Hell Yeah Race Report: Madison Mini-Marathon

(Yeah, yeah. I know, I know. This is overdue, like most of my blogs. Cut me some slack – I started grad school these last two weeks. Better late than never.)

Spoiler Alert: I PR’d.

WWWWWWWHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

Mini8

Cliff hanger: Wait till you hear by how much!

A few weeks ago I set what I thought were some pretty ambitious half marathon goals. There were two:

1 – To PR.
2 – To break 1:54.

That second goal seemed like a pretty lofty one – it would mean almost a 2.5 minute improvement from my Indy Mini Marathon finish of 1:56:24. When you run lots of races big improvements are hard to come by. It is one thing to drop that much time when you do one race a year, but to improve so much in just three months – it seemed impossible. My PR’s lately have been marginal – 30 seconds here, 45 there. Two and a half minutes seemed simply audacious.

Because of that, leading up to the race I was NERVOUS. Not just nervous, I’m talking anxious, freak-out, butterflies eating up my stomach kind of nervous. It has been awhile, probably since any of my marathons, that I’ve felt that way. I knew I had set some high expectations and was petrified of not meeting them. (Especially since I got all confident and spilled my guts to the blog-o-sphere. Now I HAVE to meet those goals!)

The one thing that calmed me down a bit was knowing that my main goal wasn’t time: it was about fun. I’ve always maintained that the minute you lose the fun, is when it isn’t worth doing anymore. Yes – PR’ing is fun, but getting in a tizzy worrying about it isn’t. So, I tried my best to chill out.

Mini12

I went to packet pickup with my first friend I made in Madison, Adam. We met at a local running group (I’ll write more about that soon – I promise!) and have been running and biking around Madison since then. {After a 13 miler in his neck of the woods, Cambridge, WI, we went to lunch and saw a sign for a triathlon and we even signed up for that!)

Adam and I scored some sweet (illegal) parking right by Union South for packet pickup. I guess there might be parking somewhere around there, but that seemed like a frustrating place to have the expo. The space was great, but anything involving volumes of people on a college campus is always kind of a headache. Aside from the traffic though, the expo itself was well run. They even had this Class of 2013 banner with all the entrants names on it.

Mini10

Of course I had to find my name…

Perks of pre-registering!

Perks of pre-registering!

Adam and I parted ways and I headed down to the Mendota Terrace to have a beer with another new friend of Madison, Suzanne. She is friends with one of the Hotdoggers who I drove the Wienermobile with and has gotten me in the gym for lifting sessions and leg day. Friday night was carbo-loading in liquid form though this week.

Mini13

Race day morning Adam picked me up and we headed to the start line. My butterflies were still floating around my stomach, so I tried to drown them out with a little pump-up music. Didn’t you know… 6 a.m. is the perfect time for Eye of the Tiger and the Rocky theme song!

Mini7

Thoroughly amped up, I parted ways with Adam, who was running with a friend in another corral, and headed out in search of the 1:50 pace group. I thought this would be a pretty solid game plan. My goal was to stick with them as long as I could, which would keep me pumped up while I was with them. When I finally had to fall back there would just be a few more miles requiring self-motivation left. I was initially pretty worried about this though and had kind of wished there was a 1:55 group that was closer to my own ambitions.

Mini6

The start line was filled with high-fives, from the other 1:50 hopefuls, to Bucky the Badger as we crossed the start line. I knew it was going to be a good race when he furry paw hit mine (my hand, not my furry paw) and we started the climb up Langdon Street. That’s right, the Madison Mini-Marathon starts with an uphill – so cruel!

We ran up to the Capitol and through the Farmer’s Market. I feel bad for the innocent shoppers who were just trying to pick out their local produce and instead encountered a stampede of local runners. I joked that someone should stop to pick up some cheese curds for us, and was secretly disappointed when no one did.

Mini5

The next few miles were through campus and around Camp Randall. Although there were water stops along the way, my favorite aid station was around mile 3. The race ran right in front of my friend Matt’s House and he was awesome enough to wake up at 7:00 a.m. to come out and cheer. As an added bonus, he also had these delicious chocolate-covered cranberries for me for some extra energy. I gobbled some of those up and still had lots of extras, but no one in my pace group was as enthusiastic about snacks on the run. (Isn’t the big cliche in running that “I run to eat”?! Cheese curds, chocolate, I guess I’m the only one who gets hungry along the way…)

This guy is a saint!

This guy is a saint!

I stuck with the 1:50 group all the way up until mile 6.5ish. I honestly knew this was when I would lose them. Miles 5-7 were through the UW Arboretum. On the bright side, it was all shaded. (haha.) But, that came at the price of a whole lot of hills. As we passed the half-way mark I lead the people who I was running with in a “YEE-HAW” and I think I got at least 10 others to join me in the rally cry. I love a little spirit!

Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 9.24.29 PM

Sticking with the 1:50 group as long as I did, I felt pretty good. I had created a nice buffer for my PR and still had a lot in me. That being said, the last half was when that self-motivation came in. Although the hills petered out, they still continued to speckle the last half of the course. Luckily, my sister and her new husband also came out to cheer me on.

Mini3

My one other critique of the Madison Mini-Marathon was that there was no Gu provided along the course. This just happened to be the ONE race I didn’t stash one in the good ‘ole sports bra for a just-in-case pick-me-up. I wish I had, because around mile 10 I was starting to fatigue a bit. Thankfully, a fun-spirited bunch was handing out bacon strips right around then.

Mini11

If you haven’t noticed, my mantra at races is if food is offered, you have to take it! (I AM a run-to-eat gal and am not embarrassed to admit it!)

The last three miles were definitely a challenge, but with a badass PR on the horizon I did my best to finish it strong. Luckily, the spectators the last mile were awesome and the final stretch with Bucky back at the finish were awesome!

I ended up high-fiving Bucky right as I came in and crossed the finish at 1:51:36. ONE FIFTY ONE!!!

Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 9.24.34 PM

THAT’S AN ALMOST FIVE MINUTE P.R.! Yeah, I’m more than a little bit excited about it. Looking back, I think it had almost entirely to do with mental commitment, more than physical training. I finally just went out there for a race and didn’t let me own expectations confine my performance. (I think anyway; who knows, maybe I could be running 1:45s all along!)

This medal is also a bottle opener! You know you're running in Wisconsin when....

This medal is also a bottle opener! You know you’re running in Wisconsin when….

Overall – great race, great crowd, amazing experience!

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8 thoughts on “Hell Yeah Race Report: Madison Mini-Marathon

  1. Pingback: Tri’d Something New This Weekend – Race Recap: Try Cambridge Tri | Race for all 50 States

  2. Congratulations. Time to set your sights on new goals. The Ironman (Ironperson?) will come to Madison next month. If you volunteer to help this year, you’ll have a better chance to get in next year.

    • I wrote down the names and I placed them in a hat. (I could not think of any other radnom way to win ) I do have 3 winners and they have been emailed. Thanks for playing!

  3. Don’t you love it when you think you can only shave off seconds, perhaps only a minute off a PR only to shatter it by over 5? It happens! And the best part? It’ll happen again! Anyway, I ran this in 2010 and LOVED it. Beautiful, varied course, but a little harder than the half marathons I was used to at the time. I loved running around the lake, zipping through the city and the finish caught me completely by surprise.

    Should you be curious: http://dans-marathon.com/2010/11/25/wisconsin-madison-mini-marathon/

    Congrats!

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