Monday, May 28, 2012

Madison Half Marathon Recap

I knew that today's half marathon was going to be tough, but I think I underestimated just how tough it would be.  When we left for the starting line it wasn't too awful out, which was surprising.  It was in the mid to upper 60's and there was a light breeze.  We found on-street parking (a small miracle in that town) only a few blocks from Capitol Square. The starting area was jammed with runners.  When the gun went off, it took several minutes to get to the starting line and there was a lot of weaving around runners and avoiding getting stepped on once I crossed the chip mat.

Mile 1 was all downhill, so I tried to play it conservative, but found myself running just off the shoulder of the 2:10 pace leader.  Mile 1 time was 9:39 - much faster than the 9:55 pace that would lead to a 2:10 finish. I knew there was no way I could run that kind of pace today - not given the temperature (which was rising) and the humidity. I backed off the pace as we approached the first water station.  Talk about a disaster! People mobbed the first table and were pushing and shoving trying to get to the water. The volunteers were trying, but they couldn't keep up with the demand. I stopped at the second table and it was a little less crowded and there were a few less elbows being thrown.  Mile 2 was a more reasonable 10:03, and I was quite amused by the spectators that were handing out beer and bacon to the runners (I didn't indulge in either) as they passed by! I was still feeling pretty good at this point. The course was winding its way through a residential neighborhood with lots of trees providing shade so I picked up the pace again and finished Mile 3 in 9:40.  That was my last really good mile.  We turned onto an unshaded stretch of road and the heat and the rolling hills started to become a major factor.  I was getting really hot and starting to feel a little dizzy. As a result, my pace shot through the roof. The next 6 miles went by at paces between 10:10-11:06. One of the highlights of that stretch was running past the governor's mansion. It looked nice, and I couldn't help thinking that it would be nice to take a swim in the fountain out front!


 There was a particularly unpleasant stretch of road before the Mile 9 marker. We passed through a tunnel under the Monona Terrace Convention Center and while it was nice to get out of the sun, the air was so stagnate in there that it was hard to breathe.  I've never been so happy to get out of the shade!

Miles 10-12.5 were an exercise in misery. It was a long, hot, unshaded out and back stretch with only one water stop. On top of that, the first half of that out and back was all uphill.  On a positive note, the water station at Mile 11 was also handing out cups of ice.  I can't tell you how good that felt. I dropped a few cubes into my water cup and had my first cold drink in almost 2 hours.  I shoved half the remaining ice under my hat and the rest went down my bra!  It helped a lot!  Once I hit the turnaround point, I started feeling a little better since I was being cooled by ice and running downhill, and managed to get my pace back down to the 10:20's.

The water station at Mile 12.5 was by far my favorite.  The Madison Fire Department had a hose raining cold water down on us (even from a distance those things pack quite the punch) and the volunteers were again handing out cups of ice.  More ice under the hat and down the bra, Jay-Z & Linkin' Park blasting on my iPod, and one more up hill and it was time to make the final turn back to Capitol Square. And there it was...the nastiest uphill I've ever seen so late in a race.  I ran up as far as I could and then power-walked to the top where it flattened out. The spectators were amazing as I entered the final .1 mile stretch. They were screaming and cheering as though their lives depended on it!  I dug down deep and poured myself into that last 1/10 of a mile, completing it in 28 seconds (6:03 pace!).

Both sides of the street were jammed 2-3 people deep with screaming spectators.
I finished in 2:18:55 (10:36/mile avg.). It wasn't my fastest 1/2 finish by a long shot, but it wasn't my slowest either.  All things considered, I'm not too disappointed by the time.  I met all four of the big goals I had set for myself going into this race once I knew that the conditions were going to be so tough. 

Goal #1: Finish the Race - Check
Goal #2: Finish the Race without needing medical attention - Check
Goal #3: Finish with a time better than my PW (personal worst) - Check
Goal #4: Beat my previous Madison 1/2 time (set in 2009) - Check (by 5 minutes)

I made my way through the finishing chute, collecting my medal, gatorade, water, a tiny turkey and cheese sub, and bag of chips. Then it was time to try to find The Husband.  We had designated a meeting spot, but in my post-running haze, I didn't realize that said meeting spot was actually behind me! I ended up doing a complete loop of Capitol Square (made extra confusing by the fact that each side of the square is a mirror image) before locating The Husband (who finished in 2:10)!  We were both exhausted and agreed that the whole race could be summed up in three words: That. Was. Rough. But, we did it. And that's what really matters.



April said...

Glad you finished w/no health issues. Kudos for running in this heat...I walk the dog before the heat sets in. Bacon and Beer? Really? LOL Is that even legal?

BeringSeaJunkie said...

Congratulations!! Knew you could kick butt!! Sorry for not reading these sooner... but, well I've been too lazy to do anything in this heat(!) - yes I realise the irony in that I'm too lazy & you ran a half marathon...

Even better than the fact that you completed with no medical issues, is the fact that you completed 2 other big goals, that's fantastic!!

As they say - Bring on the next one!! :)

Delyth Edwards said...

HUGE Congratulations to both of you my lovely! Seriously, in that heat, your times were amazing. Going on that basis, you would finish the London Marathon in just over four hours!

So glad that they had plenty of volunteers there to hand out ice and water, it sounds like it was very well organised.

Very, very proud of you hun! As I always say, an inspiration!

hkairedalespack said...

Congratulations! You both did great with tremendous endurance! I used to run (actually more of a slower jog) when I was in my teens and early 20s. Must say the thought of eating bacon (or much of anything) while running is highly unappealing - LOL!

Mary said...

Oh, it's legal. Beer is like mother's milk to people in WI!

Mary said...

My summer racing schedule has no shortage of events. There's always a 'next one'!

Mary said...

Such faith you have in me! I'm guessing that I could do London (based on past marathon performances and a quick glance at the course profile) in about 4:40-4:45. I'd love to find out some day!

The volunteers were awesome. They really do make or break a race.

Mary said...

Trust me, I wasn't doing much more than a slow jog for that race! The thought of eating bacon or drinking beer while running doesn't do much for me either - and the smell of spilled beer baking in the sun was pretty revolting too. I'll stick to my GU gels!

Rae said...

Nice job, Mary! You really perservered, especially given the conditions!!