Saturday morning was the Madison Mini Marathon up in my old stomping grounds of Madison, Wisconsin! While training for my upcoming Fox Valley Marathon hasn’t been going as well as I would have liked, I’ve been looking forward to this trip up to Madison all summer. Last summer I also ran the Madison Mini and had a blast as well as an unexpected PR.
On Friday afternoon, M & I dipped out of work early
to beat the traffic join the masses heading out of Chicago on I-90. We sat for a lovely length of time, although it was good to mentally decompress from work and the craziness that has been enveloping me here in the city this summer. After bouts of going through traffic, construction (there was one 20 mile stretch!), we crossed the border into Wisconsin and high-tailed it to our hotel. (Thanks Mike for some free hotel night vouchers!)
After getting settled in and a last minute excursion for Mike’s forgotten gels, we headed to Fazoli’s, an Italian fast food place, for some dinner. It worked last year, so it should work again! We then got ready for the race, laying out all our stuff and putting a gear check bag together. New this time around was that Mike & I shared a gear check bag that he’d pick up when he finished, so it would all be done when I was ready! I had some new pink compression sleeves and some post-workout sandals to change into after the race. We also checked the weather, and saw a cool morning, with a 30% chance of rain.
The next morning, we awoke bright & early at 4:40 to eat breakfast, hydrate, dress & head down to the Memorial Union Terrace for our 7 AM race. Everything went according to plan, and we got there nice and early to sit & relax. Mike & I even discussed when to take a pre-race gel. He takes his about 45 minutes before the race start, and in the past I’ve taken mine while lined up in the corral, about 5 minutes before the start. I watched him take his, laughed at him, and then did some stretching. We separated as normal for him to do his warm-up and me to do my warm-ups (usually in the port-a-potty line).
While in line at the port-a-potties, I decided to take my expresso clif shot about 15 minutes before the race and see if it improves the effects of my race starts. Was delicious as usual. Once I got to the head of the line, I heard a race announcement: “We’re holding the race due to incoming weather. Please leave the start corrals and head indoors…” What do I do? Go to use the bathroom, and then head inside. In the Memorial Student Union, I found an armchair in a large room and camped out there. I was surprised that there weren’t more people in there, since I’d had a nice potty break. But slowly more people started filing in, and I was super glad I’d claimed my seat.
This was a good opportunity for people watching, especially as my Expresso clif shot kicked in and I got the caffeine boost that was supposed to be powering the first few miles of my run. Interesting items seen on my wait:
- Bride & Groom & bridal party that were going to run the race. Each person had a mini-bib on their back with their label, e.g. “Bride,” “Groom,” “Mother of the Bride”. Their wedding was scheduled for 5 pm same day. I’m sure they weren’t happy about the delay in the race, but I saw them out on the course later that morning!
- 4 Sausage Mascots made their way through the Union while we waited. I’d never seen them before, but apparently they ran the race too!
If you look closely, I’m sitting in a purple tank top in an armchair just in front of where the sausages are walking!)
Finally around 8:15 am, we heard someone yelling through a bullhorn that the race would begin in 15 minutes! Time to go out to the corrals! Good thing I got a bathroom break in while I was still inside the union.
It was still raining when we started, but I was pumped up by others around me who were excited. In particular there were two girls who I was standing next to who were very excited! I chatted with them, and it turns out that this was their first half marathon! I didn’t stick with them, but I hope they had as good of an experience as they were looking forward to at the starting line!
Miles 1-3: I’m a bit cautious on my energy, pace & footing. It’s pouring rain still, and all I have are my sunglasses. Water is pouring down the streets, so some downhills are slippery. I don’t love the rain, but if I can do this, I can do anything! We’re also running in the very familiar downtown Madison, right near where I lived my first year in Wisconsin.
mile 1: 10:20, mile 2: 10:21, mile 3: 10:45
Miles 4-7: Entering Vilas Park, a beautiful park just west of the downtown, and then into the Arboretum. Both areas are shady, which is good because the rain is stopping and the sun seems to be peeking through. We come upon some light hills while in the Arb, and I also realize I need to take a bathroom break. I keep trucking along, and am expecting an aid station & port-a-potties just after mile 6. We get there & I see a line. I’m not going to run to the next aid station, so I take this opportunity to stretch my legs, take a glass of water, and then use the bathroom. (Funny story: while I was in the port-a-potty, I heard someone say “Hurry up!” and I then yelled that they should cheer for us!!!) Out and back on the run, I felt a bit slow getting started again, but my times don’t really reflect that. I’m also starting to wonder about when I’m going to find the hashers, as I though they’d be just after mile 7. Keep running.
mile 4: 10:45, mile 5; 10:45, mile 6: 10:39, mile 7: 10:35
Miles 8-10: Just after Mile 8 I realize that I’m now actually closer to the Madison Hash beer stop (they’re always in the same spot for this race & the Madison Marathon), and then I see them!!! It was a small turnout, but I got two much appreciated hugs, some cheers, and a small cup of beer. Delicious fuel to keep on running! This part of the west side of the Arb and Monroe street are some of the prettiest parts of Madison that I ran in regularly, so I just tried to appreciate the scenery and keep up my pace! This was also where the highest hill (or so it seems) is, but at least there was a lot of spectators cheering.
mile 8: 10:38, mile 9: 11:04, mile 10: 11:00
Miles 10-13.1: Just after the big hill, there was a big downhill! I tried to ride the downhill & gravity as much as I could. I’m trying to keep my energy for a strong finish. I’m now re-entering the university campus, and was pleasantly surprised to see that the out & back I was expecting was waaay shorter than I remembered! (a post-race search of the 2010 course shows that this part of the course had indeed been shortened, and that the 2011 course put a bit more mileage in the downtown at the start of the race than the 2010 course). I zipped around the turnaround, hit mile 11 & then decided to book it in as fast as I could to the finish. I was feeling a LOT better than I normally do at the end of a race, despite the fact that I had some minor tummy troubles. I think too much gatorade… I kept up a good pace and was passing a lot of people. I had to take a quick walk break (count to 10) during mile 12, but then kept up and ran it in! Up the last hill and then run it into the finish line as hard as I could!
mile 11: 10:13, mile 12: 10:30, mile 13: 10:33, final 0.1 (0.21 on garmin): 9:53 pace
I also did a good job (I hope) of getting good pictures. Since it wasn’t too sunny out, I was able to take my sunglasses off when I saw the race photographers and I got at least 2 pix of me running with my arms up. Now we’ll just have to see about what the pictures actually look like!
I kept a competitive and relatively consistent pace throughout most of the race. My garmin time (paused only for the bathroom stop, but not my beer stop) was 2:20. That would be a P.R.!
l felt good most of my race! Apart from the stomach issues that made me use the bathroom at mile 6, and want to again at mile 11-12, I felt awesome. My legs felt great and were actually feeling pushed during the last few miles! (they are super-sore today though!)
Know the course! Having run this race before, and lived in Madison, I am more or less familiar with the course. I knew what to expect, although I should have perhaps studied the key changes in the course from this year to last year.
My outfit. I feel good in my tank top & compression shorts. I’ve got the pockets I need, and I feel a bit fashionable in my purple top!
What to work on:
Stay true-er to my nutrition plans. I know that regular gatorade is too strong for me to have every other mile. I’ve like the electrolyte tabs I’ve been using on recent runs.
Not eating my expresso gu just before an hour and a half rain delay.
Rolling and stretching afterward.
Actually running in preparation for the event.
And onto that, time to plan out my runs for the week…