Saturday, September 15, 2012

You Can Call Me Al (Al's Run Race Recap)

It was a beautiful day for a race - especially one that starts on the campus of my alma mater, Marquette University.  Al's Run (now formally called Briggs & Al's Run & Walk for Children's Hospital) was started by legendary MU basketball coach in 1977 to benefit Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and has raised over $13 million in the last 35 years.

I've been really bad about training in general the last few weeks (which is a whole different blog post), but when the opportunity to do this race arose, I couldn't say no.  This morning, Mr. R&R and I drove to campus and registered on-site to do the race.  While we were doing that, I couldn't help smiling because the Marquette Band, which I was part of for 4 years, was playing one of my favorite songs from back in the day: You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon.  How appropriate for the occasion!

Yes, I'm somewhere in that mess! (circa 2000)

After we registered, we had some time to kill so we walked all over the campus and I couldn't help noticing how much it's changed in the years since I graduated.  It was always a nice looking place, but you can definitely tell they've dumped a lot of money into cosmetic improvements in the last few years!  My favorite building on the campus looked as lovely as ever - the 14th Century gothic oratory known as St. Joan of Arc Chapel.

Before long, we were filing onto Wisconsin Avenue with approximately 14,000 other people.

I noticed that I was standing far too close to the front - as in near the 7 min/mile pace area!  However, there weren't a lot of people in the vicinity and I decided I'd rather get a clean start and get passed like crazy than waste energy bobbing and weaving around the walkers and baby strollers farther back. The gun went off, I hit play on my iPod, and it was go time.

The first mile was fantastic.  It's a long, straight, down-hill run.  I felt really good and had to keep reminding myself that a) I had 4 more miles to run and b) the pace I was running only felt good because I was running down hill!  Mile 1 went by in 9:02. My favorite part of that mile? Running it faster than the Navy/Army ROTC group!

Mile 2 continued through downtown Milwaukee and then turned into a neighborhood known as 'The East Side'.  I slowed down a little here, but still not bad.

Mile 3 contains my absolute favorite part of the race: Lafayette Hill.  This hill is miserably steep if you have to run up it, but fortunately we were running down it! A free speed boost? I'll take it!

Mile 4 was a long, straight stretch of road paralleling the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  It's usually a great place to run, but there was no breeze coming off the lake today so the sun was absolutely scorching. 

Mile 5 just sucked. My pace, which had been pretty consistent for Miles 2-4, skyrocketed.  I was hot, tired, and ready to be done; but I was also chasing a rabbit in my mind.  I haven't run this particular race or distance since 2009 and I was really hoping to PR this race.  That wasn't looking too likely given my average pace for the first half of that mile.  After some quick calculations I realized that it was still possible, but I was really going to have to push hard.  I went for it.  I hated every minute of that last half mile and seriously thought I was going to puke afterwards, but I DID IT!  My 32 year old self beat my 29 year old self by 36 seconds!

Official Finishing Time: 50:07 (Avg. Pace: 10:05)

Of course we all know my Garmin usually tells a slightly different story, so here's that data if you're interested:

Course was slightly long according to Garmin, but I also know it took me a few seconds after crossing the finish line to stop my watch.  Either way, I probably didn't deserve to PR due to my lack of training these days, but I'm still happy about it!  Overall it was a pretty performance on a good course with really solid volunteer support and great organization. What more can you ask for?


Rae said...

Awesome! I love it when you PR and you don't expect to!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats!! It looks like a fun course with lots to look at too.

Mary said...

Thank you! I really didn't deserve it!

Mary said...

It is a great course.

April said...

I am so glad you run for us all. I can hike for miles, but pavement? Kills me. Ankles, knees, spine hurt like a !@#$%^&*()