Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Haunted Hustle Half Marathon Race Report

Back in January, I received a free race entry for a Haunted Hustle event.  I ran the half marathon in 2010 and the full marathon in 2011.  I opted to sign up for the full marathon, knowing that I could easily downgrade to the half marathon if I wanted to.  Well, back in February, I also signed up for the Chicago Marathon (before all 45,000 spots sold out in a day or two).  I didn't realize that the Haunted Hustle Half Marathon (HERE), which usually fell around Halloween, actually was moved up by a few weeks.  It fell on Saturday, October 13 -- less than a week after Chicago Marathon.

I ran a good race in Chicago last week on Sunday.  My legs were trashed through Thursday.  I coached three nights that week and those 1-2 miles each night were the only miles I ran all week.  I wanted to rest up.  By Friday, my legs were fine.  I toyed with the idea of running the full marathon.  I had several friends running the 26.2 mile event.  The half and full marathon courses were both changed from previous years, but there were still a lot of hills ... a lot.  The forecast for Saturday looked terrible.  60% then to 90% chance of SEVER thunderstorms.  I had several folks trying to encourage me to do the full ... it would be epic ... two full marathons in less than one week.  I knew that I could run/walk the whole thing and finish in less than 6:00 hours.  However, I didn't know if I wanted to be hobbling along, out on the country roads (and hills) in the pouring rain and mile 18.  I spoke with a volunteer/coordinator at the expo on Friday and she gave me a pep talk and helped me make my decision to switch to the half.  They had me trade in my blue bib for an orange one and I was all set.

I had decided to meet up with the Sweet Julia, who is an RDM reader.  We met briefly on the hot Madison Half Marathon course back in May, when she introduced herself.  We met up outside of the expo on Friday, along with my less-than-enthusiastic Little Dude, and wandered the small expo aisles.  He was a trooper, though and was gifted a new Lego set at Toys R Us on the way home.  Julia and I were really thrilled about the pink race shirts and the purple (they had other colors, too) backpacks they were handing out.

When I approached the Bondi Band booth, I saw Christina!!  I followed her over to another table, while she was browsing.  This was such a treat.  Christina was one of the first participants in my Couch to 5K groups.  Then, earlier this year she participated in the 10K group and now she was picking up her 13.1 sticker and would be running her first half marathon the next morning.  She is a doll, so committed, and is always rocking the Bondi Bands now!  We had a little emotional pep talk before I headed out and left the expo.  Love that girl. 

I set the alarm for 5:50 am on Saturday morning.  The full marathon started at 7:30 and the full at 8:00.  It was raining lightly outside and it was dark.  I opted to let the kids stay home and not put them through a could and wet morning of spectating. 

I was going to wear a costume to the race, but opted to save my $40 for another race entry fee or just save it.  I didn't want to waste my money on ruining it if there was a downpour.  I was a bit disappointed, because I loved running a costume for the full marathon last year.  A totally neat experience and the comments and laughs had really kept me going.  I opted for all pink and wearing the race shirt.

I drove by myself to Middleton to catch up with all of my peeps before the full marathon started.  I parked in the parking ramp at Greenway Station and there was an excited knock on my window.  It was Julia!  She, her dad and I walked to the Hilton to warm up and use the restroom.  I then ran into Missy from high school, who was also running the half marathon.  Julia and I snapped a shot before she was off for her 26.2 mile journey.

I was headed to the 4:00 pacers, to see if I could find some blogging friends.  Then, I heard my name and it was Ruth, who is an RDM reader.  I also had ran into her at the Womens Half Marathon in Minnesota in August.  Her friend, Mary also reads my blog.  So, it was fun to say hi and wish them luck on their race.

I made my way through the small group, waiting to run the full marathon.  I saw Amy, my Ragnar teammate and friend, from Running is Cheaper than Therapy (HERE) and our blogging buddy, Bill from Love 2 Run (HERE).  They both had connected through the blogs and have been training together the past year or so.  They are both from the Milwaukee area ... and a lot faster than me ... LOL.  I said hi to them quickly, and exchanged hugs, as they were setting out on their pacing experience.  I was crossing my fingers for all of us that there wasn't a downpour ahead.

I ran my camera and things back to the car, used the restroom again, and then headed to the half marathon startline.  Many more participants were running the half.  Soon, we were off.  There was some rain at the start, which decreased to a slight drizzle.  Then nothing.

The experience was a lot different than a week prior.  Very, very few spectators along the course ... and there were hills.  The spectators that were there were great though. 

At mile 2 - my legs were tight, stiff and sore.  My left leg was especially giving me a lot of trouble.  I was sooooo happy I didn't try to do 26.2.  I was clipping at 9:10 for the first 4-5 miles, then slowed down, as we approached the turnaround.  Looking for familiar faces in the crowd on the out-and-back was a helpful distraction. 

The route was a lot different this year, and was an out and back - through residential neighborhoods, some of he paved Pheasant Branch Conservancy and then some additional residential neighborhoods that had mongo hills.

At mile 9, the 2:00 pacer passed me, through the Pheasant Branch Conservancy.  Yep - not in the cards today.  But, I was just trying to keep a constant pace and not slow down too much. 

I took one gel at miles 4-6, which I sipped on.  Consumed water and some icky lemon-lime Gatorade the rest of the way.  I just couldn't stomach any more energy gel - after doing a marathon only 6 days prior.  I did have enough energy to carry me through, thankfully.

My legs were TRASH, but I was going to do this.  You know it.

After the second to last hell-of-a-hill, we ran through the last residential neighborhood.  I had been getting passed all morning and personally passed very few runners.  I saw a guy walking very slowly and he was hobbling.  I gave him a Pat on the shoulder and told him to "Come on".  He told me his calf was sore and that this was his first marathon.  I told him that we were on the last hill and that it was all downhill from here.  He thanked me and said he would try to keep up. I told hime that my legs were trash from Sunday and that we could hobble it in to the finish line together.  After a 1/4 mile, he gave up and said he had to walk.  I told him to keep going, as he took a break.

I ran down the hill and passed a gal that was grabbing her side.  We had about 3/4 mile to go.  I asked her if she had a side cramp and she said it wasn't getting any better.  I asked if it was better when she walked.  She said "no". So, I asked her why she was walking then!  She laughed and started running slowly again.  We ran together a bit and then I headed in towards the finish line.

I picked up the pace, as the clock was approaching 2:06.  Me and my trashed legs ran across the wet timing mat at 2:05:52.  I'll take it.

One of the best parts of the race ... the pink shirts for the women and the Halloween-themed finisher medal.  The other part was finding Christina in the finishers tent and giving her a great big hug.  Can't wait to see that 13.1 sticker on your car, Christina!!

9:36 Pace
49 / 165 Age Group
(F 30-34)
582 / 1,240 Overall


  1. That's pretty much the best medal I've ever seen.

  2. Love the medal. Great recap.

  3. I ran this race too :o) Saw your blog on Ragnar's Facebook page. Nice race report.

  4. Thanks for the race recap. I just signed up for my 1st half marathon ever-the Disney Princess Half in Feb. Biting nails! :)


  5. Well done! awesome run and great report! I agree, the medal is super cool. That's a good time for a wet run.

  6. Love the pint shirt! Way to finish!

  7. I've only read your blog a couple of times when I'm curious about other people's experiences with races I ran this year. I saw you on the Pheasant Branch trail between mile 7 and mile 9. I recognized you but felt weird saying hi.

    I was also disappointed with the 2:00 pacer passing me at mile 9.

  8. Great job! I love what an amazing cheerleader you are! Way to push through even on trashed legs! Man, when legs are tired it feels like running a million miles - proud of you!