Monday, November 7, 2016

The PNC Milwaukee Running Festival Half-Marathon Race Recap

omg.  Omg.  OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Buckle your seat belts, this is going to be a LONG post.   It was a day where every.single.thing went so right and hairy scary goals were achieved!!

To refresh - my goals for the race:

1. Time goals

A goal: Run 7:00 avg pace.  Finish in 1:31 zone.

B goal: PR - Run faster than 1:33:23

2.  Master the Discomfort.  Embrace the intensity at the end of the race.  No backing down when things get tough.

3.  Negative split the race.

Someone on the Oiselle Facebook page asked us all to write down our "hairy scary goals" (Shalene Flanagan verbage).  I hesitated, then typed "Run a sub-1:30 half-marathon".

Now. Let's recap!


I ran a 2 mile shakeout run.  Maggie decided to accompany me for the first 1/3 mile which was fun. I had to pick up my race packet at the Harley Davidson Museum.  My family decided to accompany me. (After the Boston Marathon Race Expo, they are all about them :)  I had to let them know that it was highly unlikely to be as large as the Boston Expo!)

The race expo was packed and I stood in line to get my packet.  I got my number and we tooled around the expo for a bit.  I entered a few contests.  My kids did some cool bike pedal thing which created painted spirograph-looking posters.  We decided to leave.

We were in the car, ready to leave when I pulled out my race number and saw "BILL".  WTF.  I ran back to the expo, stood in line again, and exchanged my number.  PHEW.  I was fuming the entire time I stood in line, and then realized that I should have looked at the number when I was initially handed it.

That night my husband went out with his brother and the kids were driving me slightly insane so I had a beer with dinner.  The kids went to bed early, I set all the clocks back, cleaned up the kitchen and folded some laundry.  I got all of my stuff ready to go.  I had read something on a Facebook thread about making the Gen UCan the night before so I prepped that in a blender bottle.  I was in bed, no joke, at 7:40pm.  (It was really 8:40pm).  I tried reading my book but I was zonked.


Imagine my surprise when my alarm was what woke me up at 5 AM.  After months and weeks of waking up all night long with one or both children, magically both of them slept through the entire night.  THANK YOU GOD.  I woke up feeling AWESOME.

I got dressed, went downstairs, made coffee and shoved my stuff into my gear check bag.  I had a multi-grain muffin (Runners World cookbook recipe) with cashew butter and blended my coffee with coconut oil, per usual.  I was set!  I left my house at 5:30 AM.

I was in the car, blaring some radio station.  I was belting out Aerosmith..."Tell me what it takes to let you go..." and then Katy Perry's Roar came on and I seriously started tearing up.  I was so excited to run.  At this point, I started having a minor panic attack.  I had to take a different route than I usually take downtown due to construction and I wasn't sure that the way I was going was correct.  Added on to that, I realized that I had forgotten my wallet and had no money for parking.  Then I had convinced myself that I was going to get pulled over speeding and not have a license on me.  After a few deep breaths, I realized that I had left early enough that I would likely find a street spot and if not, I thought there might have been enough change in the car to scrape up a parking fee if need be.  By this time, I realized that I had taken the right route.  Beyonce came on the radio.  Things were looking up.

I exited the freeway and no joke, there was a street spot waiting for me.  THANK YOU GOD.  It was a bit away from the start line but I took it.  I started walking to the start line, drinking my Gen UCan.   I made bathroom pit stop #1.  It was a beautiful morning.  I walked over to the spot where Oiselle Volee were to meet and talked to some people.  It is so weird when you meet people you follow on Instagram in real life.  Like, I know you, but not really.  ha ha ha

A group of us made pit stop #2.  We took a group picture and then dispersed.  I gear checked my stuff and was in shorts, a tank and a throwaway long sleeve.  I decided against wearing my calf sleeves because I hadn't been training in them and was worried I would get hot.

I had to go to the bathroom AGAIN.  By this point, the lines were really long and the marathon was about to start.  The half-marathon was scheduled to start 15 minutes later.  I took my chances and remained in line.   Of course all the lines EXCEPT for the one I was in were moving.  I finally went to the bathroom.  I was very glad I waited.  I was a little concerned that I was having so many bathroom trips but pushed those thoughts out of my mind.  It was time to get in the corral!

I made my way to near the front, threw off my long sleeve and it was time to go!

One of my goals was to be in each mile and I did so well with this during the race.  It made for a really enjoyable race!  It is also going to make for a long recap. :)

Mile 1
Run relaxed. Run relaxed. Run relaxed.  I felt really good.  I felt like I was running slow, but i knew based on my position in the crowd that I was not running slow.  There were some crowds and I remember a dog that was barking and it sounded like he was cheering.  It made me start laughing.  I approached a Team Triumph pack near the mile marker and they were playing the Try Everything song from Zootopia, which my daughter loves and again, my eyes started tearing up.  
Mile 1: 6:45

Mile 2
I was feeling good and we were approaching the big hill in the course.  I literally felt like I floated up that hill.  It did not feel like I was running up a hill - it was the weirdest feeling.  I passed a few people on the hill and appreciated the guy with the monster cowbell at the top.  Once I reached the top I knew I was going to see my sister soon.  I was approaching the intersection where she was going to meet me and I was thinking, "Is that her? Where are the dogs? That can't be her."  Then I heard her yell, "Geez.  Why are you running so slow?!"  It made me laugh.  She rode her bike a block or two next to me.  It was so fun!  At the mile marker she turned around and went back home.
Mile 2: 7:04

Mile 3
At this point, I was running in a pack of 2 men and 2 other women.  One of the guys was named Steve and he was getting a lot of cheers.  I jokingly said I was going to pretend my name was Steve. One woman said, "Are either of you (referring to me and the 3rd woman) 40 years old?" and I said, "Nope 35".  The other woman also said, "Yes, I'm 35".  The 40 year old said, "Alright then" and I said, "Yeah you're good but you on the other hand (looking to the 35 year old), are going down."  Oh the jokes at mile 3.  Seriously I still felt like I was barely moving but knew that it was too early to go crazy.  I also thought it was a little early to be planning age group awards but it was fun to have some conversation.
Mile 3: 6:54

Mile 4
I was really enjoying the course so far.  We ran over a cool bridge, along some beautiful flag poles. This was a fun mile because it was lots of turns, and seemed to go by quickly.
Mile 4: 6:53

Mile 5
At this point, I was running by myself.  I hadn't stopped at any of the water/gatorade points and began the slow grind up Wisconsin Ave.  There were a few people watching but not many cheering.  This part of the course I thought of my family because we had passed it on the way to packet pick up and it is the reverse of the Briggs & Al's run route.
Mile 5: 6:55

Mile 6
I began to see the half-marathon leaders as they were running back along the opposite side of the course.  I could not believe how many women were ahead of me.  FAST.  I reached the turn around and was relieved that the wind was finally at my back.   The Wisconsin Ave climb seemed to take a long time.  I started to have thoughts that I wasn't doing very well based on my place.  I told myself over and over again that I was not running for place - I was running for time.  I saw two Oiselle birds on my way back down Wisconsin Ave and exchanged cheers with them.  That was awesome.  I still felt really strong.
Mile 6: 6:51

Mile 7
I had a new pack that I was running with - a man and a woman.  There was no talking though.  I just tried to stick with them as I liked their pace.  I felt like they came out of nowhere.   I liked running down 16th street, except for the bridge.  The grates hurt my feet a bit.
Mile 7: 6:47

Mile 8
I was still with my pack and it felt like they had picked it up a bit.  I was still feeling good so I stuck with them.  At this point, I started thinking that I could break 1:30 if I really kept at it.
Mile 8: 6:28

Mile 9  
The mile 8 split freaked me out a bit.  Did I start running too fast? I don't think so.  I called to mind my recent 8 mile run where I ran a bunch of miles in the 6:30s.  I liked this part of the course - we were on a bike trail or something.  I saw the mile marker clock and thought, HOLY SHIT.  I really could break 1:30 today.  Today is going to be a hairy scary goal day!
Mile 9: 6:29

Mile 10
Just keep with this guy. Just keep with this guy.  My legs were feeling tired.  We had made it back to the lake.  You will master discomfort.  You can master discomfort.  You got this.  I still hadn't needed a water stop.
Mile 10: 6:33

Mile 11
At this point I had passed the man and woman that I had been packed up with and started passing various guys.  I had this single vision of breaking 1:30.  My legs hurt but I just kept thinking of previous workouts where I only had 2 mile tempos.  I had never thought of previous workouts in a race before but it was really working for me mentally.
Mile 11: 6:31

Mile 12
I was slightly confused at this point because we were staying along the lake but my memory of the race map had us circling the lagoon.  I was thinking, "There is no way we can be going around the lagoon and have a mile left."
Mile 12: 6:39

Mile 13 - 13.1
I was tired.  I just tried to keep my legs moving.  I knew I was probably slowing down but I could not make my legs go faster.  I saw my family right at the start of the finish and started waving frantically.  I tried to sprint.  I know I was not sprinting and I do not want to see video of myself at the finish because I am sure it was ugly.  I saw that the clock had just turned to 1:29 and I started freaking out.  "yes, yes yes!!!"
Mile 13: 6:50

Finish: 1:29:14.65 (chip) 1:29:22.42 (gun)

I can't wait to see the finish line photos.  In my head, I have this glorious race photo because I had lifted my arms above my head and was basically smiling unicorns.  I.WAS.PUMPED.

So many goals achieved with this race.
1.  I broke my half-marathon PR by 4 minutes and 9 seconds.  I broke my hairy scary goal of 1:30!
2.  I mastered the discomfort.  I maintained positive self-talk throughout the race.
3.  I negative split the race!  My 10K split stats were:
7:01 min/mile pace
2nd in my age group
13th woman
70th overall.

I finished with 6:49 min/mile pace
1st age group
7th woman
40th overall



  1. Congrats on your race! You rocked it (and worked for it!)

  2. This recap put a huge smile on my face. You absolutely amaze me!

  3. First of all, I also love that Zootopia song and keep reminding myself to put it on my marathon playlist.

    Second, holy sh*t! Sub 1:30 is stupid fast. Hopefully you are considering a marathon. Exit year bc you could demolish whatever your PR is (like 3:20 or something?).

    I also think it's funny that I made internet friends with you so many years ago over an IKEA sink I found on Craigslist and blogged about it :D

    1. Seriously I was just telling some girlfriends about you and how we "met" via your blog so many years ago. SO FUNNY. I do want to do a marathon next year - hem hawing about the timing. Would love to do NYC but that is a year away!

  4. *considering a marathon next year - this is what I get for commenting on my phone. Autocorrect fun times.

  5. Wow- this is so amazing. You DID master that discomfort and I think that's really critical to breaking through a huge barrier. I love that you didn't restrict yourself to running 7:00 and you just let yourself go by feel as the miles were ticking by. Races like this don't happen very often, but when they do, they are amazing. Very excited for you!!

  6. Thanks Elizabeth!!! So fun to see you coming back from illness too!