It Never Hurts to Be Reminded
You may not think you need to drink more water or slurp down another gel. That's because in the later miles you're probably not thinking so clearly. Hearing someone ask, "Has everyone been drinking? Do you need more calories?" can be like having your mother along. It might annoy you, but you'll end up better off if you listen.
There's No Commitment
You don't have to sign up. You don't have to pay. You don't even have to give your real name when asked. Pacers are like moving GPS watches. They'll just trot along, holding their balloons and maintaining an even pace. If the pacer has an irritating voice or is telling too many poop jokes, keep a distance but make sure those balloons remain in sight. Even if you're feeling zippy, wait to speed up until mile 20.
You'll Get a Tour Guide
Pacers often know the course, and can give you a preview of what's to come. They'll warn you about hills and may also point out interesting historic landmarks, geographical weirdness and local hot spots. Most pacers have completed loads of marathoning miles and can offer tips and helpful pointers—everything from reminding you to relax your shoulders to telling you where to get the best espresso martini. When your body starts to tire, ask for advice. When your mind starts to wander, request a story.
You'll Get a Cheerleader
While you may have friends and family screaming for you from a couple of points on the course, your pacer really wants you to meet your time goal and will say things to help you get there. She or he will tell you that you can do it. Your pace will tell you that you're looking great or even offer to buy you a beer at the finish. Whatever it takes.
And You'll Get Camaraderie
A good pace group can transform a group of people with diverse backgrounds, often from all over the world, and turn them into friends. It's not a party if you're all by yourself. Sure you can cross the line, stop your watch, and go home. But it's a lot more fun to turn to the sweaty, exhausted, elated folks who just spent 26.2 miles running beside you and exchange hugs and high fives.Sign up for your next race.