Reflections of a Rabbit — Daniel Herrera
The following post was generously composed by High Performance West Elite athlete Daniel Herrera, the Mexican record holder in the 1 Mile outdoors (3:56.13), after he paced the invite section of the Men's 1500m through 1200m at the 2018 Payton Jordan Invite at Stanford University.
Enjoy! // jm
Pacing – I know, it isn’t technically racing.
Nonetheless, pacing can be a highly rewarding practice when approached with a purposeful mindset. Throw in the pressure of a high performance elite section, and the opportunity for growth is even higher.
My most recent pacing assignment brought me to sunny Palo Alto for the 2018 Payton Jordan Invitational. The meet, and especially the 1500m, was flooded with the star power. The assignment was to tow the likes of Matthew Centrowitz, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Paul Chelimo, Craig Engels, Erick Jenkins, and many other accredited athletes for a minimum of 1100 meters. The 800m pace target was 1:56.
I cannot speak to the nature of the race that unfolded behind me, but I can share my perspective of pacing. Seeing the race as a pacer afforded me a very rare and unique experience to participate through a different lens.
Forcing myself to the front granted me control of the present situation. It is a very empowering feeling to control a race. I would argue it is a critical skill employed by the highest level athletes. Often, as developing athletes, we gift the control subconsciously to others. We allot ourselves only a secondary role in the race. We sit back and wait to react to decisions of other instead of making our own moves.
While pacing, I absolutely could not do this. The rules changed. I had to assert myself to the front, control the race, and trust myself to get as far as requested.
The first 400 meters passed quickly. “Keep it going,” I thought to myself. Then after 800 meters an uneasiness and discomfort started to sink in. But how I felt didn't matter. I had a duty. I had different rules to obey: control the tempo to 1100 meters.
The bell lap rang and there I was in control and continuing through to 1200 meters before stepping aside. I wish I kept going with those guys, the final 300m would have been fun.
But the self control I granted myself left me walking off Cobb and Angell Stadium better for the effort. I'm glad I paced, but truthfully I wanted to race. As that is what I love most, getting on the track, being in control, running tough, and making something happen in the mad dash to the finish.
¡Viva el sombrero! — Daniel H.