2013 Madison Marathon Race Recap

There is only one time that you can do something for the first time.  For me, it was the first time I had ever ran beyond the wall (20 miles for you non runners).  The last 20 weeks or 500+ miles of training all came down to this day, the day that I ran a full distance marathon.

courtesy of http://www.madisonmarathon.org/
I used Hal Hidgon's novice training plan for first time marathoners. It was a great training program.  It never made me feel to tired or "worn out".  Its due to the design, 2 weeks of increase of about 10%, then a recovery week, and cycle.  I actually did the 1/2 marathon training, but then when I was done with that, I wanted more. I found a late season marathon in the great city of Madison, WI.  It was a smaller marathon, about 7000 runners between the full and half distance.

11 weeks of training after my first 1/2 marathon I had the normal 3 week of tapering.  This was following my 20 mile run (longest run of the training plan).  Most runners know, taper weeks suck.  You feel like this blob that over eats by the end of it.  The temptation to go on beyond your scheduled training is pretty high, but you must resist.  The point of taper is to let your body recover, so its ready for your race day.

Coming up to the weekend my family arrived.  I was so excited that my parents and aunt were able to make it.  It really meant a lot to me that they were there.

So I was ready as I'll ever be, it was race morning, there were a lot of clouds and it was a decent 30ish degrees with under 10mph winds.  We got down to the start early (I'm always early for events, I like to look around).  Before I knew it it was time to warm up.  I did a quick 1/4 mile jog just to loosen up in the cold weather.  The clouds quickly broke up right in time for the start, I'm glad I brought sun glasses.

They herded us into the starting line.  We were really close together, it was kind of awkward, but at the same time it was keeping us warm.  The gun went off and we started.  I started right next to the 4 hour (9:10 min/mile) pace group.  That was my ultimate goal so I decided to stick with them at least for a while.  3 miles later they were gone.  I had a quick chat with a guy who was in town from Ann Arbor, MI.  A nice fellow that so far loved Madison.  I told him about how Madison is a lot like Ann Arbor, just with lakes.  I played tour guide for a little bit, but then he slowed (or I sped up, not sure) and we parted ways.  I really enjoy single serving conversations I have during races.

I continued onward through the Arboretum Drive (google map) which was full of fall colors.  Beautiful doesn't do it justice.  We then shot out toward UW-Madison's campus where I ran into the 3:40 (8:20 min/mile) pace group.  I thought, you know... I should probably stick with them otherwise I'm going to burn out and become a walking zombie.  The pacers were great, giving a tour of campus while running through.  We then hit the Observatory Drive hill.  This hill is very deceiving.  The first part isn't bad (google map), but when you get around that building... (google map that doesn't do it justice) ...its less fun.  However, when you get to the top of this monster, you get one of the best views of the lake (google map).  We then continued through the university and up past the capital square (one block over).  I saw my family, I think I scared my aunt because I was going faster than what I told them I was going to go.  No time to stop and chat though, I had to carry on.
To the far right you will see me,
the guy holding the sign and the dude next to him were
the pacers.  They were pretty funny.

The water stations were great, the further we went, the more I looked forward to them.  They had Gatorade, water, fruit, and Gu.  I had for Gu's with me during the race, I took 1 every 6 miles or so.  The volunteers were also great, and very helpful.

Around mile 13 my knee started to hurt a little.  It was enough pain to notice, not enough to walk.  Like they say, "You see the pain, you shake its hand, and you keep going".  Carrying on, we then ventured to the east side of the city and went through Maple Bluff (where the Governor's Mansion and other richy rich people live).  When running by the Governor's mansion the pacers reminded us that this is not a good time to take a bathroom break ;)

Once we started down Willy St. it happened.  It was inevitable.  I hit the wall.  It happened so suddenly during an aid station.  I quickly lost my run group.  I could still see them ahead, but by mile 21 I had slowed from an 8:15ish mile to a 9:00 mile.  Still going strong, just loosing a bit of spirit.  We turned left off of Willy St on to John Nolen Drive.  It was really bizarre running on a 3 lane road that is always packed with traffic.  Right before entering the tunnel under the Convention Center I saw my family again.  They were full of spirit and it lifted me back up.  I was full of smiles in no time, feeling strong.

We passed the capital square again (on John Nolen, a couple blocks over) and started a down and back.  As I passed the capital I could hear the cheers and the announcer calling people in as they finished.  I wanted to go there...  But I had 3ish miles left.  It was tough, really tough.  I was almost done, so close, but yet so far.  The walkers added up, but I refused.  I will not walk, I told myself.

I got to the turn around point and kicked it up a bit.  Only two miles left!  Once I turned onto Blair St I knew I was going to finish.  Nothing is going to stop me now.  I took a right onto West Wash and climbed that last hill.  I didn't care, I was going to finish.  I was "sprinting" now toward the finish.  I heard my name get called out, I looked at the clock as I crossed the line, 3:41!! (official time and scoring) I beat my ultimate goal of 4 hours, yahoo!  I received my finisher metal and drank a couple waters.  I saw my aunt first, we were both full of excitement :-), gave her a big hug, and then realized I should probably walk a little so I don't collapse.  My legs were getting super tight.  I got my free subs, chips, and photo.  I looked like crap in the photo, my legs hurt a lot.  I then saw my parents, and gave them big hugs as well.  It was so cool having them there so I could share my experience with them.



My legs were getting worse, so I skipped the party tent.  I saw a massage booth, and quickly got in line.  That, was amazing!  Afterwards we headed to the car.  What an event, I thought.  When I got home I climbed (cursing all the way) into an ice bath.  Best and worst feeling in the world.  After about 5 minutes of that, I took a nice warm shower and ate some pasta.  I then dressed up in my finisher jacket that two friends from Lansing got for me. (I have cool friends)

Me and the 'rents

My aunt Shelly and I
The biggest question I had from people is, "how did it go?"  Its a hard thing to answer, but overall it was amazing.  The second question has been, "Given time travel is a thing would you do it again?".  In a heartbeat.  Will I do it another one? Yes, anytime soon? no way.  I will be waiting until next year at least to do another full.

So that's all my big races for this year.  Its been one hell of a ride, and I can't wait to start up again next year. The human body is a marvelous thing.  After about 1 week I am able to run again.  Speaking of, I think I might go before it starts raining.

Lastly I would like to thank all the encouragement via, Facebook messages, texts, emails, and letters I received from everyone.  I couldn't have done it with out you.

I'll leave you with this funny (but so true) cartoon about running a marathon. Enjoy!


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