Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thoughts on the Icebreaker and a few Photos

My last 2 posts were about my races during the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon. I detailed how I did and how I felt during the races. Now I would like to tell all of you what it was like to run the race and other perceptions I had of the entire event.

To start, the package pick up was extremely easy. I arrived less than 1 hour before each race to get my timing chip and packet. There was maybe 2 people in line and many at the packet pick up table to help. After that, there was a room upstairs with windows looking over the track to stay and relax before the race.

I know a lot of you are thinking that running either 47 laps (Half Marathon) or 95 laps (Full Marathon) must be extremely boring. I know this because even my friends I run with think this when they haven't ever run there. I did not hear one person who thought that during the race and the posts on Marathon Guide say the same. Others have said that they thought it would be crowded on the track. Again, not the case. Each race had a little over 100 runners and with them all spread around the track, it was quite smooth. There was a rule to run in the outside lane unless passing and most everyone followed this making the race go very smoothly. In fact, the ONLY time I ever had to say "Track" to get someone to pull over was on my final lap of the Full Marathon when i was sprinting pretty fast.

The announcer was great! In both races, I was announced as a runner of note being the Race Director of the WELS Kid's Marathon. Paul was mentioned because he ran a marathon only 1 week earlier and many others were named for other various reasons that were fun to hear. I will talk to Chris, the race director, and suggest that people could mention something on the entry form and the announcer could mention that at some point during the race. I would think most people would like to hear their name during the race. In fact, most everyone did hear their name as the announced when each runner was on their last lap and then congratulated them after finishing. I hope they get the same announcer for next year. He did a great job.

I know some of you also like to run with headphones. In this race they were not allowed for good reason. The rack is only 2 lanes wide so being able to hear other runners was very important. Besides, when registering for the race, they asked for 3 songs you wanted to hear during the race and then they played them at some point. This year they even turned up the volume as last year it was too soft.

Another thing that was unique to this race is that you could watch the entire race unfold in front of your own eyes. The announcer kept everyone informed on how the leaders were doing. How often do you get to see the winners of the race when you are running in the same race? Well, unless you are the winner or just behind them, you can't. But here you could see leads forming or shrinking. Passing and changing of leaders and even some of the problems the leaders encounter. My friend Dana was leading the race by 2 laps at about the 21 mile mark until he had to pull off and drop out because of an ankle tendon injury. I saw him on the side of the track stretching it before he dropped out which caused me concern as I was pulling for him to win, but in a regular marathon, I never would have seen any of that.

Do you have family or friends that like to watch you run marathons? There is no better place than at the Icebreaker. With 95 laps of running, they can just sit in the bleachers and cheer you on every lap and even give you high 5's. No need to drive ahead and wait until you come by not knowing how long it really would be. The only thing you need to be aware of is that you should bring a jacket if you plan on cheering, it is dry and cold in there, about 45 to 50F. But they were selling hot coffee! And you could go upstairs to the "Hall of Fame" room where is was warmer and watch through the windows.

Water stops? How about 95 of them with them handing you your own person bottle. Also they were very friendly and enthusiastic. Bathrooms? 190 portolets along the course. You never go more that 220 meters before the next one! Don't want to carry your Gels or want to start with a warmer shirt before you take it off? Each runner has a personal bag drop area that is no more than 15 feet from the track.
In case you can't tell, I love this race and plan on doing it again and again. But not everything is good. The track is about a 1/4 inch of hard rubber on top of cement. Not very forgiving at all. But proceeds of this race are collecting to purchase a new running track for the Pettit Center. I am not sure how many years that will take though. The medal is only marginal as well. I can't complain too much though because they get it from the same place I get the Kid's Marathon medals from.

There was a group in the Marathon Relay from Fit Milwaukee that put a video on YouTube so if you would like to see a little of what the race was like, just visit there.

Here is Paul and I only 30 meters into the Full Marathon. Wonder what I am looking at on the ground?

Here I am somewhere in the first 10 laps of the full.

Chris running in the first Half Marathon.

Dana looking smooth before his ankle injury.

Paul running well in the Half Marathon. You have to love the girl's ponytail mid-air behind Paul. She is a local news TV Sportscaster. The girl next to her is running across the country starting in March in San Fransisco all the way to New York raising funds for MS.

I am going to try to post 1 more time about one special runner in the race.


Melanie said...

I've enjoyed reading about how these races went for you!

Beth said...

I think this sounds like the perfect race. I'm glad you enjoyed it and did so well. Cool Mickey shirt, too!