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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is Racing with Someone Faster Than You an Advantage?

Todd and me at the Lehigh Valley Half
Marathon, 2010
Last month, there was a bit of a stir when Paula Radcliffe's marathon world record was stripped from her.  Why? Because she raced with male pacers. Thankfully, Paula also held the second best record, and that was for a race without male pacers, so she retains a world record, just not the one she thought she had.

Before now, I had never really given any thought to elite pacers for marathons, but apparently there are people who pace the lead pack in a marathon so that the runners can remain on an elite pace. Often, they only run part of the race (since someone who can run an elite pace for the whole race should be running with the elites and not as a pacer). Often, there are male pacers for women. The IAAF believes that these male pacers give the ladies an unfair advantage, and therefore the records are no more.

Honestly, I don't know whether I'm on board with the whole thing, since the women got to the finish line on their own two feet. Whether or not a man helped them is rather subjective. I did start to wonder, though, what does this mean to ME?

You see, Todd and I used to run separately, but we do not anymore. Todd had some injury/illness problems in 2009, and ever since he's been out running my races with me at my pace. All of my current PRs at the 10K, 10 Mile, Half Marathon and Marathon distances were run at races with Todd by my side. Does this mean that they're not valid? Answer: of course they're valid because nobody cares about my race times except me. But, on a grander scale, does this mean that I'm facing difficulty and a bad time in New York City, where I'll be running totally alone?
Todd runs behind me at the
Disney Marathon, 2010

The past couple of weeks I've tried to really think about how much Todd being there has helped. I've spent some races saying barely a word to him because I was working so hard. Occasionally, he will run ahead and finish on his own (this is rare, though). I mean, I appreciate him being there, but it's really hard to say if he is making my times better.

This is a big worry for me. I am running New York for time, and I want to have a great race.

What do you think? Have you run with someone who is faster than you? Did they help you achieve a better time?


onelittletrigirl said...

First, I think you are really lucky to have him by your side as you run. With that said, being honest because I always am...I don't know if it is a disadvantage. I know that my life is completely opposite...all my training and most of my runs are done alone. Because of this, come race day, when I do have people around, I always do much better. People in general pump me up!

No matter what, you are valid. And you will have a good day!

lindsay said...

I don't think you'll be slower Todd-less. Running with a partner helps the mental game (distracts you) so I could see issues there, but you def can't give him any more credit than that! :)

Kim said...

I'm tending to agree. It's an advantage to have him along with me for mental reasons, but I am not 100% certain if he helps my time, and if he does, how much? I think I can still have a good finish time without Todd, especially since he'll be spectating on the course.

Also, I re-read my post and I don't sound nearly appreciative enough and happy enough to have him with me! So, let me just say that I LOVE having Todd along on my runs, he makes them more fun and makes it so that I have someone to share the race memories with! :) Plus, he tends to chitchat with other runners when I do not.

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