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My novel, aka, my Madison Half Marathon

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The condensed version: I FINISHED!! I ran a pretty good race and finished in 2:38:28. I felt good the whole way and didn’t really struggle too much until just after mile 10. My time ended up maybe a bit slower than I expected, but it was pretty humid. I was just glad my knee didn’t fail me and that it didn’t rain.

A shorter, though still pretty long, version, is in the post below this one. I tried to condense it down, but I didn’t really succeed in making it short.

The really long version:
Two things were concerning me leading up to this race: All the activities I had planned the day before and my knee, which had been giving me pain in the last week. I’m happy to say niether of those things had an effect on my race.

The weather had been in doubt and while it wasn’t ideal because of the humidity, it was just about perfect. We awoke to a fog and a temp of about 55. Rain was predicted but it was looking like it would be after the race. I took a little too long eating my oatmeal and started to worry a bit as we didn’t leave the house when we were aiming to leave. I was worried about parking, but it didn’t end up being a problem. Doug was worried because apparently I didn’t tell him that the full marathon started at 7 and my race didn’t start until 7:12. Oops. He thought I was starting at 7 and wondering why I wasn’t freaking out!

Doug thought it would be cute to take a picture of me waiting for the portapotty.

We got to the parking garage and headed out to meet my mom and dad who came up from Rockton to watch. My sister and her husband came too, but I didn’t get to see them before the race. I got in the long porta potty line, but luckily it moved quickly. I heard the gun for the full marathon start and then it was finally almost my turn! We took a few pictures and I headed off to the chute to wait for the start.

Allie had been sick the last few days, but was good for race day!

Our family before Mama headed to the starting chute. I made it!

I got a little choked up while I was waiting for the start. Not because I was nervous. I was really confident. I got choked up just because it took me so long to get to that starting line. I overcame injury, unemployment, childbirth and then the longer journey than I expected back to running. But I finally made it. And I enjoyed it.

It took about a minute and a half after the gun before I even moved with how tightly we were packed in there. But soon I was running. I had gotten my feet and knee adjusted on Thursday and it was at the moment I started to run that I happily found out my knee didn’t hurt! While I did feel a few twinges in the first few miles, my knee wasn’t a factor at all.

The race started around the capital square and then headed out with a downhill down West Washington Avenue. For some reason they had barricades there that were way too close together and it was like we all just stopped at the same time as we crammed through there. Finally we were out of the barricades and running. I felt good the first mile. My goal is always to not go out too fast, but of course I did. Maybe not as fast as I could have though, my first mile split was 11:17.

Miles 2 to about 3.5 were along Gorham Street and had several uphill and downhill stretches. I felt really good through here and was running comfortably. The hills weren’t a factor at all at that point. I started searching for my family members because we’d talked about a few possibilities for them to see me but we hadn’t decided anything. I hit 5K in just over 36 minutes, so I was off to a good though maybe a bit fast start, averaging under 12 minute miles. Mile 2 and 3 were 11:41.

After 3.5 the course turned to head up into the north side into Maple Bluff, the ritzy part of town. Thats where the governor’s mansion is, though I have no idea if I passed it or not. On Monday Doug, Allie and I drove up there today and found the mansion, and I’m still not sure if the route passed it. I was zoned out. I also didn’t realize we were running along Lake Mendota for awhile either. I checked the map and we did pass the governor’s mansion.

The race went about a mile up Fordem Avenue, a pretty industrial area, before turning into a subdivision in Maple Bluff and then the crowd was gone. It got pretty boring here, but I was still running well. I stopped for a quick water at mile 4. I kept going and stopped at the next water stop around 5.5 and ate my fruit snacks and had more water. Mile 4: 11:33, mile 5: 11:45.

After this stop I was still feeling good but my body wanted to stop. We were still in the Maple Bluff subdivision and my body was tired. I think the humidity was taking more out of me than I knew. But I also knew I could keep going. I was sure that my family would be right around mile 6.5 coming out of Tenney Park, which crossed under mile 3.5. It was the certainty of seeing them that kept me running the entire stretch from 5.5 to 7. I was so happy when I finally saw them. Doug was on a bridge looking down at me and snapped a picture as I ran by. Or he tried. He accidentally pressed the off button instead of the shutter! Bummer, that would have been a great picture. I waved and kept running, wondering where Allie was. Well, Allie was with my sister Jeni and her husband Dave on the other side of the bridge. I stopped for a second and gave Allie a hug and a kiss. That might be my favorite part of the race after finishing. mile 6: 11:52, mile 7: 11:28.

I kept running until just past mile 7. I stopped for a bit but then decided I should run more until I got to a water stop, which didn’t end up being too far away. I got to the water and kept going. After Tenney Park the course went back across the isthmus over toward Lake Monona. We turned and headed down the Lake Monona loop. This stretch got kind of hard. I wasn’t expecting to see my family. I think I had a walk break somewhere before mile 8. Then I decided to run and keep running for at least a mile. I guess I’d slowed down or something but it got better again and I was cruising. I was nearing mile 9 and I wanted water but didn’t want to stop because I’d come to an area of spectators and was getting motivated again. So I passed the water stop and started down the bike path by Lake Monona. Mile 8: 12:07

I’d talked with my family about going between mile 9 and 10 to see me. As I got down through Law Park by Monona Terrace I saw my mom, but she didn’t see me! I shouted at her and finally got her attention as I was almost past her. She was bummed she didn’t get a picture. So no pictures actually on the course! She told me later she was watching but then some people came in her way and were talking about where to put their chairs and such and distracted her right as I came by. Mile 9: 11:32

I wanted to get to mile 10 before I stopped again, but I had gotten really pumped here and was flying. I looked at my garmin and my pace was 11:05 or something crazy like that. I decided to walk a bit. I was taking a lot of walk breaks, but it didn’t bother me. I still felt good. I knew it would get harder as I passed mile 10. I ran 10, 11, and sort of 12 (ran 10 and walked the last 2) before the race. It gets harder and harder past 10 miles!

So I walked a little bit after mile 9 and started running again. I passed mile 10 and decided I had to keep running until I hit another water stop. Of course I was wishing the water stop was at mile 10! It was a bit further down the bike path. I took two glasses and realized I should have my other pack of fruit snacks. I was walking and my stomach started feeling funny. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t eaten yet or because I was eating. This was my longest walk break of the race, it was at least 5 minutes. I ate my fruit snacks, drank my water and then I had a cramp or something weird in my shoulder. Finally I decided to run again, slow, and my shoulder pain went away. Mile 10: 11:59, mile 11: 14:04.

I should mention here that I think the humidity was really starting to get to me at that point as well. Every time I stopped it took me longer to catch my breath than usual.

My recollection gets a little blurry here. I think I ran more than I was walking after that long break. My biggest complaint on the last half of the race was that my feet hurt. I remember passing mile 11 and thinking that I had less than a half an hour to go. Mile 11 was mostly running, I think, and felt OK, but it was hard.  And 12 was more of the same. Mile 12: 11:54

Here was where I started thinking about my strategy for the finish. No matter how hard the last couple miles were, I wanted to finish running strong. I decided to take a walk break with a mile and a quarter to go. I wanted to run the last mile. We were on a neighborhood street and crossed a little grassy patch back to West Wash and mile 12 and I started running again. But there was the problem of that little hill up West Wash in the last mile. It was such a nice downhill to start the race, but going up at the end wasn’t so nice. I started running and probably made it about halfway up before I had to stop again. Mile 13: 12:51.

About to turn the corner to the finish!

I reached the top of the hill and saw the 26 marker. I realized I only had .2 left! I started running again into the chute leading to the finish. The crowd was getting bigger heading back onto the square. I summoned all my remaining energy and ran. It felt so long! As I turned off West Wash onto the square I felt so speedy and got the adrenaline push I needed. First I saw Jeni snap a picture. Then a few seconds later I saw Doug, Allie and Dave as I was almost past them. Then I turned the last corner and saw the finish! I was running hard and felt the emotions of my long journey finally coming to an end. If I hadn’t been running and breathing so hard I would have been crying. I was choked up, which made it even harder to breathe. I saw my mom and right after that I saw the timing mats and the finish line banner and held my hands up high as I crossed them! I made it! A volunteer handed me my medal and I headed for the food.

I grabbed as much food as I could and gave it to my mom to hold. As I was walking my hamstring got really sore and mom and I headed over to a bench where I stretched a little and took my shoes off and put on my flip flops. I was so excited. We gathered all my family members and took pictures as I ate a little of the food I’d grabbed and then lost my appetite. About 20 minutes after I finished, the rain started. Great timing! We headed home victorious.

Exhausted and trying to stuff my face before my appetite went away.

Me and Jeni.

Family picture. This is why I run.

Allie examining my medal. She thought it was pretty cool.

Showing my medal to Allie.

Me and my baby. She was getting pretty tired and cranky by this time, hence the sour face.

Me and Mom.

My official time is 2:38:28. Its right where I expected, though maybe a few minutes slower. Its not my worst time though. And if this experience is like three years ago, I’ll keep training and improve my time in the next race. I love running because of the infinite possibility for improvement. So now I will recover a bit and then set out for my next goal.


Author: Jessica

I am a running working mama. We work hard and play hard and I have a lot to share along the way.

One thought on “My novel, aka, my Madison Half Marathon

  1. Great job!!!! Can't wait to see where running takes you this year. Glad Allie was feeling better and your family could come and see you.

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