Thursday, November 26, 2009

Berbee Derby 2009 Report

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Fitchburg, WI

Yesterday I ran the 10K at the Berbee Derby in Fitchburg, WI. Their slogan is - "Like a Thanksgiving Day Parade, Only Faster." Cute. There's also a 5K run/walk. This race is good size - draws about 4,000 people. The 5K is a little out and back on residential streets, but the 10K takes you on the Capital City Trail, which is always very pretty. I love this race and have been looking forward to it for a while. (Plus you get local chocolate in your race packet...not like anyone needs the extra calories on Thanksgiving, but it's always delicious!)

This was the first race that I've done twice now and the only 10K race I've ever done. Unfortunately I've never really gotten to race this one (and thus have never really raced a 10K, which I would really like to do), because I've always run it with one of my friends. He insists on running at my pace, even though he's much faster than me. And he's a talker. I love the guy, but he doesn't shut up! I don't talk well when I run, so he would ramble on for a while and I would say, "Yeah, uh huh" a lot (and repeat.) So I don't get to push as hard as I should when I run with him.

After a long stretch of warm November temperatures, we got some snow Wednesday night and Thursday morning was pretty chilly. I debated between wearing shorts and pants, but finally settled on the pants (first time since last winter) and was glad that I did. My parents live about a half a mile away from the start of the race, so I drove to their house and then my dad dropped me off about 5 minutes before the gun went off and then I ran home when I was done. It worked out perfectly.

So anyway, onto the race! National anthem gets sung, the horn goes off and it takes a minute or two to get to the starting line.

Mile 1 - 10:13. Crowd support is sporadic, but not bad for the first mile or so since we're running through a neighborhood. Weaving through people, so we're slower than I'd like to be. Couple of hills, nothing bad. Pass a man who is breathing super heavily already. Sorry dude, you're going to have tough 5 more miles. We hear the 5K horn go off (they start after us) and I pray that we make it to the 5K turn around before the lead runners catch up to us like last year. (Talk about demoralizing.)

Mile 2 - 10:05. We've picked up the pace a little, feeling strong. Leave the residential neighborhood and head onto a country road with a long gradual hill. We made it to the 10K splitoff before the 5K leaders catch up. High five!

Mile 3 - 9:56. Alright, I wanted to run all sub 10 minute miles, so we're on track now. Going down a long gradual hill. Pass through the 5K timing mat just over 31:00.

Mile 4 - 10:11. Too slow. Too much talking with my friend. On the bike path now and it's hillier than I remember it being last year. Up and down we go.

Mile 5 - 10:05. Bah. Still too slow, but we're passing people left and right.

Mile 6 - 10:01. What goes down, must come up. We climb uphill toward the finish. And uphill some more. I run into the same co-worker that I ran into at the Madison Mini Marathon. Chat for a minute and then pass her.

Last .2 - 8:03 pace. And it's all downhill to the finish for the last .2. I pick up the pace and sprint past dozens of 5K walkers. I'm pretty spent, but I know that I could have run faster.

Official time: 1:02:36. Pace = 10:03 minutes/mile. Missed my "goal" of running sub-10 mm by a very small margin, but oh well. Last year I ran this race in 1:06:20, so it's still a huge PR even though I didn't push it as hard as I could have.

I think I need to look for a flat 10K in the area, because I really, really want to get a sub-60. I know it's in the cards, it's just a matter of doing it!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Madison Mini Marathon 2009 Report

Saturday, August 15, 2009
Madison, WI

I ran the Inaugural Madison Mini Marathon on Saturday.  This was my first official half marathon.  I ran a 20K back in May, so mentally I felt like I had done this before!  Needless to say, I was still extremely excited.  This was going to be a much bigger event than my 20K and I’d been looking forward to this ever since I first heard about it.

Woke up at 5am race morning to cool temperatures and clouds (Is this really August?) and ate breakfast.  My wonderfully supportive best friend picked me and we drove downtown to the starting line.  I was wearing a jacket over my t-shirt waiting for the race start and I was still freezing!  Thankfully this made for excellent running weather once we got going.  I was a little nervous with this being an inaugural event, but it turned out to be a very well run and organized race, at least to me.  I’d heard horror stories from first year races of aid stations running out of water, etc., but thankfully everything went smoothly from what I could see.  There were about 2800 people running the half marathon and another 500 running the 5K, so it was a nice sized race.  Not too many people, but enough for good crowd support.

Waiting for the start looking one way

Waiting for the start looking the other way

The race started at the front of the Memorial Union at UW-Madison.  I found the 2:20 pace sign and lined up about 15 minutes before race time.  They were playing music from the speakers and pretty soon the street was packed with people.  Casey Fitzrandolph (Madison area local and Olympic speed skater) was there to start the race.  Announcements were made and the race started promptly at 7am.  It only took me about 3 or 4 minutes to make it to the start.
Casey Fitzrandolph about to start the race
And here we go!
You can see the back of me as we start (blue shirt with blue stripe down the back)

The first mile took us around the capital and the farmer’s market, which is held there every Saturday morning.  The people at the farmer’s market cheered us on.  Pretty soon we were descending down State Street.  I breezed right on by the first aid station.  My friend was waiting at the end of State Street for me and snapped a few pictures.
On State Street, just over a mile in!

I looked down at my Garmin and seemed to be right on pace.  My pace during my 20K averaged around 10:45/mile, so I was aiming to keep myself around there.  Miles 3-4 took us by the zoo and around lake Wingra.  My original plan was to take gels at miles 4 and 8, but I was feeling really good around mile 4, so I scrapped that gel and hoped for the best.  Mile 6 lead us into the Arboretum, which is always a beautiful place to run.  This portion was mostly uphill.  Actually I read an article in the paper before the race where the race director commented that he was worried about the course being too hilly.  He said that it was mostly an uphill course.  Honestly, I didn’t think it was that bad.   I guess I’m used to running some hills because it felt very average to me.  Granted, there were definitely more uphills than down, this is still Madison and not San Francisco. 

I took a gel after mile 7 and washed it down with some water.  I also unfortunately had to stop and pee around this time.  I really didn’t want to do this, but I had to!  The line at the port-a-potty was only a couple of people, so I don’t think I stood for more than 2 minutes or so.  I was still disappointed at having to waste the time though.  

Smiling and feeling great at mile 9.

It was around mile 8 or 9 when I realized that I was feeling really good.  Like, really, really good.  I had been a little worried because I missed a couple of long runs during training and most of the long runs that managed to complete felt sluggish and slow.  So I was surprised at how good I was feeling.  After I hit mile 9 or 10 during my 20K race back in May, I totally bonked.  I was spent and it took all my strength to just keep going.  This race I felt completely different.  I knew that after mile 10 in this race that it was mostly downhill, so I decided that if I was still feeling really good, I would pick up the pace.  Well, I hit mile 10 and felt great, so I decided this was it.  I was only 5K away from the end, so I picked up the pace and made it my goal to pass as many people as possible.  This is where I started to just have so much fun.  I think I was grinning all through these miles as I passed people.  Mile 11 took us up to picnic point and then back down along the lakeshore path to the finish line.  I passed a lot of people in the last mile or so, including one of my coworkers.  With half a mile left, I started to feel that fatigue setting in, but I pushed on.  The last .1 was a big downhill, which was a nice way to end the race.  I ran through the finish line and I couldn’t believe it was already over.  The race just flew by for me.  I got my medal, water, and some post race food (banana, big blueberry muffin, etc.)  They were giving free beer to the finishers, but I just couldn’t stomach any.
I ended up with negative splits!!  I don’t think I’d ever done that before in a race.  My time also means that I’ve gotten faster since May (20K time was 2:14:xx), which makes me really happy.

Mile 1 - 10:44
Mile 2 - 10:06
Mile 3 - 11:03
Mile 4 - 10:52
Mile 5 - 10:55
Mile 6 - 10:58
Mile 7 - 11:10
Mile 8 - 10:42
Mile 9 - 10:24
Mile 10 - 10:35
Mile 11 - 10:22
Mile 12 - 10:09
Mile 13 - 9:33
Last .1 - 7:48

Final time = 2:19:08  Average pace = 10:33

Me and my coworker who also ran.

Overall, I am super happy.  I broke 2:20 and even ran that last whole mile almost as fast as my 5K pace.  (Maybe this means I need to run faster during my 5Ks!)  Best of all, I had a blast running this race.  I’d definitely recommend to anyone interested for next year!  Also, it turns out that I know the guy who won the whole race.  He’s very nice, so I was really excited and happy for him.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Verona Dog Jog 2009 Report

Saturday, June 14, 2009
Verona, WI

On Saturday I ran a dog jog in a small suburb of Madison. I wasn't really sure what to expect or if it was even a race. It benefited an animal hospital and was right by the dog park that I always take my dog (Bella) to.

The weather was cool with sprinkles, so I unfortunately didn't take any pictures of the actual event because I was worried about my camera getting wet.  But I did snap a few of Bella right before the run. It was a very small event consisting of maybe 75 people or so. Turns out that it wasn't a race at all. I didn't even know how far we would be running! Still, it ended up being a lot of fun.

We congregated at a shelter in the park and amidst many barking dogs we were informed that we'd be running/walking on some grassy trails (that are actually part of the Ice Age Trail, which runs through all of Wisconsin and was formed by glaciers. See informational website here: Ice Age Trail) Most people walked the event opposed to running. I'd say maybe 15 people ran and the rest walked. I chatted with a woman who had a Boston Terrier who asked me if I ran a lot with my dog and she was very impressed to hear that Bella had run up to 8 miles with me before. She had on a Whistle Stop marathon shirt, so she was obviously a runner.

There was no timing or clocks or mile markers. We just kind of started. I ran around my 5K pace or so. The trail was very nice. Lots of trees, some hills, some wild flowers and prairie. There was a water stop in the middle - both for humans and dogs! We just buzzed right past it. Bella was very excited to be running on a nice, grassy, interesting smelling trail opposed to the street so she was just pulling me along. We were done before I knew it! Garmin told me that it was just a tad over 2 miles with my time being 19:23. I was the 4th person to finish. Too bad it wasn't a race!

I chatted with the runners and we ate yummy bone shaped cookies that the event gave out. There were kiddy pools filled with water for the dogs to lay in. Bella made ample use of those and made some new dog friends in the process. Finally the walkers started trickling in and they gave out some really nice door prizes including a free day to doggie day care, Frontline, and some services at the animal hospital. We also received a goody bag with a t-shirt, a bandana for your dog (see pictures), a dog brush, a pen shaped like a dog, some dog treats and coupons for free ice cream. It was a really nice event, actually. I'll definitely be doing it again next year. Not only was it for a good cause, but very well organized and I met some really nice people.

The sun was starting to come out as the event finished and seeing that I didn't live too far away, I ended up leaving my car at the park (coming back for it later, obviously) and then running home with Bella, putting me at about 8.5 miles for the day.

Bella smiles and sports her new bandana!

As you can kind of see in the background, the park was very pretty!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Clean Lakes Festival 2009 Report

Saturday, June 6, 2009
Madison, WI

This was my second 5K ever, the first being back in August of 2008 shortly after I began running. I had one and only one goal: to run it in under 30 minutes, which would beat my previous 5K time (30:31).

After a hot and sunny day on Friday, the weather was perfect for running on Saturday morning. Somewhere around 55 degrees, overcast and lightly drizzling. I had no idea how big or small this race was going to be. I'd never heard of it before, so I couldn't imagine that it would be too big. It turned out to be quite small. 118 runners. About the same size as a previous 5K, actually.

I got there about 20 minutes early and parking was a breeze. It was held in park right on one of Madison's lakes (hence the event name!) There was a lot of runners there by themselves, which always makes me feel better when I'm milling around alone and just waiting for the race to start. I did a bit of jogging to get warmed up and then lined up to start.

We listened to the national anthem and someone counted down from 3 and we were off! This was my first race that was NOT chip timed. I tried to line up a little more toward the start for this reason. Normally I just hang around the back. Thankfully it didn't really matter because there were so few runners.

The course was nice with a few smaller hills. We ran mostly on a path that winds through a couple of parks and under some bridges and tunnels. Very nice little route. After about the first mile, I heard a girl say to someone else that she was shooting to break 29 minutes and I thought, "Okay, I'm just going to make sure that she's in my view the whole time." It worked fairly well and my Garmin helped with my pace too. (Although the poor girl ended up finishing in 29:01 - ouch.)

I was feeling really good until around 2.5 miles in. That's always when I start to lose it. I ran this race without my ipod and this was where I felt its absence. I can always count on a good fast paced song to help motivate me to finish that last little bit. The last .2 miles or so were going up a major hill, which was torture. I couldn't muster any kick, which really disappointed me because I'm usually really good at that. However, the good news...

I finished with a solid 29:17! A new PR and I broke 30 minutes! I came in 64/118 overall and 26/62 women. This obviously wasn't a super fast group of runners. Amazingly, a woman won the entire race! How cool!

Mile 1 - 9:16
Mile 2 - 9:38
Mile 3 - 9:28
Last .1 - :54 (9:14 pace)

Overall, it was a very well run and organized race. I would definitely do it again next year. (Not to mention we got sweet green t-shirts. I always like the colored ones better than the typical white.) There was one water stop in the middle, which I just zoomed right on by. No mile markers, but that didn't bother me since I had on my Garmin. Post-race food was Gatorade, bagels, bananas, oranges, etc. I grabbed a banana, drank some Gatorade and headed home to run another 3 miles with my dog.

For my next 5K, I'm going to try and break 29:00!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lake Monona 20K 2009 Report

Saturday, May 10, 2009
Monona, WI

This was my first long race. (Okay, longish race. I realize this term is relative.) Up until now, the furthest distance I had raced was 10K. However, I got up to 12 miles during training, so I wasn't worried about the distance. I'm a little disappointed because I desperately wanted to run the half at the Madison Marathon later this month, but my brother is getting *married* on the exact same day in Atlanta. Sheesh. So I decided to run this race instead. While I can't say that I've ran a half marathon, I'm still very proud of the 20K distance. Plus there will be other half marathons in my future.

I woke up race morning to absolutely picture perfect weather. Low of 41, high of 66 and sunny. A little chilly while just standing around in shorts and a t-shirt, but perfect when running. This race was pretty small - around 700 people. A big change from the huge race I ran last weekend (Crazylegs.) However, I'd now put this as one of my favorite races. The course is beautiful. It's a loop around one of the two lakes that makes Madison an isthmus.

My dad decided to bike the race route while we were running, so he stopped and took a lot of pictures.

We lined up at the start and the national anthem played. I stayed toward the back of the pack.

Starting line.

In the yellow, waiting to start with my three friends in the foreground. 

Whoo hoo - here we go!!!

The trees are just beginning to bloom! It was so pretty.

Miles 1-3 were good. We were running through an older neighborhood and you could see glimpses of the lake behind the houses. I played leap frog with a girl who was doing a run/walk program for a while, but passed her for good after the first couple of miles. I was feeling strong and running at a bit faster pace than I thought that I should.

Smiling and feeling good!

Miles 4-6 I was still feeling strong. I was running behind a woman in a green tank top who was keeping the the same pace as me. I was happy to just sit behind her and keep up. Around mile 5, we hit picture perfect views of the lake and city. These are some of my favorite pictures.

Me and green tank top lady.

Just about to hit the scenic part.

Probably my favorite picture. Madison skyline; perfect views of the city. Happily running behind my lady.

Miles 7-9 were mostly running through the city and then back through another neighborhood. This was when green tank top lady and I caught up to the man running in the chicken costume. We eventually passed him, thankfully. I wasn't going to get beat by no chicken! I was still feeling good at this point. There was a group of people out in the neighborhood with a "water" station set up, but it wasn't water in the cups - it was beer. I declined, but told them that I'd want some in a couple more miles.

Man in the chicken costume.

Green tank top lady and I closing in on the chicken.

Miles 10-12.4 It was around mile 10 where I started to get tired. There was no more water stations after this and I knew we were in the home stretch. I just concentrated on back of back of green tank top lady and kept going. At mile 11, there was this curve where I broke away from her and took the lead. I didn't see her again until the race was over. This is where I miraculously started passing a lot of people. I was exhausted, but I picked up the pace slightly.  There was a small hill where I passed a bunch of people struggling. (Thank you, hill training!) I rounded a corner and saw a group of my friends waiting for me. (Some of them ran the race too, but finished in 1:30 or so. They're fast!) They cheered me on and it gave me the boost I needed to sprint toward the finish line. I actually started sprinting a little too early, but managed to somehow sustain that sprint until I crossed the line. I was absolutely spent. Green tank top lady finished not too far behind me and I chatted with her for a minute and apologized for running right behind her for most of the race. She said that it was totally fine and she was glad to have me there, since we were pacing each other. That made me feel better, because I was worried that maybe I was annoying her. She really helped me a lot though.

Starting to get tired here.


Overall, I was pretty happy with my time. I was shooting for 2:10-2:15, with 2:10 being optimistic. Here's my splits:

Mile 1 - 10:23
Mile 2 - 10:33
Mile 3 - 10:46
Mile 4 - 10:44
Mile 5 - 10:42
Mile 6 - 10:46
Mile 7 - 10:59
Mile 8 - 10:49
Mile 9 - 11:05
Mile 10 - 11:17
Mile 11 - 11:10
Mile 12 - 10:33
Last .4 - 4:02

Average page = 10:44. Gun time = 2:14:40

I really hope to run this race again next year. Now, however, I'm wondering where do I go from here? I'm going to feel weird without a training plan. I think I might run for fun for a couple of weeks and then see what happens. I know that I definitely want to run a real half marathon at some point. Maybe this fall? I don't think I have any ambitions to run a full, but I suppose that could change.

Post race with some water.

Weird look on my face, post race. I was just happy to be done!

We also got sweet Mizuno tech shirts from this race! I liked them a lot.