Monday, May 19, 2014

Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon

This weekend was one of my favorite races that I continually go back to time and time again. I'm not sure what exactly it is about it, but I love it. This year there were a lot of changes that I'm not sure I loved.

Having done this race I think 4 other time (3 half, 1 full) I had made a few assumptions. One, I thought the pasta dinner was still on, I didn't really think about it until Saturday midday when I was getting ready to head to Green Bay. I checked the website, and there was nothing on there about it. Damn. Dinner plans now needed to be made.

Construction traffic doesn't really bother me, it is a necessary evil, for me it is my husband's line of work, so I get it. However, throw in the fact construction and road closures for a race route meant that parking was difficult. This proved to be more true the morning of the race than the expo. 

The expo was nice as it usually is, I felt something was missing, or maybe just showed too much restraint. I usually end up walking out with something I purchased. I did register for the Madison Mini while I was there, so that happened. 

The different start times were also new this year. I am not 100% sure how I feel about it. I could go either way on that. 

Anyway, I met Bill and his family in the Atrium, picked up my packet, perused the expo, and then went to the mall for a little retail therapy. Although I was not there for very long, by the time I was done I was hungry. I sent Bill a text that I was going to head to Noodles. By the time I got to Noodles and saw the line out the door, I realized so was everyone else in town. Thank goodness for technology!I found there was another Noodles not too far from where I was staying. Bill and his family joined me, so that was enjoyable. I swung by Starbucks on my way to my hotel. I was going to read but really felt like doing a whole lot of nothing, which is exactly what I did. I decided to go to bed, it was all of 9:30. 

I woke up ready to roll. Ate my cereal, had my coffee, drank some water, and headed over to Lambeau Field. Again parking was a struggle for me. I couldn't navigate to be able to park in the Lambeau lot which was frustrating. I finally found parking and trekked over toward the stadium. I heard the full marathon start, wish I could have been there to see them off, but just didn't quite get there in time.

Usually I hang out in the Atrium prior to the race, not sure where it was in relationship to where I was, but I didn't see it or go in. It was cold waiting around, but I knew it would be nice running weather. I talked to a few people prior to the race, I had hit the port-o-potties once, my second attempt closer to the start was never going to happen, the lines were ridiculously long. I finally said goodbye to my gear and long sleeve shirt, and headed to the start.

In previous years I had preferred start, which I am not sure why or how, but this year I didn't. The start was very congested, I was over the curb nearer to the 1:50 pace sign. I knew I was too far back, but didn't feel like fighting for a closer spot to the front. 

Finally, the gun went off and it was go time. Not going to lie, I was frustrated by all the jostling that I had to do the first mile.  Sometimes I kind of enjoy the bustle, but I couldn't get through places and I had to squeeze to get through. The first mile clicked off, which for the first time ever I didn't do too fast, but knew if I wanted to be competitive with my time, I had to pick it up a little. Thankfully we had spaced out and I was able to do just that. I wanted to use my strategy of pick-ups after every water stop. I did that, and found myself breaking the race into the next water stops. I kept my eye on my watch, too. I was hitting my miles at PR pace, and knew that if I maintained pace I could do it. From there is was more of a self talk, like-you went this far at Wisconsin at this pace, you can maintain this pace for X amount more miles.-I was really keeping my focus on maintaining pace without staring at my watch. I would make myself deals, like you can't look until after this song. Anyway, mind tricks are mind tricks, I was feeling good, and just wanted to focus on making this happen. Even as I approached Lambeau, I thought, take it in, enjoy the "tundra" but don't slow down

I came out of Lambeau, to turn toward the finishing stretch, I knew I would PR. I was a bit choked up for a minute because I had come so close over the last couple years and could just not quite pull it off. The finish approach seemed like a steep uphill, but looking at it after the fact it wasn't that steep. 

I crossed the line, checked my watch...goodbye 1:39:02 hello 1:37:04!  Woo-hoo!

I collected my medal, gear, phone. Ran into another runner who I knew who also PR'd, she was ecstatic, absolutely glowing-such a great feeling. I talked to Bill's family to see where he was, and headed to the finish to watch some other runners I knew finish. It was great to see Amy, Kim come through the finish! Also, standing watching other people finish is always super amazing to me. Seeing other people's hard work pay off is priceless. I stood by with one mom, who was waiting for her daughter to finish. She was nervous, proud, excited, for her daughter-and it was easy to catch all of her emotions with her. 

Another moment captured was what you see on Facebook, news, etc. A female full runner was coming in, she was struggling to walk. She made one last attempt at running and fell down. A few runners went by, but very quickly several runners, stopped their journey to the finish to assist her back to her feet, walk her until she was able to walk to the finish on her own. Afterwards I wished I had captured the moment with my camera, then was more grateful that I got to witness it in person, not behind a screen and see humanity at its greatest first-hand. 

Bill came through the finish, looking good, considering he had been fighting back problems and calf problems for the past few weeks. 

When I found him and his family at the finish, he congratulated ME on my PR, when he had just finished a full marathon. That's the great kind of guy he is. 

By that time I was ready for my post race food BEER. Sadly, the marathon switched sponsorship with Titletown Brewery who always made a 26.2 Brew for the event. My choice was Miller, Redd's or Third Gear. I chose the latter. By that time beer definitely tasted oh so good. 

I didn't get a chance to meet up with some of my other friends who were running, but I was ready to hit the road and head for home. I hit a Starbucks up after a few miles. Finished listening to Unbroken (what an amazing book) with tears streaming down my cheek. Had a drink out of my 13.1 glass, a delicious bacon wrapped filet, hot tubbed, and called it one hell of a day!

Time 1:37:04
Overall: 205 out of 5358
Age: 6 out of 634
Gender: 47 out of 3480

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wisconsin Marathon Recap-Cheese the Day-For Real

After a looooooong Wisconsin Winter, my full marathon that I had been training for finally arrived. Although I did do the Trailbreaker Half on April 5th short stats here:
I felt like it had been a while since I had raced. With the winter weather I also felt that I had not done a lot of running outside. Thank God for my Treadmill and the Pettit Center. Although I had a few setbacks with training, a cold here, shuffling days there, I felt I had been pretty loyal to my training program.

That being said I came across Dean Karnazes' The Marathon mid-week which summed up exactly what I was feeling. This was not my first, but because you never know what can happen during a marathon, I have learned to respect the race and treat each one with humility.

I started to get more nervous as the end of the week approached. Spent some time stalking the weather, and hoping more than anything that it was NOT going to be raining. 

Kenosha is not too far from me, only about 40 minutes, so I was able to sleep at home the night before. For some reason my iPod alarm sound was shut off, thankfully the nerves had kicked in and I was awake when it was going off silently. I got out of the house a little later than I anticipated, but made it to Kenosha. I could not find a place to park, but when another car went into a church lot, I followed suit, hoping not to get a ticket. 

I saw several people that I knew on my long walk to the starting area, including my friends that I had planned on meeting up with after the race.

I debated back and forth what to check-in at gear check, pants to toss?! sunglasees or no?! This was my I don't know what to wear, crap I'm cold pre-race face... 
By the time I got to the start corral I was happy that I had shed the pants, and kept the sunglasses. 

I ran into a running peep at the start , Tracey, that was rocked and ready for a great race. I saw her several times on the course and  she did not get the goal time she wanted, she PR'd and got closer to her goal, which I know she will get soon. I might also add she is a formidable tough runner who has completed several ultras-she's badass and reels in her goal and knocks them out of the park.

Anyway I digress...before the race I shed my long sleeve tee, bared my tank and the sun came out. Going into this race I had no clear goals, so no pressure, right?! 

When the gun went off I jockeyed for position, trying to hold back. After the first mile, though, I did not like where I was at so did what I always do, I proceed to go off too fast. Once that second mile ticked off, I had to remind myself I was running a full marathon, not a half, and had to save some fuel in the tank.

The first few miles went by and continued to feel good. I saw something shimmer around mile 5 and didn't realize until a few minutes later, that my necklace broke and my running charms were lost to me. This upset me, not because of cost, but I wore these all the time, never take them off. I trained, ran many races with them, they are were a part of me. I had to shake that off because I was over thinking it, was it a sign of a bad race!?! did it mean something bad?!? So I just let it go. (without getting that song stuck in my head) 

The miles continued to go by and because I was still feeling good, I focused on keeping each mile under 8 minutes. I did not really focus on what mile I was on or how many I had left, I ran mile to mile. I grabbed Gatorade at every stop and slowed down while drinking, but then did a short pick-up after every stop. It was a nice mental break, and helped me as I was getting sluggish in my pace or tending to slow down. After mile 17 I realized that this is when I started to slow down in Chicago, so I wanted to try and keep it under 8 for a few more miles. Amazingly, I did. Mile 20 was an 8 minute pace exactly, and mile 21 was back under by a second. By this time, I knew all I had to do was not slow too much per mile and I would have a shiny new PR to take home. I kept my focus and thought all the happy thoughts that I could muster. I had done that throughout the second half, thinking of different people who mean something important to me for each new song, checking out the beautiful lake views. Soaking up the sun that we hadn't seen all week. By the time I hit mile 26 I was way more than ready to be done. As I turned the corner and headed down the shoot, I heard my running peeps cheering for me.  A big smile (maybe a tiny tear) crossed my face. It was a great run.I PR'd by 4 minutes! I walked over to my running peeps, who greeted me with hugs and high fives...and then beer!

We met at Rustic Road Brewery for some post race refueling. After Chicago I had no appetite, and didn't feel good that night, so I really was upping my water intake and limiting myself to 2 Wisconsin that's nothing ;) 

Here is the great group of runners who have great taste in races and beer!

 Love hanging out with my "running friends" and a lot of them are going to be at Cellcom Green Bay running the full marathon, where I am running the half, so I can't wait to cheer them on again. Check out Rachel and Lish's  recap, I think you'll see why I HEART them so!

The front side of the medal, because my running brain held it backwards in the pic above, which of course was to show you that it also is a bottle opener!!

I am happy to say that I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, actually made it out to meet some dear friends that night, and capped the night off with one last drink.

Made the hubs celebrate with me!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wisconsin Marathon-Cheese the Day!

Somehow the post I started didn't save, and it published...Yikes! Sorry will remedy this this evening! :)