Last Saturday, I ran my 4th half marathon of 2014, 6th lifetime half, and my 6th half marathon in less than 12 months! Thinking about how far I’ve come in less than 1 year blows my mind 🙂 FYI—this post is lengthy.. sorry, I include a lot of info!
The fun started on Friday when I arrived at Potawatomi Casino around 12:30PM (I live about 70 miles southwest of Milwaukee). I was hoping to make it in time to for the Matinee Bingo Session… which I was able too!! The casino was huge!! Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures (I didn’t want to get in trouble), but let’s just say the bingo area was HUGE and really cool. I didn’t win… but for an afternoon playing bingo for $50 (I played for over 3 hours!!), I had a great time. By4 pm when the bingo was over, I decided it was probably time to pick up my race packet. I mean that’s the reason I came to Milwaukee 🙂
The expo was a little on the smaller side. The expo was literally one small room with about 10-15 vendors and then there was a few others outside of the room. Packet pickup was super easy and it was organized by last name and race distance (there was a 5k, quarter marathon and half marathon). I waited about 2 minutes and then I got my race packet. Here is what was included in the packet (the bondi band was not included, it was my one purchase at the expo along with some Jelly Belly race beans too):
My shirt was a good fit for me, but if it didn’t fit you… there were no exchanges. That kind of stinks if you ordered a shirt too small or too big.
When I looked at my race bib, I realized that I was in Corral L. I knew there were no switches and I was ok with that, but I wondered how many corrals there were. I found out there was up to letter O. So I was only 3 corrals from the back. When I found my race registration, I realized that I wrote that my expected time was 2:30! 2:30?! Was I drunk when I registered for this race? I did register on New Year’s Eve, but I was totally sober…haha. My slowest time was 2:45 last July and all my other times have been in the low 2:20s… haha. Oh well, I just made the best of the situation (sidenote… it was a corral system, but everyone was released at the same time, so I just crossed the line 5 minutes into the race).
After the expo, I made my way to my hotel. My hotel was about 8 miles away from the start of the race. I had gotten a deal on Priceline… so I had one of the smaller rooms and in the worst location—right by the lobby. Friday night was a busy night at the hotel, so it was noisy… not sure how much sleep I got, but it didn’t affect me on race day.
For dinner, my favorite Wisconsin pizza place was only .6 miles from my hotel so I walked there. I saw this on my way to the restaurant (not at my restaurant :)):
Here is what I ate:
The 4:50AM wake up call came early on Saturday morning! I ate an orange, most of a granola bar, and drank some water. I decided to leave my hotel around 5:30 because I knew lots of streets were going to be closed for the race (including part of one of the interstates) and I knew parking might be an issue. I’m glad I did leave early because I was confused with the parking, but by 6 am, I found a parking spot (I wanted to park in the free lot, but couldn’t because the roads were blocked, so $5 parking it was!).
The race started promptly at 7 am. It was PERFECT running weather. It was in the low 50s at the start of the race and upper 50s by the end with a great lake breeze from Lake Michigan too. The first few miles were uneventful and I wasn’t doing too bad. Between mile 2-3 my left knee started to really bug me. I knew it was not going to be a PR or my best day.
After mile 3, I saw it. The Hoan Bridge.
And I wasn’t at the top of the bridge until about mile 4.5. There were beautiful views of the Milwaukee skyline at the top of the bridge. I wish I had a camera or I would have used my phone, but I knew if I stopped, I might stop the race. The pain was awful 😦
At mile 5.5, this is where the quarter marathoners split from the half. For a split second, I thought, I’d be out of pain if I just switched to the quarter marathon. But then I won’t have Wisconsin done… and darn it… I had spent the money on the registration, hotel and transportation… so I was going to finish what I started!
Then I did something I’ve never done before… I used a port-o-potty on the course! I knew right when the race started that I was going to have to go at some point because I already had to go… yikes! Luckily, there was no line and I was able to get in right as someone was coming out. All in all, I wasted about 30 seconds… but my bladder was very appreciative.
Around mile 7, there was another nasty hill. This one was small but steep! I tried to run, but I found that I was “running” as fast as walking… so rather than waste my energy, I just walked up the hill. A bunch of people were doing that too. After that, the elevation changes were small and barely noticeable.
The rest of the miles took us on a running path that was pretty narrow and luckily it wasn’t too hard to get around other runners. The final 2-3 miles were along the lake and were great!! The breeze was comforting and the scenery was beautiful.
I had to fully stop 2 times during the race to stretch out my bad knee. Looking at my Nike plus app after the race (it automatically pauses when I come to a stop), I lost about 1 minute going to the bathroom and stopping to stretch twice. Not my normal half marathon statistics, but I’m ok with that.
I finished the race in 2:22:39. It’s not my best race ever but it certainly isn’t my worst. For the pain I was in… I’ll take it! After the race, I received a water bottle, banana, and chips. And of course, my new medal! Not the biggest, but not the smallest.
Here are the pros/cons of this race:
— Awesome medal! Not too big, but has an awesome design and nice ribbon 🙂
— Lots of bands along the course—at least 10-15.. not sure how many since I wasn’t feeling awesome
–Signing up early got me a decent deal—it was $65 to register back on New Years Eve (January 1st the price went up). That’s cheaper than Rock N Roll!
–A new color shirt for me—yellow J.. the men got gray, so glad since I already have 2 gray half marathon shirts!
–Plenty of port-o-potties!
–Fun signs up along the last 2 miles… good encouragement when everyone started to hit “the wall”
–Lots of opportunities to be photographed… I love a few of my pictures… I’ll be looking for a sale to purchase them
–Not a ton of crowd support.. much of the race was spent on the interstate and running trail
–“Corrals”—not sure if this was completely necessary… I didn’t see anyone checking your bib to get into the corral
–Expo—I almost wish I could know who the exhibitors are ahead of time, because I probably would have just done day of packet pick up
Thanks for reading along as always! I believe my knee pains today were caused by my shoes. I knew I needed new shoes after DC, but I only had 7 weeks until Rock N Sole, so I decided 1 more half won’t kill me… well it almost did! Therefore, I got my new shoes on Monday and my feet and knees will be happy again soon!