2013: Madison Half Marathon

Making up mind to sign up for this race was the least painful task: last of the organized racing events for 2013, opportunity to travel, meet good ole friends and share some laughs, participate in my maiden half marathon outside my home state of Michigan and the first of its kind in a big city with hundreds (if not thousands) of fellow participants, run a little and earn some bling, take stock of the 2013 running season, eat some good food and may be even drink some — just some — beer … made the pleasurable aspects that much more pleasurable compared to a little pain. And the mind was made up a little less than two months ago. Exchange of few texts over a short period of time saw my dear friends Nils, Chelsea and Kevin sign up as well – the last two for their maiden half marathon attempt.

Apart from the RunningChunk.com 5k in Lake Linden a month ago and couple runs since then with team /var/run (Nancy, Josh and Amy), training, if any, was confined mostly to sleeping and eating healthy, and on time, and giving up alcohol for three weeks leading up to the event. Multi-phase carb loading spanning an entire week with customary delicacies including the usual spot – Rodeo Mexican Kitchen – was the other thing that went according to the schedule.

An unforeseen hurdle, encountered while following my own tested and trusted documentation, kept me in town through the Friday night costing me some quality hang out time with friends in Wisconsin and what could have been the first visit to a marathon expo but the ride down to Pewaukee on Saturday, however, was smooth and uneventful. Nils was kind enough to have picked up my (and everyone’s) race packets saving me (and everyone else) some additional, last minute work. Having munched on most of the goodies that came with race packet, Nils, Chelsea and I headed out meet the Obermanns [Catherine and Tim] at their place, and feast on the angel hair pasta (and the pumpkin cake] they so graciously prepared, and play a few rounds of bananagram. Keeping in mind the events of next day, we decided to call it a night by 9 pm local time.

A full night’s sleep made way for a pleasant but chilly morning. We [Chelsea, Nils, Kevin and yours truly] left Pewaukee around 6 am and another uneventful 45-50 minute ride later, we found ourselves walking towards The Capitol. Tim and Catherine met us well before the start time, and so did Alicia.

And soon enough, it was pretty close to the start time and Nils and Alicia were off on their speedy ways. There were so many registered racers that it took Chelsea, Kevin and myself — positioned near the very end of the pack — 5+ minutes to cross the start line after the gun had gone off. About a block and a half of running is all that it took for me to search my pockets and realize moments later that I had accidentally thrown away my supplements — which I had reasons to believe would help me get through the dreaded side stitches.

Little over two miles into the race and coasting at 11- min/mile pace through the neighborhoods around The Capitol alongside Chelsea, and the nightmares started showing signs of becoming a reality. The plan of pacing through the first 6 miles and then pushing harder — per suggestion from a dear friend, Andi — were scrubbed by the recurring and at times painful side stitches. As can be seen from the splits below, pace never really went below the 11 min/mile mark but got progressively worse beyond the 2nd mile. The speed, elevation and heart rate spectrum are a courtesy of Garmin Forerunner 405CX and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress.

13.22 miles in 2:43:42 @ 4.9 mph, 12:30 minutes/mile
Splits: 10:29, 10:51, 11:50, 13:13, 12:47, 12:26, 11:55, 12:25, 12:30, 12:16, 13:51, 13:21, 13:26, 12:09

##   Time/Pace Overall
F: 1358
M: 874
Age group
01 Nils 1:36:43 (7:20) 140 109 18/133
02 Alicia 1:49:04 (8:20) 469 146 34/242
03 Kevin 1:54:29 (8:44) 700 425 73/133
04 Chelsea 2:17:23 (10:29) 1672 915 155/242
05 Your truly 2:43:42 (12:30) 2109 857 142/142

For reasons beyond my comprehension, wasn’t the last one to do so — with only three marathoners finishing ahead of me.

The organization of the event, considering 2200+ finishers (and probably even more registered), was phenomenal. The course was equally awesome, winding through the friendly neighborhoods of Madison. Support from the volunteers, the cops, the community (making time to make funny yet motivational signs; taking time out to come out to cheer everyone on a day they might be better off staying home with a warm beverage; putting up aid stations with energy drinks in addition to the ones set up by the organizers, …) and my dear friends (putting me up for the weekend, cooking awesome meals, seemingly present around every corner cheering me and making Waldo look bad, picking up extra layers of sweaty clothes, …) was more than one has any right to ask for. With seemingly experienced photographers spread through out the course capturing some action shots (that will come in handy to analyze my posture and improve the form in near future) and to finish the race to what seemed like a crowd roar as one’s name (and the town they come from) is announced … is something I hadn’t experienced ever before either. And to have sucked as bad as I did in spite of all this was (and still is) quite painful.

Post race activities included a gathering in New Berlin Ale House for food, beverages and fun, yet another full night of sleep, meeting more friends (Karen, Ed and Sarah) — albeit for very short amounts of time amidst pre-scheduled research discussions — in Madison on Monday before heading back to the Yoop.

A dear friend said a short while ago, you write better than you run and re-phrased it moments later as if only you ran as good as you write. Hopefully, 2014 running season will see my friend’s re-phrased statement come true, and may be even make my mother a little more happier.

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