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!

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