Saturday, October 30, 2010

2010 Haunted Hustle Half Marathon Race Report

Shortly before I ran marthon #3, I decided that I wanted to add another half marathon to my schedule. The Innaugural Haunted Hustle Half Marathon (HERE) was set for Saturday, October 30, in Middleton, WI. When I had looked for fall full marathons, I was interested in this race (since they offered a full, half and 10K distance). However, I wasn't sure if I wanted my next 26.2 mile journey to be on a new course with a new race. I figured it was safe to try out with a half marathon, since that distance is doable and my absolute favorite distance.

On Friday afternoon, the kiddos and I headed over to the expo. It was near the start of the race, at the Madison Marriott-West, near the Greenway Station shopping center. There were race organizers available right as you entered the hotel. They were directing you exactly what to do and where to head. They had some cute Halloween decorations and scary music playing. We proceded to packet pick-up which they also tried to have Halloween-themed. We received a cinch backpack and a nice technical top. Then we entered the expo, which was a decent size for it being the innaugural race, but still disappointing. There were about ten vendors that were "big" vendors which high ticket items. I didn't purchase anything, which is probably a good thing.

The race started at 7:45 am and was about a half hour drive from our home. I had set the alarm for 6:10, but Little Dude woke me up by 6:00. Everyone else was sleeping. A lot of runners were wearing costumes, but I had decided just to dress in orange and black. (maybe next year -- I was inspired by everyone else!) I got dressed up in my Haunted Hustle technical top (pretty cute and festive) and layered it with a long sleeve technical top, which was paired with black Nike Tempo running shorts. Since I surprisingly didn't have one to match (gasp!), I borrowed Little Sis's orange and black zebra print Bondi Band (HERE), and accessorized with orange and black knee high socks from Chrissy's Knee High Socks (HERE). And yes, I did my makeup!!

I drove across town all by my lonesome. It was supposed to be chilly at the start (30-something degrees and a high of 50-something for the day). Hubby and the kiddos stayed home. I exited Hwy 12 and there was a slight backup of traffic with thirty minutes til the start. It was moving though. I ended up parking across the street at the Marriott. There was ample parking everywhere, including over at Greenway Station and the neighboring parking ramp. There were people in fun costumes everywhere -- lots of superheros and chicks in tutus.
I headed to the start line and there were two rows of porta potties. Lines were about 10 people deep with 15-20 minutes to go. Lines moved fast and I had no trouble getting in. I headed towards the folks that were lining up behind the start line. I surprisingly was able to locate my parents, Little Sis and her boyfriend in the sea of people as I was downing a Gel. There was a GREAT turnout for this being the first running of this race. I chatted with my family a bit and gave my mom my toss away sweatshirt and headed to get in place. I ended up seeing a friend in the sea of people and we chatted a bit before the race started.
A guy next to me, "Dan the Man" had heard me chatting with my friend. He asked what my goal was and I said that I almost always am at two hours or under. This was his first half marathon and he said that I would be his pacer since that was his goal. The pressure was on.

The marathon and half marathon started together. The 10K runners would start a half hour later. It was a bit crowded in the sea of people and continued to be quite crowded (though very doable) until the second half.
The race organizers had posted a course description for each of the three distances before the race. Though I couldn't recall or envision everything, it was quite helpful. Here was the half marathon description.
Half Marathon - 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. The rest of the course is nearly pancake flat with the exception of a few small hills along the conservancy bike path. After mile 4.5 the racers take a right hand turn into the scenic, tree-canopied, stretch of the Pheasant Branch Nature Conservancy for a half mile out and back section. The course continues along the paved Pheasant Branch conservancy path for another 5 miles through scenic prairie and woodland before arriving back to downtown Middleton. The course takes a right turn onto Elmwood and rounds Capitol Brewery for the final 1 mile homestretch to the finish.
Surface makeup of half marathon course:
Blacktop/concrete road – 55%
Paved Trail- 45%
Crushed Limestone- 0%
Half marathon course map is available (HERE).

The first aid station and first mile came up very quickly. My knee high socks were already falling down -- oh well! Then we were headed up a pretty decent hill and then through a nice neighborhood. "Dan the Man' ran with me for a bit and then ended up in front of me. I would follow him for several miles (about a half dozen people behind him). He was always in sight. He was headed out fast and strong. I was feeling great, too.
I was able to see my family once within the first four miles and then a friend around mile four. Crowd support was ample and off and on. Aid stations were place quite frequently. I carried my handheld water bottle again and only stopped to get a couple of sips of Powerade at each stop. The Powerade was incredibly sweet and sugary-tasting. There was not enough water in it. I decided just to dump it most of the time, because I didn't want to get sick. My handheld carried water and I sipped on it throughout the race. I had two gels inside and my car key. I picked up another gel along the course (Vanilla). I believe there were 3-5 opportunities for the half marathoners to get gel along the course since there were a few turnarounds and you could hit some of the aid stations twice. Remarkable.
At mile 4.5 we headed into the Nature Conservancy. It was beautiful with the fall colors that we still had left. This was an out and back along the path and the bridges and streams. Very pretty. It was fun looking for friends along the out and back. we turned around at mile five and I believe that this is wear the full mararthoners headed straight. It cleared out a bit here obviously. I looked for Linda from Mom Running from Cancer (Read her race report HERE). I spotted her in her adorable witch costume, just before we headed out of the Conservancy. She looked cute and strong!
We headed out along a paved trail. There were some "haunted" aid stations. We headed along the pond on a nice scenic route and then we headed to another out-and-back area of the path. I heard a dude yell my name and wave. It was Jason, a reader of Running Diva Mom. I said "hey" and kept on. He was flying past the other way and was literally speedy and flying.

I kept heading down the path and onto the turnaround. I was approaching "Dan the Man" and almost caught up. Just before I exited the path, I ran into Linda from Mom Running from Cancer again, who was heading out on the out-and-back. She had her camera out and snapped this shot of me. Thanks, Linda! She looked like she was having a fun race, which I think is just awesome.

We veered off the path and I was just behind "Dan the Man". I spotted my parents and my sister just before mile 9 and was easily able to muster a smile since I was having a blast.

I caught up to "Dan the Man" and told him that he was actually pacing ME! I saw my family again at 9.5. Dan and I chatted a bit for the next mile and hung together. He thought that he had gone out too fast. I assured him that he was doing awesome. He was 54 years old and my dad's age, and was running his first half marathon. I thought that was friggin' awesome. To top that he had a three year old GRANDSON with my son's name. We had a good laugh and he looked forward to seeing his little grandson at the finish line.

I kept consulting my watch and told him that he was setting a really high bar for himself for his first half. WOW! There was no doubt that we were going to break two hours this race (something that I hadn't done since the Disney Princess Half in March) and that we BOTH may PR (My 1:55:59 PR was set at the Madison Half Marathon in May 2009). I was stoked. He told me I was speeding up a bit. I was excited with only two miles to go. We both downed some nutrition. He was suffering from tummy problems and wasn't sure if he should use the porta potties. I assured him that there was one at the finish line!! Trying to encourage him to keep going. He did, leaving the porta potties behind. Later he said he was glad he did, because he was feeling a little better. With about 1.5 miles to go, he sped up. I felt comfortable and didn't join him. I was not hurting, but didn't want to suffer the last mile.

With one mile to go we veered back towards the start line and back to Greenway Station. We went up a slight hill and veered around to the crowd waiting us at the finish line. I saw my family there, which was awesome because when they came to see me at the Chicago Marathon in 2008, they couldn't even get close to seeing me finish my journey. I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and my watch read 1:54:45 (a PR by over one minute!).

I met up with my family. I was sweating and they were freezing. It was a perfect day for racing, but not for spectating. I felt awesome. My dad said he was proud of me, and that made me feel even more awesome. I saw all sorts of people I knew from other races and high school crossing the finish line I saw Linda cross and chatted with her for a bit. Dan the Man was still looking for his grandson and had crossed the finish line in under 1:54:30. I was sooo very happy for him ... he was beaming. He shook my dad's hand and told him that I was awesome. I thought that he was pretty awesome. I grabbed a space blanket to warm me up (no longer sweating!). The Greenway Station restaurants were offering food to runners, but I didn't take advantage of the refreshments.

The medal was cute and festive for the Halloween season. Although I agree with several complaints that it was small and tiny. It was only the first year for this race and I'm sure that as the race grows (although already extremely popular!) that the size of the medal will too!
I was very impressed with by how well this race was organized for it being the first year and the fantastic turnout. The location was great for locals and out of town guests, great parking, fantastic scenic course, ample crowd support, easy for spectators to navigate, more than sufficient water stations, tons of gel, cute themed medal, and a nice technical race shirt.
Only complaints would include that the expo could be expanded to more exhibitors, larger medal for next year, mix the energy drink better so that it's drinkable. Otherwise, no gripes.
A VERY WELL RUN RACE! I will definitely be doing this race again next year (maybe even in costume!)
Chip time: 1:54:45
8:45 min/mile pace
304/970 Overall
45/230 Age Group (F 30-39 )


  1. Great job!!!!!!! SOunds like a FUN race too.

  2. Great Job Congrats on the PR. :)

  3. COngrats on the PR! thats awesome!
    cool pic and awesome medal! yay for halloween!

  4. Great job. Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself.

  5. i was at the second aid station. wish i would've seen ya'. i didn't realize you were running this one.
    anywho, the "poweraid" was actually "powerbar ironman endurance formula" and we were a little freaked out by it. it started out really really dark yellow, and within an hour had turned clear..... hmmmm. we were scared to taste test it, but i guess we should've.
    i feel like the guys at endurance house did a great job with this one. it was so much fun to see all of the costumes. a little cold, but i was glad that it was a perfect day for running!
    congrats on the PR!

  6. Great job Jamie! Awesome race report! Congrats on the PR!!

  7. Congratulations! You are a PR machine this year!!!!! Sounds like a good race. I'll have to keep it in mind for next year.

  8. Great job! Congrats on the PR. And that medal is super cute... too bad it's not bigger!

  9. great job! Congrats on an awesome run!

  10. Wow!! What an amazing race! Love your recap and your festive wear!!! Congrats on your PR!!! =)

  11. Great job! Awesome PR and awesome race report. So glad you had a great time. Sounds like it was a fun race. :)

  12. Great Job Jamie - I so agree - this race was really well organized and I am so looking forward to next year . . . and thinking about my costume!

  13. Congrats on the PR! Glad to see you had such a good time. And even if it's tiny, I LOVE that race medal. That's awesome.

  14. Congrats on the PR! I was there as well running the full. The weather was almost perfect and the volunteers were great. Were the mile markers for the half as far off as they were for the full? They were aqt time 0.3 of a mile off. I liked the race but the full was not a PR course, but not every course needs to be. Beautiful areas to run in.

  15. Congratulations! Nice and appropriate gear for the weekend holiday!

  16. Fabulous job! Congrats on the PR!

  17. Awesome job! Sounds like a fun race!

  18. Congrats on the PR! As always your outfit was awesome.

  19. Great report! Great PR! The medal is really cute. Something to think about for next fall...

  20. CONGRATS!! Great recap! Awesome you got the PR-over a minute!!! Sounds like it was a blast!

  21. Congrats!! Sounds like a fantastic inaugural race!

  22. Congrats on the PR! Sounds like a great race!

  23. Great job. Sounds like a super fun race!