Thursday, December 27, 2012

PBD Preparations

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and received lots of new, fun, running related gifts to make 2013 the best running year!  I also hope everyone didn't get to commercialized at Christmas and celebrated the real reason for season.

I was able to get in 10 miles on Christmas Eve at the Pettit Center.  The doors now open earlier and so I arrive a little before 6:00AM since I had a conference call scheduled at 8:30.  The first almost 3 miles were all by myself on the track.  It is nice sometimes when you are by yourself.  I get a lot of thinking done when running and I was able to reflect on the holidays and gatherings that already happened and ones about to take place that day or the next.  Then a few other runners joined in and the track was no longer mine alone.

Last Saturday was getting ready for the Polar Bear Dash 5K which takes place on New Year's Day.  Chris and I marked and measured the course and knowing where the mile marks would be plus where the runners would enter the water and how far into the water they would go.  It was a chilly morning but no wind and sunny.  Beautiful out for a run, we would be very happy if the same weather happened next Tuesday.

Now it is getting all the final supplies for the race and making sure we didn't forget anything.  Should be a good day to start the new year off on the right foot...and then the left.

Keep on Running!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

1000 Again

Today I ran 5 miles after work and passed 1000 miles for the year.  This has been a down year for me in miles run.  In the past couple years, I passed 1000 miles at some point in August.  The last few years I have been recording 1600+ miles but with the IT Band injury in January, not recording a single mile in February, and running about half as much as I like to over the summer (fear of the IT Band return), the miles have lapse.

My marathon times this past fall have reflected the less miles run, at least that is what I feel happened.  I think I need to train the legs to handle more miles so when miles 23 to 25 come, they are good to still go.  I plan on working on that again next year.

This is the 7th straight year I have recorded over 1000 miles.  It might be more years, but I can't find my logs from 2005 and before.  Over those 7 miles, I have recorded 9386 miles.  I wonder how many miles I would have over my lifetime?  Hmmm?

Keep on Running!!!

Polar Bear Dash

I am a runner and I am an idea guy.  Not all my ideas are great ones, let's be honest, some of the really suck, but sometimes I hit on something.  One idea that I had brewing in my mind the past bunch of years involved organizing a race that would take place on New Years Day.

I don't put on races.  Well, I do put on the I Run Kids Marathon but that is not the same as a road race.  In the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to be friends with a few of the makers and shakers in the Milwaukee running community that do put on races.  I was asked 3 years ago to be apart of the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon crew and have learned a lot about what it takes to put on a race.  Chris is the director of that race and we have become good running friends so it was a natural for me to approach him with the new idea I had.  I am not comfortable with putting on a race all by myself so it was nice to hear that Chris was interested in my idea and we have partnered up to make it happen.

Here was my original idea years ago.  Have a race (length not too important) with the finish line about 50 to 100 feet into a lake.  Now that may not seem like a big deal out there in some places like the south, but in Wisconsin, generally it is pretty cold in the winter.  The race would take place on New Year's Day, traditionally pretty cold.  The idea was to finish, you had to "Go for it" and get wet on a cold (or freezing) day.

In talking about the race, we both knew that it would be very hard to get people to run this race if the finish was in the water, plus timing the race would become a real bear (pun intented).  We knew only super die hards would do that and there would be no way to cover all the costs if few people entered.  (if you have never put on a race, there are a ton of expenses most people have no idea about).  We brainstormed and have a race now schedule for New Year's Day 2013 called the Polar Bear Dash.

The Polar Bear Dash is going to be a 5K race in Grant Park in South Milwaukee on January 1st starting at 11:00AM (people can sleep in a little after all the revelry of New Year's Eve).  We have a club house rented for registration and keeping warm before the race (and after too).  At the 3 mile mark of the race, runner will have an option of entered the frigid waters of Lake Michigan and running about 50 meters parallel to the shore in about knee deep water before running to the finish line.  Runners who chicken out can run right next to the water but stay dry.  Runners who do the "Polar Dip" are not required to go all the way in, head to toe, but there will be no way to avoid shoes, feet, ankles, knees and most of the legs from getting wet.  No guarantees the ground under the water is even either so watch out so you don't trip.  The final 50 meters will be out of the water to the parking lot to the finish line. 

We will have the usual overall awards and age group awards but we will also have awards to the top 3 males and females that get out of the water.  After the race, runners can go full in the water if the choose (we will have a cold water rescue team there) or head to the heated club house for post race refreshments and the awards ceremony. 

As of earlier this week, we had about 120 runners already signed up with almost half saying they planned on doing the Polar Dip portion of the race. With registration still open and race day registration available as well, we hope to get 200 runners.  After the Polar Bear Dash is complete, only 2 1/2 weeks until the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon.

If you are interested in joining the Polar Bear Dash or would just like more information, you can go to our website

That is my latest running project.  I do have some more ideas that i am formulation through that involve races so who know, there may be more I put on.

Keep on Running!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Be near me, Lord Jesus!
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Race Report - Kiawah Island Marathon

Saturday, December 8th was the Kiawah Island Marathon on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, just south of Charleston right along the Ocean.  This ended up being my 44th marathon overall and my 7th and final marathon for 2012.

Being December in South Carolina, you really never know what kind of weather you will get.  I like a cold day for a marathon but unfortunately, it turned out to be a warmer day.  You would never think that by all the running tights, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, etc that people were wearing though.  Runners from the south make me laugh at times with how cold they think it is.  But then again, they probably laugh at me at when it is warm for me and they feel it is perfect.

Kiawah Island Resort was the host of this marathon and from what I could tell, there are 2 parts to this gates community.  The first part where packet pickup and the start and finish were in an area in which you could rent out rooms and condos.  The second part of the resort is a community where lots of very nice homes scattered tree lined streets with nice bike paths with golf courses. And from what I could tell, VERY nice golf courses.  So much so that the Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean Course hosted the 2012 PGA Championships.  Unfortunately, we never were able to see this course though we ran close to it for about 4 miles.

At packet pickup, you were not given the usual bag with stuff in it, but rather just your long sleeve race shirt and your race number with chip on the back.  There was a "Store" area where you could purchase stuff too so if you forgot anything, you were good to go.

Since there is limited parking at the resort, as you arrive on race morning, you park in a huge grass field where you then load onto a bus to take you the final mile to the start/finish area.  Once there, there was a large room where runners could hang out in the warmth indoors until race time.

The streets in this resort are a bit smaller than your usual roads so the start area was very crowded.  There were over 1000 full marathon finishers and over 2000 half marathon finishers.  Once the gun went off at 8:00AM to start the race, it took me about 2 minutes to reach the starting line where there was a chip mat (big bonus over the last marathon I ran).  Funny thing was that the chip mat was about 50 or so feet ahead of the big starting line banner!?!?  I started near the 4:00 runners but was not happy with having to pass countless walkers who started ahead of me.  One group of 5 walkers were all abreast making it very difficult for anyone to pass them.  I do not understand why people to this but maybe some pace signs along the starting area would have helped.

This race has a very flat course.  Maybe 6 feet of elevation change over the entire course.  The area you run in is mostly the gated homes roads which were very beautiful and landscaped nicely.  No industrial areas.  No endless country farm fields.  No downtown big buildings.  Not that any of that is necessarily bad, but there were no real ugly or bad areas you ran through on the course.  The course did have some drawbacks.  There were 4 fairly long out and backs for the full marathoners (1 for the half marathoners).  This wasn't as bad as it would seem but does get discouraging seeing all the runners ahead of you running the other direction.

The half marathoners ran about the first 11 miles with the full marathon runner which made it quite crowded.  that wasn't too bad when we could run on the roads, but on the first out and back that was about 2 miles each way, after the turn around, runners needed to run on the bike path which was not near wide enough to pass or get passed effectively.  Other than those issues, the course was very nice and many of the people who lived in the community came out to cheer on the runners.

The volunteers along the course were great.  Plenty of water for everyone when there was water stops.  For the first half of the race, there were plenty of aid stations but were lacking during the last 6 miles.  I think some race organizers think that the same distance between aid stations is OK throughout the course but in my opinion, they need to be more frequent in the last 6 miles.  Going 2 1/2 miles after mile 20 for the next aid station is too far.

The post race spread was really nice too.  The usual bananas,oranges, breads where there but they also had a great soup to have.  Coffee and hot chocolate were available too.  But no chocolate mile :(.  

Kiawah Island Marathon shirt and medal.

This years medals were very interesting and unique.  It was an acrylic or glass like material that is somewhat see through.  It is hard to read but different.  I think that if this were my first marathon, I would be disappointed in the medal but I don't have any other medal like it so I kind of like it, it is growing on me.  I have nothing like it. 

Close up of the Kiawah Island Marathon Medal.

Mike, Paul and I decided a couple months ago to run this race and check off South Carolina from our list.  We had decided to fly to Charlotte, NC to save over $100 per person on the flight and then rent a car to drive down.  We arrived in Charleston, SC on Friday after stopping and picking up our numbers and shirts.  Race day wee arrived near the start area about 1 hour early and proceeded to sit in the ball room resting.

My goal for the race was to run another sub 4 hour marathon and planned to run that pace.  I was worried because the weather was going to be warmer that I like.  I prefer a marathon that starts with temps in the upper 30's and ends in the mid to upper 40's.  This race was beginning in the low 50's and was forecasted to be in the low 70's by noon when I planned on finishing. 

Mike and Paul near the start of the marathon.

I am ready to go on another 26.2 mile journey.

I started the race in my Fargo Marathon long sleeve shirt and planned on ditching it when I warmed up.  After 4 miles, I was sweating pretty good and that was a good time to go to just the singlet on top.  I was running quite sluggishly too, the legs felt a bit slow and the first 3 miles in fact were closer to 9:30 pace with all the slow walkers and runners to pass.  After that, I was able to pick the pace up and gradually increased my pace dropping my average mile pace.  By mile 8, my average pace was down to 9:11 and I was close to the 4 hour pace.  

After the half marathoners turned off the course, there were much less runners and finally room the breathe out there.  My legs still felt sluggish but I passed the half marathon point with a time of 2:00:38, almost right on pace.  I decided to pick it up a little and dropped the average mile pace to about 9:05 but tried to stay in control as it was getting quite warm and I needed to save all I could for the final 6 miles.  

Here I am at about mile 24.  I look much better than I feel at this moment.

I nice thing about all the out and backs was that I was able to see my friends along the way and know how far ahead they were.  At mile 14, Mike was just under 1 mile ahead and from mile 7 until past 20, I could see Paul ahead of me from time to time about 2 minutes ahead.  My goal was to catch in toward the end, incentive to keep going.  Through mile 22, I was still on pace but it was very close.  Mile 23 was very tough but ended up still being faster than 9:30.  I caught Paul at mile 23 and we ran the rest together.  The temperature now was in the upper 60's to low 70's and I was sweating pretty good.  Mile 24 was even more of a struggle but still right around 9:30.  I was behind pace now and my legs were falling apart in the heat.  I still don't think I have the endurance in the legs that I need.  Miles 25 and 26 were terrible as I took a few extra walk breaks where I shouldn't have.  I ended up finishing in 4:07:06.  I made sure I stayed on my feet and drank a lot of water right after I finished to avoid the trouble I had in West Virginia and this time, no problems.

Down the final stretch, I mustered enough energy to have a fast final 1/4 mile. 

Over the course, there were timing mats at miles 5, 10, half, and 20.  They then had a link to show how you did over the course of the race at different sections of the race.  For instance, I ran 6.5 mph for the 10 miles.  From 10 to the half, I ran 6.5 mph.  From the half to mile 20, I picked up the pace slightly to 6.6 mph.  Then over the last 6.2 miles, my pace dropped to 5.9 mph.  But even with the slower pace, it shows that I passed 72 runner during that distance and was only passed by 7.  I guess I wasn't the only one who struggled at the end. 

 The finish chute for the marathon and half marathon.

I did enjoy the Kiawah Island Marathon and if I happen to be in the area again, I would love to run this one a second time. They were not a perfect marathon, but definitely above average.  This was the 35th anniversary of the marathon so they did have plenty of practice.

Mike, Paul and I glad to be done and ready to head out for a nap.
I now have 17 states completed and 44 fulls under my belt.  Up next will be the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon here in the Milwaukee area.  The race is already sold out (except for the Friday night 5K) but I have done it the last 4 years and it is one of my favorite marathons.  I am really looking forward to it again this year.

Keep on Running!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Training Continues

The miles are down this year.  In fact, the miles are down this month as well.  I had that IT Band injury early this year which sidelined me for about 2 months of no running and then this summer, I ran about half as much as I did in the past fearing the IT issue would resurface.  The past 2 years at this point in time, I would be around 1500 miles but this year I am still under 1000 miles, closer to like 915.  I think I will make 1000 for the year still barring another injury but still way down.

I am OK with this.  I think if things go well next year, I will be back up in mileage, maybe not to the over 1600 miles I have been at the past 2 years, but back up.  I have noticed that I do not have the endurance in the later miles that I used to have.  I struggles a lot to break 4 hours by only 3 seconds with pretty good weather 2 weeks ago where in the past, I feel that would have been to the lover 3:50's with similar conditions and course.

I did go on a 15 mile run with Mike this past weekend.  We finally got some pretty cold weather here in Wisconsin so this was the first really cold run of the season.  We left when it was 23F out.  My running tights have worn a little so to avoid so chaffing, I chose to wear shorts.  The first couple miles were a bit cold but in the end, it was nice shorts weather.  We ran a conservative easy pace and caught up on things talking the entire way.  In the last mile, we wanted to drop the average pace to under 9:09 (4 hour marathon pace) so we picked it up and ran a sub 8:00 to finish at average 9:07.

We are both going to South Carolina in 2 weeks (along with our friend Paul) to run the Kiawah Island Marathon. The goal will be a sub 4 again.  Hopefully it will be cold that day, I like the cold for race day.  The course is super flat, maybe like 10 feet difference since it is run right along the ocean.

In other running related news, on Thanksgiving, my friend Chris asked me to be the Race Day Director for his race in Burlington, The Talmer Turkey Trot.  Things went well and my 10 year old daughter, Melissa, ran.  She will tell you she ran terrible, and I agree, she did for her ability, but then again, she hasn't run in over a month and a half since Cross Country season ended.  She ended up running the 4 mile race in 37:47, over 2 minutes slower than she ran last year.  But, she did end up taking 1st place in the 14 and under age group so she was at least happy with that.

So the training continues and the races are still there.  I am still having fun.

Keep on Running!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Race Report - Marshall University Marathon

Sunday, November 11th was the Marshall University Marathon in Huntington, West Virginia.  Paul and I decided to run this race a few weeks ago and make a road trip out of it.  How much of a road trip?  Well, 1170 miles or driving in a little over 36 hours and add running a full marathon in there.  Sounds like a good road trip to me. 

Paul and I left from his house at 5:00AM on Saturday and pretty much drove straight through to Huntington, only stopping for gas and food.  After only 9 hours, we were on the campus of Marshall University to pick up our race numbers and shirt from the Rec Center on campus.  Oddly enough, there was no packet to pick up, I guess there were trying to go green or something.  All I received at the time was a technical short sleeve shirt and my race number.  So glad they gave out short sleeve shirts, too many race feel they need to give out long sleeve and I have waaaaayyy too many of those.

This is the 9th year of the Marshall University Marathon and is put on as a memorial to the many who lost their lives in a plane crash back in 1970.  Almost the entire Marshall  University Football team died back on November 14th, 1970 in a tragic crash coming back from a road football game.  The Movie "We Are Marshall" tells the story of the crash and the resurrection of the football team the following year.  On campus is a memorial fountain in honor of those who lost their lives.  The full marathon runs past this fountain 2 different times.  Unfortunately, the half marathon did not run past this fountain.  I think the marathon did a poor job at letting the runners know where this fountain was or that it really existed.  I found it after asking some staff on campus.  In past marathons here, they gave runners the option to place a flower at the memorial during the race but I did not see this happening this year.  Not sure if they did this or not.  

Memorial Fountain on the Campus of Marshall University.

West Virginia is in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains but somehow, they were able to create a mostly flat marathon there.  This marathon has only 3 or 4 very short hills, maybe 30 feet up so this is a fast course.  It is a double loop course for the full marathon which I was unsure if I would like or not.  I have done a 95 lap marathon and a 208 lap marathon, but never a 2 lap marathon.  In the end, I liked knowing the course and running it a second time when I was getting tired toward the end.  I would not mind doing a double loop marathon again.  Most of the course is on city roads but there is a stretch for a few miles each loop on a crushed limestone path through a pretty park.  If I remember correctly, there are very few full marathons in West Virginia so if you are trying to do all 50 states, this is a pretty good one to do.

The race started right outside the Football Stadium at 7:00AM.  The weather was cool, mid 40's and there was about 1500 half and full marathoners that all started together.  The road was pretty full of runners so Paul and I headed toward the back of the pack.  The announcer was either non existent or I just couldn't hear them but I never heard a National Anthem before the race.  We also could not hear the starting gun, we just saw runners starting to go.  There was no timing mat at the start either (this comes into play later).

Paul decided he was going to run with me so after a couple slow miles, we ramped it up to about 8:50 pace.  Paul was having some stomach discomfort to often we would stop and would catch up to me later.  It warmed up pretty quickly and by halfway through the first lap, I was warm and needed to remove the long sleeve shirt and go with just the singlet.  At the halfway point, I tossed my shirt and it was nice for awhile.

For the first 12+ miles, the half marathoners ran with the full marathoners, then right as we hit the edge of campus, the full marathoners turned into campus and ran straight through the middle right past the memorial fountain.  At the stadium, the full runners kept on the road and the half marathoners finished in the stadium.  Paul was with me as we passed the half in 1:57:45ish as the average pace was finally under 9:00.  We kept running on and off together as I would go ahead and he would catch up.

By mile 21, my legs were starting to get tired and it was getting quite warm, mid 60's already and fully sunny.  My goal was always to break 4:00:00 so I knew I needed to keep up 9:09 average to make that.  And I knew my garmin was marking the miles a little early so I knew I had less time.  The miles started slowing down but I kept my mind on track and still tried to get the under 4.  We hit mile 25 and I looked at my watch and guesses we needed to run a little under 9:00 to break 4.  I tried picking it up and Paul was being very encouraging.  Finally with a half mile to go, Paul was pulling away and I tried as much as I could to pick it up as I knew it was going to be close, VERY close.  The hill down into the football stadium was very steep and Paul was already way ahead of me making sure he broke 4.

The final part of the race is really cool.  You enter the stadium and run along the sidelines of the football field until you reach the 20 where you then run to the center of the field.  They then toss you a football for you to run with for the final 80 yards.  This was fun and unique.  I caught the football and headed for the goal line as fast as I could.  I crossed the finish line with the clock reading 4:00:24.  BUT, that was the gun time.  I said they didn't have a timing mat at the start line and this REALLY sucks.  My official time is 4:00:25 BUT my "Chip Time", if they had it, would have been 3:59:57.  Here is where I am confused at their decisions.  They had a timing mat at the finish of course.  They had one at the half marathon mark, AND they had one at 30 yards before the finish line (I assume so they could read your name over the speakers).  So now my official time is over 4:00 but I actually ran under 4:00 because I started in the back and it took me that long to reach the starting line.  Oh well, I am still going to call it a sub 4:00.

Finish line of the Marshall Marathon.  My "Chip Time" would be 3:59:57, not 4:00:24

After the race, we headed to the car to get some dry clothes before heading back to the stadium for some pictures.  Suddenly my blood pressure dropped (this has happened a few times after marathons) and I felt really crappy.  I was laying in the middle of the football field for a while waiting for it to pass as it has in the past.  This time took a little longer than usual and I think it has to do with me being a bit dehydrated after the race.  During the race, I think I was fine with hydration, but afterwards, it was warm and sunny and I think it happened quickly.  I recovered and after a quick shower, Paul and I got in the car and started our trek home.  We arrived home at about 10:00 PM after a stop in Cincinnati for a big dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.  I sure get hungry about 4 or 5 hours after finishing a marathon.  I can't eat anything for 2 or 3 hours but then it comes on strong.  

Paul and I inside the Stadium after the race.  Great finish location for a marathon.

 A view of the finish area inside the stadium.

The final 80 yards of the race is right down the middle of the field.  A football is tossed to you so you can carry it over those last 80 yards across the goal line. 

Overall, the Marshall University Marathon is a pretty good race, definitely in the upper half of marathons I have run.  Good, fast course with many scenic areas and not too many drab areas.  Plenty of aid stations along the course not too far apart from each other.  Great volunteers at the aid stations too and at almost every crossing.  There were many military service members at the intersections and since this race took place on Veterans Day, it was a great opportunity to thank each one as we ran past.  The finish area was really cool in the stadium with the music playing and names being read of the the speakers.  Running the final 80 yards with a football in hand was fun.  So glad I didn't drop the pass or fumble along the way.  Loved the green (Marshall colored) technical shirt with only 1 ad on the back.  A really cool finishers medal that is 2 sided with a thundering herd in it.  The letters RK are on both sides of the medal but I am not sure what that exactly represents.  I heard a rumor it was the initials of someone who was initially part of starting the race years ago but have not confirmed or denied this.

A little bummed they didn't have chocolate milk after the race.  My stomach was in no position to eat but they had food somewhere, some off the grill too.  Really bummed they didn't have a timing mat at the start.  Seems like a bad decision to me.  A didn't like that they seemed to not have anything, at least that I saw, for memorializing the place crash that I was under the impression was the reason they started the race.  I had watched the movie a week before the race to familiarize myself with the story.

 A nice short sleeve technical shirt.

 The front of the 2 sided Marshall University Marathon Finisher's Medal. 
The back side of the Finisher's Medal.  I saw this side first after the race and was confused for a second until I turned it over. 

Overall, this is a pretty good marathon with a few things they can improve on.  It was a fairly inexpensive race to enter if you signed up soon enough.  I signed up 2 weeks before and it was still only $60.  If you signed up way in advance, you received a jacket as well and the price was even cheaper.  Given the chance, if I was in the area, I would run this one again.

Next up in 4 weeks, the Kiawah Island Marathon in South Carolina.

Keep on Running!!!

Marshall University Marathon
Time 3:59:57 (Gun Time 4:00:25)
Place Overall 265 out of 596
Place Age Group 32 out of 61
43 Completed Marathon
16 States Completed

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's Next?

The year is not over and neither is the marathon season.  After my disappointment at Haunted Hustle and my extreme fun but not fast time at the Honky Tonk, I think I want to run some more.  So I have signed up for 2 more marathons this year but both I will be travelling with friends so it will be fun.

Next weekend, I will be travelling with my friend, Paul, to Huntington, West Virginia to run in the Marshall University Marathon.  Somehow they were able to create a flat marathon in West Virginia, I have been told this is hard to do in WV.  It is a 2 loop course that ends with running the entire football field at Marshall University.  They will even give you a football to carry for the final 100 yards.  That sounds pretty fun.  This race is in memory of the Marshall University Football team that was killed in a plane crash in the early 70's.  This story is told in the movie "We Are Marshall" which I have not watched yet, but plan to before the race since I have heard there are many sights  in the movie that the race course passes.  I have only been to West Virginia one other time in my life before this year and now I will have done both a half marathon AND a full marathon in one year.  I hope to do as well in the full marathon as I did in the half marathon back in early June.

Four weeks after West Virginia, Mike, Paul, and I are flying to Charlotte, NC and then driving down to Charleston, South Carolina to take part in the Kiawah Island Marathon.  Again this course is very flat and is right along the ocean.  The course looks interesting as there are many long out and backs on the course.  Usually I don't like out and backs on a course and I think this one will kind of suck to, but in this case, I will be able to see Paul and Mike more often along the course.  Usually we don't run together so we don't see each other until the race is over.  We plan on staying that night in Charleston so we can have some fun before flying back.

Since I haven't run so well in marathons this year, I really want to get 1 or 2 good ones in.  Both races are very flat so my plan is to try to break 4 hours in hopefully both but let's just start with 1 at a time.  My miles are way down this year but the last 2 marathons will work well as long runs in my training, at least I hope they will.  I need the endurance for the final 10K.

I think this is a good plan for the rest of the year.  I will be able to get 2 more states completed and 2 more marathons.  Closing on on 50!

Keep on Running!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Race Report - Wisconsin Dells Honky Tonk Marathon

Last weekend I ran the Wisconsin Dells Honky Tonk Marathon.  Yes, it was only 1 week after my previous full marathon but I had some really cool reasons to do so.  Have you ever ran a marathon with someone who means the world to you?  Perhaps you ran a marathon with your Mom or Dad?  Spouse or significant other?  Brother, Sister, or Best Friend?  OK, maybe you have and I am sure if was a very special experience for you, one you will never forget.  I got that opportunity at the Dells Marathon but in my case, I got to run it with my 7 year old daughter, Katelynn.  No, No, she did not run the entire marathon and it wasn't a kids marathon either.  In fact, she didn't run a single step of the race.  I was able to do something I wanted to do for a long time but this was one of my last chances to do so.  I pushed my daughter in a jog stroller for the entire marathon.

Ever since my first daughter was born over 10 years ago, I have run with them int he jog stroller.  We have had our share of Daddy / Daughter bonding time during a lot of those runs.  Sometimes they laugh, cry, sleep, have fun, fuss, you name it.  But most of the time it is just fun.  I get in a good workout and they get to see the world, or at least the local neighborhood or wherever we were.  Many dogs are spotted and stories of how the day went have been told.  And I never hesitated to enter races with then too.  While they have mostly been 5K's, I have entered a 15K with Katelynn once as well, but never a full marathon.  Partly because most races do not allow it sighting insurance issues.  But this marathon had a rule that stated the baby/jog strollers were allowed as long as you started in the back.  I knew this wasn't a very large marathon so I decided to give it a go.

The week before the race, I still wasn't signed up.  The only reason to enter was to run with Katelynn so if the weather was going to be rainy or windy, I wasn't going to enter.  I finally entered on Thursday or Friday when I was confident the weather would cooperate.  We arrived on Friday evening and had a fun filled day at the Chula Vista Indoor Water park on Saturday after picking up my packet.  The girls LOVE water parks so it was a major bonus for them.  Sunday morning came and we headed to the race while it was still dark out.  I made sure the tires on the jog stroller were inflated properly and packed all the stuff we needed for the race.  We got to the start line about 2 minutes before the start and made our way to the starting area.  It was cold out, maybe lower 40's so Katelynn was bundled up with mittens and warm jacket and I opted for a long sleeve shirt to start.

Katelynn and I before the start of the Wisconsin Dells Honky Tonk Marathon.

As the rules stated, Katelynn and I started in the back of the marathon / half marathon start.  We in fact we the very last to begin (except for anyone who came late tot he start).  The first mile or so was mostly downhill and I was feeling good so it was difficult to go slow.  It was good it was so crowded as it helped keep us slow.  We were getting lots of comments from runner in the first miles.  Some pretty cool comments about running with my daughter and more toward her and how good she looked.

The course is quite hilly, lots of rolling hills so that posed a challenge for me.  Going up hills I would generally be slower than other so I would get passed a lot but going down hills, I was being pulled down by Katelynn in the stroller so it was quite easy.  We would talk to a lot of the other runners, some asking if we were only doing the half or if we were doing the full.  Many were very surprised we planned on doing the full.  The course was a full and complete 13.1 mile out and back and that was the same for the half marathon as well so when we got the the half turn around, most of the runners around us turned back and we had lots less runner around us.  There ended up being only 132 finishers in the full marathon so you can imagine there weren't too many near by.

A couple miles into the race.  I think Katelynn knows where the camera is.  She was so good!

When we were by ourselves, we would talk about almost everything as we rolled along.  The colors or the trees, the hills ahead of us, the river on the side, the horses we passed and even if we could stop at the play ground for awhile.  I had to disappoint her on that one.  Don't get me wrong though, she wanted to be with me and we discussed it a lot before hand so it was not forced on her.

There is one advantage to using a jog stroller in a race, besides having a constant cheering section with you the entire way that is.  There were places I could store things that I needed to bring along.  When I needed a GU, it was there in the back pouch waiting for me.  When Katelynn wanted a fruit roll up, all I had to do was reach down and get one for her.  We even had a big bag of animal crackers with us.  She would eat them and when I asked, she would hand one to me.  Where else can you get service like that during a marathon?!?!?

Again early in the race down a hill.  Katelynn finds the camera again.

During the first half of the race, we kept a steady pace of around 10:15 per mile.  A the 11 mile aid station, we did have to stop for Katelynn to use the port-o-let but that was our only stop.  We passed by the half marathon point in 2:13 and change and by this time, it warmed enough to take off my long sleeve shirt and only use my singlet.  Katelynn was still cold enough to keep her mittens on unless she was eating something and her jacket on.  On the other hand, I was sweating.  On the way back, unfortunately the wind picked up a bit and it was now in our face.  It wasn't extremely difficult to run into but was enough to make it tougher.  No worries, we weren't about to stop.

Katelynn and I would play some games along the way at times.  We would play "I Spy" and go back and forth with "What Team?  WILDCATS" from High School Musical.  She loved that.  Another thing she would do was try to tell me what place we were in.  Of course since she didn't know, she would only count the runner ahead of us that she could see.  So quite often I was in 5th place, or 3rd place.  Sometimes we would even be in 1st place (if only it were true).

Along with us was her favorite stuffed animal, Berry Bear.  Berry Bear made many appearances during the race and at one point, Katelynn asked me to only whisper to her as Berry Bear was taking a nap.  Katelynn can be so cute at times.

Around mile 20, I started getting pretty tired.  Maybe it was that since I had never run 20 miles with a stroller before or maybe the marathon the week before but the hills became very hard.  I ended up making a decision to walk the stroller up the steeper hills in order to make sure I could still run at 25.  This worked well for me as I would take it easy there and not really lose much time at all because I wasn't running much faster than I was walking up the hills.

About 2 miles to go.  We were ready to be done.

The people at the aid stations were great.  They made sure Katelynn got small cups of water when she was thirsty and one even made up a goody bag for her on the way back with pretzels and M&M's.  Katelynn sure got more cheers int he race than I did too but I expected that.  Hey, it is not easy sitting in a stroller for over 4 1/2 hours!!!  One lady at an aid station near mile 23 even said that Katelynn deserved a medal for finishing too.

As I mentioned before, the course was an out and back so I knew what was ahead of me and the first mile or so that was mostly downhill was going to be the final 1 1/4 miles of UPHILL at the end.  We got to the final aid station at about 24 3/4 and had a little water and dug deep for the final uphill mile.  We struggled a bit going up the 2 part hill.  I walked some up the first part until it leveled off and I was able to pick it up.  the final hill was a short but steep on and unfortunately was only about 1/3 mile from the finish line that was still not visible yet.  I knew we were close and I knew that time was ticking away for us to beat 4:45.  We finally saw the finish line with about 200 meters to go and had that sudden energy spurt that comes with the finish line.  We turned the 2 corners into the parking lot and came though the finish line with smiles on our faces.

 In the finishing chute and everyone raising their arms in victory, Katelynn, Berry Bear, and myself.

Just as the lady had said at mile 23, sure enough, they gave Katelynn a medal too.  That was so cool of them.  Everyone in the race got a cowboy hat too so Katelynn received on as well.  Not only Katelynn, but also my other 2 daughters, Melissa and Megan.  I am sure they knew by that time they had plenty left over but was still very cool of the to do.  We finished in a time of 4:44:02 good for 95th place out of 132 full marathoners.  We ended up passing 7 runners in the second half of the race and only being passed by 2.

 Katelynn totally pumped being done.  So proud of her medal and new cowgirl hat.

After the race, I had half of my complimentary Miller Beer and we headed back to Chula Vista for more Water park fun before heading home.  It sure was difficult climbing the stairs to the top of the water slides another 8 or so time after the race but the kids had fun and Katelynn deserved it.  The hot tube was nice for a bit though.

 Katelynn, Melissa, and Megan after the race complete with Cowgirl hats.

In review, this race was a nice small marathon.  The medal was quite unique as it doubles as a belt buckle.  I am pretty sure that won't be used by me but I am sure some will.  The course was difficult but not extremely bad.  It was mostly country roads so not many spectators at all.  Instead of a shirt, full marathoners received a fleece sweatshirt.  It is quite soft and nice.  I am not sure why they call it the Honky Tonk Marathon.  Not much Honky Tonk going on in Wisconsin so that seemed odd to me.  Wisconsin Dells is the Water park capital of the world so it would have seemed more fitting to use that in the name somehow.  I wouldn't use this course as a PR attempt but if you just want a small marathon with some nice sights along the way, this one may be good for you.

In the end, this one was really special for me and I will not forget it anytime soon, or ever.  I hope Katelynn remembers it for a long time too and now she can appreciate how long a marathon really is.

I am not done for the year.  But more on that in another post.

Keep on Running!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Race Report - 2012 Haunted Hustle Marathon

October 13th was the Haunted Hustle Marathon in Middleton, WI.  Middleton is right next to Madison and not too far of a drive for me.  I have run this race all 3 years that it has existed and the first 2 years were not too bad of an experience for me so I decided to go for it another time.

Originally I had just wanted to run the race for time like I had before.  The 2 times I ran this before, I had just run a marathon 2 weeks prior and each time I came here and still broke 4 hours.  The course was a bit hilly those years, but not too bad.  It is a nice sized race with about 400 runners in the full marathon and more in the half and 10K.  I saw that they changed the course this year but was optimistic that they were able to make it less hilly (unfortunately I was wrong).  I also like seeing all the runners in costume for this race as it is Halloween Themed.

My friend Amy (blogger at Running is Cheaper Than Therapy) was also going to run the full and she got an email asking if she would be a pacer for the 4:15 group.  She asked if I would be available to pace with er and I was granted a free entry to do so.  I like free races.  Unfortunately the 4:15 pace only lasted for like 2 seconds and she was told we were to pace the 4:00 group.  Nervously we both agreed knowing we were both capable of running a sub 4:00 but conditions were bad, that it could make that difficult.  

The week before the race the weather forecast kept getting worse by the day.  Finally the day before the race, the forecast called for 90% chance of hard rain throughout the race.  UGH.  We contemplated changing our strategy about pacing, maybe splitting the course but in the end , decided to give it our best shot.

Since I was coaching a Cross Country Race on Friday evening, Amy was able to pick up my packet and pacer shirt.  That helped a lot!  I ended up waking up at 4:00AM and driving to Middleton in rain the entire way.  Sometimes hard, other times soft.  This was not looking good, but my spirits were high.  I met Amy near the start about 45 minutes early and we both were able to park within 200 feet of the start/finish line.  BONUS.  Then about 15 minutes before the race, we headed out to the start area and the rain had stopped (but for how long?)  

Amy and I before the start.  You can see the puddle on the road.  It was still very wet even though the rain had stopped for awhile.

As we were waiting in the starting area, we were met by our mutual friend Jamie (known the world over as the author of the blog Running Diva Mom) who was running the half marathon.  I would have given her crap about only running the half but she had just ran the Chicago Marathon the weekend before so I figured that was pretty awesome already.  Turns out she ran pretty good in the half marathon.  Way to go Jamie!

Jamie, Amy and I before the start.  I met Jamie because of this race 2 years ago when we found each others blogs about the race.  Wow, has it really been 2 years now Jamie?!?!?

The rain looked like it was going to hold off for a bit at the start which was nice and we started right on time.  The roads were wet and puddles were plentiful so my shoes got wet pretty quickly.  Amy and settled into a nice pace of between 9:00 and 9:05 for the first few miles over the hills at the start.  After a few miles, we started to get to know the runners who had decided to use us to help pace them.  We kept it steady as the rain held off longer.  A few of the mile markers were off but we reassured the group we were on pace.  the new part of the course that was not run before ended up being quite hilly so that made the course decidedly tougher this year.

I am feeling good here but we are in the first 2 miles of the race.  Wish I felt this good 20 miles later.

At the half point, the rain decided to begin as we ran through Pheasant Branch Conservancy which is a really cool place to run.  I had to stop before we entered and caught up to the group but was feeling like I was running really fast to keep pace.  The rain made it more difficult but Amy was very steady and I ran beside her hoping for a little relief on my legs.  By the 17 mile aid station, I was in trouble and feeling very crappy that I was not able to be where I needed to be.  We still on pace by both our Garmins and the mile markers but at that point, I told Amy I needed to slow a bit and  that I would catch up.  At least I hoped I would.  I did not like that I was struggling at a pace that should not have been any trouble at least this early, maybe at 23, but not 17.  There was another big hill at 17 and slowly Amy and the group crept away from me.  At one point I thought I was feeling better and made a move to try to make up the about 1/4 mile I was behind but that didn't last long.  The mile marks were off by quite a lot and by mile 20, I was still right at 9:09 pace (4:00 hour pace) but the legs were toast.  I just hoped Amy was able to keep it up, she looked very strong when she left me but I didn't want the group to be let down.

Turns out Amy was very strong and while her pace slowed a bit, she was able to get through the 26.2 mark in just under 4:00.  The problem was that the race was 26.61 miles long according to my Garmin and longer by every one else that I spoke to.  I run the tangents very well in races and I have my theory as to what happened, but I won't go there right now.

I struggled in passing the 26.2 mile point in 2:14:51 (would have been great if I was still the 4:15 pacer) and a finish time of 4:18:57.   I was NOT happy with my performance but is is a competed marathon.  Turns out I reached my age in marathons with this one.  41 completed.  So that was good.  I also got to run with Amy for 17 miles in a race which was also good.  I feel bad I couldn't help her out more though.  One of these days we will get a race done together (we ran the first half of the Heatbreaker Half Marathon together before Amy cramped up).  It is still good to have a good training partner to run with.

 A little more than a 1/4 mile to go and up another hill.  I am so ready to be done.

In the end, the Haunted Hustle is still a good race.  The weather sure put a damper on the costumes this year which are always fun to see but maybe next year.  The course was much tougher this year.  I don't know why they decided to change the course this year, I am sure they had their reasons, but I liked the previous course better, and that is not because of more hills this year.  The course was more scenic in my mind the last 2 years.  The medal is always unique here and is a nice one.  The shirt was a nice short sleeve technical shirt (I prefer short sleeve, I have waaaaaaay too many long sleeve ones).  The ladies even got a pink one for the half marathon.  I know Jamie was ALL OVER THAT.  If they could just get the mile markers right, this would be an even better race than it already is (they had problems in year 1 as well).

As for my poor performance, I have my theories.  Number 1 is that I don't have nearly the miles that I had in the past few year due to my injury at the start of the year and shorter miles over the summer hoping not to aggravate my IT Band.  I think with my new roller, I will just have to increase the miles again next year and get back that endurance I desperately missed toward the end of the race.  It could be that I just had a bad day too.  But I finished yet another one and that is good.  No time to rest though.  the next marathon was only the very next weekend.  That report to come soon.

Keep on Running!!!