Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Madison (Half) Marathon 2012 Race Report

In case you haven’t heard, the Madison Marathon (HERE) was canceled last weekend, due to high temperatures predicted (around 95 degrees). All of the full marathoners, like myself, were automatically placed in the half marathon. I believe there were about 3,000 already registered for the half marathon and about 1,500 for the half. There ended being a total of 4,390 runners that finished the half marathon this past Sunday.

There was a lot of controversy leading up the race, because people were upset that the race was cancelled. I was very upset that I wouldn’t be running the 26.2 mile event but totally understood why organizers cancelled the full marathon. I was just going to try and make the best of it.

I had a Milwaukee-area blogger staying with me on Saturday night, who is also one of my Ragnar teammates, Amy from Running is Cheaper Than Therapy (HERE). I picked up our packets at the expo at the Monona Terrace Convention Center on Saturday afternoon, before heading over to Brat Fest with my family. Packet pick up was extremely organized and efficient. We browsed the expo, ran into some peeps that recognized me from RDM (sorry, I forgot your names, but thanks for saying “hi!”), and purchased a few new Bondi Bands. The technical tees were adorable and one of my favorites!! Amy and I went on a nice walk Saturday evening, looked at the forecast for Sunday one more time, and headed to bed shortly after 9:00 p.m.

We woke up at 5:00 a.m., got on our race gear, ate breakfast, and left the house shortly after 5:45. We parked quickly at the Monona Terrace. Then met up with another local blogger and Ragnar teammate, Linda from Mom Running from Cancer (HERE), outside of Starbuck’s. We chatted and took some cute pictures, before running some things back to the car. It was surprisingly not warm. After all the debate all week about the weather, we actually felt extremely comfortable.

I ran into a RDM reader, Sue.  We exchanged hugs and wished each other luck.  Then the gals and I ydrated a bit and then went to the loooong restroom line, where a sweet gal approached me.  She reads RDM and was running her first half marathon (CONGRATS – I hope that you had a great experience!).  We finally made our way through the potty line, I ran into my friend Jason, and then headed to the start line, just in time for the National Anthem.  We split up in the sea of people and the race started. 

Amy and I zig-zagged for a good 2-3 minutes. The start area was clogged with runners … and walkers (walkers??). After about a mile, I felt like I wasn’t constantly dodging people, though it was still extremely crowded. During the first mile, I heard Jenny, a RDM reader, say “hi” as she flew past me. We were going to be meeting up after the race. I was glad she said hello, so that I could recognize her later and wish her well on her race. I was getting into a nice groove and constantly sipping on water from my handheld bottle. The first water station is the only one that I skipped. Shortly after I got into my groove, I heard someone behind me say my name. It was Julia, another RDM reader. She lifted my spirits and we wished each other luck as we ran on. We ran through downtown Madison and headed on some rolling hills towards Tenney Park. At the 5K mark, I was at 27:53. The crowd support was FANTASTIC and the water stations were long, but extremely crowded. There were people stopping to walk everywhere and hydrate. Everyone was being safe, due to the temperatures. However, it made the stations over-crowded and difficult to navigate. Speaking of hydrating, a friend Stephanie and her pals were hand out beer along this point. I passed it up. I ended up seeing J and the munchkins at Tenney Park, which I wasn’t planning on. I think they were surprised to see me, too. Because they would’ve missed me, if I hadn’t called out to them. Here, I also saw a great sign with a mask of Bill Clinton, “Keep going….Don’t pull out ….That’s what She Said”. There were lots of us chuckling. I checked out my pace and was going slower than 9 minute miles. Quite a bit slower than my usual pace, but I was doing ok with it. I wasn’t going to try and race the clock with the heat.

We headed down towards Maple Bluff, where I saw a friend, Lauren, cheering on from the sidelines. I was starting to get warm and she kept me going. We headed past the Governor’s mansion where some runners were snickering and making comments. I passed up the energy gel station and took one of my own. At the 10K mark, I had sped up and was at 56 minutes. I was happy and moving along at a comfortable pace. I continued to dump two cups of water into my handheld at every water station. I had never consumed so much water during a race. I took on Gatorade and that was it. I hate lemon lime and that’s all they were offering.

I saw my family again at the other side of Tenney Park. I was so happy to see them (Can you tell?)!! At the 15K point, I was at 1:24:42 and knew that I was going to really have to push it to make sub two hours. The whole race had been cloud covered until this point and it was surprising not incredibly warm. Although, I wouldn’t exactly call it cool. I could feel the salt hardening on my face. We headed towards Monona Terrace, where there was tons of crowd support as we headed underneath the structure. It was very cool and reminded me of running under the bridge at Chicago Marathon. We came out of the tunnel and the sun came out too. Now, it was warm. It was bright with a welcomed breeze, as we headed out along the lake. I was sweating like mad and my pace was slowing down. I continued to hydrate through cluttered water stations, though they were well organized and the volunteers were awesome.

The course was an out and back along John Nolen Drive and it was fun watching the other runners heading back towards the capitol square. Though it made me wish that I was a mile ahead ... with them. Amy and I greeted eachother in passing. I also saw my friend, Dwight, pacing the two hour group. I never did catch up to them, because I started so far in the back of the crowd at the start line. At mile 11.1 I was at 1:41:39 and I knew that I was barely going to make two hours. Push it or be comfortable?!?!? Get a slightly faster time or risk feeling nauseous and yacking all over the finish line?!?!? I made the turnaround and the sweaty salt got in my eyes. I was sweating a ton. I tried cleaning my eyes with my shirt, but it too was covered in sweat. It only made my eyes burn worse. I ran for a mile and a half with one I open and one I closed. Trying to make my eyes tear up and clear them out. Eventually it happened. But, only after being miserable. I took water at the last aid station and heard my name from my friend Dan at the Berkeley Running Company water station. That gave me encouragement for that last trek up the West Washington Avenue hill. Dreading it. I actually passed a lot of people going up the hill and saw my friend, George near the top. He yelled “The Diva’s in the house”. I smiled and increased my speed as I got to the top. I made a turn around the Capitol Square and passed everyone in sight. I wish I had only had this urge a few minutes back, and I could have broke two hours. A friend, Toby, said he was ready to take my picture, but couldn’t because I was running so fast at the finish. I’m sure he was exaggerating, but I definitely felt good with that last kick. I ended up finishing in just over 2 hours.

I got my marathon finishers medal, which I kind of feel silly about. It will hang separately, with my other 13.1 event medals.

I ran into my friend Sara and her kids, as well as J and my kids after getting some goodies and chocolate milk.  We met up with Amy and her family, then Linda.  After reconnecting, we headed down State Street to Madison Sweets for a cupcake with Jenny, who I had run into onthe course.  The coconut cream cupcake was amazing and well-deserved!!

131 / 438 age group
650 /2,396 females
1,764 / 4,390 overall


  1. Nice job on your run in the heat... I have been wondering how the Madison race went after all the hoopla surrounding the full marathon's cancellation. It sounds like they still put on a good event.

  2. Great job, and glad to hear that it was a positive experience for you! It definitely was hot out there on Sunday.

  3. Great job in less than ideal conditions. Sorry the full got cancelled, but heat does bad things over long distances. Love the blue kicks, what are they?

  4. I would be a little upset at the weather, but at least you got to run and had an awesome finishing time! Congrats!

  5. Well done on an awesome race. Great pace and good tactics to stay comfortable in the heat :-)

  6. Great job! I was one of the blog followers you met at the expo. Hope to run into you the next time I run a race in Madison.