I finished the Gold Medal Challenge of the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon and Half Marathon here in Milwaukee at the Pettit National Ice Center. The good news is just that, I finished, the bad news is...well...not too much. I did not meet my main goal but did achieve some minor goals. I finished the full marathon today in 4:23:48 good for 55th place overall. Combine that with the 1:54:53 I ran yesterday in the half marathon, I ran the 39.3 miles in 6:18:41. This earned me 19th place overall in the Gold Medal Challenge out of 35 Gold Medal Finishers. The one goal, besides finishing, that I did achieve, was that I beat my time from last year in the full marathon by a mere 21 seconds and last year I did not run a half the day before.
The day started at 6:00 AM and did the usual before the race, same as yesterday. This time, though, my legs were already tight and sore before I even left the house. My hope was that they would loosen up once I arrived or after a few laps of running. I did not loosen up during the pre-race time and hoped for better results during the race. I decided, as planned, to go out a bit slower and I did just that. My first 20 laps were all between 2:33 and 2:39 which equated to a 9:20 to 9:40 pace. It was about at this time I knew that I could be in trouble if I kept this up as the legs were very tired and still tight.
My other plan was to take my usual 30 second walk breaks every 10 laps (~2.75 miles). My plan was to do this through 70 laps and then possibly change that to a break every 5 laps for the last 26 laps. I know from experience that if I take an "unscheduled walk break" that this spells doom for me and I might as well let the crash and burn commence. So far I kept to the plan.
Since I was still tired, I backed off the pace a little to the lower 2:40's. I kept this for quite a lot of laps and I went through the half in about 2:06:30ish. By lap 50 or so, I slowed down slightly to about 2:50 per lap. I was getting quite tired but still kept to the plan but now that plan had changed some to avoid the complete meltdown and try to keep running. By lap 70 or so, I has slowed down some more to the upper 2:50's and some laps in the low 3:00 minute range. 3:00 per lap equates to a pace of 10:55 per mile and I really didn't want it to get much slower if possible.
It was at this time that my girls showed up to watch me the rest of the way. This was the first time they saw Daddy run a marathon. It was great to get high 5's from theme EVERY lap the rest of the way and from some of their Teddy Bears as well. But just after they showed up, I had the defining moment of the race for me. On lap 74, my legs said, "that is it, I need a break", but I concentrated a lot and said "no, I will not stop to walk some" and kept moving knowing that if I stopped, it would be curtains for me. It was a very hard lap for me to bear but I was so glad to get over it and keep going. I had another problem suddenly when I started noticing a little problem with my vision that I know means I am getting dehydrated. I listened and picked up my water bottle that lap, kept running, but got some more water in me.
Lap 80 came and I took my scheduled break and took an extra packet of salt to hold off any cramps that may be forming. I now knew that I only had 5 laps until the next break but I did stop where my girls were and got a quick salt kiss on the cheek from each of them before I kept going. Lap 85 came and I took my break and continued on. After starting up again, I heard Paul was on his final lap from the announcer and I looked at my watch and it said 3:58. He passed me at 3:59 and I began yelling at him to sprint it in so he cold break 4 hours. He did with a final time of 3:59:28 (he had one hell of a kick). Paul ended up finishing in 34th overall in the marathon and 9th overall in the Gold Medal Challenge.
I took my last break at lap 90 and had only 5 laps to go when I started up again. There was a lady I talked to quite a few times in the race that was in the Gold Medal Challenge as well that had passed me 2 laps before to be only 1 lap down from me. She finished 10 seconds ahead of me in the half marathon so I knew it could be close for final Gold Medal standings so I used her to motivate me to the end. I also knew that if I put up a herculean effort, I might be able to beat my time from last year. So with 4 laps to go (1.1 miles), I pick up the pace and suddenly feel pretty good as I begin to pass other runners at a fast pace. Suddenly lap 92 was at 9:30 pace. Lap 93 was at 8:51 pace. Lap 94 was at close to 8:00 pace and the final 1.37 laps were at 7:31 pace. I found something that was hidden very deep in there. The final mile was by far my fastest mile.
So I finished 21 seconds ahead of last year but more importantly, I finished. I didn't feel good during any point of the full marathon but that doesn't mean I didn't have fun. I had quite a few friends there cheering me on as they volunteered during the race. It is really unique to have so many opportunities for friends and family to cheer you on during a marathon. My girls had lots of fun with the 2 medals I earned today (Silver for the full marathon and Gold for the Gold Medal Challenge).
The Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon is a really great event that I plan on doing every year that I can. I am going to do one more post on this event next time detailing more of what happened during the race and my observations and opinions of the race as well. Most of them good, a few maybe not so good but I really want to share them with for those of you maybe interested in entering in future years.
Thanks to all of you who were cheering me on from all over the US (and maybe the world). I think I will take tomorrow off from running!