Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Two Halves

Two halves make a whole right?
Does it work that way if you're trying to be a 50-stater? 
Unfortunately, I'm sure the answer is no, but if it were yes, Wisconsin would be crossed off my list!
I had an amazing weekend at home and wish I had time to write more.  The bullet-point recap:
  • I worked from home on Thursday (home where I was born!).
  • Finished up around 1 (I had an early flight and had worked on the plane).
  • Went to my grandpa's house to see him and borrow his car.
  • Grabbed lunch from my favorite build-your-own salad bar.
  • Ate salad in the car on the way to Chicago.
  • Horrendous traffic the last 10 miles of the drive.  70 miles in about 60 miles, then 10 miles in about 60 minutes.  Ugh! 
  • Got to meet my new 6-week old niece! 

  • Went out for dinner with my baby bro, his wife, and the baby. 
  • Awesome pizzas.
  • Hung out with them most of the night, got to give my niece a bottle.
  • Worked all day Friday.
  • Dinner with family (including next youngest bro, his wife and their 3 kids).
  • Saturday morning tracking my friends running St. George.  Amazing results, tons of PRs.  3:03, 3:10, 3:20, 3:23, 3:24, 3:44, and on, and on!  They had great weather -- cold at the start, gradually warming up as they descended. 
  • Saturday morning at my nephew and niece's football game, which they won 50-0 or something, and during which I sat freezing in a chair, covered in blankets and coats, remembering why I'm so glad I don't live in Milwaukee anymore.  The best part was my niece who wasn't playing football -- she likes to play dog (who I've named Scout), and after she'd gotten her shots, barked, growled, eaten treats (pretzel sticks), gotten a ??? in her paw, and played fetch, she curled up on my feet for a little while.  I lamented out loud how maybe I'd have to go to the shelter so I could get a lap dog, she curled up in my lap for a long time.  It was warm (she's a little furnace) and I can't get enough of her hugs.  It will be 2.5 months until I see her again.  She just turned 6 a few weeks ago and I worry the "playing puppy" stage will end soon. 
  • Picked up my friend at the airport.
  • Expo (small, but well-organized) (best part was seeing 35 years of shirts and medals -- though they didn't have medals the first few years, then it was more like medallions for a couple years, then by the early 90s it was medals that have steadily improved over the years). 
  • Naps!
  • Cooked dinner at home, pasta and garlic bread, a little for me, a lot for my friend who was trying to break 4 hours the next day.
  • Early to bed, $hitty sleep all night.  I have no idea why.  I usually sleep like a rock when I'm alone back in that bedroom of my childhood (different story if my husband is there, it's a smaller bed than we're used to, and a creaky floor, so I hear when he gets up to pee).  I totally zonked out every other night, but the night before the race, as is usual for me, I was up almost hourly.  Either getting up to pee or just looking at the clock and worrying it was time to get up. 
  • Alarm was set for 4:50, and I woke up for the last time around 4.  Tossed and turned and then gave up on trying to sleep around 4:30. 
  • Drove back downtown and we took the shuttle bus from the hotel to the start in Grafton.  We ran into a friend from our training program in Dallas and got to ride with him on the bus. 
  • Pre-race inside the high school.  Bathroom lines were manageable, and there was no line outside for porta-potties for anyone who didn't care about indoor plumbing.  Sat on a staircase in the high school and we got organized and chilled out in the warmth. 
  • Race started.  The weather was thoroughly perfect.  Low 50s, overcast, amazing. 
  • I walked and after a mile or two, was almost at the very back.  I realized my plan of walking for a couple hours might not work since I could see the police car behind the last runner, and I realized maybe they enforced the 14:52 pace minimum from the outset. 
  • Tried to jog, realized I definitely cannot run, but found that I could do a 100% pain-free shuffle kind of thing, that was faster than walking.  But still allowed me to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Caught up to 2 guys talking and they said something about Texas.  That was all I needed.  I just invited myself into that little party.  They were doing 3-1 run/walk intervals, and their run was very close to the shuffle pace I found comfortable.  It was about 6 miles of awesome with them.  A first timer named Kimberly joined us for a couple miles of it. 
  • Around mile 8, just after we started on the Concordia University campus, Arthur stopped for the bathroom, Matt surged ahead to catch a few other friends, and Kimberly slowed down to walk more, so I was alone again.  I stopped to take some Lake Michigan pictures, so beautiful. 
  • Continued on solo about half a mile, then started talking to another person who was staying around my shuffle pace with no walk breaks.  Kathleen, a music teacher from Crystal Lake, Illinois.  We talked for miles and it was great.  Finally around mile 12, I was worried I was holding her back, so I took a walk break and wished her well.  She was hoping to break her 2014 time of 5:40, and I looked her up -- she did!  5:34!  Matt finished in 5:09, which was faster than I think he planned, but I'm guessing he felt great.  And Arthur finished in 5:48!  And he's 68!  I wasn't able to look up Kimberly, but hopefully she was also happy with the day. 
  • I made it to the halfway point, and while I felt good (and my ankle felt 100% the same), I dropped out.  The wisdom of friends (real world, blog commenters, FB friends) and my husband had sunk in -- keeping my mind on the big picture (future races, being healthy and able to move around in Europe later THIS WEEK (eeeeeek!!!!)).  I had been carefully watching my step (and I mean every single step, I spent most of the race looking mostly down), and part of me thinks I could have finished, but I respect the distance.  There's a big difference between a half and a full.  I think I was around 2:50 for the half, so if I'd stayed around the same pace, I would have finished around 5:40 (and therefore beaten my very first full ever!).  But of course, it was far from certain I'd stay around the same pace, and the idea of being out there for about 3 more hours did not sound fun.  I warmed up at times, but at other times, especially along the lake, it was cold and windy.  I'd pitched my long-sleeve shirt around mile 1, and about 10 seconds later, I went back to pick it up, realizing I might need it later -- good decision! 
  • At the half, there was a sweet girl named Allie who'd dropped out.  Felt dizzy, weird numbness, and her parents were coming to pick her up.  She was so disappointed in herself, and really down in the dumps, all kinds of friends and family had come to watch her and she felt like she'd let them all down.  Her parents were nice enough to pick me up as well, and we all drove to the finish together.  I tried to help her feel better, reminding her there would be a lifetime of races if she wanted, but that if she didn't want, there's no requirement to race to be a runner, or she could do races other than the marathon, or she could just do activities other than running, she has tons of options, and for her family, finishing 13.1 miles still seems like quite an accomplishment, even though it wasn't what she wanted, and they were still undoubtedly happy to have been there to see her run some and to support her. 
  • At the finish, I found my family and then joined the finish line crowd to wait for my Dallas friend.  Unfortunately, I saw the 4:00 pace group, and then 4:10, before I found her.  She finished in 4:12 and was a bit bummed about missing her sub-4 goal, but in great spirits anyway to have finished with one of her top 3 or 4 finish times.  She'll get it eventually, and she knows it. 
  • Quick showers, then we went out to Lakefront Brewery for lunch.  Beer, cheese curds, fries, and a grilled cheese sandwich.  I ate like I'd run the full!  Oops...
  • Then a trip to Leon's, for Wisconsin's best frozen custard.  I went with 2 dips (all summer long, during marathon training, I thought about looking forward to having possibly my first 5 dip cone ever, but alas, half the distance, half the scoops...).  Vanilla topped by mint.  Divine. 
  • We went to visit my grandpa one more time.
  • We went to see my brother and my niece "Scout" (who was acting like a human on Sunday). 
  • Then we went to the airport for pizza and beer, then flew back to Dallas.  My ankle and foot felt a little tight sitting on the plane, but I think my brace may have been a bit too tight, particularly since my foot may have swelled some in the air. 

An all-around wonderful weekend, even if it didn't include the highlight marathon that I imagined it would as recently as 3 weeks ago when I finished my 22 miler.  Oh well, better safe than sorry!  And if I'd kept plodding along as I'd considered, of course it's possible I would have hurt my ankle more, but it's definite that I wouldn't have had enough time after the race for the couple final family visits. 

And good news yesterday -- even though I got home late and got to bed very late, I woke up for boot camp Monday morning, and my ankle felt the same!  I had some very mild soreness in my quads (totally normal for me after a long run; while 13.1 wouldn't ordinarily be long, it probably is after 2.5 weeks off).  And now I'd say I'm totally back to normal.

If only Sunday's unofficial half (my time registered at the half mark, but I think the online results are only finishers; thankfully I got a results print-out at the finish line so at least I have my own little documentation), could be paired with my decade-old half time from the Journeys Marathon in Eagle River to count as one Wisconsin full.  Oh well, someday (assuming I go for 50 states, and possibly even if I don't, just for the convenience of racing near family), I'll be back. 

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon only had 3500 runners registered (it was capped), and only 2300 finishers.  Not sure if that's normal, or if maybe less than 3500 registered.  It was very well-organized.  The race director was walking around inside the high school before the race start, checking to see if anyone needed anything!  And as I feared, being toward the back of the race, the participants were very far spread out.  Normally, that might make me a bit concerned about staying on course.  However, for this race, at I think every single street that was not a private driveway, there was a volunteer with a flag, making sure we all stayed on course.  It was absolutely incredible course guidance.  And so many of them were encouraging, calling us by name (printed on our bibs), and telling us how great we were doing!  I still feel a little teary thinking about it.  So many nice people.  The course was pretty.  I wouldn't say it was flat, but there weren't any significant hills in the first half (and my definition of a "significant" hill probably encompasses things people in hilly places wouldn't even notice).  There were a fair number of spectators who'd come out from their houses to cheer us on, lots of cowbell!  The weather was a dream.  The pre-race buses were flawless, ample, easy.  Waiting inside the high school was great.  Looked like there was lots of food for the finishers.  I'll definitely consider it for my legit Wisconsin full some day! 


  1. You certainly fit a lot in, and made the most of the race after all. salute those who walk or jog these distances - it seems so daunting (especially the people who walk full marathons, sheesh, that must be draining!). IfI ever have reason to be in WI, this sounds like a well-run and friendly race to try.

  2. Oh man, sorry about your ankle (I'm behind a post or two on commenting). But, damn, sounds like an awesome weekend! I'm glad you were able to make it to the half point in the race. Way to make the best of it.

    Have an awesome trip, if I don't comment again before then!!!

  3. Pretty solid showing - I certainly worried you would over-overdo it, so I am glad that I was just amongst the chorus of caution :) Also loved all the baby pictures! Now focus on enjoying Europe!

  4. Wow, what a weekend! I enjoyed all the details. Your niece playing puppy--so cute! And very cute baby pics. I think you made the right choice to take it easy and not push it. You still got to enjoy the course, and I love all the friends you made along the way. It's really nice of you to give that pep talk to Allie. I can imagine how she must have been feeling, and I bet talking to you was exactly what she needed right then. If you don't post again before your trip, have an amazing and awesome time! Enjoy your hair cut too. :)

  5. MORE COWBELL!!! you did awesome! my very first half was 2:51 and i did it after not running for 6 weeks like a moron. haha. i'm sooooo happy that your ankle felt fine the next morning, that means you didn't hurt it further and the quad soreness is, like you said, probably from shuffling a half after nothing for over 2 weeks. no worries! this gives me hope that i will have no issues run/walking my half marathon later this month!

    favor to ask, and you can say no and my feelings won't be hurt at all. when you're in Europe, can you pick me up at least one post card from every country you go to? we can make plans to meet for lunch or something in december when i'm on my birthday stay-cation. i hope your trip is awesome, i'm sure it will be and that it's not hampered by your ankle.