Meet Aggy, your 02:45 pacer
Name: Aggy York
Number of half marathons completed: over 100!
Number of half marathons paced: 5
How did you become a half marathon pacer?
I started running in 2017 after someone told me I “wasn’t built for running”. So naturally, I set out to prove them wrong by running a marathon! In preparation for this huge challenge, I realised I was pretty good at running a consistent pace: slow but steady. Then, a friend asked if I would run the Manchester Half marathon with her and try to get her over the line in under 2 and a half hours – which I did in a time of 2 hours, 29 mins and 29 seconds! So, when I decided to put myself forward for pacing, that my preferred pacing time and I have done it many, many times now!
How do you prepare for half marathon pacing?
I do a lot of long distance triathlons and regularly run 10 miles with my dog, so the miles are already “in the bag”. I do have to do several runs at the speed I am being asked to pace and I use those sessions to train for my pacing role.
What are some of the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ you have experienced in the role?
My definite highs are all the thanks I get on social media after the event. I also like it when people tell me at the start that they’ll set off with me but probably won’t be able to keep up – and then they do! It takes me back to my first ever half marathon for sure (never underestimate yourself people!) There aren’t many lows at all when pacing for me to be honest – it is a real buzz!
Have you met any interesting people along the way?
Yes, I’ve met so many amazing runners out there. Many people are doing the event to support charities and hearing their stories as we run together is also incredible and very inspiring. Also, as someone who has also run regularly in fancy dress, I love all the costumes I pass along the way – so many people have a really amusing backstory! One of my favourite events I ran was with an 80-year-old man who was training for his annual marathon. He said it was a special one as he had completed a marathon in every decade of his life and that was to be his first as an ‘octogenarian!’ I am still friends with him on Facebook to this day.
Do you feel any pressure being a pacer? If so, how do you manage that?
I actually feel under more pressure running as a pacer than I do running a race for myself. I have to not let the team down as many of them are relying on me to get their PB! I manage my nerves by enjoying the event, soaking up the atmosphere and trusting in my training. That’s the key: to trust your training. Long distance running is as much a mental game as a physical game.
How do you take care of your body, so that you are fit to run so many events?
I have been working as a doctor for just over 20 years so I understand the benefits of exercise on the body. However ,in the past I have made some poor nutritional choices and only focused on training in the one discipline. I started to wonder why my performance wasn’t improving (and my waistline was increasing). I now follow and coach on an online programme which teaches people about proper fuelling – at the end of the day you can’t put budget price fuel in a performance engine! My plan now also incorporates strength and conditioning workouts which will increase performance in any sport at any age.
What is your one piece of advice for someone who’s marathon target time is the one you are pacing at the Manchester Half?
My advice is to believe in yourself and enjoy it. If you can, have a chat with me, high five the kids that are desperate to give you “power up energy” and really savour every moment. There may be some lows during the run but just trust in your training and visualise running towards that finish line. It’s a feeling like no other! Remember pain is temporary, but the medal lasts forever!
What is your experience of the Manchester Half Marathon specifically?
I have raced in many cities including London and even Paris and I have to say the crowds in Manchester are THE best. It’s one of the friendliest events I’ve taken part in. A memory which makes me smile is, when racing in Manchester with my friend who had a stinking cold, we stopped at an unofficial refreshment stall at someone’s front gate. My friend said that she could really do with a hot drink. “Hang on” said the lady, “I’ll brew up” – and she did! Where else in the world would you get a hot cuppa made especially for you – only Manchester!
When the hard work is over, what’s the best way to celebrate after an event in Manchester?
I love soaking up the atmosphere in the Athletes Village after a race. The smiles and people taking medal selfies really makes me smile from end to end. Also, the friends and relatives waiting with pride for their athlete to emerge is so very emotional. I have an amazing photo of my two kids looking up at me in pride at the end of my first marathon and it always brings a tear to my eye. Of course, I massively look forward to a pint of Erdinger at the end too!