I always write such long race reports and I’m sure no one cares about all the details but me. But here it is.
Short version: It wasn’t my day. I started well enough but my legs felt heavy early and humidity made it hard to breathe. I clocked a 2:40:35, which wasn’t near my goal, but was a minute better than November. And it has continued my improvement since running the Haunted Hustle at 20 weeks pregnant with Peyts. I didn’t end up in the medical tent and my times have improved since then.
Now on to the long version.
At the end of April I felt like I was running really well and decided for a few reasons to register for the Madison half a month before the Her half that I’d been training for since March. Its partly because the elevation profile looked better (but a chart is deceiving and WHY do races have the worst hills at the end??), it was cheaper and I felt like if I waited 8 weeks I would lose my momentum. I also decided while on my second time using a training plan that I don’t love long training plans. As it happened, I lost my momentum anyway with a busy month and crazy humidity on race day.
Anyway, before I delve into my race report, I present to you one of my worst race pictures. I don’t buy pictures, but one reason I love the Madison series is that it includes free digital images. But I just have to ask WHY they had a photographer just after the mile 11 water station? It just seems so illogical, especially near the end of the race. It was a rough race and I made sure to run when I saw a photographer, except here.
But on to the report…
I last ran the Madison half on the same day in 2011. It was my first half after Allie’s birth and I don’t remember a ton specifically, but thanks to FB On This Day and Timehop, I was reminded that I felt good in the race and finished in 2:38:xx. That was also a weekend in which I attended a graduation and a wedding in Rockford the day before. On the day before the 2016 race, I didn’t do a whole heck of a lot. Maybe that was my problem.
Anyway, having a race Memorial Day weekend is kind of nice because I had an extra day Monday to recover. But I didn’t want to do anything that required too much energy the day before and didn’t do much of anything after the race on Sunday.
Saturday night we went out and did the carb-loading thing and I slept well on Saturday night. I was actually very surprised how well I slept.
The kids made signs to cheer me on. Here’s Allie’s:
It says, “Go Mama go. We want to come to your half marathon. Allie Mom.” On the back she drew a picture of us.
As it happened, she forgot to bring it from the car two our of the three times she saw me. But still adorable! I didn’t really have any concept of how she writes until I saw her do the picture. Of course she has a ways to go, but she writes by sounding out the words the way she’s been taught this year. But I was pleasantly surprised to be able to decipher what she was saying!
Back to the race. The morning went well. Everyone was dressed and we were out the door at 6:15 when I wanted to leave. We live really close to downtown now and were parked and out of the car by 6:30 and heading to the porta-potties. I did my thing and then at 6:53 we snapped a pre-race family selfie.
I LOVE this pic!
This one’s pretty good too.
What I don’t love is that after the bathroom I had grabbed my phone for the selfie and then we split for me to get in the corral and the family to find a spot to see the start. I realized at the exact time I got to the start about 4 minutes before the gun that I had left my water belt in the stroller after going to the bathroom! Oops!
Here’s me running toward Dada and shortly before grabbing my belt from him. Thank goodness I was able to get it!
I started with the 2:30 pace group. I had passed the pace group early in my November half and around mile 6 they passed me and I didn’t make my goal. The same thing ended up happening Sunday even though I tried harder to pace myself from the start.
I stayed with the group for almost 4 miles. But the splits were faster than the pace was supposed to be. The splits were around 11 minutes per mile, even in mile 2 with Observatory Hill! I got tired and fell behind. I was still doing well enough based on what my phone was telling me, so I didn’t panic. I just ran. I could still see the pace sign for a while.
I was already feeling tired though. My legs felt heavy soon after the start. Just after the water stop at mile 4 though, I saw Dada, Allie and Peyts and sprinted off.
Cute pictures of the kids waiting for me at mile 4!
Soon after these pictures were taken, we turned and went up a hill that wasn’t too steep but was very long. I knew for sure at that point that this wasn’t going to be my day.
After that hill we joined the arb loop and my energy just left me. I think I was just running too hard from the start. Maybe one of these days I’ll learn to start slow!
Around mile 6.5 I actually thought about quitting because I couldn’t breathe and my hamstrings were really sore. I walked longer than I wanted to, but when I got to the entrance of the arb I was able to start running constantly from about mile 7 to 8.5. But after 8.5 it was just a struggle for the rest of the race to maintain a run. I also realized during this stretch that my phone tracking was about a quarter mile off the race route. So I was actually running a slower pace than I thought.
In my pro photos from the arb, I was totally faking it!
We came out of the arb around mile 10 and I was running a bit more past the zoo, but then came the MASSIVE hill outside Edgewood College. It was seriously like straight up. It had to be at least 75 degrees. There were a bunch of people on the hill cheering but I wanted none of it.
But when I came off the hill and turned I knew I was near the next place I’d see my family, I was able to get into a better running pace. I had been texting with Doug when I was feeling low and he helped me get through it. I really might have quit if they hadn’t been waiting for me.
I stopped and got some hugs and told the family I was having a really hard time. I also had a side stitch as well. Uggh!
Doug said Allie was having a good time slapping hands with runners. So cute!
After seeing the family at mile 11, I had the worst 2 miles ever. It was similar to how I lost it in my last long run a week and a half before. But that time I could just quit at mile 12! I would say it was the worst 3 miles ever, except I was able to grind it out a bit harder on mile 13. The last race photographer was a mile from the finish and I wasn’t really faking it anymore. I only ran at that point because I saw the photographer, but I didn’t try to smile. And I stopped running immediately after I was past!
So I knew well before the finish I wasn’t going to make 2:30. I was hoping to at least beat 2:40 and therefore beat my time from November. Just after the last water station, I had less than a mile to go. I figured it was only about 10 minutes and my phone showed around 2:27 at that point. I tried to run most of it, but I couldn’t. I thought I was running enough to come in under 2:40… but I didn’t quite make that either. My final time was 2:40:35. It was, however, a minute and 7 seconds better than my half in November.
But oh what a finish photo! Most of my race photos have my legs/feet doing weird things, but here I am in mid-stride and celebrating my finish. Approaching the Capital Square, I was trying to get going again, but its hard because you go up hill to enter the square. But finally I was able to start running and made my sprint to the finish. I feel vindicated that I was able to finish like that.
I won’t say I’m not disappointed with my race. But it was a great experience and as always, I’m grateful I can run. Now its on to the next one… after running aimlessly for a while, that is.