Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Better Late than Never: A Madison Mini Marathon Report

On August 21, MM and I ran the Madison Mini Marathon. Yes, this race report is about three and a half weeks late, but it feels like it could have been a lifetime ago considering everything that has happened since then. But that’s another story.

I decided to do this race in lieu of a half marathon in Chicago for a variety of reasons. First of all, I missed the Chicago Rock n’ Roll half because my attendance was required at a conflicting event. Second, I hate the Chicago Half Marathon that happened a few days ago and have vowed never to run that race again. And third, it gave me a really good excuse to visit one of my closest friends from college. Plus, Madison is basically awesome, and who wouldn’t want to tour the town while burning enough calories to justify all of the New Glarus beer I would end up drinking later?

The race began 7:30 a.m., which MM and I, with our warped sense of time, claimed was “late” even though G, who wanted to be at the start of the race to cheer us on, looked at us like we were crazy people and questioned her decision to agree to such an early event on a Saturday. We were just happy that we could sleep past 5:30 a.m. There were less than 5,000 people running, which is a fairly small race based on what we’re used to. You definitely felt like you had some space on the course and it didn’t take 45 minutes to get to the start line, which is always nice.

MM decided to run this race with me because it was our anniversary and he loves me he wanted to conserve his energy for a Sunday softball game he was playing in. So we went off together. Part of my goal of running with MM was that he could pace me to a PR. We started off at about a 10:30 pace, but slowed it down to a more reasonable 11-minute pace a mile or two in. I felt great and had no problem keeping this pace. The course has a few inclines, but is nowhere near as hilly as the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon. Even for those of us used to fast and flat Chicago courses, I wouldn’t bother to even warn runners about the hills in Madison. They are really a non-issue.

There was one problem though. It was damn humid out. I mean, we looked like we had jumped in a lake about five miles in, but regardless of the copious amounts of sweat pouring from my body, I was well hydrated and it didn’t seem to get to me… at first (at all?). Then came miles eight through 10 at which point my body began to break down. I managed to keep running these two miles, but I slowed down quite a bit. My knees hurt, my ankles hurt, my back was sore. I’ve noticed this problem a lot lately. Around miles eight to 10, my body seems to say, “I’m done,” and after that every step is painful. It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on—this seems to happen regardless of pace or weather conditions and despite the fact that I would argue that I’m stronger and in better shape to run now more than ever before. I will admit that I was slightly undertrained for this event distance-wise (my last double digit run before Madison was in early June), but I’ve noticed that I tend to be in pain even after eight and nine mile training runs. I tend to have no lasting effects from this pain and am not even terribly sore the day after. It’s a mystery, but it’s convincing me that another marathon will not be in my near future. I can suck it up to mile 13, but I can’t imagine hanging on for 26.2.

And even though I still was easily on pace for a pretty impressive PR at mile 10, I had to walk a good portion of the remaining three miles. I finished in 2:34:25, respectable for me and my second fastest half marathon. I was a little disappointed, but as much as I wanted to break the 2:30:00 barrier for myself, I care less about these things than I used to.

Mostly I was just in pain after the race, and I did a lot of dramatic moaning to G about my legs and such until I took two Aleve and forgot about it. Then G, her husband, MM and I went mini-golfing, spent some time drinking beer on the patio at the famous University of Wisconsin Union, and had lovely, huge-mongous dinner because that is what you do when you are in Wisconsin: eat and drink. The mini-golf is optional.