Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Expo – Part 1 (Deena Kastor and Race Pacers Speak)

June 2, 2012

Long line of people waiting to get into the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Expo 2012
Small line to the left is to go to Starbucks. Super long line on the right doesn’t being to encompass the whole crowd.

Why does this expo get a 3 part blog post? I was at this sprawling expo for 4 1/2 hours. (Huh. I was at the expo longer than I’ll be out on the course.)

When I got there about 10 minutes before it started, there was a humongous line to get in. I could not believe my eyes! Why are there so many people here chomping at the bit? If it was to avoid the crowds, mission failed.

I know I couldn’t believe them, yet I was one of them. I got into San Diego at 8:30, and figured I’d just go be one of the first few people to trickle in before people crowds started showing up. Nope. Once the expo started and the music started pumping, it took two songs to get everyone through the doors!

I had a good amount of time to kill ‘cause I wasn’t going to my friend’s apartment ‘til 2. For the first time, I listened to one of the panels.

Deena Kastor – Olympic Bronze Medalist – spoke today. I loved watching her in Spirit of the Marathon, and she was everything I’d hope she’d be today. I saw her interacting with the group of pacers before the show, when people weren’t really looking. She seemed to be outgoing and very sweet.

I jotted down some of her awesome nuggets of wisdom.. The panel was about running with a pacer. She said, “Latch on and don’t let go.” You could tell in her eyes, her body, and her voice that she was determined, and really meant that you do not let go in a race.

She also said something I think is great to remember while running a race. “You’ve done the work. Tomorrow is your reward. Enjoy the celebration.” Do you love that? “Enjoy the celebration.” I love that – that a race is a celebration instead of a stressful thing or a chore or anything like that. Of course, in my case, a lot of races are more like training runs since I’m doing so many. Either way, I thought it was a great piece of advice.

Deena Kastor speaking at the Rock n Roll San Diego Expo 2012

She said “enjoy the journey.” Not to get too deep on her words, but I took that as a great reminder to enjoy the journey of life as well. Like a race, life is sometimes crazy fun, going nice and smooth, with everyone cheering you on. Sometimes you’re trudging uphill in the stifling heat, and all the Gatorade’s gone. You have to keep going. But a half marathon is an experience every time. As is life. So, as Deena says, enjoy your journey.

The pacers spoke after her. The main advice they gave to for running with a pacer was – trust. They basically said, “trust your pacer. Don’t look at your Garmin. You don’t need to worry about your time. We’ll be doing all the work for you. You enjoy your race.”

Good advice that’s easy to say, hard to do sometimes. Obviously, in the end, you’re just running with a stranger. You don’t know if they are going to run at the same perceived effort throughout, or if you’ll perceive effort the same way. People are different. Most of the pacers went up there and some something along the lines of, “My first mile will be 9 minutes. My last mile will be 9 minutes. That’s our race, the whole way.”

One pacer said that he likes to do the first few miles slower to warm up, then runs a few minutes faster in the middle. Some people like to do their races this way. It makes my head explode. But he’s taking people to a 1:45 half marathon, so I definitely won’t be trying to pace with him. No need to be worried about colliding strategies when he’ll be well over halfway done before my corral crosses the start.

The 3:55 (full) marathon pacer says he has trivia questions for every mile! So cool, right? Although I won’t be running with him either.

This is where I’ll pick up tomorrow. There were tons of booths to get through!

2 thoughts on “Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Expo – Part 1 (Deena Kastor and Race Pacers Speak)”

    1. lol! Well, I don’t have a distrust for pacers. I think it’s a selfless, awesome thing for people to get out on that course with the sole purpose of helping others. I’m sure pacing is an incredibly hard job that’s most likely quite stressful.

      I was just making a general statement that the pacers kept saying “just trust us,” and it can be hard to trust a stranger! Sometimes people just don’t have the same rhythm. Some people think going uphill is way easier than going downhill. So, if you’re not on the same wavelength as someone, it could be hard to have a successful run with him or her.

      Plus, if you’re a control freak like me, it doesn’t matter who’s pacing you. It’s hard not to check your running app every mile! 🙂 But, I definitely believe in pacers. My best times (and some of my fondest racing memories) have come from people pacing me!

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