Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011 Haunted Hustle Marathon Race Report

Last year, I ran the innaugural Haunted Hustle Half Marathon Event (HERE). They also offered a full marathon and a 10K. The event was located in Middleton, Wisconsin and the course was nice and the atmosphere was fun. When I bought a couple pairs of running shoes last fall at a local running store, they were offering free entries into some local events, including Haunted Hustle. I was given the option to run the half or the full and opted to go for the full. I had just ran a great Marathon at Lakefront from Grafton to Milwaukee and was still on a high from that race and I was doing great with my training and my routine ... and FREE MARATHON?! Why the heck not?!

Fast forward one year ... I'm now a single mommy of two ... took on more hours at work ... have been coaching many, many clients and groups in my free time ... and haven't focused on my training like I should. With my other three marathons, I ran 4:37 (Chicago 2008), 4:27 (Madison 2010) and more recently 4:02 (Lakefront in Milwaukee 2010), I stuck to my training schedule like a champ. Rarely missed a run and had at least three twenty milers, a twenty two and a twenty four under my belt before each 26.2 mile journey.

This time, I ran my fourteen half marathons (so far this year!), but did only a twenty miler and an eighteen miler. May sound like a lot to a non-runner. But, to someone that is all about routine, this was not very confidence-building.

I debated and I debated if I was going to run the half or the full. I even emailed the race director to switch to the half and he said I'd have to do it in person at the expo. Then my race number was #131, which almost convinced me that I was intended to run the 13.1 mile journey in the half marathon. I had friends running both events, but ultimately opted to stick with the full and was in the midset that this was going to be a FUN run with FRIENDS. And, it was just going to be another thing that I was going to OVERCOME after a very challenging year of learning to balance everything. I have a fabulous support system and everyone was encouraging me to just go with it. Several friends were going to be out on the course and family were going to come spectate.

So, the kids and I piled into the Marathon Mommy Minivan and traveled over to Greenway Station on Friday afternoon to pick-up my race packet. Little Diva was going to be my photographer ....

There were only about 500 participants in the full marathon and 1,500 in the half marathon and over 1,000 in the 10K event. There was no line to get my bib and then all three events streamed into one line to get our awesome race bags/backpacks and long-sleeve technical tees. Lots of excitement in the air! The entry way at the Marriott was once again decorated in fun, Halloween decorations and sounds. The kids had fun exploring and taking photos.

I don't know where Little Diva gets such fabulous self-photo picture taking skills?!?!

Bib #131

Piles of fabulous neon green backpacks

Nice long-sleeve technical tees this year

We were ALLLLL excited about the Bondi Band booth!!!

(resisted purchasing anything!)

We piled back into the Marathon Mommy Minivan and drove back home to do some trick-or-treating at local business. Then, the three of us headed to Pizza Hut for an early dinner of carb-loading. We headed home for a relaxing night of Pixar movies and headed to bed at 8pm. The kids were out quickly, and I was surprising out soon after. I had no nerves, no worries and was ready for a good night's sleep.

The alarm went off at 5:00 am. I got myself ready and loaded up the Marathon Mommy Minivan. I woke Little Diva and Little Dude at 5:30 and we were out the door by 6:00. I ate a Peppermint Stick Clif Bar and tried to munch on a banana that wasn't ripe enough (ick!) and downed a can of Diet Mountain Dew in the van. We made the 25 minute trek across town in the dark. The kids were quiet and in a decent mood, all bundled up. I was dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Little Diva was dressed as the same, under all of her layers.

As we pulled up, it was about 45 minutes until the 7:30 am start of the full marathon. The half marathon was to start at 8:00 am. There was hardly anyone in sight. We pulled right up in the parking lot next to the start line, and my parents happened to pull up right next to us. Good timing!

With no one there, there was no one in line for the port-o-potties, so I made a quick stop. My stomach was surprising settled, my nerves were calm and I was at ease. What was going on??? I was so unprepared for this race, but I had no nerves. I talked to a friend about it, and he said that it was because I didn't care. That I didn't really have any goals for myself except to finish ... have fun ... with friends. It was true. I really wanted to finish around 4:30 this time, but even that wasn't set in stone. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this ... and enjoy the journey and finish with a smile on my face, as I usually do!!!

We met up with some friends a little after 6:45 am in front of DSW shoe store. It was chilly, but once the sun came up it was going to be a perfect day for racing!!! It was suppossed to be sunning and in the 50's with a light breeze.

I was so excited to meet up with Bill, a blogger from Milwaukee, that I've met a few times before. He blogs over ar Love 2 Run (HERE). We will be meeting up again at the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon in Milwaukee in January -- can't wait!! Bill was running his 37th (??) marathon that morning!!

Then, my friend Mandy and her friend Kristin came up to meet us. Mandy was running her first marathon and Kristin was running her second, after a disappointing race three weeks earlier. We made a quick stop at the port-o-potty (no one still in the lines) and I still had no nerves. I downed a Peppermint Gu, stuffed four more Gu's of the same flavor into my handheld water bottle ... kissed the kids, thanked my parents ... and then we headed to the not-so-crowded startline.

I ran into my buddy, Dwight, who was dressed up in full costume ... inflatable and all. Can you imagine having to run in a battery operated costume that needs to be recharged? He is usually very competitive, but was out for just having a fun marathon that morning. The National Anthem was sung as I giggled as Dwight inflated his costume. I could tell that the morning was going to be a BLAST!!! And, we were off promptly at 7:30 .......

The full marathon course (HERE) is nice and scenic, but very hilly. The first big hill, is the same hill that the half marathoners run right away, after the first mile. But, there are several more monsters after that. Being aware of the hills from the website, and from other runners, really helped me mentally. Otherwise, I don't know if I could have tackled these hills.

Full marathon course description:

The marathon course starts in Greenway station with a flat and open first mile. At Capitol Brewery the course turns onto a 1.5 mile stretch of rolling hills on residential streets. Racers then run a moderate uphill stretch to the top of Parmenter hill before turning onto a steep descent down South Avenue. After winding back into downtown Middleton, the course crosses University Avenue just before mile 4. After mile 4.5 the racers take a right hand turn into the scenic, tree-canopied, stretch of the Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy. The first mile is run on a new soft black top compound which changes to crushed limestone at mile 5.5. Here racers are treated to 4 miles of scenic woodland and prairie with spectacular views of the countryside. Racers exit the conservancy to run up a short hill to Pheasant Branch Road. Miles 10-13 contain the hilliest stretch as the course undulates up and down on the countryside highways. This section is capped with a challenging climb up High Road. After descending into the Middleton Hills subdivision, racers retrace their steps down Pheasant Branch Road and back into the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Miles 15-21 are flat, fast and gorgeous as the racers traverse through the scenic and winding paved conservancy trail. At mile 22 racers are welcomed back into Downtown Middleton before retracing their previous steps. This time climbing up the backside of Parmenter hill on South Avenue then treated to a long downhill down Parmenter and Voss Parkway. After a short climb up Westchester, everything else is downhill. After turning at Capitol Brewery with less than a mile to go it will be all adrenaline through the last flat and open stretch back to the Finish Line at Greenway Station.

Surface makeup of marathon course:
Blacktop/concrete road – 53%
Paved Trail- 23%
Crushed Limestone-14.5%

Mandy, Kristin and I stuck together for the first eight miles. We ran through the rolling hills through a residential neighborhood and then, thrown downtown Middleton, where costumes were being judged. Two of us had handheld water bottles filled with water, but almost consistently picked up sports drink (lemon-lime ... not my favorite) at every water station. I'd run slowly through the water stops, never walked. Mandy would keep going. And, Kristin would slow down to sip on her cup briefly. But, we always met back up right away.

We headed out into the beautifully sceneic Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy around mile 4.5. This wooded area was mixed with bridges, board walk, and gravel. It was awesome. It was tree-covered and a bit cooler. They had salt down on the bridges, and they were still a bit slippery. We saw my family at the break in the road, cheering us on front the car. There was great crowd support in this area, as we headed into the second half of the conservancy, which I found even more scenic. This area was pretty flat and more prairies.

We all were still together until mile 8, where Kristin and I could tell that Mandy wanted to take off. We were joking around with her, until she finally decided that she could run much faster than we could. We exchanged our "I love yous" as she sprinted off ahead of us. Kristin and I were in a comfortable pace. We talked consistently for much of the rest of the race. I don't normally run with other people during races, especially long distances like this. So, I wasn't sure how long I'd be able to kep up conversation, but this was really good and I was really enjoying the company.

The course was gorgeous and we just keept saying what a wonderful experience we were having. Kristin got very bad cramps at mile 10 during her first marathon three weeks prior, so once we hit that point, she was a bit relieved.

We headed back through the break in the conservancy and up another large hill, and continued with several more rolling hills and huge "mountains" out into the country. It was getting obvious out in the country, just how few full marathoners there were. It was very isolated. If I wasn't with Kristin, I would've been lonely and mentally I wouldn't have been quite as cheery. I never felt weak or incredibly tired enough to walk, but I probably would have if I was alone out there in the country.

At mile 11, we saw my family again and I gave them my sweatshirt. It was nice to see them out there since it was so quiet. Kristin and I were feeling awesome. Once, I took the sweatshirt, the wind was in our faces, but not unbearable. But, I was chilly. She assured me that I would warm up. And, I did.

We caught my family again, around mile 12. And, headed back towards Middleton with several more monstrous hills. There were halloween themed water stations throughout the course and spectators scattered throughout, driving the course. So, these were all nice distractions. I had never ran in costume before and am really glad I did. Kristin and I kept laughing at all of the Dorothy comments. "Follow the Yellow Brick Road", "Kansas is straight ahead", "You are wearing the wrong color running shoes!", "Where is ToTo??". It was awesome and kept a smile on both of our faces during the race.

Here is my friend, Dwight, in his crazy costume. Somehow he didn't win best costume in the judged event for the full marathon. At least he had fun!!

We saw my family again around mile 14-15 and still had huge smiles on our faces. We said over and over again how we couldn't believe how we were running so consistently 9:10-9:30 min/mile pace and how her experience was so different from her first marathon. We were hoping to kill our 4:30 goal for this race! But, we realized that we still had about 12 miles ... err two hours ... left to go.

We headed back and retraced our steps throught the Nature Conservancy and I ran into a client that I coach. Tara looked adorable in her costume. Kristin and I felt like we were rocking the race, but decided and kept telling ourselves "Slow Down" or "Pace Yourself". We came out of the Nature Conservancy at mile 18 with great crowd support. We received a lot of encouraging comments out on the flat prairie course.

Kristin and I were just two excited with what we had accomplished thus far and felt like we were nearing the finish line already. I believe I had sipped on three gels every 45 minutes or so (for about two miles each) and I had enough energy. I didn't feel like walking. We had not walked any of the huge hills or any of the water stations. We were going to try to get to mile 20 before we walked any of the water stations or had to walk for any brief period of time.

The path turns around at an aid station at mile 18 and we still hadn't hit a wall. I ran into a few runners I knew on the out-and-back and so did Kristin. The support was great! We found we were picking up pace again due to the support and again kept telling ourselves to slow down and pace ourselves.

We headed through what we both remembered from last year's half marathon, to be a very boring industrial park. And it was. We ended up seeing my family again around mile 20. They were cheering us on and I yelled "We've run 20 miles and we haven't stopped yet!!". I think my parents were amazed that anyone could do such a thing! Especially since they knew I didn't feel prepared for this event.

Kristin and I continued through the industrial park, picking up sports drink at each aid station. We continued to sip on the water in our bottles. I sipped on Gu and she chewed on Shot Blox. At one point we each set we were starting to feel the lack of energy (maybe around mile 22), but we reminded ourselves that we needed to eat before we got tired and that was goin to be key. Neither of us ever hit a wall as we continued back trough downtown Middleton and through increased crowd support. Then, up a MONSTROUS hill that every other runner was walking in front of us. But we didn't. We kept running ... slowly ... but we ran up that bad boy. Another runner said, "this is just plain mean". We agreed, but kept going.

We headed back through the residential neighborhood where we started our first fe miles. We realized that must have flew down some of these hills earlier, because the gradual inclines were tiring. But, we still kept going. We hit mile 23, mile 24, and then mile 25. Only 1+ mile to go!!!! We were so excited as we came down the down hill and into the flat road leading back up to the Greenway Station shopping mall. We picked up one last cup of sports drink and paced ourselves towards the finish line.

We realized that we still had the opportunity to break 4:10 (only 7 minutes awary from my PR)!!! And she was going to PR by one hour!!!! We NEVER hit "The Wall". We NEVER walked. We rocked it!!

As we came up on the path behind the mall, there was another slight gradual incline and I heard severl people I knew yelling my name. That was enough to keep me going. Kristin and I turned around the bend to the finish line where we both had family and friends supporting us. I saw friends and family with their hands out for high-fives and I had enough energy to SMILE BIG AND PROUD and give high fives as we approached the clock.

We finished ... TOGETHER ...

in 4:09:16 (chip time)!!!

I adore this photo that my dad captured of the two of us

... me and my new running friend ...

We continued to joke about how close we had gotten over our four hour journey and what an amazing experience we shared TOGETHER. I joked about how I had just met her four and greeted eachother with a handshake. Now we were hugging and I had tears in my eyes.

What a moment!!

I met up with Mandy and other friends after the race. She ROCKED her race by the way ... so very proud of her!!!! I KNEW she could do it!!

This race was EVERYTHING I wanted it to be!
I had fun with friends (old and new) out on the course ...

Little Diva and Little Dude and my parents
and friends were there to support me ...

I finished well (much to my surprise) ...

and I finished with a HUGE smile on my face! :)

And, as always ...

Every single moment!!!

(9:31 min/mile)
259/511 Overall

82/227 Females

30/50 (30-39F)

There were 511 finishers in the full marathon.

There were 1,568 finishers in the half marathon.

There were 1,025 finishers in the 10K.


  1. I've found too that when I go to a race with no agenda other than to have fun, I do so much better and feel so good at the end. You rocked this race! Someday I'll break 5 hours. Happy Halloween!

  2. awesome job with the time andyour kids are rock stars as cheer leaders

  3. Aw, how wonderful. I have been wondering what distance you decided to run and how you made out. Great recap and love all the pics.

    Good for you!

  4. Way to go, Jamie! Love all the pictures and so glad you enjoyed the day.

  5. Great job! I teared up at the picture your dad took of you two sharing a moment at the end of the race. I'm so inspired by you, I love it!

  6. Wow. I hope my first marathon in two weeks is as much fun as you describe here!

  7. Congratulations!!!!! The HH is a great race.

  8. Loved the recap!!! You rocked it :)

  9. woohoo! i knew you would rock it!!!! awesome race!!

  10. WoW! What a recap and what a race Jamie! Congratulations to you.

  11. Awesome job! I knew you could do it, and I loved reading the recap. :)

  12. Way to go!! Excellent job! Cute pics too!

  13. Wow! Great recap and great costume!

  14. I so knew you could go the distance - congratulations!!!! Sounds like you had a fabulous time, enjoyed yourself, make a new running buddy and proved that you can do anything you let yourself :)!

  15. Awesome job! Love all the picks!

  16. Great time, great costumes!!!! great photos too! you must have an amazing entourage :) don't forget to visit me and enter my giveaway :D it's my first one!!!!

  17. That is AWESOME!! I'm so glad you stuck to the full marathon plan and showed it what's what! Congrats!!

  18. You did a fantastic job. Welldone!

  19. Awesome recap and an amazing job. Loved your costume.

  20. I completely thought you had run the half! Way tooo go! Amazing job. And you look like you were really loving it the whole way.

  21. Love those costumes, great race. It was an exciting and a challenging race. Congratulations to all the participants for a great job well done. Looking forward always.