I’ve had mixed results running with pace groups. At my first marathon I started with the four hour group (I know dumb to have a time goal for my first marathon), but I felt so good I charged ahead. Some where around mile 20 that pace group flew by me like I was standing still. I bonked hard and finished in 4:08:59 after puking and limping through the last two miles. Obviously the pacer had nothing to do with my inevitable fail.
Last year at Pittsburgh I found the 4:00 hour group around mile 11. We talked and took turns holding the 4 hour sign. Holding the sign was a great boost. I stayed with them until about mile 24 wherein I sped up and finished in 3:56:42. My third marathon, the Johnstown marathon was small and had no pacers.
I probably shouldn’t worry about my time at Pittsburgh, but as it grows closer I think about it more and more. It may be wishful thinking, but I think I’ll sign up to run with the 3:50 group at the expo. I know I haven’t reached my speed potential, but I am probably not in the best place to aim for a PR. Damn competitive instincts!
The Pittsburgh marathon has pace groups from 3:05 all the way to 6:00 hours. I think pacers are a great asset especially for people with difficulty pacing themselves and for people chasing their PR.