Today was my ninth half marathon and my second running the half portion of the Madison Marathon.
My 2018 training took a detour when an injury crept up at the end of June. I went from running 30 miles/week to 0 miles/week. I started running again in late July or early August, but it was running less than two miles at a go. But I built that back up gradually to hit 20 miles/week two weeks ago, including a 10.5 mile run.
I ran 4.7 both Tuesday and Thursday, did a spin cycling class Monday, and swam Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. I don't think swimming 24 hours before the run hurt me at all as it uses more arms, upper body, and core. I swam the same day I ran the 10.5 mile training run.
I got up three hours before the race, drank most of a bottle of Gatorade, ate a Pro Bar, had a cup of coffee, and pooped. That's my race day tradition and it works well for me. I also like to get to the race early enough to use a porta-potty.
It was pretty cold today with my car reporting 30 degrees. I ended up wearing running tights, a thin long sleeve shirt under a warmer long sleeve shirt, some nice running gloves, a very thin beanie, and a warmer hat. I think I was dressed just right. I took the warmer hat off after a few miles and tucked it in the waist of my tights. I've done this before and it works fine for me. Being bald, the thin beanie is still really helpful.
I was feeling warm around mile 3 and took my gloves off as well. But around mile five we moved more into the open and into the wind. I put my gloves back on and kept them on for the rest of the race.
It went really well! I finished in 1:53:55, my second best time. Nothing ever hurt. The course itself was nice, at least as far as road courses go.
The course (pdf) starts at Wisconsin's state capitol and runs out the north side of town. Some of this is a bit boring as it's just a straight shot through some neighborhoods. I stopped at the aid station past mile 3 here and had an energy gel and a water. I had just Gatorade before mile 5, and then another gel and water after mile 6.
There aren't any notable hills as far as mile 8. There are ups and downs for sure, but after mile 8 the course runs into Maple Bluff which is scenic and incredibly wealthy and features a small hill followed by a large hill. A lot of people walk up the hill, though a lot don't, too. I ran. I ran the full a year ago, and it hits this hill around mile 22. I walked up during the full. At the top someone had a sign "Maple Bluff Summit elevation 922.4" or whatever the value was.
Beyond here I stopped one more time for a gel and water. The course then goes by the Governor's Mansion, and I was disappointed I didn't see a U-Haul truck out front. I stopped one more time for Gatorade, I think, but now I'm not sure. A point on aid stations: they were putting road salt down at them, something I wouldn't have thought of given the freezing temperatures and amount of water spilled there. Road conditions throughout were good one one spot with a little ice easily navigated.
The best sign I saw was "I am never running again OH LOOK A RACE!"
It was my first run post-injury. Two years ago I ran this in 1:58:00. I just wanted to come in under 2:00, and I'd sort of expected to run with the 2:00 pace group. In the starting chute I saw them behind me and the 1:50 pacers ahead of me, and I thought I'd let 2:00 catch up with me along the way. They never did. My fastest mile was the first (which is downhill) at 8:24. My slowest (which included the Maple Bluff hill and an aid station stop) was 9:07. After the 9:07 mile the other eleven miles were within 24 seconds of my mile 1 pace. It felt like, and seemed to be, a nice steady pace.
Could I take four minutes off that time? Probably. Could I have today? Maybe, but I just wanted it to go well. I didn't want to screw something up.
I deferred my Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon from this year to next year. But after today, I'm thinking about signing up for the Madison Marathon for next year. The two races are five weeks apart. If my training, which now includes a lot of stretching and flexibility, goes OK, I like to think I can do both. I'll probably do the spring half as well as I have a three year streak going.
I might not do the Madison Mini Marathon next August. It can be really hot, and it doesn't work super well for my training ahead of Milwaukee Lakefront.
Nine halfs, that’s beginning to look like a habit.
Do you have all your times handy? Are you improving with experience? I am always wondering if I have passed my peak.