Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2016 Race Report

Last weekend, I completed my eleventh marathon, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. I still hold my personal record at this event, from 2010.  I was in my best running shape at that time.  I finished with a 4:02.  Since that race, I have witnessed my husband complete the race two times, while I spectated from the sidelines.  I am well familiar with the course, the crowd support and the weather this time of year.  I was glad to be back.
My parents decided to join us for a weekend away in Chicago.  It was super nice to have them along for the journey and for the support.  My mom had just started running with me a couple weeks prior and even purchased her first pair of running shoes at the expo. Packet pick up was a breeze and we spent about an hour shopping at the expo.  I picked up a cute pair of marathon sweatpants, which were going to be perfect for the changing fall weather. 
We ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen at Bayshore Mall and then headed back to the hotel to rest.  We stayed at a great hotel in Brown Deer.  The race starts in Grafton and ends in downtown Milwaukee.  Since my family was going to be spectating the 26 mile route, we wanted to stay close to the startline and opted not to stay downtown.  However everything in Grafton was sold-out this time.  The hotel was great and the bed was super comfortable.  Even with an infant who wasn't so sure, I still slept well the night before this marathon.  The race started at 7:30 and I wanted to be out of the hotel by 6:15.  I woke up before my alarm and got ready for the day.  I had brought my own breakfast and the hotel was nice enough to toast my English muffin for me.  I was excited and ready to race.
We checked out of the hotel and ... it was raining.  Lightly, but it was raining.  It wasn't supposed to rain, and I couldn't believe it.  We drove north to Grafton and my dad said that his phone said only a chance of rain at 7:00 am and that then it should stop.  I had already ran two of my marathons in pretty bad rain, so this was really nothing.  It doesn't matter how many marathons you run, they are still intimidating.  I was starting to get nervous.  We parked at the startline, and headed to Grafton High School, where runners assemble before the race.  I was scheduled to meet up with my client, Jenny at 7:00.  She was running her first marathon and I was so excited for her.  I even got a chance to meet her friend, Sarah, who would be running my pace.  We headed back to the port-o-potty for one last stop.  We waited in the long lines and I assured them that we would be fine.  And we were, we got to the startline with just a minute or two to spare after I kissed my family good-bye again.  While in line, I had two packs of energy chews to give me a little extra fuel.

Soon we were off and on our way.  I saw my family just beyond the startline, and planned to see them again in about 45-50 minutes.

I ran the first couple of miles with Sarah as we ran through country roads.  She had mentioned something about a broken toe, but still seemed to be running faster than me.  I let her run ahead of me, as I was already clocking a much faster pace than planned.  I noticed right away, after my watch was clocked-in to the GPS signal, that it was already at 75% battery.  I knew that it wasn't going to last for the duration of the whole race.  My first miles were all clocking sub 9 minute miles.  Something I don't even do during my training runs.  But I was consistently clocking them mile after mile.  The rain was light, but continued.  It was fun avoiding the puddles and zig-zagging through the crowd.  I placed myself in front of the 3:50 pace group, and soon was running with the 3:55.  Something that I was not expecting at all.  I just hoped that I could keep this up, as I was aiming for 4:15.
My plan was to take a gel at miles 5, 10, 15, 20 and then have another one for later on if I could stomach it.  So, at mile 5 I had my first Honey Stinger gel.  At each of the aid stations I would take a sports drink and then when my handheld bottle was running low, I would also fill it up with one to two cups of water.  I would also change out my gum and switch to a new stick.  All this while running.  I never planned to stop.  It actually seems to make the miles pass by quicker for me -- all of this arranging and something to look forward to.
Around mile 5 or 6, I saw my family at the same place that I remember spectating my husband's marathons.  I saw Baby Diva all bundled up in the stroller and my parents armed with their phones, taking photos and my husband cheering me on.  All in the rain, with one umbrella.  Cheering me on and as excited as ever to see me.  I had one of my emotional Mumford & Sons songs on and became a blubbering fool.  I was sobbing and thanked them as I ran by.  The emotions just came over me.  I could hear spectators calling out my name from my race bib and "You've got this Miss 38".  "Go get it, Jamie!".  My emotions came over me as I wiped the stream of tears from my eyes.  I reconnected with Sarah.  Her toe was bugging her and she felt that she went out too fast.  She was going to slow down.  I continued on my nine minute pace and trudged on through the country roads.
The crowd support at Concordia University was great, though I was completely wet at this point.  I thought that I was going to see my family at mile 10 or 11, but they weren't there.  Looking for them, helped time pass though, as I consumed another gel.  Apparently they were stock with bad service at McDonald's. 
We eventually came into town and it was still raining and sprinkling.  Cars passed by and splashed water on the runners.  My right foot stepped in a puddle, my shoes were squishing and noisy; and now my clothes were clinging to me like they had just came out of the washing machine. My hair was wet and I typically wear it down during a race with my Bondi Band.  It was smacking me in the back and sometimes my face.  Another runner mentioned that she had another hair tie if I wanted to use it, but I passed.  I crossed the half marathon point at 1:57 and that was my fastest half marathon in a really long time, even before having the baby.  I was feeling great, though my hip flexers were starting to feel sore.  At mile 14, I saw my family again.   Still cheering me on in the rain, all bundled up.  I told my husband that my watch was now dead.  Having another half marathon ahead of me, I had no clue what my pace was, other than looking at my Vivofit activity tracker to see what time it currently was, and passing occasional timing mats along the course.  Eventually the 3:55 pace group passed me.

My legs were already starting to buckle and my pubic bone was feeling extremely sore at mile 15.  I usually don't feel this sort of pain until mile 20-22.  But, it was there.  And all I could do was push through it.  I took another gel at mile 15 and saw my friend Bill spectating somewhere along the route there.  He noted that I was way ahead of my expected pace of 4:15.  I saw my family again around mile 16 I believe, and then the 4:00 pace group eventually passed me.  So bittersweet to get the taste of a sub four hour marathon, and then have it go right by you.  But I had to remind myself of my initial goals.  And I would be running two more halfs in one month; include one half marathon and one full marathon in the same weekend.  That was my biggest goal for the year.  Just to complete that combined distance.  I wasn't feeling great (my legs) at this point, but pushed onward.  I really dislike miles 15-19 of a marathon.  It feels like you still have so far to go.  And the miles just get kind of .... lost.  But I still kept smiling.


I saw my family right around mile 20 after I had another energy gel and something to drink.  I had another burst of energy as I approached them.  I started picking my pace back up and reassured them that I was feeling great again.  That I was going to do this.  I crossed the mile 20 mat in 3:03.  Only six miles to go.  The remaining miles were nice, as we finally approached the lakefront and there was a lot of downhill the final three.  Around mile 22 or 23 I ran into my friend Bill again, this time on his bike.  He asked if I wanted company.  I said "maybe".  So he turned his bike around and followed me the entire way to the finish time.  We weren't really conversing, but I still had my tunes on and he was instructing me how far it was to the next water stop or mile marker.  It was very helpful and encouraging, even if I didn't mention it at the time!  I also passed my friend, Dan, who I met during a half marathon a few years back.  I patted him on the back and Bill encouraged him to try to keep up.  Bill also encouraged me to pick up my feet, which helped me during the last bit, as it feel like my insides were going to fall out.
During the final mile, I heard an ambulance zoom past us on the road.  I could sense the finish line up ahead.  I made a couple final turns, and saw a runner laying on the bike path, with others assisting him.  It was so terrible to see, as he laid there in agony.  I made one final turn and could see the finish line.  I could see my family to the right.  The rain had stopped - finally.  I tried to muster up a smile for the camera, as I approached the clock ticking at 4:05.

There was no need to have the standard "stop your watch" photo at the finish line, because mine was dead.  But, I knew that I was happy with a 4:05 and some change.  I found my family, reunited, thanked Bill and changed my wet clothes and shoes.

Marathons are never easy.  They are a lot of hard work.  I really do find joy in the journey though.  I still find a huge sense of accomplishment once I finish a marathon.  The running and everything that goes with it.  The training.  The early mornings.  Learning from fueling.  Good runs.  Bad runs.  Mistakes.  Doubting your training.  Questioning your sanity.  Communication with your spouse and family.  Saying "no".  Saying "yes".  It all gets you to the finish line.
When we arrived home later that afternoon, hubby had to run about eighteen miles.  So I snuggled up with Baby Diva, wearing my new sweatpants and enjoyed the afternoon.  We even got the dog out for a couple of walks that afternoon.  And it felt good to keep moving, as my legs were really starting to cramp up.  My pubic bone was still sore for two days and I barely slept that night.  My body was in complete shock.  But I logged 58,000 steps that Sunday.

 Chip Time:  4:05:18
9:21 min/mile pace
827/2664 overall
286/1348 females
62/237 F 35-39
10K:  54:14
Half Marathon:  1:57:24
20 mile:  3:03:48

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