Disclaimer: I ran the Madison Marathon as a BibRave Pro, which means my entry fee was covered for me in exchange for social media promotion and writing a review of the race. The application to be a BibRave Pro is open for two more days (until 11/14/18) at this link! Please also visit bibrave.com to read and write race reviews!
All I have to say about my Madison Marathon experience can be summed up in this sentence:
"It was going so well...until it wasn't."
But don't worry. I like being verbose so I will give you the long story too. And anyways - I find that most marathons can be summed up with that sentence and it's up to you to navigate the parts where it isn't going well and that is where I failed yesterday.
|Des Linden's Post NYC Marathon Tweet Resonates!|
I woke up Saturday and my hamstring still hurt from the day before. GRRRR. I made the decision to skip the shake out run. How cold it was outside played a small role in this decision. We packed up the kids and drove to Madison. Our first stop was the marathon expo, which was held in the Monona Terrace. It was a small, easy to navigate expo which I was grateful for. My kids made some signs for me, I picked up my packet and Leah's packet (another Wisconsin Oiselle Volee), we found my name on the wall, and signed the banner that the race had for veterans and then grabbed some lunch. After lunch we went to the Madison Children's Museum which is nice because I could sit. We spent some time at the hotel pool and took the hotel shuttle to dinner. We got back to the hotel room and I used some KT Tape to tape my inner thigh before bed. I made my overnight picky oats and put them in our fridge and set out the pile of clothes. I had not yet made any decisions about what I was going to wear. I was struggling with how cold it was going to be (in the low 20s to start).
I really struggle with bringing my kids to races. I love having them along the course and at the finish, but they really drive me bonkers the night before. We got a king bed with a pull out couch in our hotel room and my daughter spent the entire night whining about sleeping with her brother.
"Stop touching me!"
"Stop breathing on me!".
At 2:30 in the morning I HAD HAD IT. I yelled at her and made her sleep with my husband in the bed which meant that I had the good fortune of sleeping on a lumpy pull out couch. Apologies to our hotel room neighbors if my yelling woke you up. It's a good thing that pre-race sleep doesn't really matter anyways, but I think my inability to move past FUMING was not ideal mentally.
I woke up at 5 and started eating my picky oats in the dark. After they were gone, I chugged 24 oz of Gatorade Endurance followed by 20 oz of Gen UCan. It was so dark in our hotel room and the bathroom was just a toilet and shower so I couldn't even use the bathroom to get dressed while my family slept. This was not an ideal set up. In addition, I should have taken a lot more time the night before to just make some decisions. I left way too many decisions for race day morning and used up more mental energy before I even left my hotel room. I put on my tall compression socks, redid one of my KT tape strips, and initially put on a tank and arm sleeves. I panicked about that and switched my bib over to a long sleeve shirt. Then added a bunch of layers on top. Now shoes. I was not sure how my VaporFlys would be in cold. That, added to the fact that I didn't really love them at the end of my spring marathon. I ended up bringing two pairs of shoes in my gear check bag. I wanted to braid my hair but just.could.not. As a result I put my hair in two pony tails and one of the elastics was at the end of its life.
I ended up leaving the hotel room feeling very scattered. I was trying to finish getting dressed in the hall when I heard "Is that Amy?" two doors down. It was Chelsea, one of my Icebreaker Marathon Relay teammates! It was fun to see her. She was running the half. Then my son opened the hotel room door. ARGH! GO TO BED! PLEASE!
I then went down to the hotel lobby to finish my UCan and wait for a fellow BibRave Pro, Barb, who was running the half and staying at the same hotel. I ended up finishing my UCan and using the bathroom twice which was nice to use a real bathroom, versus a porta potty. Barb came down and we set off for the start line, which was about 4 blocks from our hotel. Really, our hotel (Hyatt Place downtown) was a great location for the race!
We got up to the capitol around 6:15 and it was a ghost town. Barb and I could not believe that the race was going to start in 45 minutes based on how few people were there. I expected there to be a lot more people milling about. There was plenty of time to use the porta potties, check my stuff, give Leah her packet, take a BibRave Pro photo and get in the corrals. It was really cold but I felt ok about it because I had a lot of throwaway layers on. I decided to run in the VaporFlys.
|Fun to meet up with Barb and Angie before the race! Can you tell we were FREEZING?!|
With about five minutes to spare, I started removing my throwaway layers and in doing so, my hair kept falling out of the elastic. Someone said, "Ooh. You're brave running in shorts." I replied, "I'm either brave or stupid." Holly, who I follow on Instagram, said Hi! That is always fun. My final race day outfit was: VaporFly shoes, Oiselle Compression socks, Oiselle Distance Shorts, Oiselle Crop bra, BibRave tank, BibRave long sleeve, BibRave Buff worn as an ear warmer, throwaway gloves with hand warmers inside. I felt like I had to pee but thought it was nerves since I had already peed 4 times that morning.
The start gun went off.
My plan was to go out in 6:52 ish pace. I also started at the front with all the fast guys so my first mile ended up being fast. The course went right past our hotel so I saw my husband and kids right away. My husband called out, "Have fun!" and I replied, "I'm gonna try!".
Really the first five miles were rough. I was so cold. My fingers and toes were numb. My feet felt too small for my shoes and it felt like there were golf balls on the bottom of my heels. I was running by myself because every time I ran next to a guy, they pulled ahead a bit. (This drives me bonkers. Guys, it's ok if a woman runs next to you!) I knew there were two women ahead of me, but there were no women around me during this section. I was very aware of place throughout the whole race which really messed with me in the later miles. We had some hills during this, but nothing crazy. But mentally I was not there. I was already being negative at this point. "What if today was my first DNF?" came into my mind more than once.
I took water from the aid stations and legit it was freezing. As in, a thin layer of ice began to form and ice shards were stabbing me in my face. Normally I don't care if I spill water on myself, but when it's in the 20s, it is not the best!
My first mile was fast, but miles 2-5 were right where I wanted them to be pace-wise. I didn't feel like I was exerting myself, but I didn't feel smooth.
Mile 1: 6:39
Mile 2: 6:52
Mile 3: 6:53
Mile 4: 6:52
Mile 5: 6:48
At the five mile mark, I went to take one of my gels out of my hand held pouch and because my fingers were so numb, I dropped it. SHIT. I had to back track a bit to pick it up but I easily got it down and used some of my Gatorade Endurance in my handheld to wash it down, followed by a cup of water at the 5 mile aid station.
One of my favorite pieces of advice to dole out about running a marathon is to take advantage of the times during the race when you feel good, and work through the bad parts. Both come and go throughout the race. Miles 6-10 were a good part for me. A woman came up from behind me and we ran part of this section together. I eventually pulled ahead of her and didn't see her again for the rest of the race. I felt good during this section, despite having to run to the top of Observatory Hill.
The first section of the course had more hills than I was anticipating, but I felt like I was generally able to maintain my pace throughout the miles. It was difficult to ascend them, but I kept telling myself that I would feel good after cresting the top.
Mile 6: 6:42
Mile 7: 6:53
Mile 8: 6:43
Mile 9: 6:35
Mile 10: 6:47
I took another gel at mile 10, and this time I didn't drop it.
I was looking forward to seeing a pack of Oiselle women during this section, including one dressed in a banana suit. This did not disappoint. I saw that banana from a while away. This section too had more inclines than I was anticipating. Wowsa. I was sick of running up and down hills. But I was feeling good. The feeling like I needed to pee never left me though and during this section my growing bladder was increasingly uncomfortable. I flew through the half in a PR time! My half marathon PR is 1:28:35. My half split from yesterday was 1:28:34. I started thinking, "Hey! I really could do this! I could PR this race!"
Mile 11: 6:54
Mile 12: 6:42
Mile 13: 6:40
Mile 14: 6:50
Mile 15: 6:47
I saw my family at mile 15 which was super fun. My daughter tried to run up one of the hills with me. I was sick of carrying my handheld at this point so I tossed it to my husband. My bladder was screaming at this point. I have never peed myself during a race and I was considering it but also felt like it might freeze to my legs and ten miles was a long way to run with cold pee on myself. I made the decision to duck into a porta potty at the mile 16 water stop. The porta potty was covered in poop so I had to hover to pee. You want pain? Try hovering after running 16 miles! I made the right call because my bladder was FULL. It took a while to empty. When I came out of the porta potty, I saw a woman up ahead of me, and knew I was now in 4th place. I took a third gel at this point. My KT tape was coming unglued and flapping and bugging me.
And this is where it started to fall apart because instead of just running my race, I got caught up in what place I was in and ran extra hard to get up to the woman ahead of me. It is not a good strategy to try to start racing at mile 16 of a marathon. The terrain was more of the same. MORE HILLS.
Mile 16: 6:52
Mile 17: 7:35
Mile 18: 6:43
Mile 19: 6:48
Mile 20: 6:55
|High fiving my daughter on the course. 3rd and 4th place women at this point|
At this point I was trading back and forth with the other woman and ended up ahead of her at some point. At this point, I could feel a blister forming on my second toe on my right foot. There is a large hill around mile 22/23 that I legit stopped when I was 3/4 up it. My legs hurt so much, particularly my left leg which was starting to feel numb. I tried to rally after a bad mile 22.
Mile 21: 6:59
Mile 22: 7:27
Mile 23: 6:39
Mile 24: 7:01
I stopped running at the mile 24 water station because I was beginning to feel woozy and didn't think I could coordinate taking a gel while running, but knew I needed one. I took my 4th gel with a cup of water and saw the woman behind me run through the water station. I again was in 4th place. I saw the Oiselle group again and started crying. I just kept telling myself to keep running. Don't stop. I could see the woman ahead of me but could not make my legs go faster. At some point in this part, I knew I was also not going to get a sub 3. And of course, we were not done with hills. I heard my family at the finish and just tried to keep moving. I had no kick.
Mile 25: 7:44 (OUCH)
Mile 26: 7:12
Finish: 3:01:58, 4th female of 410, 1st age group (of 61), 29th overall (of 1,072).
I got my medal and went over to see my family and just grabbed the side rail and started crying. Someone gave me a bear hug and initially I thought it was my mom but it turned out to be one of my best friend's Brooke. Then Nora came over to say hi and it took me a few seconds to recognize her. So I was a little out of it at the finish, but nothing like the finish of my spring marathon where I had to be held up through the finish chute.
During my text postmortem with my coach and his wife (another one of my besties), he said, "You objectively ran better than your last marathon. Temperature, hills, bathroom break. I consider this a huge PR. I also think you are tired. The training block was tough and you haven't totally adapted to that volume."
I'm not sure I totally agree with this, but I definitely do not feel as wiped as I did after my spring marathon. I really think the chase post-bathroom break was what did me in. I remember the whole race and I never felt really out of it like I did for the last 3 miles of my spring race.
My takeaways from this race:
1. Make a race plan that includes all details for race morning before race morning
2. Go to the bathroom one last time before entering the corrals, even if you don't feel like you have to go
3. RUN YOUR RACE. Don't get caught up in others' race. Look at how close 2,3,4 were. Had I not expelled all that extra energy at mile 16, I may have been able to catch them! (Both of them are in the 18-24 age group - so fast!!)
4. I love having cheerleaders! So many people cheering for me out there and I loved it all!! My three youngest cheerleaders were happy to take a post-race pic with me:
|I LOVE the race shirts!!|
5. My race nutrition went pretty well. I never had a crash nor did I have any nausea/GI issues.
Pre Race: Apple & Cinnamon Picky Oats make with milk overnight + 2 scoops of chocolate Gen UCan in 20 oz of water + 24 oz Gatorade Endurance
During Race: 3 GU Roctane in Vanilla Orange, 1 Gatorade Endurance gel in Mango, Water cups throughout
6. This might be unpopular, but I am not a fan of the Vapor Flys. They were driving me more than crazy during yesterday's race. Hindsight is 20/20 but I do wish I had selected my Pegasus to wear.
7. I don't know why I opted for yucky throw away gloves. I never took them off my hands and would have preferred one of the pairs of nice running gloves that I owned over those $1 magic mini gloves.
I will leave you with this. I ran the Mad City Marathon in 2002. It was my first marathon and I ran it in 4:08:36. The Mad City Marathon became the Madison Marathon a few years ago. While the course is not exactly the same, I was able to knock an hour and 7 minutes off my finish time while aging 16 years. Marathon results take time and while patience is not always my strong suit, I still think my best marathon is out there. Keeping the dream alive folks!