Madison half marathon race report!

The short version: I didn’t make either of my goals, though I came close! But I had a good race. I trained better for this race than I have any other. Definitely more miles as I logged more than 100 miles two months in a row. I also trained in a hilly area. But unfortunately my area doesn’t compare to the monster hills at mile 9 and right at the end of this race!

My official time was 2:41:42. My Runkeeper app measured 13.41 miles.  That comes out to a 12:05 pace. But since the race is 13.1 miles, it came out to 12:21. That pace, however, is still a bit faster than any of my long runs in training!

And now on to the long version… Saturday was a tough day with lots going on. I tried to minimize time on my feet, but we were cleaning the house and had some friends over too. Saturday night we went to bed around 10. I slept well but woke up before the 5:30 alarm. Had my normal pre-long run breakfast. And not surprisingly we left the house late. We were supposed to meet Jacob, Jeni, Dave and the kids at 6:30. We left the house just after 6:30 and Doug dropped me off about 6:50. That didn’t turn out so bad though. It was just enough time for Doug to park, unload the kids and get to the start and also time for me to find Jacob and to use the bathroom one more time.
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My biggest worry leading up to race day was being cold before the start. That was the one OK thing about getting there late. We weren’t so late that it ruined the start. I wore a second pair of pants that I took off before the start so I wasn’t too cold while waiting. Jeni, Dave and the kids ran late so weren’t there for the start. Jacob and I took a couple pictures and went to line up! My goal was 2:30, so we lined up behind the 2:30 pace group.

My brother Jacob is a good 3 minutes per mile faster than me. But he stuck with me the whole time until the last mile. It was nice having someone to run with! We started too fast, of course. Our mile 1 split was 10:46! The first mile was down the huge hill that we had to go up at the end. Nice to start, not so nice to finish! And of course it was the adrenaline!

We slowed down in the second mile to 11:37. We saw Doug, Jeni, Dave and the kids around mile 1.5. This is probably my favorite picture! We had to slow down and Doug had to run ahead to get it. It was funny.
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The race can be divided into two halves for sure. We were running pretty steady for the most part for the first half of the race. Mile 3,4,5,6 were: 11:17, 11:41, 11:54 and 11:40. I signed up for text alerts and the one at 3.8 miles was 44:19 for 11:40 pace. At 10K it was 1:11:54 for 11:26 pace. Right where we wanted to be!

Unfortunately, I was already starting to feel tired as we approached mile 6. I started having some arch pain in my left foot that I’d never had before! I was trying to run through it but at the same time I developed a side stitch and then we turned to go up a decent size hill right before mile 7. So I had to stop and walk.  Jacob kept running but stayed with me. It must have been ridiculously easy for him to run with me! The side stitch did eventually go away, as did the foot pain. But once I took a walk break, that made it that much harder to keep up the pace I wanted.

Miles 7 and 8 were still OK, splits 12:35 and 12:28. I don’t remember how many times I walked, it was more than I wanted though!
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The halfway point was in Warner Park. The first hill where I walked was just outside the park and then the course turned back south through Maple Bluff where the really fancy houses are. This is a gorgeous area, but terrible hills!  
The worst hill of all was in mile 9, on a street called Summit. We could see why its called that when we finally reached the top… there was an amazing view of the Capitol down below and across the lake. I walked that huge hill and clocked my slowest split in mile 9 of 13:40.

But mile 10 was fast from going down that hill! That split was 11:53. The up hill took its toll though and I could tell by this point I wouldn’t make my 2:30 goal. Actually I could tell that after we stopped for the first time around 6.5. It was around there the 2:30 pace group passed out of our sight (we had been ahead of them for the first four miles or so, then just behind, maybe should have tried harder to stay behind from the start! I’ve never run with a pace group). Around mile 10 I was feeling sure we wouldn’t make the 2:36 goal. And to be honest it was hard to stay positive. I tend to cuss when the run is getting tough and Jacob heard it on that mile 9 hill!
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Mile 10.5 to about 12 was pretty flat. Jacob had to stop to stretch a bit and I had to walk a few times. We left Maple Bluff and went through Tenney Park. As we passed through Tenney Park, the lead marathoner passed us just before the 11-mile marker. After Tenney Park we had a couple more turns and were on Mifflin Street, which I knew was the last portion of the course.

Jacob and I had been talking throughout the second half about taking it easy when we needed to but then kicking it up and running hard in the last mile. Unfortunately I just couldn’t. Our mile 11 and 12 splits were good, 12:22 and 12:30. Even up to this point, Runkeeper was showing just under 12-minute cumulative pace. But as we approached mile 12, I told him he should just run hard. I thought I’d walk a bit and then try to run but I knew I couldn’t run as hard as he could at that point, partly because I could see the last gigantic hill looming.

So at the mile 12 marker, he took off. I walked a bit and then ran hard when I got to an area where there was music and an announcer. I’m not really sure why they had an announcer one mile from the finish, but it got me going briefly.

Then I reached the hill. I had been texting family during walk breaks with updates on where we were. I had told them Jacob ran ahead. Then I texted “this better be the last damn hill.” It was, but I felt like it took forever. I knew though that once I reached the top I was so close to the finish. And that mile split wasn’t even as slow as the mile 9 hill, mile 12 was 12:48. At the top of that hill was an almost as steep down hill and I took off! But I was just too exhausted to really keep up any hard effort. I don’t think I walked after that downhill, or if I did it was just a bit. But I was slower than I wanted to be.

I was so excited to finally make the second to last turn toward the square. I saw the mile 13 sign up ahead and across from the sign, Doug, Jeni, Dave and the kids! I pumped up when I saw them! I was sure I could sprint to the finish. But then I made the final turn and said “that finish still seems awfully far away!” It felt like it just took so. long. to get to the finish. I swear the last .1 of a half marathon is the worst!
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But finally I did it! I was at the finish! I sped up as much as I could and threw my hands up in the air. I did it. I turned off Runkeeper at 2:42 and got the text with my time of 2:41:42. A mere 5 minutes longer than I was hoping for. Really, less than 5 minutes once I realized the error in my calculating a 12-minute pace.
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This was Jacob’s first half and he finished in 2:37:09, about 4 minutes before me. They had a PR bell you could ring if you beat your PR. Well he rang it because your first is a PR! He ended up with 12:00 pace, goal! I had been saying 2:36 as my B goal, thinking that would be 12-minute pace. But with the .1, it actually was 2:37:10ish. And he did it. If I could have run harder the last mile and stayed with him, I would have made it! Next time! I’d say my next half won’t have so many hills but they’re pretty unavoidable in Madison races.
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But I am happy with my race. I trained on hills, but wasn’t prepared for the two gigantic ones. I had looked at the elevation map before the race, but I never really get any concept of hills from looking at that. I suppose next time I could go train in that area to train on huge hills! And I couldn’t have predicted a random arch pain (and I have had some more foot pain since the race, not sure what that’s about) or a side stitch. I suppose starting out a bit slower maybe could have prevented that, but oh well.
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It was so nice to have family there to cheer me on! And someone to run with too! I love that my family is supportive of my running. Dada spent several Sunday mornings with the kids while I did my long runs. Training takes coordination for sure!

I really like the Madison Marathon events. They are put together well. I love the long sleeve tech shirt! And the free photos! All the photos with the Madison Marathon logo were free digital images from Focal Flame photography. And the free beer at the finish! And post race food was from Panera! I didn’t eat it until later but I sure loved it.

I prefer the fall half marathon course. The spring course is even worse with hills! I love how the fall course stays by the lake for so long. I ran the Madison half in 2011 on a similar course. That course didn’t include the Summit hill though! I had my doubts about the November half. It turned out good, but it can be problematic in years when the cold sets in early! The temperature was tough for our family who came to watch. But the course was actually really good for them to easily get to a couple places to see us!

So now that the half is done, I’m cutting back on running for the rest of the fall and winter. There may be a turkey trot on Thanksgiving. I’ll just run three days a week and likely not so long. Maybe some cross training. Part of me wants to start training for the next half because I have the momentum. But at the same time, I put on a lot of miles. And I’m definitely happy to be done with training!

I’m looking at the Her Madison Half next June. It was running that 5k with Jeni this year that rekindled my motivation to train for this race.


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