Weíve got more than 20 Blue Line Beginners who canít join us for Saturday group outings due to work or family obligations, and one of them recently asked about pace expectations since they arenít around to see if they are "keeping up" with everyone else.


We only really started paying attention to pace last week because, well, many of us were just getting used to being off the couch or from behind our desks. Now that weíve got some miles under our belt, itís time to think about pace.


So hereís the quick answer: Today, runners will be at a 12-minute pace, the run/walk group is on a 15-minute pace, and the fastest walkers will be doing an 18-minute pace.


I already mentioned on this blog that I have not been able to keep up with my run/walk group, but it has not discouraged me in the least. If you canít maintain that pace, donít let it frustrate you, either. We are a widely diverse group in age, shape and size, and we all entered Blue Line Beginners at different levels of fitness. If you are doing more than you did on Week 1, you are headed in the right direction. Just keep going!


Also, if you are recovering from health issues and are using the Akron Marathon Race Series as a way to add to or celebrate your ongoing recovery, your pace needs to be dictated by your body and your physician. You are not competing with anyone else, and your dreams of walking to the finish line are every bit as valid as those who want to run the half marathon. Success is setting and reaching your own personal goal.


For those willing and able, pace can be a fun part of the challenge. On June 24, most of us are going to be setting our personal record ("PR" in runner speak). If you want to set the bar high, the Akron Marathon has a system for helping you maintain your desired pace on race day.


At the starting line for each event, there are pace signs along the corral to help us line up. They start at a pace of 6:00 minutes, then thereís a new sign for each additional minute up to 15:00. Using the pace that youíve been training at, youíll line up at the appropriate sign. If youíre slower than 15 minutes, settle in at the back of the pack. (Iím sure youíll find me there!)


There are also "pace team members." They hold a sign saying what pace they are running. They line up with us in the corrals, and carry that sign the entire race.


In June, the pace team members will follow the 8k route and maintain these paces: 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, and 13:00.


In August, there will be pace team members following the half marathon course, so the 10k participants will remain with the pacers until mile 5 when they break off. The pacers will maintain these paces: 6:52, 7:15, 7:37, 8:01, 8:24, 8:46, 9:10, 9:33, 9:54, 10:41, 11:27, 12:35, 13:48, 16:01.


In September, the pace team members will run the marathon course, so the half-marathon runners will be with them through mile 12. The pacers will maintain these paces: 7:04, 7:15, 7:27, 7:49, 8:01, 8:12, 8:24, 8:35, 8:58, 9:10, 9:33, 10:07, 10:41, 11:15, 11:27, 11:49, 12:23 and 13:48.


One final surprise: Akron Marathon Executive Director Anne Bitong said she is likely to add a couple of pace members just to align with the Blue Line Beginners. Maybe I'll volunteer to hold the 20:00 ;)


- Paula