On June 23rd, I ran my 4th race of June as a pacer for the Summerfest Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon that took place in Milwaukee, WI along the lakefront of Lake Michigan. We have had a very hot summer so far this year with many races actually being cancelled or reduced in Wisconsin. It was a releif to have some cooler weather for the morning. And I am sure if was a huge releif for the organizers as well.
There was a new organization team in place for the 2nd annual race here becuase last year, there was a big time disaster for this race. Last year it was very hot and sunny and the race ran out of water on the course and many runners needed medical attention. The race took a lot of 'heat' for being poorly prepared, especially since there was plenty of warning that it was going to be hot. I was not down at the race last year but from everyone I talked to or heard from, this year was so much better.
I was scheduled to be a pacer for the 2:20 group. Obviously with my times from the past, I was not worried at all about being able to finish but I was a little worried about if the pace would be hard to maintain since it is a pace I am not used to running. Turns out that it was not difficult.
My pacing group before the race, Cole, Bill, and Chera.
The pace group I was in consisted on 3 runners, Chera, Cole and myself. Cole was a member of the Jennipede team I was on last fall but was about 50 spots ahead of me so I didn't really know him all the well. We all met that morning and all hit it off really well and had our plan to help all the runners near us. The plan was to run about 10:30 pace and walk for 30 seconds through every waterstop (10 of them). The race strated right on time at 7:00 and it was foggy out. Temps were in the 60's so combined with the fog, felt cool.
The Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee on the lakefront and the first 4 miles of the race.
One of the features of this race is you get to run over the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee. This is an express way that goes right along the lakefront, over the Summerfest grounds, and one of the iconic images of Milwaukee. The race begins right away going over the bridge and then once over it, right back on it over again. The bridge is 2 miles long so we were almost 5 miles into the race once we finally got off.
I was holding the 2:20 sign for our group and just talking to everyone I could, basically being a little of a nut, but is a playful, encouraging way. I pointed out some features of Milwaukee to the runners from out of town as well as talked about some of the music acts coming to Summerfest, also known as the largest music festival in the country. I wanted to help the runners relax and keep their minds off running for awhile. Cole, Chera and I didn't really run together too much as we would go around and see how everyone was doing. Typically Chera went ahead and talked to people and Cole lagged behind encouraging everyone to keep up with us. We would yell back and forth to eachother keeping it simple and fun.
By the time we were heading back over the bridge, the fog burned off and we could see the entire Milwaukee area from atop the bridge. I must have been looking too much when I tripped on a raised crack and went down scrapping my hand with the sign hitting the ground. Besides my embarrassment, I was OK and was up quickly. I am pretty sure I heard Cole or Chera saying "Down goes the Pacer, Down goes the Pacer!" It was all good.