The Brewers Mini is, arguably, the premier Half Marathon in the Milwaukee area in the Fall. Big race, a tour of the city, and running through Miller Park? This has it all.
Previously, I had run this race twice: the Half in 2015 and the 10k last year. Those races couldn’t have gone any different. The Half was a nightmare (mostly since I ran injured) while the 10k might have been my finest racing moment ever. What’s the happy medium between the two? Pacing the Half.
After pacing the Milwaukee Marathon (Half) in the Spring, I was thrilled to be able to come back to pace Brewers in the Fall. This time, I was assigned to be one of the 1:40 pace team members.
Saturday morning brought about almost perfect running conditions. It was overcast, in the 50s, and a bit windy but not bad. Sure, it was a little chilly waiting in the corral, but what can ya do?
Having done the 10k the previous year, and the Half a couple years ago, I knew parts of the course, but certainly not the entire thing.
One of the toughest things when pacing is finding the correct pace in the first couple miles. Much like what Emily and I did at Milwaukee, our pace team decided to have one person monitor overall pace (Jon) and one take a lap every time we hit a mile marker (Me). We also had Curt’s watch, but he only ended up recording 9.5 miles…so it wasn’t much help.
Even still, we laid down the first three miles almost exact. Granted, those first three are almost completely flat going right down Canal St. The first three miles featured what was to come from our pace team. Even splits, and lots of random banter between the three of us. I probably couldn’t tell you all of the things we talked about, and if I did they wouldn’t all be appropriate.
As we hung a right by the Harley museum, we picked up a few runners we had caught (one who was listening to some great tunes) as we went up and over the bridge across the river. This mile was almost all downhill from the bridge, resulting a little bit of a quicker mile.
Fortunately, Mile 5 took us back over the bridge, up a hill, and into the wind. We made our pacees tuck in behind our three person wall as we charged up the hill. This mile was a little slower, but put our overall pace back on track.
Miles 6 and 7 were a straight shot down Clybourn with some small rolling hills. We were super even, and holding an overall pace just a bit under 7:38, which is exactly where we wanted to be.
Mile 8 descended us into Miller Valley as the miles kept clicking away. We picked up a little speed there, and slightly dialed it back in Mile 9 as we (temporarily) merged with the 10k course.
Mile 10 began with our ascension up the biggest hill on the course. We knew this one was out there, and had been prepping our pacees for what was to come. This mile was also a part of an out and back along the river. The out was mostly downhill, and the back mostly up.
Mile 11 spit us out on the Oak Leaf trail, where we encountered a few more hills. A couple runners passed us here, but really we had lost most of our pace group in the hills the last couple miles.
Miles 12 and (most of) 13 are downhill to Miller Park. We need to accelerate just a little, based on the race’s mile markers, so the downhill was a welcome sight in the race.
Mile 13 also features a loop through the infield of Miller Park, which is easily the highlight of the race. For runners close to us, we began encouraging them to book it past us to the finish. After exiting Miller Park, it’s about .15 to the finish.
We crossed the finish line in 1:40:06 which was just about perfect.
Overall, it was a fantastic morning out at Miller Park and Milwaukee!