* Pacing Myself: I fear that I will either take the group out way too fast or way too slow. I'm not a speedburner by any means but sometimes I run in the 8-minute range, and sometimes I run in the low 9s. In fact, my comfortable pace is in the low to mid 9s. So an excited LB means a sped-up LB which could mean running closer to 9 minutes per mile than 10.
* Speaking Up: If you've ever talked to me in person, you know that I don't have a loud booming voice. I wish I did sometimes. I have to consciously project my voice when trying to talk to a group of people. If I just talk loud, it may not be loud enough.
* Guru? Hardly: I want to show the group that I am capable of being a pace leader by sharing things I've learned since I've taken up running. But I don't want to come across as a know-it-all.
* Finishing Strong: When I was training for my last marathon, in April, I struggled with finishing my long runs up strong - by long, I mean my 18- and 20-mile runs. For my 18-miler, I was done at about 15. We've got some time until we hit double digits, let alone 15, so I have time to work on this.
I'm sure there are more areas that I've worried about and pondered over but I can't think of them now. Hopefully I just put them out of my mind for good and that's that. But this list is just some of what I will try and focus on and improve over the course of my life as pace leader.
Now, my co-pace leader is an awesome runner, faster and stronger than me but we're both very dedicated and optimistic. We are on the same page in terms of what we want the group to be like and what we want our focus to be. We want our group members to have smiles on their faces after each and every run, and we want to focus on finishing runs, hopefully strong, instead of focusing on our time. Sure, we want to keep it as close to 10 minutes per mile as possible but we're not going to obsess over it either.
Anyway, with my co-pace leader around I think we'll have a strong group before too long. I just have to sort through my own challenges first and go from there.