Yesterday, I completed my 4th marathon and had a great time doing it! My thoughts are below:
The course went around Lake Monona, which is the second biggest lake in Madison (I’m told). The half marathon ran around it once and the full marathon ran around twice. I was expecting to it to be a walking trail around the lake, but a majority of it was actually through the neighborhoods around the lake. Beautiful homes and nice trees blocked a majority of the wind which was kind of making things difficult at times. The route was fairly hilly but ended on a nice downhill the last 200 meters or so. The last 5 to 6 miles was along the business district and close to downtown, so you got a good cross-section of what the city looks like. Water stops every 2 miles or so but very little in the way of people directing traffic, which meant that the first time through I ended up running on sidewalks or on the street when I should’ve been doing the other. Most of the time, there were just orange cones and blue road signs directing us where to go.
This race is a fundraiser for Children’s Voice Inc. They strive to help put an end to violence against children, trafficking of children, and assist in the legal matters that surround those issues. The organization itself is a really good cause which is part of why I chose to do this race. This is a fairly new event. It’s actually the first time that they’ve ever had a full marathon and I believe they’ve only had the half marathon in 4 mile run for a few years. So they got some things to figure out. Aside from some confusion in the route, a majority of people didn’t seem to quite know what was supposed to happen after the race. There was a small awards ceremony that started about a half hour late and there wasn’t much in the way of amenities afterwards. Chocolate milk, cookies, water, apples, and beer were the options. Most of my marathons have been fairly small so I was used to this. But I can see how someone may have gotten a little turned off by that.
Overall, there were not many people there cheering on. The finish line was no exception.
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for! I finished at 3:55.07, about 3 minutes slower than my PR and 10 minutes slower than my goal. I attribute this mostly to poor pacing on the first loop. I got to talking with this group of people, and all of a sudden I realized I was going about a minute per mile faster than what I wanted to. That’s one thing about small races, there’s lots of silence to talk to the few people that you see! If you are a social runner, small races are still good for you.
Another nice thing about small races is that if you finish with a time like mine, you can still finish in the top three in your age group! The guy who won my age group finished in 2:45.14. I finished over an hour behind him and I still got third in my age group! So I picked up my Age Group Winner water bottle filled with Lifesavers and Starbursts, smiled for the camera, and walked back to where we were standing chuckling to myself.
Overall, I had a great weekend. I used to love going to Madison when I was in high school and I haven’t been there for a number of years. It was great to be in the city again with my wife, meet one of my best friends for dinner, and just have a good weekend. My time is not what I had hoped but I’m pleased with my effort. I have to keep working on my pacing! But I was running with people who were finishing marathons 101 and someone who had run over 200. I constantly need to remind myself that I’m still a baby when it comes to this sport. Keep running, keep moving forward, and things will take care of themselves
Update: My official time came in at 3:57.01. If you ran it and are looking for your results, check out Tortoise and Hare Race Management’s results page.