I hope all of you out there in Blogland had a wonderful and joyous Christmas yesterday. Right now we have snow falling (about 3 or 4 inches) and I really don't want to go out and shovel the driveway but I suppose I will have to at some point in time. It looks a bit fluffier than the last snow fall so hopefully it will weigh less.
I am training for the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon to be held on January 23rd and 24th at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee. I am entered in the Gold Medal Challenge which consists of running the Half Marathon on Saturday morning and the running the Full Marathon the very next day on Sunday morning. I will explain more about this truly great and unique event a bit later in this post.
For my training this week, I decided to do double long runs, except not on consecutive days, 1 rest day between. It was kind of crappy out on Thursday (Christmas Eve) so I ventured off to Pettit for 50 laps around the Olympic Oval. There were only a hand full of runners so clear sailing the entire way. I was doing a rather easy pace knowing I was going to run on Saturday so I kept my laps around 2:23 to 2:28 each (8:40 to 9:00 pace). I only took on break for a minute to drink some water and continued on. With 5 laps to go, I decided to step it up and I picked up the pace to just about 7:00 per mile for the final ~1.4 miles. I felt good. The legs felt good. The ankle didn't appreciate the hard surface but nothing new here. I ended up averaging about 8:41 per mile for the 13.83 miles.
The day turned into a double workout when I got home though while I took the next hour to strength train in the form of shoveling the driveway. If you have ever shoveled about 5 inches of wet snow, you would understand that this truly is a strength training exercise.
I took Christmas Day off and spent it with family.
This morning I went to Pettit again. This time I slowed it down to laps of 2:35 to 2:38ish (9:24 to 9:35). I decided to pound out 84 laps, a mere 11.3 laps shy of a full marathon. This time I brought some water bottles and decided to break every 10 laps for water and 30 seconds of walking. This went well for the first 35 laps and then the legs felt a bit tired. No stopping though. I kept up the consistent pace. I was the first runner at Pettit today and even got in 5 laps before anyone else showed up. Lots of runner came and lots of runner left and I just kept pounding them out. My friends Chris and Dana ran 16 miles while I was out there as well. they were running considerable faster than me so I saw them every 6 laps or so as they passed me over and over. they left as I had 18 laps to go and I was tired but this worked into my plans and I wanted tired legs for the end. I kept to my plans and only took breaks every 10 laps and finished in 3 hours 29 minutes and 49 seconds. A conversion of 84 laps would be 23.23 miles. My knees were sore and my ankles were even worse but not nearly enough to stop me.
Like I said, the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon take place on January 23 & 24. This is a completely indoor marathon, 1 of only 2 I know of in the US. It consists of 95.3 laps of the Pettit Nation Ice Center in Milwaukee. I have heard from countless people that this must be so boring. Not so. There is music playing the entire time (No headphones allowed due to safety and space constraints). During the race, there usually are speed skaters on the ice training. Even some really little kids which is really fun to see. There are 95 aid station stops and 190 portolets along the course. If you have family or friends that want to watch you race, they can sit in one spot, preferably wit a jacket and maybe a blanket, and see you 95 times. It is the flattest marathon in the world and there is no wind. It is kept at just under 50F so the temps are great. The con is that it can get crowded at times and it the surface is hard. Other than that, there are no cons I know of.
On Saturday, there are 3 races. 2 half marathons and a marathon relay. the marathon relay is the only race still open but is sounds really cool. all the Gold Medal Challenge runners (all 40 of us) and 80 other half marathon runners run in the first half marathon at 7:00AM. The second half marathon starts at 9:30AM. I am not sure what they are going to do if any of the gold medal runners are still running the half at 9:30 (2:30 race time). Everyone submitted an anticipated time for the half so they spilt the field accordingly. Each race has a limit of 120 runners which will make it crowded on the track but as long as everyone follows the "run in the outside lane and pass on the inside lane", there really wont be a problem.
The marathon relay starts at 1:00PM and each team consist of 2 to 4 runners. the cool thing, and adds a lot to strategy, is that each team an exchange as many times as they want to. Each team will have their own designated area to exchange and I personally am curious how often teams will change. I would choose to exchange every 4 laps (~1.15 miles) but that is me.
Sunday is the full marathon and there is only 1 race. I did this last year and while I did not do well, I still loved it. Just like at the Goofy Challenge at Disney World, the half marathoners get a medal, the fulls get one too, but the runners who do the Gold Medal Challenge get a third medal. Maybe this is like a scarlet letter. You wear this to show how insane you are for doing both races.
That is the Icebreaker in a nutshell. I recommend all of you come up, down, or over to Milwaukee next year and try this unique race. It fills up fast so keep an eye open for it.