Monday, May 4, 2009

2009 Wisconsin Marathon Race Report

Here it is, the moment you've all been waiting race report for the 2009 Wisconsin Marathon! Woohoo!! If you want the short version, I ran 3:33:58, qualifying my 24 year old female self for Boston! Yay! If you want the long version, read on...if you dare...

Pre-Race Stuff - Friday-ish

I posted my game plan about a week ago, which I was still pretty set for on Saturday. My main and ultimate goal was to qualify for Boston, and anything beyond that would be icing on the cake. (If you know me, I LOVE icing.) I got a cold starting on Tuesday/Wednesday that I had hoped would disappear by race day, but that didn't work out either. When I ran on Friday, my nose cleared up and I actually felt pretty good, so I thought I was all set for race day. The Rocket Scientist was all set to land at 3:30, so I was going to pick him and then head up to Kenosha for the night. However, his plane was delayed (of course), so he didn't land until 5pm. This detail isn't important except for the fact that I got a phone call at 4pm from the hospital I interviewed at in March. About what, you ask? Well....

I HAVE A JOB!!!! I'm going to be a REAL nurse! WOOHOO!!!

Okay, okay, so what does that have to do with my race report? Wellllll, I may seem like I have it all together, but after about five minutes of being really excited, I started bawling my eyes out. As much as I want to move, it's going to be really hard to leave my parents and everything around me that is "safe." It just makes me nervous. So therefore, I spent the rest of the night alternating between crying and forcing myself to not think about it.

We headed up to Kenosha and went out to an Italian place for dinner, where I ordered a calzone with cheese, green peppers, and black olives. It was soooo good! Definitely recommend it for pre-race food, especially since I had pasta at lunch and didn't really feel like having any more. We then headed back to the hotel and hung out with parents before going to sleep. I didn't end up getting too much sleep because at first I couldn't fall asleep because I kept crying, so I finally had to turn the TV on and pay attention to that. Then I woke up every hour until 5 am, when the people above us woke up and I heard them getting ready. I finally got out of bed at 5:30 to start getting ready!

Race Day - Pre-Race

I had brought all the stuff I needed for race day, including my breakfast, which of course consisted of peanut butter toast and a banana. (I even brought my own toaster.) I was feeling kinda crappy in the morning, mainly as a result of the cold that wouldn't go away, crying all night, and actually being rather apathetic about the whole marathon thing. I was worried about being dehydrated because I had HUGE bags under my eyes, but I didn't want to drink tons of water causing me to have to go to the bathroom all the time. We finally packed up and drove over to the race, which took about twenty minutes. Once we got there, we walked over and I immediately got in line for the port-o-potties, with about 25 minutes to go. The line was kind of long, but it went fast, yay! From there, I retied my shoes (they have to be PERFECT) and headed over to line up. I'm used to the giant corrals like in Chicago/Marine Corps, so it was funny to just have a bunch of people standing around. I lined up around the mass of people that composed the 8:00-ish mile group and waited for the start.

Race Day - It's race time!!

My parents took lots of pictures, so this will be a much more colorful part of the report!

Hanging around, waiting for the start!

It was a little chilly to begin with, so I started in shorts, a tank top, and a long sleeve shirts (which I planned on ditching at some point). It might have been in the high 40's at this point...I'm not really sure! The race started with a "parade loop," where we ran a quick, less than five minute loop around and back past the starting line so all the spectators could see us quickly! I glanced down at my garmin to see what my pace was after about a quarter mile (I'm so dependent on my garmin...), and some guy asked what pace we were running. 7:45! A little too fast for me...but that's how you get caught up in the race! I later learned that it was thecrow from RWOL who asked...I had no clue who he was! Oops! I figured out very fast that I wouldn't need my long sleeve shirt very long, so I took it off and tossed it to the Rocket Scientist as I passed them.

After the parade loop, we did a four-ish mile loop around downtown Kenosha, which was fun because there were lots of spectators out. I had read online from people on RWOL that the course would feel fast because of how much the scenery changes, which definitely was true for me. My spectators (Mom, Dad, Rocket Scientist) were somewhere in this downtown loop, and I knew to look for them because of my sign that is unmistakeably mine, and they could spot me because of my red shorts (and the fact that there weren't 40,000 people running too!). I found them around mile four, where I remember yelled, "This is so much fun!" to them, and people around me laughed...woo! My mom snapped some pictures!

I look like I'm speedy here! My arm looks funny after I wave while running, which my mom says I do a lot...haha.

Mile splits, miles 1-4: 16:06 (I missed the first mile marker), 8:01, 8:00

I felt good at the pace I was running, even though it wasn't quite according to my plan. I was running around a lot of people (it's all relative), but it felt like a lot of people were passing me! I figured as long as my pace stayed around here, I would be speeding up! Once we got out of the downtown loop, we headed north for an out-and-back up to mile 7.75-ish before turning around. There were a couple non-descript hills here, but they were more like inclines than actual hills, so they were comfortable. You could see the lake for most of the time, which was pretty, and the weather couldn't be beat. For fuel, I had a bag of about thirty Honey Stinger Energy Chews, which I am a HUGE advocate of (seriously...Honey Stinger, if you're reading, I LOVE YOU). The water/aid stations were about two miles apart, so I figured I'd have a Honey Stinger for every mile-ish, taking in two-three at every aid station. I skipped the first one and just took water, and I tried to take a couple after that. Sometimes the aid stations were much closer than two miles apart, so I kind of randomly decided how many to take. (I know, I know, I should plan better!) I ended up taking about twenty out of the thirty I brought...oh well.

Anyway! We continued up north, and the turnaround was around mile 7.75. It was so uplifting to get to the turnaround and then see all the people behind me! I don't mean that to be mean to anyone behind me, but it was awesome to see that I was doing well! After the turnaround, I tried to look for Kim and a girl from my high school. I must be terrible at finding people because they both yelled out my name before I saw them at all! It was definitely a boost to hear people yell my name, and it was fun to see them as well! We headed back on the same route we came in, and since I love running out-and-backs, this was fine by me since I kind of knew what I had ahead of me. My glorious spectators were at mile 10-ish, where my mom got some more action shots:

Someone yelled, "Susan!" right as I got to my parents, so I turned to look to see who it was since Susan isn't really a common name...I have no clue who it was, and they probably weren't actually yelling for me!

Mile splits, miles 5-12: 7:50, 7:54, 8:01, 7:51, 7:51, 8:01, 15:54 (missed the 11 mile marker!)

After the first couple water stations, I decided I would start to walk through them while drinking water. I ran through the first few, but I kept getting water up my nose, so I figured I wouldn't lose much time to walk while drinking water. Some guy actually yelled, "That's it! Get that hydration down!" when I walked through one of them, which I thought was funny.

A little after mile twelve, the half marathoners turned around to head back to the finish, which left me with just the other marathoners. I spent a few of the first twelve miles wondering who around me would stick around for the second half, and I quickly learned that not too many were in for the full ride. That must have been why they were going so reason to hold back! (Just kidding!) At the first water station after the half marathoners left, a volunteer yelled, "540! You're the ninth female!" At which point, I believe I said out loud that that was kind of ridiculous! It was definitely empowering. I got really excited when we hit the halfway point because I was feeling great! Some spectator yelled, "You guys look like you could run all day!" I actually felt like I could at that point, but I also really didn't want to run all day...26.2 was good enough for me.

Half marathon split: 1:43:33

Once the half marathoners broke off, we headed south for until around mile 19-ish. Around mile 14, I decided that I needed to stop and use a restroom (when you gotta go, you gotta go). I had tried waiting to see if the feeling would pass, but I realized I better stop. There was an aid station at mile 15, but when I got to it, someone had just come out and another person was going in, so I didn't feel like waiting in line, so I held off until mile 17. In the meantime, I kept telling myself how much further I had to go. When I hit mile 14, I told myself that twelve miles was just an easy run. At mile 16, ten miles is NOTHING. That's 80 minutes of running! I can do that any day. (I'm really good at thinking about running in terms of minutes, based on an 8:00 pace.) It's more comforting to me than saying "10 miles." At this point, I told myself I'd have a break at mile 17, when I hit the aid station. Luckily, someone came out just as I was getting there, so the timing was perfect! I lost almost two minutes, but it was well worth it! I got back on pace afterwards and life was good. Somewhere before the turnaround, my spectators were waiting with my sign:

My mom made this sign when I ran the Chicago Marathon. We figured that not too many people would have Testudo on their sign, so it would be easy for me to spot. The Rocket Scientist and my dad were in charge of the sign this year.

Right on the lake!

Told you I waved a lot this race!

Looking strong!

I felt really good for most of the race, and it was awesome to see the volunteers and spectators out. Since I was near the top ten of the women, people got excited to see a girl run by, and they would yell things like, "Yay! A girl!" or "Looking good, young lady!" or "You go girl! Awesome!" or "It's about time I saw another girl!" Those made me feel good. I'm not sure all the guys liked to hear sped up in front of me when someone yelled about a girl being around...not sure if it was related or not! The marathon crowd really thinned out, so we were pretty much on our own, especially at my pace. I could always see runners, but I wasn't necessarily with anyone. Since I do 99% of my runs on my own, this didn't really bother me, but it was a different experience than the mega-marathons.

It's about time for more splits, miles 13-20: 7:55, 7:43, 8:02, 7:57, 9:57 (bathroom!), 7:56, 8:07, 8:21

I was doing really well up until mile 19-ish, and my pace dropped off from how consistent it had been. Like I said, I think in terms of minutes, and around mile 18.5-ish would be one hour to go if I kept pace. One hour! That's it! No problem. I knew the fun would begin after mile 20, so I kept trying to stay positive. Once I hit mile 20, I kept calculating in my head what average pace I needed to keep to qualify for Boston. I was still running, no walking except through water stations, so I was confident in myself, but I liked to have that in the back of my head. I think I saw my spectators just before mile 20, where I don't look near as enthused as I did before:

The approach!

And the "I'm getting tired so I'm going to half-heartedly wave but not actually look at the camera."

The marathon crowd reallllllllly thinned out after mile 20. I saw a guy on the side of the road who was obviously cramping up, and a fair amount of people were walking as I passed them. There was one guy who stopped to take pictures with the disposable camera he was carrying, but most people were getting tired or hitting the wall. I could tell that my legs were getting heavy because my effort felt the same, but I was going slower. However, I am very happy to report that I never hit the wall. Around mile 22, I kept thinking about going to a run/walk cycle, but I kept telling myself to just make it to the next water station where I could walk for ten seconds to get water, then get going again. This definitely worked because I kept pushing through, and despite my slowing pace, I was still able to hold strong. I didn't end up walking at all except for the water stations, which is a first for me. At mile 24, I KNEW I had it, and I was just ready to be at the finish! My spectators had some time to kill waiting for me to show up, so my mom took some pictures of the scenery:

Kenosha banner!

Boats waiting for summer!

Who loves mile splits? Me! Miles 21-25: 8:13, 8:08, 8:38, 7:55 (short), 8:51

Mile 26 of this marathon was AMAZING. It was just a matter of getting to the finish line, unlike my other marathons where I had to convince myself to keep running (never happened). I never believe people early in the race when they say, "You're almost there!" but after 25 miles, you ARE almost there! So good! I was so excited because I knew the BQ was going to happen! I saw my dad and the Rocket Scientist as I came around the corner, and my mom was all set up for the photo finish:

I'm going to BOSTON!!!

3:33:58!! According to my watch! My mom snapped the picture, and then Kim was also waiting for me. I think she yelled something like, "Go Susan! You did it!" It was so awesome of her to be there at the finish, waiting around after her awesome half marathon! Thecrow from RWOL was also there, but I was a bit dazed so I was really confused when he said hi! I got my cheese medal, space blanket, some water, and a banana, then I walked around trying to save my legs. My legs felt really stiff after I finished, but they never felt bad during the race.

Walk it out...

I love space blankets!

After walking around a little, I was brave enough to sit on a bench, and then we got some brats to eat! This is Wisconsin, after all. It was good to eat, unlike the vomit fest that was the Marine Corps Marathon...I didn't try to stomach any beer, but plenty of people did! Post-race hang out pictures...I apologize in advance for how I look...I just ran a marathon!

With my dad and the Rocket Scientist...and the sign, of course!

I promise we're more photogenic than this...haha.

We hung around for a little bit and ate our brats, then we headed home. Luckily the boy is good enough with direction that I got to semi-nap on the way home, and then we had a relaxing day of watching the Cubs, the Phillies, and the Bulls. I think my family was more tired than me! I kept checking online for the official results, but it took a little while to show up. They were a little off to begin with, but I just now checked and they're fixed, so my official results are:

Finishing time: 3:33:56
Overall Place: 69/520-ish
Females: 11th
Age Group: 4th

Not too shabby! Did I meet my goal of qualifying for Boston? Yes! Did I run 3:30 or faster like I hoped/thought would happen? Nope! Am I okay with that? Totally! There will be other marathons, and I'm just happy that I BQ'd and that I ran the whole thing! (Minus the water stops.) I felt very strong and in control throughout the race, and I think that I trained really well and it paid off. This was the inaugural Wisconsin Marathon, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looker for a smaller marathon, as the course was 99% flat, the volunteers were awesome, and the weather couldn't be beat!

I want to thank everyone who has followed my training since my entrance into the blog world. It is so awesome to know that people are supporting and pulling for me, even though I don't really even know you! I definitely thought about you guys during the marathon, thinking about what I would have to tell you when I wrote my report. When I was thinking about walking, it was motivating to me to think about how I could report that I stayed strong and pushed through even when it got a little tough. I'm looking forward to meet so many of you in Boston next year!!


  1. Yay, I get to be the first to congratulate you on both your new job and your new BQ and PR time! Wow, that's as perfect a weekend as you can get. Totally awesome race report! I can't wait for both your adventures as an R.N. and your experience in Boston. Congratulations, rock star! You deserve it all!

  2. Yay! What a great report, totally fired me up. I can't believe you BQ'ed with a bathroom break to spare!

    I am going to be in Boston in 2010 if I qualify or not. My sister lives close to the course and I've always wanted to spectate. I can't wait to cheer you on!

    Great job! Revel in this.

  3. OMG! I got chills through the whole story! That's freakin' awesome!! BIG Congrats to you!

    And that was so nice of you mommy to take pics!! I really enjoyed seeing/reading this whole thing. Very inspirational!

    You're goin' to Boston! Yay!

    OH! AND you're gunna be a REAL nurse! Yay! :-)

  4. WONDERFUL report -- even though i know i shouldn't, that just made me want to start another marathon training cycle all over again. you made it look like so much fun. congrats again!

    also, can't wait to hear about the job!

  5. yeah Susan! so excited for you on both accounts, your BQ and your job! you're so cute in your pictures--looks like you ran confidently and strongly.

    CONGRATS!!! :)

  6. Great race report! You are so incredibly fast, and you look strong and speedy in all the pictures. Congratulations on the BQ and a really successful race!

  7. Congrats on the job! What exciting news to get the day before! I think I would have been up all night too. It's really stressful to wait and find out if you'll get the job, then there is a whole new level of stress after you do!

    Great race report! And great job on running the whole thing! You are an inspiration. You totally kicked butt out there! I am so happy I ran the half - I think this is one I would like to do again (maybe the full next year). It was a great course!

    You look great in your photos! :-)

  8. Congrats on the job! And AWESOME photos! Did your parents take them? My parents go NUTS with the photos at my races haha. You look super strong in them (obviously you were because you ran well)!

  9. I am so happy for you!! A job and a BIG marathon PR/BQ!!! You're goin' to Boston baby!! Hopefully I will get to meet you there. :)

    I love 8-minute miles precisely because the math is so much easier, so I LOLed at that part. I'm thinking of targeting 3:30 this fall at Philly simply because of the allure of the 8s...heee.

  10. Congratulations! And it looks like it was a very pretty course!

  11. Congratulations on such a great race!
    I am running my first marathon in just a few weeks and this was really inspirational!

    congrats on the job too!

  12. Hi Susan, I just came accross your blog and I wanted to say congratulations on qualifying for Boston and getting a job! I ran my first half on Sunday in 1:43 (sound familiar!?). I can't wait to hear about your new job, I'm starting graduate school to become a nurse this fall!

  13. awesome race report - congrats again on the BQ and the JOB! woo!

  14. Congratulations on both the race and job! Great report. It sounds like you had an overall great day running. Amazing that you were able to BQ with a potty break, very impressive.

  15. What a great race! I was laughing at you re-tying your shoes cause I the same way, they have to be just perrrrrfect or it throws my whole stride off. :-) And congrats on the job; what a great start to the summer for you!! So exciting!

  16. Sounds like you ran this PERFECTLY!


    And YEEAAAAAYYYYYY for the job, Susan RN :)

  17. Great job and great report! You had a very steady and consistent race. Hope to see you in Boston next year.

    I don't know how people drink beer after a marathon!

  18. Yay!!! So proud of you. :) I'm only sad that I didn't get to read this post in "real time" because I was doing horrible horrible things in Vegas. What a kick-ass weekend you've had!!!

  19. Congratulations Susan. What an awesome race and report. :) You totally rocked it. Great pace, great attitude. Amazing finish time and you earned it.

    Congrats on the job too!! What a week for you. :)

  20. Congrats girl! You are awesome! Your pics are great too!! I am soo happy for you that you qualified for BOSTON!!

    Congrats on the job too! You will love being a nurse:) What kind of unit will you be working on?

  21. awesome report girl and CONGRATS again for an amazing race!!!!!! you will get sub 3:30 next time for sure :) you ran a very smart controlled race - you are amazing!!

  22. Hmmm I thought I had already read/commented on this but I hadn't!!!

    So, CONGRATULATIONS on a stellar performance and a BQ! What an amazing time!! Great report as well, I loved all the pics!

    Good luck with the upcoming move!

  23. YAY YOU! Sorry I'm a little late, but what a fantastic recap! So many great photos. Major congrats! This is so inspiring :)