How I Ran A Lot of PRs in One Race

by Ryan Anderson

On April 1st, 2017, I lined up for the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield. This was my first half marathon as a father of two kids, both of whom are under 2 years old. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. My training had gone about as I expected, which is to say not so well. It was hard to train in the past when my wife and I had just one kid, but two kids is more than twice as hard as one kid.  

The weather was a bit chilly and I was debating and second guessing my outfit. Did I need the gloves? Should I wear a long-sleeve or stick with a t-shirt? I made my decision to go with sleeves, hat, and gloves. The next big decision I had to make was deciding where to start. If I started too close to the front then I would risk going out too fast and burning out at the end of the race, but if I wandered too far back from the start I would spend the whole race weaving through traffic trying to find my pace. I decided to line up in between the 1:50 and 2:00 pace group with the 1:55 pacer. My PR is just under 1:35:53 but I thought this would be a great place to start to reach a PR.  

The gun goes off and I try to go out at a relaxed pace and not go out too fast. I know my physical training has not been as great as some of my other races, but I am not worried about that. What has me worried was going out too fast and not being able to control my pace. I knew in the back of my head in order to get my PR’s I would need to pace myself properly. Going out too fast or too slow could ruin all of my training and effort I have put into this race.  

We hit the first mile a few seconds fast but in a comfortable and relaxed pace. After that the miles just rolled by with the pacer shouting out the splits letting everyone know we are getting a few seconds faster than the pace so that when we hit the hills at the end of the race we would have some time in the bank. The pacer does a great job of calling out not only mile split but turns, hills, water and Gu stops. The race is going exactly as planned, sticking with my pacer and trying to run an even effort race. As we got closer to the finish line I really just wanted to start kicking with everything I had but I was worried about blowing up so close to the finish line. I just stuck with the pacer and the pace group all the way to the finish line, we cross the line in 1:54:41.  

I finished the race almost 20 minutes slower than my PR, but the article is called how I got a lot of PR’s in one race. Now some of you might I have done something really crazy like set a one mile, 5k, 10k, 15k, 10 mile and 13.1 mile PR all in the same race. As awesome as that would have been, I do not think I would ever want to try and do all of that in one race. The key to running a lot of PR’s in one race is that they cannot be yours. And that is exactly what I did. For the last two years I have ran the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon as a pacer.  

Once my kids were born, I knew that it would be very difficult – if not impossible – to put in the same amount of training time I did as when I didn’t have any kids. So instead of trying to get my own PR’s I decided to try and help other people get theirs. As rewarding as working hard and earning your own PR’s is, working not so hard (in some ways) and helping other people get their own PR’s is very rewarding in its own way. Each of the last two years while hanging out at the post race party lots of people (some of whom I recognized and remembered from the race and others I did not) would come up to me and thank me for my pacing and helping them and others out on the course. Being a pacer is one of the greatest feelings I have had as a runner to have so many people thank me for pacing them and helping them get a PR. 

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of In Passing.