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.Β  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 tooΒ  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!

30 responses to “Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon 2009 – Race Report

  1. Congrats amy! You did it! Great race report. I am really impressed how well you hung on when the going got tough. Your pace didn’t slip that much and your overall pace was solid. I especially love that you are already thinking about your next one!

    Rest up and recover. Well done out there. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for the congrats! I really appreciate all the support & advice you’ve given over the past months. I can’t wait to read YOUR next race report! πŸ™‚

  2. Great job chica! You really did fantastic (way faster than me, hehe). All the pacers I’ve encountered were all really nice. If someone was doing pushups every mile, I think I’d cuss them out! WTF!!

    Can’t wait to see you in person and here about it more. Especially curious to see if you want to do another one anytime soon =).

  3. You did it! A year ago Milwaukee was my first…I relived a lot of that while reading your report. Sounds like Milwaukee still has some of the best spectator support.

    Sorry the pace groups were such losers. I don’t recall pace groups last year. Perhaps these people don’t really know HOW to be pacers. Grand Rapids has had pacers I think since the start. I have run that half twice and always thought the pacers were nice. I met one of them at a trail relay in June and she was a real sweetheart. I can’t imagine her pulling some push-ups stunt or ignoring the group relying on her for motivation and support for those many miles.

    Enjoy your recovery…don’t push it. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t feel like running for a few days…or a week…or a couple of weeks. You earned some solid rest!

    • This is the first year they had pacers at Milwaukee (and one of the people with a “pace group” big in the 4:30 group also had a pink “1st time marathoner” sticker, too! It was LAME!

      I’m not getting antsy for a run yet, but I know I’ll be wanting a (nice, short, easy) run this weekend!

  4. Dude, you did it! Way to go and thanks for the shout out. BTW, that is totally lame of the pacer to do the pushups. That pisses me right off too.

    • Thanks! As I was running, I was totally trying to channel your strength. There is no way I could have done this without the moral support of my awesome runner friends.

  5. Congrats Amy! You are AWESOME!

  6. Congrats GR!! Great job my friend. I am very proud of you!!! I think you are awesome!!!

  7. Congrats!! It’s a great accomplishment, isnt’ it? Please stop beating yourself up. 5:06 is a fantastic time for a first marathon (8 minutes faster than my first marathon) and endurance races are about the finishing, not the time. I am very proud of you. ANd inspired. I signed up for Myrtle Beach next year because of your blog.

    Did I see your side bar correctly…are you going to do THREE half Ironmans next year? You animal!

    • I’m glad I can be inspiring. I’m really not feeling down on myself at all – just so pleased that I did it!

      I am not doing three 70.3s next year – those are just races I’m eying. If I do any, it will likely be just one. I’m only KIND of crazy, but after training for a marathon, working in a stressful job & going to grad school, I know I can’t commit that kind of time to train without going completely batshit crazy.

      Thank you so much for your comment! You are one of the reasons I signed up for my triathlon!

  8. I’m so proud of you! This post made me all emotional (damn pregnancy hormones). The pacer/super marathoner sounds like a twit; the push ups would’ve irritated me as well. Great job on completing the marathon! We should celebrate soon at Rancho Fenavo.

    • Rancho Fenavo is one of my favorite places to hang out! πŸ™‚

      I’m sorry I activated the pregnancy hormones, but it won’t be TOO much longer now and then you can REALLY celebrate with us.

  9. Super proud! Let’s celebrate after the drinking moratorium!

    • absolut(e)ly! πŸ™‚ but we need to have lunch or something, too! Do you want to ride bikes to Sagitarrius on Saturday for lunch?

  10. YAY!

  11. Boy that was similar to my experince. GREAT JOB Amy! I’m so proud for you. You did way better (30 minutes faster) than my first marthon. You should be very proud. You are so awesome!

    I can’t belive that bitch was doing push-ups at the water stops. What a arrogant bitch. I’ve never heard such a thing. I wonder if anybody told her how rediculous she was. I mean, hey I know you want to get a workout in, but jeez. I agree with you. total bitch! I’m not sure how I felt about my pace group either. I’ll probably try it again — IF I do anther marathon, but they went out too fast for me also.

    SO………which one are you doing next?

    • well, today is the first day that I haven’t felt awful in the leg area (although I’m still fighting this sinus/cold thing), so maybe Eugene in May? πŸ™‚ Although I may just have to find marathons that fall during my school breaks, because it was hard to travel and do homework.

      What about you, what’s next?

  12. YAY!!!!! You did it! (I knew you would!) Great race report. There’s a reason very few people complete a marathon. Most aren’t as tough as you.

    (Sorry to hear about the crappy pacers. I’d have been maga-mad too.)

  13. You rocked it and finished! Great job! Pacers are like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get. Next time, hopefully, the pacer’s won’t be so douchey.

    • It was my first time with pacers (and the marathon’s first time with them, as well), so I’d definitely give it another go. I know some people who’ve been pacers, and they weren’t douchey at all!

  14. I’d love to see what your nutritionist has — thanks! I’ve got to see my primary care doc first because I’m only covered for a nutritionist if it’s “medically necessary”. I think my doc will give me the referral, but it would be nice to have extra info.

    • I couldn’t get a referral to a nutritionist (not medically necessary) so I just found one on my own & went to her – paying out of pocket. I will be seeing her again soon, and will let you know what I find out!

  15. congrats marathoner!!

  16. Congratulations! What an accomplishment! Sorry about the pacers. (Must be hard to get enough good ones for a race, don’t you think? I sure wouldn’t want the job of finding them.) Great race report!