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Madison Mini Marathon Race Report {August 20, 2011) HM #5

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh what a weekend it was and its one Jim and I will remember for a long time. My faithful chauffeur, gear handler, photographer and cheerleader husband and I made the 3-ish hour drive northeast to Madison, WI for Madison Mini Half Marathon weekend. The trip up was uneventful with the guidance of our pirate-voiced TomTom gps. This little beauty works like a charm every time unless of course you put in the WRONG address! We had planned on eating at the Essen Haus (German food) Friday night and I had Google mapped it before we left. Well, I plugged in THAT address to get us to our hotel and what a pain that ended up to be. We did eventually get to the Lowell Center however and things then fell in to place. This is the officiall University of Wisconsin “hotel” and it is awesome! The Madison Mini actually started right in front! Score!

This was also U of W student move in weekend and the traffic was awful along with construction. We finally found the small parking lot and it just so happened that where we parked was the number one spot and we ultimately never left the hotel and walked everywhere. No problemo!

We unloaded the car and Jim immediately gets to work…actual work. I change duds, shoes, grab my Google map to get to Union South where the expo is located. It was about a mile walk but seemed further. I had to traverse through more construction and a sea of students but I did get to the expo. I immediately went to packet pickup, turned around and there was Christina (phdmama07) as we had planned on meeting there. She said it was my PINK bag that I was wearing that she knew it was me LOL. After {{{hugs}}} we quickly went through the expo and then sat down and chatted for awhile.

Christina is my running buddy “sole”mate as we share the same running mindset and the love of Disney. We call each other RB (running buddy) and I would say we have known each other for about 2-ish years now. We finally meet! We set off to walk to her parking garage and I walk to our hotel from there. I got a little lost but thanks to my trusty map reading skills, I made it back with just one little blister that I worried about until race time.
It is now time to make the decision of whether or not to leave our awesome parking spot and fight the traffic to the Essen Haus or simply stay and walk around the area to find something to eat. We were famished. We decided to walk around and scope things out. We walk towards the Memorial Union which is just down the block and when we walked around back, OMG…party central!! We found The Terrace! People were EVERYWHERE sitting at fun tables with fun chairs drinking fun beer and eating fun brats and stuff! I wondered at the tome if this was heaven but no…alas, it is the University of Wisconsin which is famous for being a party school. I can now see why! It sits right on the edge of lake Mendota full of sailboats and fun students.

We proceed to find a shady table and we settle in for the evening. Oh what fun and how relaxing. We enjoyed a (disposable…only in Wisconsin) pitcher of cold beer, brats, burgers and ice cream. Yes, I was carbing up! You could see Madison Mini stuff everywhere because this would also be the post-race party area. I was so relaxed that I wasn’t doing the usual pre-HM freakout at all.

I knew that there was a GOOD chance of thunderstorms come racetime also and that they followed the flag system closely. That meant that they could possibly ultimately cancel the race if weather warranted it and that would mean going home with no bling.
Jim and I went back to our nice room and I proceed to lay out my racing person on the bathroom floor so I didn’t miss anything and everything would be ready for early morning. I am set for an attempt at sleep. I did well until about 2:30am when I shot up and tried to remember the last time I charged my Ipod. Well crap. So I get up, turn on my laptop, dig out my Ipod charger thingy and then actually went back to sleep. The two alarms went off at 5am and I was ready to do this thing. I looked out the window…RAIN. Ugh.
Elsa (root4home) also called to get her bearings and we would hook up in the lobby. Elsa and I met at JASR in Pittsburgh this past March and I was so anxious to see her again! I get myself all put together, eat my PB&J sandwich, banana and coffee and head to the lobby. Eventually, Elsa, Christina and I meet in the lobby and Jim comes down to take photos.

Afterwards, we head outside to our corral.

It is getting dark to the west and RB checks the radar on her phone and its coming. Dang!! We all gather, all geared up and ready to run.

The National Anthem is sung and….WEATHER DELAY. The storm is coming and the race director tells to seek shelter. We all head to the Memorial Union, find a spot I the coffee shop and sit and sit and sit. RB keeps tabs on the Madison Mini official Facebook updates on her phone and they did an outstanding job of updating. It is also thunderbooming outside with rain. You do start to wonder if the race will be called. At about 8:15 Facebook tells that we are a go! Racers return to your corrals for an 8:30am start making this a 90 minute delay. By now, our early carb loading is unloading LOL and you wonder how that will effect you.

Excitement is back in the air and we are truly ready to go and I am ready to tackle HM #5!!! By the way, I am wearing Iowa Hawkeye black and gold at ground zero of Bucky Badger Land! I loved every minute of it! The gun fires and we are off. It takes a few minutes to actually cross the starting line but we are now officially running with Garmins started. The three of us run together for a little ways and speedy Elsa breaks off and RB and I stick together for a while longer. I am running too fast for me and send RB off with my love. I am in a great groove and loving the rain (yes, still raining but no thunder). It felt so good even if we were soaked. I ran The Bix before in rain so it was no big deal. At this point I finally settle in to my run/walk intervals because the runners have thinned out enabling me to do this without causing problems. I am feeling so strong.

We come up on the Wisconsin State Capitol and it was gorgeous along with the farmer’s market in that area. At mile 2 we run past Kohl Center which is where U of W basketball is played and I was very impressed. We snake our way through some more downtown area including Union South where the expo was located. We reach mile 3 and Camp Randall Stadium which is home of Badger football and remember just how “red” that stadium looks on TV on game day. Awesome!

Coming up at mile 4 is the zoo but I am unable to find it or maybe I was looking in the wrong area. So far I am wet but feeling good and we are running in a lot of shady areas. That makes for comfortable conditions. I am wearing my dry-max socks so even if my shoes are wet my feet are pretty dry actually. The blister that formed the day before is not causing problems. Sweet!

We are now entering the Arboretum area which provides even more shade and couple that with a nice breeze, the weather is perfect for running. Miles 5 and 6 click along nicely and any hill that we come to is very doable. With another water station coming up I decide to ask to see if they could refill my handheld water bottle directly and they nicely oblige. I thanked them profusely and open a GU. All fueled up and ready to continue on my merry way.

At mile 7 we reach the most southernmost part of the course and start to head north. That is a great mental boost to me as if I really needed it. So far, I am feeling so very strong and loving life. Now heading out of the beautiful Arboretum area and back to residential areas, we snake our way through the streets. With the 90 minute delay, you know that the police department was going above and beyond what they were originally asked to do. Traffic was picking up and I just know it was a nightmare for them. They did an outstanding job!

Mile 8 comes and goes and at mile 9 we start to run pretty stout hills again and I think about fueling. I took three GU packets with me but I can find only my second one. I panic. Where is my third? I search my pouches while running and for the first time I start to panic a little as mile 10 always becomes the hard part of an HM for me. Well crap!

I am almost to the top of the mile 10 hill and still feeling good but slowing down naturally. With no more fuel onboard I start to panic. Lo and behold I come up on a runner that had a case of GU packets all along her fuel belt…a little overkill for a HM but I was not going to argue at that point LOL. I ask her very kindly if I could have one of her packets as I lost my last one. She gives me one of hers with a huge smile on her face. Perhaps she had been in this same situation once and now carries a warehouse supply with her now. I thank her very very much and pocket that puppy like it’s the last possession on earth.

With mile 11 coming up I know that the course is flat from now on and that is another mental boost. I am feeling awesome at a time when I usually poop out. With quick calculations I know I won’t PR but I just may finish strong, upright and with a grin ear to ear. We shall see.

During the course of mile 11 you reach Picnic Point where you will essentially glide home to finish. We are now along the banks of Lake Mendota and there is so much to see. Mu last GU is gobbled up and with plenty of Powerade and water left, I just need to run and run I can! Something amazing is happening as I am getting stronger! I am at mile 12 and I am picking up the pace! That has NEVER happened before! I will not PR but I RAWK! OH! OH! What do I see? My first glimpse of THE MEDAL that a finisher is proudly wearing! OMG! I love it and I want one!! All I have to do is go get it! By now I am just all smiles wanting to high five anyone that is willing to do so with me LOL.

At this point in the course you turn corner after corner after corner. Just how many corners are left? I ask spectators laughingly and they all say “just around the corner”! Finally, it is the last corner and there it is…THE FINISH!! OMG I love the atmosphere and the announcer! By now the runners are pretty much finishing with the stage to themselves and there are still a ton of spectators left. I finish fist pumping both arms and you could not wipe that smile off my face.

This is why I love running this distance!!! There are no words that can describe the emotions you feel when you have done all you can. I come up to the volunteers that have the best job…the ones with YOUR MEDAL! But first, Jim is at the side ready for my sweaty {{{hug}}}!

I have never seen him so excited for me because I was so excited and he knows exactly what all of this means to me. He knows the hours I put in to my training and I don’t miss very many training runs from my plan. He just knows. Jim is my hero because on my LONG long runs he is there following behind on his bike carrying water.
After finding Jim I spot Christina waiting for me! This was such a surreal moment because finally my wonderful running buddy was there to celebrate. That meant so much to me! I walk the gauntlet of food and gather my goodies. At this point I wish I had a grocery bag LOL. I find Jim and Christina and RB and I start comparing our Madison Mini stories.

I am finally wearing the Madison Mini bottle opener finisher’s medal and its all mine! Actually, it also belongs to all of my loved ones and friends that have cheered me on along this journey. I have never experienced such a wonderful time in my life. As I look back at this particular HM, I also have to mention my playlist and what it means to me. I have a lot of contemporary Christian music on my running playlist and it seems that the perfect song always came on at just the right time with this HM. I truly feel that God was propelling me forward. I know it and I feel so blessed. LIFE IS SO GOOD!
THIS is why I run. I don’t run for the speed as PR’s truly don’t mean that much to me. If I happen to snag one that is pretty sweet, but I am not obsessed. I run for the sheer joy of the emotions. I feel blessed that I have the ability to run and thank God all the time for this gift.
I have quite the HM schedule coming up and so very excited that its finally here. Next up, Air Force HM at Wright-Patt AFB, Dayton, OH in four weeks. Jim will be running the 5k and me the Half along with some awesome Spark running buds, but that story is for future blogs.
For now, I will cherish the 2011 Madison Mini weekend and the wonderful memories Jim and I gained.

Ps…Saturday evening after we arrived back home, Madison Mini sent out an email with a chance to save $$$ if you register now for 2012. Guess what? Yep, I did it and in fact already have reservations made at Lowell Center for our hotel. Cannot wait and yes, I will be wearing Hawkeye Black & Gold!!
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