Here's why I keep making a big deal about pacing in a Ragnar... Madison to Chicago is 196 miles. If the actual team pace is 1 minute-per-mile different than estimated, that's a 3+ hour difference in finishing time. So if you say you're going to start at noon and finish at 6:20pm the next day (for instance), and the team pace is 1 minute-per-mile slower than projected... Yes. That's almost 10pm.
Even the other way- if you say you're starting at 8am and finishing at 4:20 (well within the guidelines) but you're 90 seconds-per-mile faster... yup. You're getting there before noon. And just imagine the headache of the race director maintaining a finish line for 10+ hours. Crazy, right??
So, let's say you're training for this puppy, and you've told your team captain a pace that you're pretty confident you'll hit. But there's life, right? So let's pretend (totally pretending) that you get... oh, I don't know... bronchitis two weeks before race weekend. And let's say you totally have to stop running to get healthy. And let's also say that when you DO get back on your feet, your lungs feel like you've inhaled glass.
~~~~~~Insert Reality Here~~~~~
I was trying to finish a 4 mile run in 11 minute-miles or faster. I was hitting 11:10's for the first three but it sucked. The final mile was painful. I never got to zone out. Each step and breath was a conscious choice. Some people might applaude my mindfulness, but I was thinking about the other 11 runners who were counting on me to hit my pace. And my mantra became:
Katherine. Alex. Amy. Teddy. Me. Stephan. Kristin. Matt. Ashley. Charlie. Diana. Helen.
I just started chanting my teammates names in the order that they're running. It got me to finish the last mile (in 11:45, not awesome). I have three days until the race. I'm staying positive and knowing that I'll make it. The race adrenaline will kick in. My body will remember how to do this.
It's just such a different race when it isn't entirely "your" race. I'm responsible for more than just moving my body the requisite amount of miles. It isn't just my pace, my choice, my own brain and body against itself. Now there are other people involved. People I hope I don't let down.