I'd say that generally, I run half of my races by myself and the other 45% with one friend. That other 5% of the time, I "run" with more than one friend, and most often that race is the Monument Avenue 10k. This is due to a few reasons:
- I'm such a big fan of the Monument Avenue 10k that every year I coerce somebody new into joining me.
- Most of the runners that I know live in or around Richmond, and if you live in or around Richmond and you are a runner, you kind of have to do the 10k. So, almost all of my runner friends do the 10k.
I'm sure that a lot of people run into this problem. In fact, it has even appeared in Runner's World's "Ask Miles" column.
It is very rare that I stick with one person throughout an entire race. In fact, I don't think I have ever done it.... (checking memory banks).... nope. I haven't. So here are a few ways that I handle the "racing with friends" situation:
- As Miles suggests, I definitely recommend discussing your intentions before the race. Ideally, well before the race. Don't wait until you are hanging out at the start line to tell your racing partner that you don't plan on sticking with them until the finish. Personally, I always let my racing partner know my intentions when we sign up for the race. Usually I say something like, "I just want you to know that I will definitely be starting this race with you, but I can't guarantee that we'll hang together for the whole race."
- Find a happy medium. If you've convinced someone to run their first race, I think you should at the very least start with them, even if it means dropping back into a later corral. Heck, even if it's not their first race, I am a big believer in starting a race together. Then again, I'm not a PR-chasing-amazingly-talented-and-fast runner either. I often end up running at least the first mile with my racing buddy, even if their pace is not as fast as mine. I take the time to chat and warm up nicely before taking off at my own speed.
- If and when you do seperate, make sure you wish your racing partner good luck, (optional high five) and tell them you'll be cheering for them at the finish.
- If you say you'll be there at the finish, BE THERE. Preferably with an extra bottle of water to shove into your friend's hand as soon as they cross the line (and especially if they are a first timer).
Perhaps what I'm getting to is what I see as the golden rule of racing with friends. I want to have a good race (i.e. not try to kill myself keeping up with someone who is way faster than me) and I want my friend to have a race (i.e. not slow themselves down to my level). If that means that we don't run the whole thing together, so be it. Just make sure you are on the same page before you start, and be there for your race partner when they cross the finish line!