The Brewers Mini Marathon has been a bit of a sore spot for me for a few years now. I entered the Half in 2015 with every intention of getting a PR at the distance and gearing up for the first running of the Milwaukee Marathon that November.
I had tweaked something in my leg the week before on my long run, and it lingered through the week. Naturally, though, I felt I could run on it. I was wrong. I managed to injure myself, and effectively was derailed for about two months.
The race never quite worked with my running and work schedule to get back; until this year. Obviously running a Half two weeks out from Chicago would’ve been a bit ambitious (read: dumb), but the 10k was a good opportunity for a tune up race, a PR attempt, and a bit of revenge on this course.
When I signed up, my plan for the 10k was to get out with whatever lead pack there would be, and see what happens. I’m extremely confident in my ability to run a strong and even 10k, so it seemed like a good shot to take. As my training really came together in September, though, it seemed like a way better choice to push for a PR as opposed to going ham at the start and seeing what happened.
The 10k started about 15 minutes after the Half, so when I arrived at Miller Park I had an opportunity to relax, meet up with fellow BibRave Pro Lisa, and a couple of my PRO Race teammates (most of whom were pacing the Half).
Coming into the race, I knew if I had a good day, a podium finish was a definite possibility. Looking around at the start, I saw a couple dudes who looked like they could be fast, as well as PRO teammate Josh (who I knew was faster than me). Still, with perfect weather in tow, it seemed like this could be a really good day.
When the gun went off, a group of about 7 shot to the front, and I tailed them by a couple steps. I’ve learned how to be patient in the 10k, a trait I can’t seem to carry over to my other race distances, and knew that a majority of those guys would come back to me.
I was right.
After about a half mile, I found myself in 5th, as we left the rest of the field behind. One guy had quickly pulled away from the pack, followed somewhat closely by Josh and another runner. I hit the 1st Mile in 6:07 and felt strong at that point.
Very soon after the first mile, I made the pass for fourth, and quickly left that runner behind. As I trailed Josh and the 3rd place runner, I noticed them gradually pulling away over Mile 2. My pace did dip as I hit Mile 2 in a 6:12, but a gradual uphill, and going into what little wind there was made me not so concerned.
As the two runners I was chasing continued to pull away, we got some nice downhill and flat sections through Miller Valley. I’ve run through here in a couple races, and never really had great experiences, so it was nice to feel strong at this point. Still, I was chasing and hoping that the runner with Josh went out ambitious and would come back to me. I kept telling myself if I continued to run strong and under control, I would get him back. I rolled through Mile 3 in a 6:08 and we were back on track.
Mile 4 is easily the toughest part of the course (and in my opinion the toughest part of a 10k). We had an out and back turnaround, and the longest and steepest hills on the course as we climbed out of Miller Valley.
I had stopped paying attention to the two in front of me (first place was way way way ahead) for a while. That snapped back really quick at the turnaround when I noticed I had gained considerable ground on the third place runner, as Josh had begun to drop him. Additionally, I could see him slowing on the hill in front of me, and knew that I could continue to gain ground on the hills.
We hit Mile 4 at the top of the climb (I came through in a 6:16), and I had closed the gap to maybe 100m. Here was a huge advantage of having run the Brewers Mini previously. I knew we had a long straight shot before coming back to Miller Park. Most importantly, this was all downhill.
I knew this was my chance to make a move, and at about 4.5 made the pass into third. After making the pass, I was hoping to drop the other runner, but he was able to stick within maybe 10 meters of me.
Coming down the hill to Miller Park, I hit Mile 5 in another 6:08, and saw PRO teammate Allison just past the mile marker.
All through the next mile I was waiting for this guy to make one final push to reclaim third. It came around 5.75, right before we entered Miller Park. I heard him close, but was able to push the pace just enough before entering the stadium to prevent the pass.
When we got on the warning track, we had passed Mile 6 (another 6:08) and it was around the track, and then about 200m to the finish. No way I was getting passed here. Fortunately, the warning track has surprisingly good traction and I was able to accelerate around the infield and out of the stadium.
If you’re a competitive person like me, you know the feeling when I say there was no way I was going to get passed the last 200m to the finish. It felt like the longest yard, but that’s why we do speed intervals right?
I crossed the finish in 38:27 which was good enough to hold on to third. It seemed like a long wait for the runner after me, but official results showed it was just 5 seconds.
After finishing, I went over to grab my bag and went back to the PRO tent to regroup. I chatted with the winner for a while before heading over to grab my two (!) free beers. The top 3 finishers in each race met up by the stage to get our awards and be recognized. After a few photos of the group, and of each race, we were free to go.
Obviously, the day went super well for me. I got a PR in the 10k by about a minute, a podium finish, and revenge on a course that hadn’t gone well before. Talk about a confidence boost as I begin my taper for Chicago!