Tuesday, October 07, 2008

2008 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

Lakefront Marathon
Milwaukee, WI
October 5, 2008

I ran the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee last Sunday, which was my 11th marathon finish. I wasn’t expecting to have a PR race this year as my training hasn’t been the best, but I was thinking that I could realistically get sub-4:45 or definitely under 5:00. I also wanted to enjoy myself and experience a new marathon course considering that this was the first time I have run this marathon.

On Saturday, Brian and I showed up at the expo and picked up our race packets. The expo was fairly small, though probably typical for this size of marathon, which is limited to about 2700 participants. After that we headed to our hotel to drop off our stuff before heading out again to have an early dinner. The first restaurant we tried was right across the street from the official marathon hotel, so there was already a long wait. Not wanting to stand around for very long, we decided to walk around and find something else. We settled on going to a Rock Bottom Brewery, which we assumed would have some good pre-race carbo-loading dinner options. After a very filling meal, we got back to our hotel and I ended up having a great night of sleep in spite of pre-race nerves.

The alarm went off at 5am and then Brian and I got ready and left our hotel at 6am to drive to the finish. Since this marathon is a point-to-point course, there were shuttle buses for runners to take to the start, which was at Grafton High School. We got onto a bus at about 6:30am, and were wondering whether our bus driver actually knew where she was going. Luckily those toward the front of the bus helped her, along with a radio call to verify our destination. After some confusion once we finally got to the high school, and we were able to stay within the warm confines of the school to await the start and do any last-minute preparations.

The rain that had been forecast was not present – yay! It its place was a beautiful sunny sky and the temps perfectly in the upper 40’s – ideal running conditions. With about 10 minutes before the start, we lined up in between the 4.5 and 5 hour expected finish time signs.

After listening to the national anthem being sung and a tribute to fallen runners by the race director, the gun went off to begin the race.

It only took Brian and me a little over a minute to cross the start line. I brought my camera with me and planned on taking pictures and video during the race. As for race strategy, I wanted to stay within a 10:30-11:00mpm pace for the first half, and then see what I could do in the second half. I wasn’t sure if Brian would be running with me the whole time, but we agreed at the start to run at least the first few miles together.

The first several miles of the course are run on rural roads with farms and a house here and there. It was rolling but not too challenging. Running with Brian made the time go by really fast. The last time we ran a marathon together was the Chicago Marathon last year, the “Heatathon” that zapped me both physically and mentally. This was a much happier, more laid-back experience.

My legs were actually feeling a bit heavy closing in on the halfway point, and I told Brian that I didn’t think I was going to speed up any faster at this point. I also told him to go ahead if he felt good, and that I would meet him at the finish. As we passed the halfway point, though, he decided that he wanted to stay with me and help me achieve my goal. We ran the first half in 2:19, so I felt that sub-4:45 was still within reach.

The miles were going by pretty well for me even as the course became more rolling. Then Brian said that his stomach wasn’t feeling very well at about mile 14-15. As we approached the aid station near mile 16, he said he was going to make a pit stop and that he would catch up with me. I decided to walk until he did. At this point fellow ChiADead Paul caught up to me and we chatted a little bit. A minute or two later around mile 17, Brian caught up and then we were off running again. Brian’s stomach felt better, but now the effort of continuous running on pavement was starting to take its toll on his legs. He has mostly done trail ultras which is different training than running a road marathon. I myself felt pretty good in spite of a little leg stiffness, so I tried to keep a steady pace. So now it seemed like the roles were reversed…that I was pulling Brian along. He told me to go on ahead if I wanted, but I said that I wanted to run this race with him. I was having fun and since it wasn’t going to be a PR race for me, I wanted to experience the joy of finishing a marathon together with him.

The miles continued to go by, and then we were running in a really beautiful section of Milwaukee right near the lakefront. The sprawling historic homes were a treat to look at, for sure. As we passed Mile 22, I was doing the math in my head and realized that we had about 50 minutes or so to finish the last 4.2 miles to get under 5 hours. I didn’t tell Brian that at the time, I just tried to keep us running a decent pace. After we passed Mile 23, I did tell him that we had about 39 minutes to run the last 3.2 miles to get under the 5 hour mark, which was still very doable. It gave us something to aim for and to keep going in spite of seeing a lot of people around us walking a bit here and there (it can be infectious :-)).

There was a nice downhill around Mile 23-24, so Brian says “time to take advantage of some free speed!” and barrels down the hill leaving me to eat his dust. ;-) Even a nice downhill won’t make my legs much faster than they were already going.

After the hill it is mostly flat until the finish, and I was able to catch up. Now we were contending with some lakefront breezes which didn’t matter much because we were almost finished! I was getting excited about being able to hold hands with Brian, crossing the finish line together. :-)

Right after we passed by Mile 25, I nearly did a face plant after tripping over a curb as I was crossing the street. I think I was a little distracted after taking the last picture with my camera, not to mention that I was probably dragging my feet a little bit at this point. ;-) I took two huge, leg-straining steps to prevent my fall…OUCH. That got my heart rate up a bit! We continue on, getting closer and closer to the finish area. The Mile 26 sign was now visible…wow, only a few minutes left! I took some more pictures and video and then put it away so that we could focus on the finishing stretch.

We clasped our hands together with about 10 feet to go and stretched them in victory to cross the finish line! Awesome! Our final time was 4:58, which I was really happy about. It’s one of my slower marathons, but one of the most enjoyable. I am so glad that I was able to run this race with Brian. We helped each other make this a great experience.

After some post-race photos and food, we started to head back to the car. As we were walking back, it started to lightly rain, which turned into more of a moderate rain once we got in the car. I’m so glad the rain waited until we were finished. :-) On the way home we indulged in some post-marathon pizza and then of course, a post-marathon nap. The best way to cap off what was an awesome Sunday!

Brian's Report is here

Race Website
Race Profile Map

Overall Race Results
Kelly and Brian

Link to Photos

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