Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2009 – Race Report

I had a fantastic weekend. The architect & I stayed with my good friends S & J in Milwaukee (and their new baby, who is pretty cute as far as babies go).

We flew to Milwaukee Thursday & arrived about 6:30 that evening. We stopped for burritos on the way home (I had to start carb-loading, right?). Friday was a nice, laid back day. I slept so well Thursday evening – the best I’d slept in WEEKS! Friday we lazed for a while, then had coffee cake for lunch, and a lovely stew for lunch. After lunch digested, S & I headed out for an easy run. I did 3.3 miles in 39:08 – a bit slower than I’d intended, but I wasn’t really out there for speed work – just to remind my legs what they were supposed to do!

Friday afternoon, we went for a brewery tour at Sprecher. The tour was very short – which was nice – it got us to the finish and the FREE BEER SAMPLES that much sooner. After beer, we picked up some pizza & headed home.

Saturday was another great lazy day. The only thing I really did that day was head to the expo. We got there about 40 minutes before it closed, so I didn’t walk around & look at anything.

Saturday night I tried to go to sleep early, but couldn’t – and then didn’t sleep well at all when I finally managed to sleep. It didn’t surprise me, I never sleep well before a race.

Sunday dawned bright(ish) and a bit too early. The race didn’t start until 8, so we were going to leave about 7 to get there with plenty of time. We ended up getting to the start line at 7:50, so I didn’t have time to do much to warm up (or hit the porto-johns, or find some water for my fuel belt). After a bit of shivering (it was about 46*), I took off my (sweat) pants, got my picture taken, and went to line up with the 4:30 (10:18/mile) pace group. After an interesting rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, we were off!

It took me 1.5 minutes to hit the start line.  The pace group started out a little faster than I was hoping (and I heard the sign holder talking about how he has a really hard time keeping the pace under 10 minute miles), so after running with them for the first couple miles, I knew I had to drop back. I stayed pretty close to my target goal for the first 6 miles, and hit mile 6 at 1:01:43 (for my pacing, I wanted to be at about 1:02:00 – so SCORE).

Mile 1: 10:02
Mile 2: 9:57
Mile 3: 10:22
Mile 4: 10:32
Mile 5: 10:17
Mile 6: 10:33

Overall pace for miles 1-6 – 10:17.

This is where things started to go downhill.

I don’t remember much about the next 7 miles. There was the 1st relay exchange point. I stopped and peed at mile 12ish. I called the architect at mile 9ish to ask him to bring my Advil to the mile 17.5 spot he was going to meet me at. My quads were already on fire, which pissed me off, because I wasn’t running that fast, and hadn’t even gone that far yet. I started counting down the distance to when I would see the architect, and more than once contemplated asking him to just take me home, this was a stupid idea, and I don’t need to run a marathon. At mile 9, I started walking a bit at the top of each mile – hoping that I could keep that up through mile 20, at least.

There were some great spectators out on the course, and a lot of support. That was really nice.

Mile 7: 10:53
Mile 8: 10:50
Mile 9: 10:32
Mile 10: 11:32
Mile 11: 11:14
Mile 12: 11:22
Mile 13.1: 13:39 (pee break!)

Miles 7-13.1 – 1:20:02 (11:16 pace)

At this point, I was still under a 5 hour marathon pace, and was hoping that I’d get that.

Somewhere between the halfway point & the architect the 4:45 group passed me – I didn’t even try to keep up with them. I was still counting down the mileage to see the architect (I was expecting him at mile 17), and when I got to mile 17.5 and still didn’t see my friends, I was getting…upset. But soon, there they were! I ripped off my fuel belt (I’d taken all the gu that I had in my belt – the others were in my shirt pocket; and my cell phone was dead) and handed it to the architect. I took the Advil he’d brought me & chatted (and tried not to cry) with my friends for a couple of minutes. It was about 3.25 hours in at this point, and I said I thought it would be another couple of hours to the finish for me.

I finally, after a last kiss, got going again, and kept up my ‘walk only through water stops & at the top of the mile rhythm going. I knew if I could just get to mile 20, then I would make it to the end.

Mile 14 (.9, as I hit my lap button at 13.1): 10:18 (11:31 pace)
Mile 15: 11:41
Mile 16: 11:27
Mile 17: 12:19
Mile 18: 16:07 (architect break)
Mile 19: 12:04
Mile 20: 11:59

Total mileage: 6.9 miles, 1:25:55, 12:27 pace. As you can see, this is definitely getting worse.

I managed to keep my walking to a minimum through mile 22, and then I had to start taking more frequent walk breaks. My quads were completely shredded, and although I knew I was going to make it, I also knew that I wasn’t going to hit the 5 hour mark – I was just hoping it wouldn’t be too much over 5.

Around mile 22 or so, the 5 hour pace group caught up with me, and I ran with them for a little ways. However, their sign holder kept stopping to do 20 push-ups at every fuel station, which I found really arrogant. Nothing says “I’m so much better than you slow-pokes & this is too easy” than having to do a couple hundred push-ups throughout the course of a marathon. Maybe not everyone saw it that way, but I was almost offended. I found out that she’s pacing the 3:30 pace group in Chicago & is an ultra marathoner, but that really only made me feel worse about myself. I was pushing myself to the absolute limit of my physical ability, and although I know that it wasn’t as hard for everyone as it was for me, that really didn’t inspire confidence. Now that I’m not dying, I am still pretty pissed actually. The 4:30 pace group was led by a couple of guys who ran out too fast & only talked to each other, and the 5:00 leader was too cool for her group. I’ve never run with pacers before, but that seemed lame. Thoughts?

ANYWAYS – the last 6.2 miles were both awful & fantastic. Awful, because well, it’s the last 6.2 miles of a freaking marathon. Fantastic, because I knew I was going to finish, I was running further than I’d ever run before, and because the spectators & support people were awesome.

Right after mile 25.5, I didn’t turn when I was supposed to turn, but some nice person chased me down & got me going in the right direction. I think I was delirious at that point!

I was taking a walk break shortly thereafter, and some spectator hopped on the sidewalk & jogged with me for a couple hundred feet & made me promise I wouldn’t walk again for the rest of the race (and I didn’t).

The last .2 miles were lined with spectators all yelling my name & telling me how awesome I was. I heard my name as I crossed the finish line & I burst into tears. Tears of pain & joy & all sorts of unnamed emotion. I got herded through a chute where I got my blanket, my medal & a bottle of water, and then was in the runner’s area. I grabbed some chips, some crackers, and some cookies & started looking for my crew. Just as I was about to lose it, I saw them. They’d been having coffee at mile 25.5 and saw me run by. The architect ran as fast as he could in his non-running shoes, but didn’t make it to the finish line before me, so there are no finish line pics of me. Apparently I was a bit faster than they’d expected.

Mile 21: 12:36
Mile 22: 12:25
Mile 23: 12:36
Mile 24: 13:03
Mile 25: 12:53
Mile 26: 12:31
Mile 26.2: 2:20 (10:24 pace)

Total: 6.2 miles, 1:18:24 (12:38 pace) -not too  much worse than the previous 7 miles, actually.

This is actually a pretty bad pic of me, I was so cold I couldn’t stand up straight, but I don’t care because as of now, it’s the only finish line photo I have.

Overall – I finished (according to the official time) in 5:06:17, an average 11:41 pace. I’ll take it, but next time (because I’m crazy), I am definitely going under 5.

After a couple of pictures, I was shivering, so I changed into my awesome blue compression socks, my race shirt, and a fleece.

My awesome friends took us to Indian buffet for lunch, but I couldn’t eat nearly as much as I wanted. We drove around & looked at some pretty neighborhoods before heading back to their place. I did some homework, ate some delicious dinner, drank a couple of beers, and eventually went to bed (oh, I showered in there sometime, too).

Monday morning sucked. I could barely move, and that faint cold-like feeling I’d had the last couple of days was no longer faint.

We met up with my friend S for lunch, and then J took us to the airport. The first flight left almost 50 minutes late, and it was awful. It’s been a long time since I’ve experience turbulence that bad. At one point, the plane dropped so suddenly that a man in front of us had a fountain instead of a soda!

We landed in Denver 15 minutes before our next flight was to take off, and by the time we got to deplane, we had just over 5 minutes to spare. It wasn’t too far – only about 3 gates down, but I could barely move! I jogged (ha ha ha) to the next gate, and just as we got there, they announced our flight to Portland was going to be 10 minutes late. I’ve never been so happy to have a late flight!

We got on, and although there were a few bumps leaving Denver, it was a much smoother flight. Even better? Our bags made it too!

We came home, had a sandwich & a beer, and then I took some Advil PM & passed out. I slept about 9 hours last night, and although I’m still sore (stairs are hard), I feel much better!

Congrats to all the other runners out there, but most especially to Emily, who is having a pretty fantastic couple of weeks, what with the getting married & qualifying for BOSTON and all! Way to go everyone!

Also – thank you to everyone who made this possible. My PBR group for being super awesome & extremely encouraging – especially my regular Sunday running buddies Sarah & Alisa. My neighbors for not only being super awesome, but also for taking care of the cats while we were away. All my other friends who sent encouraging emails, left encouraging comments & said nice things to me on Facebook. My friends S&J who hosted us, chauffeured us, and fed us while we were in Milwaukee. (Dudes – I expect to be able to return the favor VERY VERY SOON.) But, most especially, the architect. There is no way I could’ve done this without his encouragement & support & understanding of why I need to eat RIGHT NOW and how I’ve been so tired, and for going to Milwaukee & then telling everyone yesterday that I couldn’t walk because I’d just run an entire marathon! You are all so freaking awesome. Thank you.

I know that was super long, and if you made it to the end, thanks!