Life has been SUPER busy lately on my end of the world. It's ALL good and I've been trying to maximize every moment of every day and every single blessing and opportunity that comes my way. And there have been lots of them. Where has the first half of June gone?!? And, I failed to find (MAKE) time to write my latest race report .............
On Sunday, May 29 I ran my 6th half marathon of the year. It was supposed to be #5, but I snuck in two in May. Over Memorial Day weekend, I ran the Madison Half Marathon (HERE).On Saturday I coached a client near the Madison Monona Terrace and headed over to the convention center (a new location this year) and paid to park and headed in. I visited briefly with another runner from my office as I picked up my packet. There were no lines and packet pick up went smoothly. It was very well organized this year. Packet pick up, shirt pick up and the expo were all in separate rooms. I also picked up packets for a blogger and his friend so that they didn't have to stay over night. in Madison. The technical shirts were fitted for women and we were given a nice cinch bag for our things.
The expo was a decent size. I passed up the Bondi Band booth (surprised?!) and found a new running store in town, called Catalyst (HERE). I talked briefly with the co-owner, whose husband is a UW coach. The store sounds super cute and is geared towards active women. I can't wait to stop out to Atwood Ave. I picked up a new running skirt and matching top from the Catalyst booth for the race.
I took some Tylenol PM the night before and fell asleep shortly after 8:00 PM. Yes, believe it! I wanted to rest up … and I certainly did. My alarm went off around 5:00 AM on Sunday morning and I had the outfit I purchased at the expo the day prior all laid out and got dressed … and yes, applied my makeup! I know you shouldn’t try out new running gear the day of, but I tried on my ensemble the night before and it was comfy … and cute.
Again, I wouldn’t recommend trying something new the day of the race (and should know better), but I fueled up with a Accel Recover bar (HERE), a banana and a Chobani yogurt. The bar was super yummy, filling and satisfying. Consistency was similar to a tootsie roll. I didn’t have trouble chewing it pre-race, like I do with some other energy bars.
Before I left the house, I received a phone call from Bill from Love to Run (HERE). He and his buddy were already at the race and got prime parking (FOR FREE) near the start of the race. I left the house and arrived with plenty of free parking available on the street. We soon connected and caught up a bit and took some photos with the Capital in the background. It was so foggy that morning that you couldn't even see the beautiful building behind us. Bill and his friend are constantly running marathons and they were both running the full marathon that morning. And didn't seem nervous at all.
The full marathon started at 7 am. The half marathon started about ten minutes after that. I got in line with the other half marathoners, the back of the pack, and downed an Accel Gel in vanilla (HERE). After the race started, it took me about five-six minutes to get to the start line. As the sea of runners morphed towards the start line, somehow I ended up at the VERY BACK of the entire race field. Some of us laughed about it and how we were just going to be passing everyone for the rest of the race.
We circled half-way around the Capital Square and down West Washington Avenue. There were some barricades set up and everyone was complaining about how cramped it was. People were basically jogging in place as we tried to get through. This was very annoying, as you typically try to escape the crowds at the start of a race.
We headed near the Kohl Center and then back towards State Street. The route would’ve been nice had we actually headed down State Street, but instead we just crossed the intersection. We headed east towards Tenney Park with some rolling hills. There was a lot of crowd support along much of the first few miles. And, I saw a lot of cheering sections several times, so there must have been a great opportunity to be on the move and find your runner at the next location. I ran the first 5K in about 26 minutes. My PR was 1:54 and some change. I wasn’t sure if I was going to set a PR today …. But, I felt phenomenal and strong.
I spotted an old friend who was spectating on his bike. Some of the college kids were handing out beers on the street. We headed down Sherman Avenue and towards Maple Bluff. I spotted another friend from work that called out my name. That made me smile and gave me a huge boost. We passed the Governor’s Mansion and headed back towards Tenney Park.
The air was humid and the sun was shining. And …. I dressed all in black. The new running outfit was still comfortable and causing me no problems. Due to the humidity, I continued to drink water from my handheld water bottle and picked up cups of water at the aid stations and dumped them over the back of my head. I was well overdue for a haircut, since my hairdresser was on maternity leave. My wet mop was flopping all around the second half of the race and I realized just how badly I needed to visit the salon.
I saw my friend from work (who was also spectating for his brother) about 5 more times along the course. Afterwards, he said that it was a great race to spectate by bike. We laughed every time we saw each other … I was like “Oh, you again?!?”. It was nice to have someone out there cheering for me, since the kids were with their dad Memorial Day weekend.
There were several aid stations with water, several that also had Gatorade (lemon-lime – not my favorite at all, but I took a couple), and quite a few with energy gels (several flavors). I downed two gels the second half of the race. One station had jugs of water but no cups. I don’t think they ran out of cups, but am not sure why they were just pouring water into peoples’ hands?!
Crowd support was great through Tenney Park and along the path, as we headed back towards the Monona Terrace/downtown area. We ran through a shaded residential neighborhood and up some slight inclines. I was still feeling awesome.
We passed Machinery Row, then Monona Terrace, headed along Lake Monona and then a residential neighborhood on Willow Island and around the Bay. The sun was beating down, but I was reminded just how difficult this race was the year prior at this point. I had run the full marathon and the course was “closed” and the clock was stopped due to the extreme heat. This was a piece of cake. I saw my friend from work again around mile 12 and yelled to him and his wife “PR, Baby!!!”. I was going to crush my PR!!!
We headed up the loooong (what felt long!) hill up West Washington Avenue and towards the Capital. Several runners were walking up the hill. I was starting to feel sluggish, but kept going. Crowd support was awesome, as I recognized two cute little blondies calling my name. They were my old neighbors, who were cheering on their mom. I smiled and waved and circled in towards the finish line in the Capital Square. As I approached the finish line, I didn’t even look down at my watch, I knew I rocked the race!! I felt so great in fact, that I raised my hands (and handheld water bottle!) in the air and the crowd cheered even loader as I crossed the finish line. I smiled and stopped my watch to see: 1:51:56. A crazy PR by 3 minutes!!!
I gathered some cookies for the neighbor girls and a chocolate milk and water for myself. I stood in the short line to get my photo taken (above) and the photographer gave me a huge thumb’s up as he said, “Cute!”. I headed over to meet up with my neighbors, to help them cheer their mom to the end. While standing there, I saw quite a few of you that I’ve met through my blog (but are non-bloggers) coming in to finish your own half marathon!! Toby and Roberta finished their very first half marathon – congrats! And, I recognized Miss Tara’s face (who I also had to double check the name on her race bib!) who was closing in on the finish line, too. I enjoyed cheering for them all and giving them high fives. Also, congratulations to Doc Shobhi who finished her first half marathon. Several told me after that they were feeling really terrible at that point and needed the boost. We then saw my neighbor, Kelly come in to finish her half marathon. My friend, Dwight, and a guy I met through my blog, Jason, both paced the 4:00 full marathon pace group and did a great job seeing everyone through to the end .... right on time. They both said that pacing was extremely rewarding for both of them. I hope to try it sometime. Congratulations to everyone that participated!! I have heard that everyone had a very positive experience this year.
I then dropped some items off at the Marathon Mommy Minivan and grabbed a sweatshirt, since I was starting to get chilly. I grabbed my camera and headed past the finish line to try to meet Magic 98’s radio personality, Lanette Hansen. Lanette manages a healthy living blog (HERE) through the radio station and runs marathons and competes in triathlons. She was my generous sponsor for this race and is a phenomenal woman. Her husband took our photo and I thanked her about fifty million times. I then headed home for a nice, warm shower …. and a good haircut (finally!).