Monday, November 7, 2016

PNC Milwaukee Running Festival (1/2 marathon)

PNC Milwaukee Running Festival - 1/2 Marathon - November 6, 2016
time = 1:46:57
pace = 8:10
placed 10 in my age group (40-44) out of 125
placed 66 in women out of 934
placed 226 overall out of 1509
link to strava data

that's a PR people!  oh yeah!

BUT before i get to that let's talk about fueling on race day shall we?  again i slept SUPER badly saturday to sunday.  daylight savings got me all worried that my phone wouldn't update and i'd not get up on time.  so i tossed and turned most of the night finally getting out of bed before my alarm at a little after 4am.  my morning "routine" is a full glass of water right out of bed to get the innards moving and then i take the dogs outside.  by the time that's all done i'm generally ready for the bathroom.  the morning went off without a hitch.  i also usually eat one packet of instant oatmeal on race day.  it's just enough to stave off the hunger and doesn't make me feel icky when i race.

 UNFORTUNATELY for me... this time i unthinkingly added RAISINS!  whoops!  rookie mistake for sure... rookie mistake that i didn't realize until the next day.

in case you're sitting there wondering to yourself... "why not raisins?"  i'll tell you why not...
"Raisins soaked overnight and taken in the morning support bowel movements. The Council suggests a healthy raisin recipe: Combine 50% raw milk and 50% cool water. Eat two handfuls of soaked raisins twice a day, and sip two glasses of this water alongside. Besides this, eat light foods like squashes — lauki in particular is good — to regulate your bowel movement." ~ excerpt from ayurveda view on raisins
um, so yeah... all the poopings, but we'll get to that a little later.  something else to note is that it was about around 45 degrees to start and when i finished it had to be in the mid-50's.  this is the ONLY reason i signed up for this race... the fact that it was warm enough to race (for me).

we wanted to leave the house at 5:30am because lincoln memorial drive would be closing at 6am and i wanted to get a parking spot near the start/finish with minimal walking.  so once we arrived down there we sat in a line (not all that significantly long) for a few minutes and then got a $5 parking spot very close to the start/finish.  pro tip:  should have gotten the all wheel drive and not been so concerned about my gas mileage.  alas that wasn't what happened so now i have to concern myself getting stuck in mud and snow for ever and ever amen.

i imagined this... obviously over exaggerated. lol!
we parked on some mushy grass and i wondered for a minute if i'd be able to get out.  my new (1 year old) car only has front wheel drive and i'm not all that used to it after having a jeep with all wheel drive for the past decade.

after getting all parked and settled in the squishy grass i left my family in the car to go to the bathroom.  i drink a large amount of liquids in the morning and spend a good amount of time in the bathroom because of it.
there was no line and i was in and out in a jiffy.

i did notice that the line of cars trying to park now stretched well past where we ended up getting clogged up, and it looked at least a mile long.  by the time i got back to the car (it turned out to take me 10 minutes back to the car!) it was 6:20am and i was supposed to meet my oiselle volée ladies at the kite shop for good morning photos.  i stripped off my pj pants, lubed up my legs for running, grabbed all the things i would need, and we headed out.

there was a lot of really great energy buzzing in the air which just added to my joy and excitement.  i'm joyful because i've come back from my 8 month injury hiatus stronger than ever, and my excitement to be a part of this race was almost insuppressible!  this was going to be the longest distance i've tackled since my injury back in january!  even in training (or what could be called super minimal "training") for this event i never went longer than 10 miles.  so here we are... looking at 13.1 and hoping to PR at 1:45.

oiselle volée in full effect!  and this isn't even everyone... 
met up with the ladies and met some new friends to boot which is always amazing!  in case you didn't know i'm quite socially anxious (hide it well with the "fake it 'til you make it" mentality) so a big group of new faces makes me VERY UNCOMFORTABLE... got a picture and then we all went our ways to prepare for our races.  i was supposed to meet my mom's run this town ladies for a photo op at 6:45am... when that time came and went i realized that i would need to hit the head one more time before taking off.  tried to make some connections online to see where people were, but had to take off and get in the potty line.  it was HELLA long!  took me until about 2 minutes before the race started to get in there.  talk about cutting it close!

said goodbye to my husband and son and went to find my corral.  when i meandered my way up to the 1:45 pace group i found sheila!  we stood around and chatted; then another bird showed up (sorry love i don't know your name) and we too chit chatted.  next thing we know it's time to go!

my plan was to stick like glue to the pacers which i accomplished up until we hit st mary's hill.  have i mentioned that i'm not a good hill climber?  well... i'm NOT!  i started to lose the pace group by a few feet so i determined that i would have to catch up at the top on the straight away.  it seemed like the hill went on F.O.R.E.V.E.R... although when i look at it now it's only approximately .27 of a mile.

the struggle was really really real tho'!  

my legs not even 2 miles in
i started up the hill feeling strong and capable... that didn't last long.  before i knew it i was huffing and puffing, my legs felt like lead weights, and i was thinking about how much pain i was in instead of all the positive shit i am usually talking to myself about.  finally, i made it!  i was at the top and needed to lengthen my stride and push my pace to catch up to my pacers... this is the first of several times over the next 6 miles that i would force myself to catch up before finally being unable to do so at mile 7... but we'll get to that.

so i made it up the hill where the sparklers were sparkling, unicorns were dancing, and my body did the happy dance (only on the inside).  FREEDOM! i started to fly down the road towards my pacers arms... just kidding... their backs.  then i MADE IT! i caught up and could settle in.

the course is freaking beautiful!  so far so good... we ran along the lake and now we were on the east side.  my old stomping grounds... grew up right off of brady street and spent my college years over there too.  i miss living on the east side.  so much to do, see, and experience all within walking distance.  *sigh*

i digress... we ran down historic brady street where the crowd support was stupendous!  there's a bit of an incline near the west end of brady (it wasn't bad), and then we got to hit a downhill!
andrea and the dino

we ran under the holton street viaduct where there is a marsupial bridge  (built in 2005) that goes over the river for safe pedestrian crossing.  that was fun to run across and if i weren't attempting a PR i might have stopped and taken some photographs like my friend andrea (you can find her here) who stopped for photo ops at the swing park, with a dinosaur, and several other fun places on the route.  right after the bridge we got a sweet little downhill to the street below where we headed south into downtown.  i thought the hills were behind me and i began to feel light as air.  well, THAT might be 100% an exaggeration as i was still trying to keep up with my pace group who were running like little bullet trains.  all the while chatting away to each other as if this were a snail's pace... man, i wish it were that easy for me to run this pace!  incidentally, turns out that miles 1-6 were considerably faster than the necessary 8min mile pace needed to hit 1:45.  i'm not saying this was my downfall, but i do think it helped contribute to my failure.  you see... when i run on my own my pace varies but the average has been hitting under 8 min miles as of late.

anyhoo... i was happy to hit the flat land of downtown, running along the riverwalk was an astonishingly beautiful reprieve from the pain in my legs and lungs.  as we were running the short distance along the riverwalk i was mentally praising my good fortune when we hit wisconsin avenue.
 fun fact:  wisconsin avenue runs east to west (we were running west) and is a delicate,  constant, simply arduous, mind-numbingly challenging 1.80ish miles with a measly 97 feet of elevation gain.  it sure didn't FEEL like something so easy... it felt impossible.
as i watched my pace group slowly slip away within the first quarter mile of this stretch (that felt like a gentle mountain ascent; no i'm not exaggerating!) the woman i was running with this whole time behind the pacers turned back to me and said: "stay with me!"  i replied with breath that was barely mine... "i'm tryin'", and i watched the divide between us slowly grow and grow until i was so far behind there was no catching up now.  it was at this same moment that i realized i would need to find a bathroom pretty quickly.  thankfully in mile 7 (or was it 8?) there were glorious port-o-potties!  beautiful and gleaming in the sunlight... calling my name.

i went in and when i tried to lock the door... IT CAME OFF! the lock not the door ya silly goose!  as i cursed the lock, sat down, and tried to fix the lock whilst doing my business... i timed myself so i could lose no more than 1 minute.  i figured we had banked enough time that i should be ok if i didn't lose anymore than that.

jumped out of the port-o-potty in a practical sprint just as denise came out of the other potty!  she was running the full and went on to win as the first woman to cross the finish line!

so far mile 8 was my slowest mile yet at 8:57... not bad so i figured i was fine with the lost time.  so i lengthened my stride once again and opened up as best i could to once again make up my lost time.

i hit the turn around (effectively a descent) and clocked that mile at a 7:40.  made the righthand turn onto 16th street and lost my gumption.  the bridge is cool and it was fun to run over it with no cars, but my stomach was acting up again with no potty in sight!  i was really worried that i was not going to make it to the next stop without having to walk which i think causes me to subconsciously slow my roll thereby putting less strain on my innards.  mile 9 was still an excellent effort at 7:54.  got to the end of the bridge and went down a small hill to connect with bruce street which would ultimately take us back east and into the 3rd ward.

mile 10 was tough as i tried to run comfortably without causing stress to my bowels.  i was really needing to find another potty pronto!  i finally came upon another aid station with potties and handled my business... unfortunately i was there for almost 2 minutes this time!  very disheartening as i watched my hopeful PR slip away.

i got out of there as fast as my legs would carry me and finished out mile 11 at 9:36!  ugh... this was gonna hurt me for sure!

i really picked up the pace as best i could for the next 2 miles.  i figured if i could really push it i could try to make up at least some of the time.  which was now almost solely my focus only to be diverted while running around discovery world as it was pretty and new to me.  i really liked running on the wood walkway surrounding the facility so i took note of it.  as i rounded the building i knew i was maybe 1.5 miles from the finish, and i pushed as hard as i could until the end.

saw the camera and readjusted my face

 as i ran the final stretch i noticed several people who had finished and i was mentally trying to check their bibs to see if they were 5K finishers or half finishers... unfortunately my brain couldn't figure out what color bib was for which... the pain in my body was so intense that i started to cry.  

what pain looks like

i just wanted to finish as strong and fast as i possibly could.  i needed to beat my previous fastest time and i was angry that i had to make TWO bathroom stops on the course.  as i rounded the turn to the finish i saw the clock turn from 1:45 to 1:46 and i kicked it into high gear.  as i did this i heard a man making a TON of noise behind me as he pushed himself with all he had.  i can't remember if he finished before me or not but i think so... i think his sprint was stronger than mine, and as soon as i heard my name and crossed the finish line i burst into tears.  i ran that last bit at a 7:32 pace.  it was hard and painful and worth it!

i saw my husband and son.  i cried into my husband's chest as i collected myself from my effort.  i made my way down the finisher's corral gathering bananas, pretzels, milk, water, and cliff bars.  as i came out of the corral i hugged my son and husband again and smiled.  I DID IT!  i managed to PR and i'm counting it even if it's just a breath over 2 minutes.  my garmin counts my moving time at 1:44 so imagine if i didn't have to bathroom break?!?  i could have CRUSHED my goal!  next time...

the course support was great.  the volunteers were amazing and energetic which is oh so necessary when doing something hard.  it's nice to hear someone tell you to push through or that you're doing great when you feel like shit.  i liked getting to see the city on foot and that was the best part.  it is an entirely different experience than driving.  more visceral and real.  there's an attachment to it that you can't get in any other way.  running is freedom and life.  the world looks a whole lot different when you're running on it than any other way of traveling except maybe walking.  connection.

all in all i liked the course a lot.  the challenges were necessary and (while painful) made the course fun.  i like being pushed to my edge to see what i've got.  this course did that for me and for that i'm grateful.  there is nothing so rewarding as working hard towards a goal and attaining that goal.  i am stronger for this race.  if the weather cooperates i would certainly do this race again... but ONLY if the weather cooperates.  after all, we all know how i feel about winter racing.

finisher's "after tears" smile

and done!


Laura (LunaChickRuns) said...

Great race!! I am all too familiar with seeing my goal time slip away whilst in the port o potty. Way to finish strong on such a beautiful day! My husband and I were handing out medals at the finish line but you were done before our shift started :)

nikki said...

thanks laura! it was so hard (the running part not the port-o-potty)! lol! i'm sorry i missed you. it would have been nice to meet you.