#ChavezRunsMKE takes on Brewers’ mini marathon Saturday

The forecast for Saturday morning in Milwaukee calls for cool temperatures with a high of 56 degrees and a low of 40 degrees. While most people will be mourning the loss of the summer heat, I will be joined by thousands of runners rejoicing pleasant running conditions for the Milwaukee Brewers Mini Marathon.

The Mini Marathon is a 13.1-mile race that starts at Miller Park and takes the runner through a scenic route of Milwaukee. The race benefits the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund, which is dedicated to funding childhood cancer and related blood disorder research.

This race will be be my first half-marathon after making the transition from a high school sprinter less than two years ago. Heading into college, I did not see much of a desire to run again competitively until I realized I had to avoid the “freshman fifteen” somehow.

I started running a handful of miles a day, but after watching the ING New York City Marathon on television, I thought it would be interesting to complete a 26.2 mile race at some point in my life. The mileage in my workouts started to increase and the training had begun.

After not winning an entry into the 2012 ING New York City Marathon, I read about the inaugural Mini Marathon hosted by the Brewers and decided to sign up in April. Summer rolled along, and the training was kicked up a notch.

I tracked all my workouts and posted them on Twitter with #ChavezRunsNY or #ChavezRunsMKE. The brand was built online, and it garnered attention from several collegiate runners who appreciated the enthusiasm about running. Marquette cross-country coach Mike Nelson came across my Twitter page as well.

“I think it’s creative and fun. I like it when people put their goals out there in print for everyone to know,” Nelson said. “A lot of people are following your successes and want you to be successful.”

Nelson will also be running in the Mini Marathon with the hope of finishing in an hour and 20 minutes. Nelson welcomed baby Brooke Nelson into the world two months ago, so his sleeping pattern has varied since.

“You have to adjust your goals accordingly,” Nelson said. “My main goal is to finish and enjoy the experience in what looks like a great course for its inaugural year.”

Nelson has been running 45 to 50 miles a week. He started running again at the end of July after an injury sidelined him starting in May. He has an arsenal of explanations ready if he does not run well, but as he tells his athletes, there’s no room for excuses.

Some of the members of the cross-country team could be in attendance at Miller Park as Nelson crosses the finish line.

My high school track coach, Patrick Dormer, was surprised when he heard that I decided to convert into a distance runner and believes that I can run the half marathon in 1:42. The original goal was to go under two-hours, but after training for months, going sub-1:50 seems in reach.

There will be a day when I can no longer run, but Saturday will not be that day. Saturday marks the first of many days when I line up with hundreds of long distance runners and leave it all on the line as I pace myself all the way through the finish line.

As legendary runner Steve Prefontaine once said, “The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.”

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