Going into the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival I had a completely different mind set. I was going to be able to take it easy! I've never really gone into a race before knowing I was going to be able to just have fun (not that racing isn't fun) because I was a pacer! Let me tell you this now... I loved being a pacer. I definitely love finding my limits and chasing down new PR's, but it's so much fun to be able to help other runners reach their goals as well! It was an absolute blast helping people break 1:50 (8:23 pace) in a half marathon and I hope to do it again sometime.
This race was going to be something very different for Milwaukee. Living next to one of the Great Lakes, most of our races take place right on the shore line in a few of our amazing parks. For the first time, runners were going to be able to see our city in a different way!
I've now lived in Milwaukee for a little over three years and have never gotten to run through the city, mostly because I don't want to have to worry about traffic and stop lights while I'm running.
A few days before the race I went to a pacer meeting, met my fellow 1:50 group leader, grabbed my pacing shirt and picked up our sign that we'd carry to let the runners know to hang with us!
I typed up a pace band and taped it to the middle of the stick that was holding our sign. This way we could compare our mile splits and be sure we were staying on track.
So, the night before the race I prepped just like any other night before a race/ long run to make sure I'd be able to do my best for the runners. However, race morning came around and my watch.wouldn't.start. WHAT?! It worked fine yesterday! I charged it a bit! It was turned on when I went to bed! What the heck?!?! I panicked. I knew no one else in the city (who wasn't running this race) that had a GPS watch!
I called the pacing captain and she said to do my best going off my feel (OMG) and that's why each pacing group has two leaders. Still. Not comfortable with that! But it was time to learn to let go and make do with the situation that was given to me!
Luckily I met a few friends around the start line who were also running the race. Dane and Tracy were some of the first people I met in Milwaukee and are amazingly generous. So generous that Tracy offered to have Dane borrow her watch as he ran the half marathon and Dane let me borrow his GPS watch. Tracy was running the 5k and didn't have any big goals for the race, so didn't mind not having a watch. THANK YOU GUYS!
They seriously saved the day (because of course my pacing buddy's watch couldn't connect to GPS for about the first two miles.)
Anyway, the rest of the race went off without a hitch. It was really fun to just let loose and have fun. We talked to the runners aiming for 1:50 and kept them on goal. We sang, we laughed, we danced... anything to keep our runners entertained and not thinking about running. We kept our paces pretty spot on and we had a large group of people with us through the first 10 miles. We told our runners to stay strong, the warmup was over and now the race began!
We ended up coming into the finish just a little bit ahead, but our watches seemed to have the course a little bit short (12.9 miles). We talked with the other paces, and it seems like that was the general consensus. All of us seemed to be on pace through 12.5 miles and then BAM! All the sudden it was mile 13! We weren't sure if we should keep chugging along at our pace (which would have us end in the upper 1:48's) or take our time and dance down the street to still finish in 1:50. So... we did a little bit of both and finished in 1:49:29.
I can't wait to pace again! I hope I get another opportunity because it's some serious fun.
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