The Mario Recap, Marathon #17:
Hot day. Boring course. Tired legs. Kept running. Great medal. Brats!
The Full Recap, Marathon #17:
I am not sure what happened since I believe I checked the weather the night before (things were looking about the same as California -- low in the high 40's, high in the mid 60's). When I deplaned in Chicago I was overcome by HEAT and MUGGINESS!? It was the same feeling I used to get when I'd get off the plane in Hawaii when traveling home for Christmas from NYC. I thought maybe they had turned on the heat in the little walkway. But no. That was the weather. Great.
The race started at 7:00 am and I had wanted to leave Chicago by 5:00 am to give myself enough time to drive up to Kenosha (I stayed with my sister who lives in Chicago). I figured after leaving the hotel at 3:45 am the week before for the Big Sur Marathon, 5:00 am was nothing! Of course, with the time difference, it was like leaving at 3:00 am. Bleh.
When I woke up at 4:00 am the temperature in Kenosha was 60 degrees. 60 DEGREES at 4:00 AM!!! Once again, my ideal marathoning weather is 44 degrees at the finish. This was going to be a pretty miserable day.
I did go Cheese Out with Outfit A! I also figured out how to get the mouse and cheese pin securely onto my hat. In Kenosha I emerged from my car and felt like a total dork when everyone else was dressed in decidedly non-cheesy clothes. Oh, well. I guess you could tell who the tourist runners were.
I got tons of comments and cheers for my hat. Lots of fun!
I got to the All-Cheese corral and took my place way at the front of the pack. In fact, we were right by the start line next to a "6:30 pace" sign. The race directors were smart enough to have the Cheese Corral to one side of the chute so faster racers could have a clear avenue to get their pace on. However this didn't mean we didn't clog things up a bit for some people which made me feel bad. They could probably organize that a little better.
Standing in the All Cheese Corral
The race course consists of basically two huge out and backs. The first one we ran with the half marathoners and the second one was for those doing the full marathon. I hate out and backs. In fact, there were some parts of the course I passed three times. Bleh. Overall, I found the course to be utterly uninspiring (probably not helped by the fact I ran the most gorgeous course 6 days prior).
I am assuming this area was considered "Downtown Kenosha"
The first half did a lot of running alongside Lake Michigan.
The first half also had your typical out-and-back where you could see people going out as you were coming back in. Hands down my least favorite part of the course. The first half was not helped much by the fact that the sun was out in full force and the temps were climbing.
The first half had a bunch of rolling hills (which due to the nature of the course you ran over twice). None of them were Big Sur-esque, but I would definitely not describe the first half as flat.
For more than a few miles I got caught running next to Annoying Garmin Lady. The Garmin has a feature you can use where you set a pace you'd like to keep up and it will sound an alert to let you know if you're going too fast or too slow. I sometimes use this feature when I am doing interval workouts of a mile or less. It is a nice way to get feedback without having to look down too often when you are pushing hard. This runner, though, had apparently set this feature up for a marathon. I don't know if she was going too fast or too slow (in my irritated brain I imagined she had bombed and was going much slower than she had hoped) but that damned Garmin was beeping alerts every minute or so.
I don't know if it is because I know that sound from training which usually ticks me off since I am off pace, but it is not a friendly sort of chime. It is sort of panic inducing. I shot her dirty looks (which she sadly probably couldn't see with my sunglasses) every time the thing went off. I almost wanted to say something to her. Can you imagine running 26 miles next to someone with their watch beeping like that?! And seriously, there are LOTS of ways to program a Garmin to let you know if you are on or off pace without having to resort to that audible chime. And during a marathon, once you are off pace (either for better or worse) the chances of you going back to your predetermined zone is pretty slim. AUGHGUGH! I am not sure if I pulled ahead or if she pulled ahead, but luckily I lost that sound the last 10 miles of the race.
We got rid of the pesky half marathoners around mile 11. That is when I realized that the second out and back was not along the lake in the opposite direction, but instead was taking us out into the boonies.
Fellow runners were sort of sparse the second half, which I am learning is the way I actually prefer things. The nice thing about the second out and back was that it was not run on the same road the whole way. There were portions you could see people heading in the opposite direction, but much of it was run on parallel roads so you couldn't see everyone else. Also, the way I like it.
Some parts were on an upaved road that had a lot of loose rocks. I kept thinking I'd roll my left ankle which I've easily accomplished in the past on much more stable surfaces. I was especially worried about this in later miles when I felt my feet were dragging more. Luckily, nothing of the sort happened.
You'll notice in this photo, the previous photo, and the next photo that the cloud cover rolled in which was a total godsend. I would probably still be out there in a puddly mess if not for the clouds. It was still warm but not unbearably so.
So how was I feeling? I was averaging a sub-10:00 pace for about the first 14 miles which is always pretty good for me. I could definitely tell my legs were tired, though. Things were pretty tough the second half of the course. I walked through the water stops and drank a lot of water since it was warm out. I kept counting off the miles in 2 mile segments. "Get to mile 16 and there will be a water stop to walk through..." "Get to mile 18 and there will be another water stop..."
This photo was taken at the turnaround shortly before mile 19. You know that feeling when you are doing an out-and-back run and you get to the turnaround. And then the rest of the run you feel lighter because you're headed home? Well, that was this point in the race.
I was feeling sort of drained and really wanted to walk. I was still only walking at water stops. I remember telling myself that once I got to mile 23 I could take a walk break even if there was no water stop. Amazingly, one magically appeared right before mile 23. The fact I didn't have to take a non-water stop walking break really buoyed my spirits. I thought I'd take a quick walk break at mile 24. But once I got there, decided I would just keep on running to the finish line.
For most of the second half of the race I didn't have any extra gears. I had two to pick from: A) Walk or B) Run. There was no C) Run Faster or even a D) Run Slower, for that matter. I just kept moving along at a comfortable pace. From Oakland I sort of recognize this as my body's response to doing marathons so close together. It was really more of a mental battle to just keep running.
With one mile left I did manage to kick up the speed just a little (more to get the thing over with). I wasn't near any sort of time turnover which would inspire me to move quicker. I was passing many walking people the last few miles but there didn't seem to be anyone really running my pace by me. I was pretty much all alone that last mile. I had the entire finish line dash to myself which was sort of neat. The announcer made a comment about my cheese hat as I crossed.
Finish time: 4:33:xx
They had free beer and brats at the finish for runners. Yummy. Strangely with all of the cheese hype, there was NO cheese to be found at the finish.
Hello, Cheese medals!
The final stretch to the finish line
Overall, I'd recommend this race if you're local to the event. I don't think I'd recommend traveling solely for this event. The course is not that awesome. The crowd support was just okay. There were some nice people who were outside of their houses cheering, but nothing that inspired me the way Austin people did. The race was very well run, though! Great organization. Even with the rolling hills the first half, it is a fairly fast course if you want to race it as well.
And I LOVE this medal. It is even better than I thought it would be.