When I signed up for the Rock ‘n Sole half marathon on a whim just four weeks ahead of time, it was mostly to run myself out of a rut. I had no idea then that it would turn out to be my last race (for the foreseeable future) in Milwaukee—a lot can happen in a month!
Once I saw the weather forecast for Saturday (a high of 89 degrees! humid!), I headed to the start line with very few expectations. As long as I ran about 1:50, I’d be content. But I was hoping for a time closer to 1:45. I definitely didn’t do that, but I ended up finishing in a respectable time and kept a pretty steady pace.
I ran this half marathon once before (in 2013) and hated it. I wasn’t prepared for the steady incline of the Hoan Bridge, a stretch of I-794 that is closed for the race course. It’s particularly boring because no spectators can go on the bridge. This year, ready to conquer the concrete expanse of the Hoan, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I only had to run one way on it this time, rather than out and back like in 2013.
Overall, I felt decent the whole race. I did make one rookie mistake, though. During the first four or five miles I was running on the heels of a group of 1:50 pacers. My plan was to stick with them until the halfway point, then pick it up until the finish, but of course I pushed past them too early and faded after the halfway point. I found myself staring at the backs of their blue shirts once again as they strode by. Drat!
But check this out, I got some mad air!
Hands down, the best part of the race was my three-part cheering section. I didn’t have that the first time I ran the Rock ‘n Sole, and it reminded me how much I’ve grown over these years in Milwaukee and how many friends I’ve made here. As the city skyline came into view over the Hoan, as I grumbled up Lafayette Hill, as I passed the lion statues in Lake Park, I took mental images of all the things I adore about this city. The race felt like the perfect sendoff, even though I still have a couple of weeks until I move.
Finishing time and humidity aside, it was a great race. Plus I got to grab brunch with these weirdos afterward.
YOUR TURN: Do you ever run with a pace group? What’s your half marathon pace strategy?