Sunday, May 30, 2010

Madison Half Marathon

Today got off to a very early start with a 5:30 wake up call, quick shower and delicious oatmeal breakfast before Tim and I got int he car to drive to the start of my first half marathon.  We had a bit of a slow time finding a parking spot and by the time we got to the starting line, I was out of time for a bathroom stop.  This would prove to be problematic later.

The announcer told us that there were 5100 runners in the half marathon!  Wow.  That is a lot of people. 

There were pace groups lined up at the start.  I lined up between the 2:10 and 2:20 pace groups, but once the race started, I had no idea where the pacers were.  I'm glad I didn't sign up to run with the pace group.  It would have been very hard to know where they were.

The first couple miles went pretty well.  I felt good.  The roads were really crowded and that made it a little hard to get into a rhythm, but I just went with the flow.

I first saw Tim about 5.25 miles into the race.  As you can see, I am slightly behind the two guys dressed as ketchup and mustard.

Tim was kind enough to hand me a bottle of water.  There never seems to be enough water stops for me on these races.  I always feel like I need more and more water.  Today I was lucky to have a great 'crew' to support me with cheers and water bottles.

I took my GU around mile 6.5 and then saw my aunt Sharon (with another bottle of water) around mile seven.  I probably should have had another GU or some other form of fuel.  The weather was extremely warm and I was burning more calories than I usually do on my training runs.  I will definitely learn from this experience.

Just before mile 9, I HAD to stop at the porta potties.  There was just no way around it.  I had been passing them up for miles and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to make it another 4 miles without stopping.  So, I picked a line that only had one person in front of me and I was able to get back on the road in about 3 minutes.

I saw Tim again right after the bathroom stop and he had more water for me.  Unfortunately, the cap fell off and I drank some of the water, but then I didn't feel like carrying the empty bottle so I left it behind.

We ran along the Monona Terrace.  It was gorgeous, but because it was so hot, it really smelled like fish.

There go ketchup and mustard.

I saw Sharon again around mile 11, and after that I was on my own until the finish.  The last mile was uphill and really, really hard.  My legs felt like bricks.  I think I may have been slightly hyponatremic.  I was starting to get a little dizzy.  Another lesson learned: mix water with gatorade.  I'll remember that.

My mantra for running up that last hill was "I can do anything for one mile."  I must have said that a hundred times, and I'm still not quite sure how I actually made it to the finish line.  But I'm so glad I did.

But, I did get beat by condiments.  Humbling.

Here is the video of me crossing the finish line. (click here)

I tried to make it through the finish chute in somewhat of an orderly manner.  I remember some nice girl cut my timing chip off.  And someone else handed me water.  And I got my medal!  (It is my first one!)  They were also handing out chocolate milk.  It is supposed to be the perfect recovery drink.  The best blend of protein and carbs.  I took a couple sips and almost threw up.  It was so thick and disgusting.  I don't know how people were drinking that right after the race.

As far as the race course, I was pretty familiar with most of it.  The first few miles were basically like running Crazy Legs backwards.  So I knew that part.  After that, we ran a good section of the Lake Monona 20K race course; also backwards.  But I have to say that the uphill climb at the end was completely unnecessary.  And just plain mean.

I do have to give credit to the people who put on the race.  I can't even imagine how much work goes into the organization of this event.  The volunteers were great.  They were so friendly and encouraging.  Even the traffic cops at the intersections would take time to cheer on the competitors.

There were two times in the course where the full and half marathons converged in a way that allowed us to get passed by the men's leaders.  These guys are so impressive to watch.  They look so graceful and natural.  They make 26.2 miles look completely effortless.  It was inspiring to see that.

The other inspiring thing that I saw, that almost brought me to tears, was was leader of the wheelchair division.  He had a bicycle escort to get through the crowd.  As he was racing through, he just happened to be passing the apartment of a mentally and physically handicapped man who was also in a wheelchair.  It appeared that this man had been sitting on his patio for much of the morning watching the runners go by.  I had heard him clapping and cheering as I approached.  But when that wheelchair racer went by, this man yelled and whooped and cheered so loudly.  It was almost as if he was somehow living through the accomplishments of this handicapped athlete.  He was clapping and screaming and pounding his fists on his chair with so much excitement and vigor.  It was a very moving moment and one that I will probably never forget.

There were other moments too.  I saw an elderly couple sitting in lawn chairs at the end of their driveway.  They had an old card table between them on which sat their breakfast.  Cereal, fruit, juice and coffee.  They cheered and ate and read the newspaper, just like they probably do every weekend.  This time they just happened to be doing it at the end of their driveway while thousands of people ran by.

I have to also give credit to the people of Madison.  They are pretty used to people running through their streets.  (Zoo Run Run, Freeze for Food, Crazy Legs, Lake Monona 20K....and these are just the ones I have run in the past year.)  They are out in full force cheering on the runners.  They show up with beer and bloody mary stations at the ends of their driveways.  They come up with some very clever signs to motivate and encourage everyone to do their best.  But today, I appreciated them more than ever before.  Today there were many people who were standing at the end of their driveway spraying their garden hoses into the street.  Others had their sprinklers set up in the street.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much I LOVE these people.  I will say it one more time:  it was HOT today.  And those quick showers helped to cool down a rapidly rising body temperature.  I saw two different people who collapsed on the course, probably from a combination of the heat and dehydration.  I wasn't about to become another casualty of the heat.  I took advantage of every garden hose and sprinkler.  And I made sure to thank the people on the other end of the hose.  I think it is important to thank the volunteers and fans.

Here is what the course looked like:

You can see the spot in the middle where I had to stop to use the bathroom.  There are a few other spots where I had to walk the water stops.  And then there is that awful hill at the end.  Boo!
Here are the stats:
Mile 1: 9:43
Mile 2: 10:10
Mile 3: 9:54
Mile 4: 10:47
Mile 5: 10:41
Mile 6: 10:37
Mile 7: 10:21
Mile 8: 10:23
Mile 9: 12:00 (included bathroom break)
Mile 10: 10:42
Mile 11: 11:14
Mile 12: 11:22
Mile 13: 12:00
Mile 13-13.18: 1:59 (11:09 pace)

Total: 13.18 miles: 2:21:49.  10:45 pace.
I know that I put everything I had into this race.  But I also know that a couple weeks ago I ran 14 miles in 2:23 (10:14 pace).  Granted, that was Colby and there really aren't any discernible hills here.

So, I need to work on my endurance so that my pace doesn't completely take a nose dive.  I can't even imagine doubling this distance to run a full marathon.  But, ask me in a couple days and I'm sure I'll tell you that I am up to the challenge.  :-)

I need to thank my wonderful 'crew' for supporting me.  Thanks Tim and Sharon!!  You guys are the best.

Next race: Bellin 10K on June 12th.  It will also be Jaden's first ever race.

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