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!!!

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