Sunday, May 30, 2010

Madison Half Marathon 2010 Report

Sunday, May 30, 2010
Madison, WI

I ran the Madison Half Marathon on Sunday. Where do I even begin?

The experience began on a good note with a meet up with some folks from Runner's World.  I got to meet Amanda in ATL, SSmith1187, RunningTigger, Mrs. RunningTigger, and Badgerfan93. We met at the expo the night before and headed off to dinner at one of Madison's best brew pubs. It was my first FE and a lot of fun! Everyone was super nice and Badgerfan kept us all laughing through dinner. We indulged in some fried cheese curds (thanks, Steve!) and a few of us enjoyed a beer. Amanda brought me a few mint moon pies from Atlanta and I gave her a couple of bottles of local beer. We parted ways after dinner and unfortunately I didn't get to catch up with anyone after the race. The crowd was just too big.

Badgerfan93, with the Collin bib. (Not his.)

Amanda and a cheese curd!

Amanda and me.

ssmith1187 and RunningTigger

The race:

We had been having unseasonably warm weather in Madison this week. Poor Amanda traveled up here in hopes of having cool temperatures for race day. Unfortunately it ended up being warmer here than in Atlanta! Sorry, Amanda! Hopefully we can still lure you back eventually.

Woke up race morning to a crazy hot forecast. High of 89 degrees. I train in below zero temps in the winter, so this Northern girl is not exactly good at running the heat. I also woke up with stomach cramps already that morning; I'm not sure if it was from nerves or different pre-race food than I'm used to. Picked up my friend who is also running the half and we make our way downtown. Find a free parking spot and walk to the start. Portapotty lines are crazy long, but I manage to find a shorter one and still have plenty of time to spare.

Marathoners start at 7am and the half starts at 7:20. The marathon has a different starting location than us but they are routed right past the half start, so we get to watch them run by as we are waiting. I see RunningTigger go by and yell for him, but I don't think he heard me. Finally it's time for us to go. I am already sweating just standing in the crowd. I don't know the exact temperature, but it's already over 70 degrees at the start. Line up between the 2:20 and 2:10 pacers. (Who, by the way, are both wearing tiaras.) My goal time is 2:15, but I'm wondering if that's possible with this weather. I guess there's only one way to find out.

Start of the wheelchair marathon. These guys are awesome!

Start of the full marathon. I did not envy these people one bit. They had a long day ahead of them.

Start of the half!

Here I come on the right, in the red/pink shirt with the white visor.

There's an easy way to tell the story of this race. I'll let my splits do a lot of the talking.

Mile 1 - 10:14. Start out easy, running down a hill. I'm sweating and can feel the sun beating down already. Say hi to my dad, who will be following us around on his bike for the race, taking pictures. Right on pace, but I won't be for long.

Mile 2 - 10:46. I'm hot. At this point I decide to adjust my expectations. I decide that I'll try for a 2:20, which is around the time of my first half.

Mile 3 - 10:38. Hello Camp Randall, home of the Wisconsin Badgers. Know I'm heading into the hills soon.

Running through a part of the UW campus. Still feeling okay.

Mile 4 - 11:07. The hilliest portion of the race on Observatory Drive. I run them all until I see the crest of the steepest hill. I decide it's time for my very first walk break ever in a race in order to attempt to conserve some energy. I'll try to make up for it on the way down. Get passed by the 2:20 pacer as I am walking, but not by much. Once I am back running I am not far behind her at all. Make up for my walking by letting gravity take my down the hills, but then am stuck waiting at an aid station trying to get water. Literally had to force my way to the table, pick up a cup and then wait for someone to fill it. I don't care how hot it is, this shouldn't happen.

Mile 5 - 10:58. Running through campus and the heart of downtown. Good crowd support. Many fans and signs had me smiling. Very, very hot, but still hanging in there.

I think I'm trying to wave here.

Mile 6 - 11:04. Again have to force my way into an aid station and wait for water. Take my first GU, hoping to gain some energy. Shortly after the aid station, I see the 2:20 pacer come sprinting toward me going in the wrong direction. She's yelling something about medical. I see a girl down on the sidewalk, thankfully with people tending to her already.

These people had a keg out. I saw a lot of people drink. I want my beer after the race, not during!

Mile 7 - 10:38. Guess my GU helped a little. I believe we were running through some shade in this mile. We also split from the marathoners somewhere in here. I know they were glad to get rid of us.

Hanging in there and enjoying the shade!

Mile 8 - 11:33. Here's where I start to fall apart. It's just too damn hot. My dad gives me some water from his bike. I see another runner on the ground. I downgrade my expectations to just finishing with hopefully not an absolutely dismal time.

Mile 9 - 11:38. In survival mode. Havn't really looked at my Garmin. I know it's not going to be pretty. I just concentrate on running and taking in as much water as possible. We run along the Monona Terrace with absolutely no shade. Nice view of the lake to the left, but I'm not even paying attention.

Mile 10 - 11:32. My ipod playlist starts playing my power songs. Normally I try to pick it up at this point in the race. Today I think, "Fuck you, iPod!"  Take another Gu.

Mile 11 - 12:59. Stick a fork in me cause I'm done. I start taking walk breaks and shuffling along inbetween them. I can't get my pace up for the life of me.

Mile 12 - 12:22. Some really wonderful people have their sprinklers out in the street. I run through them all. I have a short conversation with my dad and drink some more of his water. He leaves me to go to the finish.


Mile 13 - 11:44. Garmin beeps for the last mile. I think, "Okay, it's just a mile. I can do this. I can pick up the pace a little." That lasts for maybe 60 seconds. Some racers who have already finished are out here cheering us on. I see the hill that leads to the finish line and consider calling out a hit on the race director. It's not terribly steep, but it's LONG. At some point, the crowd supportive becomes amazing. I know that there are tons of people, but I can't even enjoy the strangers calling my name and cheering me in. My head is down and I am struggling to keep running. I think my quads are starting to cramp - something I have never experienced before. This hill is a bitch. I'm cursing the fact that we have to finish at the capitol - I don't care how pretty it makes the finish.

Last .1 - 8:49 pace. I manage to pick it up for that last little bit. Almost plow down a bunch of people in the finishing chute. MOVE PEOPLE. Am trying not pass out while they remove my timing chip and give me my medal.

Official time 2:30:09.  My slowest road half ever.

Yes, the capitol is pretty but that hill getting there sucked out my soul!

Officially my worst race ever. I never thought I would run a half over 2:30. Seeing that we started at 7:20-7:25am, I wasn't done until close to 10am. No idea what the temps were at that point, but I do know that as I was driving home after lunch time, the bank said it was 92 degrees. I heard on the news that night that they ended up closing the course at 10:30-11:00am. The remaining marathoners were urged to walk the rest of the way. My coworker was volunteering at this race and told me that the medical staff wanted everyone pulled from the course at one point. I had to sit on the ground in the shade for a while before I could get up. When I did get up, I thought I was going to pass out, so I had to sit down again. I may have had some mild heat stroke. Just not a good day. I know that I can't control the weather, but I am really disappointed because I had been looking forward to this race for a long time. The next half I run with decent temps, I will be out for blood and get my 2:15.

Me and my friend who ran. This is the smiling picture.

And this is how we really felt!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Syttende Mai 10 Mile 2010 Report

Saturday, May 15, 2010
Stoughton, WI

On Saturday I ran the inaugural 10 mile Syttende Mai run.

For those of you who are curious, Syttende Mai is a celebration of Norway's independence from Denmark. The run is in conjunction with a Norwegian festival that happens every year in a small town just outside of Madison called Stoughton. While the 10 mile run is new, the race itself is not. There is a 20 mile race and a 17 mile walk, both of which have been taking place for many years. The 20 mile race is kind of a big deal around here.

I had toyed with the idea of running the 20 mile race previously, but concluded that if I was going to run 20 miles, I might as well run a damn marathon instead. So when I learned that they added the new 10 mile run this year, I signed up for it immediately. I've never raced the 10 mile distance before, but I knew that I would love it - these middle distance races are my favorite.

The course is well known for being a hilly bitch. The 20 mile run starts in downtown Madison and takes you all the way to Stoughton, mostly via backroads. The 10 mile run started at the halfway point, kind of in the middle of farm-land. It's a point to point course, so they bus you around as needed.

(Hand sketched elevation profile from the website. The last half doesn't look too bad, right??? Ha!)

I woke up early Saturday morning and had my typical banana and bagel breakfast. Drove to my best friend's house - she would be my chauffeur that morning. She dropped me off at the start (no parking - you either get bussed there or dropped off) and I got my timing chip, bib, etc.

The weather couldn't have been better. It was sunny without being too hot. I think the high was supposed to be around 65 degrees. A perfectly gorgeous day. I milled around for a while and then lined up when it was time. A 3 - 2 - 1 and we were off!

I'm running with the crowd and thinking, "This is just great. It's pretty flat right now and I'm feeling good." About a third of a mile in, we turned a corner and... now THAT'S a hill! Holy crap. They ain't lying about the hills. So we climb. And climb. Garmin beeps to tell me that we're a mile in. And still climbing. Damn. We reach the crest of the hill and then we go down! And down some more. I'm trying to run faster on the downhill to make up for the time wasted going up. Just before mile 2, we hit a shorter hill, but it's still a hill. Climb that one. See my BFF waiting for me. She asks me how I'm doing and I respond with something about lots of hills already.

I settle into a rhythm and just keep on trucking. I'm kind of ignoring my pace at this point and just trying my best not to expend too much energy going up and making up some time while going down. I pet a dog at mile 3. I pass dozens and dozens of walkers (they started earlier than us). They're not in the way too much - there is next to no traffic on these backroads. Plus the some of the walkers will cheer you on as you pass them, so that's a nice bonus. There's not a whole lot of crowd support, but the people that live out there are out in their yards watching.

I take a gel at mile 5 and chug some water. In the near distance, I see my coworker who runs a lot of the same races as me. I wait for a minute for her to catch up to me. We run together for a little over a mile before she declares that I should go on because she's going to stop and walk for a bit. Pet a cat somewhere around mile 6 and my BFF finds me again. Unfortunately she forgot her camera. Still constantly going up and down hills. There's not a lot of relief. Around mile 7 we hit yet another beast of a hill. Why did I sign up for this again?

Thankfully that was the last bad hill. We're getting out of farm-land and heading into Stoughton now. We run along the side of a highway, which is mostly flat, but still with a slight uphill. The lead 20 mile guy passes me at this point, which was cool. I knew I was slow enough to get passed by the lead men eventually. He's booking it. I cheer on the lead guys as they pass me. One of them is wearing a pair of Vibrams.

I know that the last two miles are mostly downhill, so I just hang on and prepare to drop the hammer then. Mile 8 takes us into a residential area and I hit the last water stop. Okay, time to go. I love running races where the end is either flat or downhill because I know that I can go faster without losing it. My friend finds me again shortly after the water stop. She runs with me for a minute, but she's wearing flip flops so that doesn't work too well. She tells me she'll see me at the finish.

The last mile is absolutely great. You run through downtown Stoughton and it feels like the whole city is out for the festival. I high five what feels like hundreds of kids. Fantastic crowd support through the final stretch. There's a good downhill in this portion where I just let go. Look down at my Garmin and see 8:38 for my pace. Yikes! I know I can't hold that and dial it back just a bit when it's flat again. Finish with a kick and think that I made it in under 1:45. Pick up my finisher's t-shirt (no early packet pick up - you only get the shirt if you finish!) and head for the food. Overall, a very nice race. I'll probably punish myself again with this next year.

Gun time 1:44:50


Mile 1 - 10:49
Mile 2 - 10:23
Mile 3 - 10:37
Mile 4 - 10:32
Mile 5 - 10:57
Mile 6 - 10:16
Mile 7 - 10:23
Mile 8 - 10:30
Mile 9 - 9:51
Mile 10 - 9:22

I'm pretty happy overall with my time, especially with all those hills. For those of you who know more than I do, what does it mean that I'm running the last mile at my 5K pace? That I need to run faster 5Ks, or that I didn't run hard enough during the rest of the race? (To be fair, I haven't run a 5K in a year now, so honestly I'm not really sure of my true 5K pace.)

I've been waiting for official race photos to get posted online, but still nothing. So sadly I end this report without a picture.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lake Monona 20K 2010 report

Saturday, May 08, 2010
Monona, WI

I ran the Lake Monona 20K on Saturday. All you need to know is that despite a PR, I did not beat chicken man this year. End of report.

Kidding. For those of you who don't remember, I ran this race last year and was running behind a man in a chicken costume for the first half of the race. I eventually passed him. Sadly, I didn't even SEE the chicken this year. He stayed in front of me the whole time. I guess the chicken had better training than me. That, or it was someone different in the costume. (It's not just some random dude who likes to dress up - it's the mascot from a restaurant that sponsors the race. So it's entirely possible that it was a different guy.)
I had two goals for this race. To PR (last year's time was 2:14), which I was pretty sure was going to happen, and to break 2:10.

It was warm and rainy the night before, but I woke up to clear skies on Saturday morning. Nice that it wasn't raining, but it was fairly warm and windy. The heat and wind would eventually get to me.
This is one of my favorite races. Basically you run clockwise around one of the lakes that makes Madison an isthmus. It's a smaller race - this year it was around 800 people.
Screen shot of the route from Sport Tracks.

Miles 1-3: I started out feeling strong. The beginning of the race takes you through some neighborhoods. There were some decent hills, but I remembered them from last year and wasn't too concerned. Hit up the water station just before mile 3. Declined the gatorade. Then passed a woman calling out times at mile 3. I exchanged confused looks with the man next to me and we wondered together why we weren't getting times called out at 5K. Oh well. Splits:

Miles 4-6: Get out of the hilly cambered road neighborhood and start heading into a flatter part of the city. Good. My stomach starts to act up a little, which has never happened to me before. Oh, so THIS is what stomach cramps feel like. Great. Hit up the water station at...mile 5? Wait, what? The website clearly said water stops at 5K, 10K, and 15K. (And that's where they were last year.) I'm confused, but take some water and hypothesize that maybe it's just an additional water stop. Miles 5-6 is some of the best running in Madison. Flat, on a bike path, heading into the city with your lake on the right. Beautiful. Splits:

Miles 7-9: Pass through the 10K in 1:05:10 or so. I'm on target for my 2:10, although I'll need to speed it up just a bit. Now where is that promised 10K water stop? I have my gel out and am ready to take it, but there's no water in sight. WTF. Run a bit farther and pass the Monona Terrace. I spot a public bubbler (drinking fountain) and see other runners making use of it as well. This'll work. The guy in front of me stops to use it. I swear, he stood there and gulped down water for over a minute. I timed it. DUDE. Drink for 20 seconds and let's go! He finally finishes and I wash down my gel. I find the next water station just before mile 8. I'm little ticked off about this. Water at miles 5 and 8 is fine, but don't tell me that I'm gonna get water at 10K! I'm starting to get tired and my breathing seems heavier than it should be. My stomach still has cramps. This isn't good. Somewhere in here a volunteer tells me I'm almost there. Nice try, lady. Splits:

Miles 10-12.4: There's a water stop manned by some frat guys at some point before mile 10. They're calling out, "$5 per cup!" I'm tired and it's not funny. I can feel the salt on my face and figured it might be smart to have some Gatorade at this station, but they don't have any. Oh well. I take the water and just keep on trudging. I'm not doing well at this point. The whole course is hillier than I remember it being. I get a couple of good boosts - a biker calls out to me, "Looking strong, runner!" and a I get a few high fives from a family sitting on the curb. Just like last year, this is the point where I miraculously start passing people despite the fact that I feel like I am dying. I tell myself that I'm almost there and to just keep moving. The wheels have come off and I just want to finish. I know a PR will happen, but sub-2:10 isn't looking feasible anymore. I'm about a mile away and I desperately want to walk. I'm running uphill into the wind and the heat has been starting to get to me for a while now. Everyone around me is walking, except for this one girl who looks to be in my AG and who I am playing leapfrog with. It's taking all my effort to just keep running. Finally, after what feels like forever, we turn a corner and I can see the finish line. I had let leapfrog girl go a couple of minutes ago and she is front of me now. I kick. I may be slow, but dammit, I can always muster up a kick at the end. I pass a good 5 people, including leapfrog girl. I spot my parents with my dog on the sideline and give them a wave. Splits:

Garmin time: 2:11:23 / Gun time: 2:12:13

I finish and am attempting to walk in circles instead giving into the intense urge to stop and put my hands on my knees. My parents find me. I learned that the chicken came through in 2:08:XX. Damn him. I can't even imagine how hot is it with that thing on his head. Next year I'm coming for you, Chicken! The bad thing about the finish of this race is that you don't get a full bottle of water at the end. They had a table set up with water in these TEENY TINY plastic cups. Cups smaller than the ones at the water stations (think dixie cup size.) It was ridiculous. So I had two cups of water in both hands and kept going back for more every 2 minutes. By the end I probably had a stack of 15 of those stupid cups. Dear Race Director - FAIL. Please remedy all your water problems next year. Otherwise, love your race.
So I PRed, but neglected to go sub 2:10 or beat the chicken. I'm not really sure why I struggled so much during this race. I was running at the same pace that I ran my last HM at (10:30). And I felt GOOD during my HM. I thought I would be able to run this a little faster, but no dice. I'm hoping for better at the Madison HM at the end of the month.