Last Sunday, two friends and I ran the Madison half marathon. Sticking to my goal to do marathons in capital cities, I suggested Madison, WI when a friend mentioned her desire to do a full marathon…that’s right, her first! It was Memorial Day weekend, so we’d have some solid recovery time and I’ve always wanted to visit Madison. Who doesn’t love a good midwestern town and as a UofI grad, I’d only heard great stories about State Street!
So, LMGB and I signed up for the big race and started training. Eventually, we talked another friend (KP), who is a rockstar runner and triathlete into coming with us and running. So last Friday, the three of us left for the city of recent political unrest. Unfortunately, the forecast wasn’t looking all that great. I’m not talking about freak winter storms in May. This was 93 degree temps with midwest humidity. With the type of humidity they were predicting, not event a breeze from the lake were going to do us any good.
To back up for a minute, I had another good friend, who we’ll call N.Bisou run the Green Bay marathon the weekend before. They cancelled the race after 3 hours after sending 18-20 people to the hospital and running dangerously low on medical staff. N.Bisou was at mile 18…yuck! With that in mind, the Madison Festivals sent out an alert on Tuesday before the race, warning of an upcoming cancellation of the full marathon. They announced they would let us know on Friday, which didn’t leave any time to change plans if we were depending on the outcome. So, we sucked it up and went anyway!
About 1:00 pm on Friday and one hour into our drive, we got the alert that the full marathon had been cancelled and we would have the option to run the half marathon, as well as a $20 credit to next year’s full. This was disappointing, to say the least. I’ve been lucky enough to run a few marathons, and this certainly wasn’t going to be my list, so my biggest disappointment was breaking my streak of running capital city MARATHONS (Des Moines, Lincoln, Sacramento). My feelings were the least of our problems.
My good, good friend LMBG had just trained for many months (like 5 or 6) for a full marathon and she’d done most of the runs, if not all, on her own, with her own motivation. She worked her freaking butt off and she was ready and excited…I’m not really sure I’ve ever felt that before a race! I’m really lucky to have some awesome, similarly crazy friends who like to go out and run massive numbers of miles with me, but I promise you, I’m not sure I’d be as dedicated without their support and the fact that they’re counting on me to show up in the mornings to join them for runs. I’m very good at coming up with excuses when I don’t really want to do a run – don’t ask me for help on this, because you might never run another day in your life.
My point…LMGB handled the cancellation with grace and ease, but I know it was killing her knowing that all the work she spent the past months putting in wasn’t going to follow the timeline she planned for. In true kick-ass fashion, she started looking up races in the upcoming weeks and months that might work in her’s, mine, and KP’s schedules. We’ve got some ideas, but nothing confirmed at this point. We’ll definitely be using that $20 credit for next year’s Madison full!
After the initial disappointment, we started planning for all the good shopping, food, and beer we’d be enjoying in Madison! I want to get to the race recap, so I’m not going to spend much time on Madison. I’ll save that for another night. I will say that Madison was fantastic. We stayed across the street from the Capitol, which was beautiful! The restaurants we found were phenomenal and we certainly made some good “American Hero” memories! (Yes, sorry for the inside joke…that’s for LMGB and KP).
It was already about 75-80 degrees when we woke up around 5:30/6:00 am. At least they had made the right call! I had been a little worried that midwestern weather would pull a trick and give us sprinkles and “great” running weather. We made some crappy packed hotel coffee, had a quick snack and took our sweet time getting out the door…I mean, we were just across the street from the start line anyway!
The three of us jumped into the pack and took off with the gun. The good thing about running in unfamiliar territory is it doesn’t get boring and there is always new stuff to look at. However, this also means that when I go back to remember the race, I barely remember any of it. I think the memory part of my brain shuts off during runs to remind my legs and muscles what to do. I know the route contained a lot of turns, not a terrible number of hills, and had a great mix of neighborhoods. We did run by the Governor’s mansion and I wondered how he felt about seeing his opponent’s signs in his neighbor’s yards. Speaking of that…I’m looking forward to Tuesday’s election results!! Did you vote??
I think it was around mile 10, we were headed towards the “out and back.” Now, don’t get me wrong. A lot of my morning runs are an “out and back,” and sometimes it’s a good strategy to tell yourself that all you have to do is run 5 miles. Then after 5 miles, you then tell yourself that you have to get back home, so you better keep running. However, that’s usually when I know how far the “out and back” actually is. This time, the end did not appear to be insight…for quite a while! I think all three of us founding ourselves cursing at one point, questioning when the heck they were going to let us turn around and run back downtown. At least this was along the river and we had a slight breeze!
Once we turned back, I think there was just about 1.5 miles left. I knew I had enough juice in the take to kick it into gear and keep my pace up. By this time, it was really hot out. They ended up getting some fire hydrants going to spray the runners. I think I just missed that!
Right as we’re about to run up to the Capitol, which was a great view, they throw one more, fairly steep hill at us. It.was.not.fun! Then the last 100 yards were downhill/flat to the finish line. I finished the race and then went to find KP and LMGB. We grabbed some water, snacks, and then went to find the beer tent! Some cool grass in the shade around the Capitol, with beer in our hands, was…well, heaven.
Personally, I wasn’t out beating any records, but my official time was 1:48:25, just a few minutes slower than my PR, so I really can’t complain. The timing chips they gave us were disposable, which was something I hadn’t seen before. They were plastic, laced through our shoe laces, and we could just throw them away. Once less thing to worry about right after crossing that finish line! The only other thing I want to mention about the race was the awesome support from the crowd. This is, by far, the most support I’ve ever seen throughout the course! It seemed like we were never without a cheering crowd…even if it was 5 college guys cheering us with their keg beer from the front porch as we made bets about whether they got up early or were still up from the night before. I should also mention the “rogue” beverage stop – they were passing out cups of beer and slices of bacon. KP’s kind of heaven! Other than that, I think things were pretty standard. If KP or LMBG remind me of anything, I’ll post an update.
Here’s to another half marathon and a commitment to the full next year! Oh, I should probably get to bed…Dam to Dam is going to come way early. Good thing for Saturday naps!
Until next time…